Friday, October 30, 2009

CGSociety looks at Astro Boy

A great new article about the production of the Astro Boy movie is up now on CGSociety. It's an eye-opening look at some of the artistic challenges faced by the crew at Imagi and is full of some awesome images.

Here's a sample that discusses the international nature of this production.

Imagi has offices on both sides of the Pacific Ocean, with Bowers located in the US and the production team in Hong Kong. Years ago, this would have created a production nightmare, but by working with a proprietary video teleconferencing setup, Imagi became a 24 hour studio. Bowers was pleased with how well the arrangement worked. "There were cultural differences and production pipelines that are different in the United States than in Hong Kong, but we had great production mangers and a team who made sure everything ran smoothly. It worked out quite nicely. I would work during the day in LA with my crew over here then have a meeting at the end of the day from 4:30 to 6:00 or 7:00 PM talking to Hong Kong. Then they would work through the night and the next day I would come in, and there would be new animation to look at. With video conferencing technology advancing so far in the past few years, it really is like being in the same room."
Do give the entire article a look right here.

Continue reading "CGSociety looks at Astro Boy"...

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Another Freddie Highmore Interview

The Astro Boy movie is out now, but it looks like the promotional interviews are still rolling. Here's slice from a new one I just found with the voice of Astro, Freddie Highmore.

"You want to get it right, but I think we did a good job. Probably the biggest challenge – not so much for me but in creating the film — was to bring him up to date. When he was first created in the ’50s, he was a cutting-edge figure and he was living in a real up-to-date world, even in the future, and obviously the future now for us is different to what it was back then, so I think it was important to keep that same feeling — that he’s living in a world we haven’t yet discovered. So we brought him a little up to date but in keeping with the same character that he’s well-known for and loved for."
You can read the entire interview on Buzzine. It's a pretty informative one, too.

Continue reading "Another Freddie Highmore Interview"...

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Astro Netbook

Check out this Astro Boy themed Netbook Computer, available in Taiwan for about $616. It's got a 10.1 inch screen (1024 x 600), 1.6GHz Intel Atom N270 CPU, 1GB of RAM, 160GB hard drive, 802.11b/g WiFi and Windows XP Home.

Several accessories are also available, including a portable hard drive, mp3 player, DVD burner, USB drive, and more. Check out the whole works here.


Continue reading "Astro Netbook"...

Astro Boy is #1.... in China

So, the word is out now that the Astro Boy movie didn't exactly have a stellar opening weekend, placing 6th at the box office. Added to that is the disappointment of the film's performance in Japan, where is has fallen off the top 10 list.

However, all is not lost!

In China, where many restrictions are placed on how foreign films can enter the country, the Astro Boy movie was granted the status of a co-production, giving it the ability to debut at the same time as in North America. This particular time of year is a holiday there, and foreign films are typically blacked out from release around holidays. Astro Boy being a co-production means it is not subject to this sort of black out, and was released during this important holiday time. Chinese audiences flocked to theaters and made the film #1 in the country, breaking the weekend box office record for CG animated films along the way.

Pictured at the top is an image from an Astro Boy promotional event from earlier this month at TsuenWan Plaza in Hong Kong. See more at Imagi's own Felix Ip's Blog.

You can read more detail about Astro's box office performance in Asia on The Hollywood Reporter and check out Imagi's press release by clicking the link below.

Astro Boy Blasts to #1 at China's Box Office
Mon Oct 26, 2009 9:20pm EDT
Sets New Weekend Box Office Record Previously Held By Ice Age 3

HONG KONG, Oct. 26 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Imagi International Holdings
(HKEx: 585), a leading producer of CG-animated motion pictures, with studios
in both Hong Kong and the U.S., today announced that its latest feature film,
Astro Boy, set a new opening weekend box office record in China for a
CG-animated movie.

According to industry estimates, since opening on Friday (October 23) on
approximately 1,100 screens across China, Astro Boy has recorded approximately
RMB40 million in box office receipts, topping the weekend box office chart and
setting a new mark for the opening weekend box office of a CG-animated feature
film in the Mainland. That record was previously held by Ice Age: Dawn of the
Dinosaurs with an opening gross of RMB30 million.

Commenting on AstroBoy's success, CK Phoon, Executive Deputy Chairman at
Imagi, said, "We are absolutely delighted that Astro Boy has received such a
warm welcome in China, a major market for the film industry. Astro Boy's
stunning start proves that Imagi has what it takes to produce a blockbuster,
and we look forward to Astro Boy's continued success around the globe."

In North America Astro Boy received positive reviews and opened in 6th place
with an estimated US$7 million for the October 23-25 weekend. The film faced
keen competition in a crowded marketplace which included the debuts of two
highly anticipated horror movies.

China's CG-animated feature film opening weekend box office record was
previously held by 20th Century Fox's Ice Age 3, which recorded approximately
RMB30 million in its opening weekend. The film went on to achieve RMB130
million in box office receipts. "It may be difficult to top Ice Age 3 in China
since that film was released during the summer and they also had a 3D version,
but we will certainly try," said Phoon. Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs
currently holds the distinction of being one of the biggest international
grossers of all time.

About Imagi
Imagi International Holdings Limited (Stock Code 585, OTCQX: IINHY) is a
listed company on the main board of The Stock Exchange of Hong Kong. Imagi's
principal business is the development and production of CG-animated feature
films. Imagi's first theatrical movie TMNT was released in March 2007, opening
#1 in U.S. box office revenue, the first time in history that an Asian
animated film achieved that honor. Imagi's CG production studios are located
at its Chai Wan (Hong Kong) corporate headquarters with development and
marketing operations based in Los Angeles, California, and an office in Tokyo.
Imagi's Astro Boy is being released in theaters worldwide in October 2009.
For further information, please visit and

SOURCE Imagi International Holdings

Soon-En Wong of Imagi Hong Kong, +852 3103 8912,;
Susannah Beattie,, Michel Chau,, both of Kreab Gavin Anderson, +852 2523 7189,
for Imagi International Holdings; or Asia Ireton of Imagi Studios US,
+1-818-808-4409,; or Paul Pflug of Principal
Communications Group, +1-323-658-1555,, for Imagi
International Holdings

Continue reading "Astro Boy is #1.... in China"...

Monday, October 26, 2009

Ninjatron Reviews the Astro Boy Movie

Ok, here we go! This will be my attempt at an all inclusive review of Imagi's Astro Boy movie. Be warned, it contains spoilers!

It's been a very unique feeling having followed this film for several years, to work hard in documenting and share all the information with the rest of the world, to see the film released, and to have to try and sum it all up. It's like this is a new chapter: Life after the release of The Astro Boy movie. It's a lot to chew on when thinking about it that way, but I will do my best to condense my thoughts into something coherent.

That all said, I really liked it!

Clearly, I was quite emotionally invested in this movie before seeing it, both as the keeper of this website and as an Anime fan who understands the importance of this character. So I knew that I wanted to like it, but this could mean that it would either make me really enjoy it or make me like it less because of my expectations and how much I already knew from following the film for long. However, it didn't take long for the film to cast its spell on me and make any preconceived notions go away.

Here is what I liked about it.

- The story itself worked well. It was quite faithful to the original manga. Yes, there were differences, but I'd say that it was as faithful to its source as a movie like Spider-man was to the comics. Even though I knew the story, there were still enough twists and turns to keep things interesting. The bit at the end with Zog using the blue energy to revive Astro was a great surprise and a nice touch.

- The animation is, of course, really beautiful. I can't wait to see it again and dig through all of the details I missed the first time around. The scene of Astro flying through the clouds was breathtaking. I'd go on but it all sort of goes without saying in a movie like this. However, what really stood out to me was the opening "Our Friends The Robots" animation, with it's flat, graphic style. Did this not remind anyone else of the imagery found in Tezuka's "Tales of a Street Corner"? That can't be a coincidence!

- Nicolas Cage as Dr. Tenma worked well for me. I know his performance has gotten some flack, but I thought it was fine. When Tenma brings Astro back to their home and does his overcompensating father routine, that slightly creepy/crazy twist to the performance was just perfect. That moment is exactly why I think Nic Cage was the right choice for the role.

- President Stone was so evil! I was totally blown away by this character. I admit that in the previews, I didn't buy it. I had thought Donald Sutherland's voice just was just too warm and friendly, not nearly villainous enough. I was wrong. Everything he said just made him into a bigger scumbag, and he saw it all as positive qualities. He was so bad, and proud of it!

- Nathan Lane was great as Hamegg, both as a friendly character and as his usual dastardly self. I was disappointed at first that he was depicted as being rather plump instead of his traditional skinny appearance, but now that I think about it, he looked more jolly and friendly in the movie, which makes his turn against Astro more surprising and effective. I don't think it would have worked with a skinny Hamegg. He might have appeared too sinister right away.

- Cora and the other kids were actually pretty cool. I know Cora was meant to be a new character, but I see her as the movie's interpretation of the character Kathy, who met Astro at a similar point in the story. One thing I really liked about the kids was that they had very unique faces.

- The music was amazing. I can still hear it in my mind as I type this. I miss the old Astro Boy theme but what we have here is pure gold.

- The Robot Revolutionary Front. These guys were hilarious. They quickly became my favorite characters... and then they mentioned about ninjas. I got a personal kick out of that for obvious reasons. Wonder if I had something to do with it being in there?

- And of course, we have Astro himself. I think they found the perfect balance between the traditional goody-two shoes Astro and the expectations of modern audiences. The part when he says goodbye to Dr. Elefun really stuck with me. Such a beautifully sad moment.

I could go on. There are a lot of little moments and touches and details that I enjoyed.

But, that all said, it wasn't perfect, and there was one thing that really bothered me about the film. It was very fast paced. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but in a movie with so many emotional components, I feel that it would have really helped to just take a breather at some key scenes and let the emotions gestate for a beat before moving on.

- Early in the film there is a scene where Toby and Tenma's holographic projection share a perfectly awkward moment in the car. It was just a second or two, but it worked well and helped to say everything we needed to know about how those characters felt at that time. There could have been a few more moments like that throughout the film.

- We don't really get to see Tenma's transition from losing his son to deciding to build a robot. It just abruptly goes to unrolling the blueprints. I would have liked to have seen more of his state of mind at that juncture in the film, and for the actually building of the robot to have been a longer, more laborious looking procedure. It could have been a montage or something, but still, it would have been great to see more of this as I feel the film just jumped to the completed Astro too fast. All we really get of that is when it's said that Tenma hasn't slept for days.

- The alien invasion at the end was pretty random! I have no problem with that as such, since aliens are awesome, but I still feel that there was a beat missing, especially since this happens directly after the climax with the Peacekeeper. Perhaps the film could jumped to an in-session press conference happening a few days later, featuring new president Logan talking about what the future holds for the now-grounded Metro City, acknowledging Astro for saving the day, and ushering in a new era for robot civil rights. And then this could have been interrupted by the alien invasion. Not to say that I could have done a better job, but still, there was a missed opportunity to flesh out the story, add some closure, and give the movie-going audience a chance to gain some emotional resonance before throwing the space-tentacle monster at us.

That all said, this is a long movie already. Especially considering it's a kids' movie. Where would you fit any of this stuff in? I don't know. There's a lot of content in there already, so maybe what I suggested isn't possible. But I just like movies that pace themselves and let the events unfold over a what seems like significant amount of time.

Aside from that, there are some silly things I have to wonder about.

- When Toby gets vaporized, all that's left is his hat. But the rest of his clothes are gone. How did his hat remain unscathed? I guess it was a thicker material.

- And if Toby's clothes got destroyed, then I guess Dr. Tenma must have rushed out and bought exactly the same clothes all over again, because when I was 13 I most certainly did not own two sets of the exact same outfit. That's kind of weird.

- It's made into a big deal that Astro can hear the window washing robots, but everyone could communicate with Orrin just fine. I don't remember the movie presenting any distinction between the robots who can talk to humans and robots who only speak robot language.

But none of these things detract from the movie in a major way. It is what it is, and I enjoyed it very much. It's a wonderful film for kids and fans alike. No matter what the critics say, and no matter what the box office numbers wind up as, the cast and crew of this movie should be very proud of themselves for pulling it off.

So, that's my review. Please use the comments feature to tell me what you think about what I had to say, or have any questions. And stay tuned, I'll be giving everyone a chance to post their own reviews very soon!


Continue reading "Ninjatron Reviews the Astro Boy Movie"...

Fred Schodt lays the Smackdown on the NYTimes

I had planned to not link to any external reviews of the Astro Boy movie, mostly because there would be just too many to cover, but I am going to link to this one by the New York Times. Not because it's any good (it isn't), but because manga translator and Tezuka associate Frederik L. Schodt has used the comments section there to set them straight and brings to light a very interesting point about the international nature of the film.

Here's what he had to say.

Astro Boy says OK!
As the English translator of the manga series, and the author of a book about Astro Boy (The Astro Boy Essays: Osamu Tezuka, Mighty Atom, and the Manga/Anime Revolution), I went to watch the film last night with a certain trepidation. I am a great admirer of the original character and story, but I had also heard some grumbling from other fans about possible liberties taken in this new interpretation. I decided, however, to watch the film as entertainment, and to refrain from trying to intellectually analyze or deconstruct it or even compare it with other animated films. In so far as possible for someone my age, I also to tried to view the film from the perspective of the presumed core target audience, with the mind of a modern nine or ten year old child. In doing so, I found that I was never bored, but often moved. An adult friend from Finland, who knew little about Astro Boy, said she was moved to tears. So my conclusion is as follows: this film may not win an Oscar, but it works, and it is great fun.

There is another enjoyable aspect of this film, and that is the international nature of its production. Almost from the beginning, the plan to produce it faced great obstacles, not the least of which was the pressure to satisfy long-time fans of the character in both Japan and the United States, as well as the interests of the original rights-holders in Japan, for Astro Boy is the equivalent of a national icon there. Testifying to this difficulty, nearly ten years ago Sony Pictures and Columbia attempted to create an Astro Boy feature film for the U.S. market, but after years of work and anticipation by Astro Boy fans around the world the project collapsed. This time, the production is by a Chinese company (Imagi) based in both Hong Kong and Hollywood, the director (David M Bowers) is British, and there has been considerable input from the son (Macoto) of Astro Boy's creator, the late Osamu Tezuka. In China, where foreign films (and especially Japanese films) often face tough sledding, there also appears to have been enough national pride involved to grant this title co-production status with other Chinese films, allowing it equal access in the special month of October to the huge domestic market where Astro Boy--as one of the first Japanese manga ever published there--already has a considerable following. Osamu Tezuka created Astro Boy to be an emissary of peace, and in this new film he continues to function as one.
– Frederik L. Schodt , San Francisco
Very good points, huh?

Continue reading "Fred Schodt lays the Smackdown on the NYTimes"...

Sunday, October 25, 2009

10 Things Parents Should Know About Astro Boy

Wired Magazine has an interesting article about the Astro Boy movie from the point of a view of parents taking their kids to see it. It's a fair look at the film, what kids will like, what adults will like, and when the best time to take a bathroom break is (!).

It's very cool to see this film get support in such unique ways as this.

You can read "10 Things Parents Should Know About Astro Boy" on or by clicking the link below for an archived version.

By Anton Olsen | October 25, 2009 | 10:00 am

Will I like it?

Yes. Unless of course you hate robots then maybe not. There is a lot to this story that will appeal to the entire audience and a good mix of side stories that appeal to kids or parents.

Will my kids like it?

Absolutely. I don’t believe there is a kid alive that won’t like this film. The story is exciting, full of suspense, and intrigue without being startling or too scary.

What’s the geek appeal?

Robots, super hero action, morality plays, and a good dose of advanced technology. Also, plenty of nostalgia for us older geeks and a chance to share some of our past in a form our kids will enjoy.

Who’s in it again?

Kristen Bell, Nicolas Cage, Samuel L. Jackson, and plenty more. The voice actors all fit the part, and did a great job. The animated characters in the movie all carried some likeness to their voice actors, except maybe Zog, he didn’t look much like Samuel L. Jackson.

Any memorable previews?

A couple that didn’t appear either memorable, or for kids. A very short teaser for “Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief” that might be good. “Old Dogs”: A comedy with Robin Williams and John Travolta that could be funny if they didn’t use up all the funny scenes in the trailer. “Spy Next Door”: Another comedy with Jackie Chan, Billy Ray, and George Lopez. This one looks like a cross between Spy Kids and Rush Hour.

Will kids want to see it again?

Yes, again, and again. Mine are both talking about catching it in the cheaper local theater in a couple weeks.

Does it ruin the original manga?

Not at all. Though I must admit I haven’t seen the original Japanese series (first aired in 1963), but I did thouroughly enjoy the US release in the 80s. A few plot points, like Toby’s death (and even his name) have been updated but overall it remains true to the original, and may even surpass it in some ways.

Is it a rip-off of the old Pinocchio story?

Certainly not. While some reviews have drawn that analogy, I think they are wrong. For starters, Astro is a lot more than a dim witted wooden doll that likes to lie. I’m also certain that Geppetto never dreamed of putting machine guns in any of his creations, let alone in their butt.

It’s PG, but how PG is it?

Not very. There is plenty of action, peril, and some mild language, but neither of my kids or their friend were scared by it. I don’t know if the creators pulled a few punches, but the darkest and most intense parts of the movie still remained optimistic and possibly a little predictable.

What’s the best time for a bathroom break?

There is really only one good time to take a break. Just past the half-way point when Astro Boy uses his blue energy for the first time. You have about 4-5 minutes before the action starts back up.

Continue reading "10 Things Parents Should Know About Astro Boy"...

Astro Boy Movie Concept Art

There's some new still images from the Astro Boy movie on the Yahoo Movies page. Included are some really cool shots of the film that I hadn't seen around before, as well as some incredible pieces of concept artwork.

These images show that this truly is a beautiful film. The theater I saw it in didn't do justice to the color and detail. Even if you've already seen it, make sure you check these shots out.

Continue reading "Astro Boy Movie Concept Art"...

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Cool Astro X-Ray Art

Check out this awesome piece of Astro artwork created by Chip Zdarsky. Make sure you click for a larger view, the level of detail is amazing!

Via Twitter.

Continue reading "Cool Astro X-Ray Art"...

Anime Today Talks Astro Boy Movie

The Right Stuf's podcast Anime today has a new episode that features an interview with Astro Boy movie director David Bowers and producer Maryann Garger.

In this new, two-segment interview, Bowers and Garger discuss how they each became involved with the Astro Boy project, talk about the challenges of introducing Astro Boy to new fans while also still appealing to long-time fans of the series, share details about the film adaptation and its vocal cast, and hint at the Easter eggs fans of the original series can find throughout the movie.
I'm listening right now. Check it out! Read the press release at the link below.

Anime Today Interviews Director David Bowers & Producer Maryann Garge
Oct 23rd 2009

Director David Bowers & Producer Maryann Garger
Behind the scenes at, Dragon Ball anime, reviews, contests & more in episode 104!

GRIMES, IA, October 23, 2009 – Anime producer and mega-online anime retailer Right Stuf, Inc. is pleased to welcome David Bowers and Maryann Garger – the director and producer of IMAGI Studios' newly released Astro Boy movie – to episode 104 of ANIME TODAY.

In this new, two-segment interview, Bowers and Garger discuss how they each became involved with the Astro Boy project, talk about the challenges of introducing Astro Boy to new fans while also still appealing to long-time fans of the series, share details about the film adaptation and its vocal cast, and hint at the Easter eggs fans of the original series can find throughout the movie.

Prior to directing Astro Boy, David Bowers co-directed the 2006 computer-animated film Flushed Away, served as the storyboard supervisor for Aardman Animations' Chicken Run, and worked as an animator and story artist for projects including Balto and the Dreamworks' feature films The Prince of Egypt and The Road to El Dorado. Maryann Garger's credits include serving as co-producer for Flushed Away and producer for the animated short First Flight, as well as work on Madagascar, Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas, Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron, The Prince of Egypt and Pocahontas.

Also in episode 104 of ANIME TODAY:
Chad shares “What's Hot” in the world of anime and manga.
Rich tells fans how they can “Unleash Fierce Savings” on manga from Go! Comi.
Rich and Nick take a look at how packages get out from to customers in the first installment of “Best Wishes, Stuf!,” a special feature in anticipation of Anime Today's fourth anniversary.
Nick and Rich announce the latest Year of the Otaku winners (and new weekly contest), announce the winners of the Rockin' Android SUGURI Perfect Edition contest, and kick-off a new contest for an official Jungle Emperor Leo (Kimba) collectible wrist watch.
Rich and Nick provide a rundown of upcoming conventions, courtesy of
Christy offers recommendations to fans of the original Dragon Ball anime in a new “If…/Then” segment.
Listen to clips from the Read or Die (R.O.D.) OVA Original Soundtrack and Read or Die (R.O.D.) TV Original Soundtracks 1 and 2 from Geneon Music. Also hear tracks from artists SKYBEAVER (“For a Long Time” from the CD The First Countdown) and High and Mighty Color (“you” from the CD swamp man).
And finally, ANIME TODAY highlights some of the newest fan reviews from visitors.
Have a question about anime and manga? Want to comment on one of the podcast's segments? Call our Anime Today Hotline at 1-800-338-6827, ext. 7424. You may hear yourself on a future episode of Anime Today!

Visit and for this episode, as well as an archive of all ANIME TODAY episodes and extended liner notes. Listeners can also download and subscribe to ANIME TODAY via the Apple iTunes Music Store.

Meet other anime fans, talk with ANIME TODAY listeners, submit your suggestions for future episodes and more at the new ANIME TODAY forums: .

Follow ANIME TODAY on Twitter at .

Find Right Stuf on Facebook at .

Released every other week, ANIME TODAY is the first commercially-produced podcast aimed at enthusiasts of Japanese animation and comics (“anime” and “manga”). Each episode features fresh content and gives listeners a glimpse into what's new and what's hot in the world of anime and manga. Segments include reviews of titles from all major anime studios, insights into the industry from anime producers, tips on traveling to and around Japan, interaction with listeners, contests, prizes and more.

“If you're into anime and what's happening in the anime market then this is the podcast for you!”
- User review on iTunes

Currently celebrating its 22nd year in business, Right Stuf, Inc. was one of the first players in the U.S. Japanese Animation ("anime") industry, as both an anime producer/distributor and a retailer. Right Stuf works to promote knowledge of its own products, as well as the anime and manga industry, in general, through its online storefront at and a variety of media including podcasts and special publications.

Nozomi Entertainment, Right Stuf's production division, is dedicated to the highest quality releases. True to the Japanese word that inspired its name, Nozomi's focus is on “what fans want.” By focusing on a limited number of anime properties each year, the Nozomi production team ensures each release receives the care and attention to detail it deserves.

From anime classics like Astro Boy, Kimba and Gigantor to modern comedies, dramas and favorites such as The Irresponsible Captain Tylor, His and Her Circumstances, Gravitation, Shingu: Secret of the Stellar Wars, Ninja Nonsense, To Heart, The Third: The Girl with the Blue Eye, Emma: A Victorian Romance, Maria Watches Over Us, ARIA, Gakuen Alice and Rental Magica, Right Stuf and Nozomi Entertainment produce quality programming for fans of all ages and interests. For more information, visit and

Continue reading "Anime Today Talks Astro Boy Movie"...

Friday, October 23, 2009


Remember when this image was pretty much all we had to go on?

PosterWell, now that time is over! For those of us in North America, and select other places around the world, the countdown is complete. No more waiting, no more speculation. The time to watch the Astro Boy movie is here! Looking back at this early poster is almost nostalgic, even though it wasn't that long ago in the grand scheme of things. Clearly, we've come a long way!

teaserIt's been a ride, with a few shaky bumps and detours along the way, but we are here. I want to take this moment before I go see the film to thank everyone who has stuck with this blog all the way. I wish we could all go see it together.

I have not linked to any reviews of the film, nor shall I. But, if you've read them, or even just took a glance, you have probably noticed a number of reviews that haven't been been too kind to our favorite little robot. I'll address that at some point after I review the film myself, as well as give all of you the chance to post your own reviews, but for now I have this to say. it's pretty clear that these people don't know the character, don't know the story, and are forming judgments simply based on their preconceived and ultimately incorrect notions of what animation is supposed to be. The exact same thing happened with TMNT, and as we should all know by now, that movie was great.

So, with that in mind, I just want to give my take on things, and let out one last rallying call.

Forget about what everyone else says. Forget about the critics and the politics. Forget about box office and business numbers and the rest of that corporate nonsense.

Job Fair adLet's all just go see this movie, enjoy it, and spread the word as best as we can. Let's do this to support the character who has meant so much to so many people around the world for half of a century. Let's do this for the character who has build entire industries upon his back. Let's do this for the character who has more to tell us about ourselves and our future than anyone could have ever predicted at the time of his creation. Let's do this for the sake of the entire animated medium, which so desperately needs more quality, diverse movies that exist outside of the Disney/Dreamworks machine.

But of course, I'm preaching to the choir here. So, let's do this for the people who don't know how important this moment is. Let's do this for those who just don't get it, because we know something they don't. Let's do this so that we will be the ones who decide how history will look back upon this film. Most importantly, let's do this for the next generation of fans, so we can share it with them now and for years to come.

Let's do this because we know it would make Dr. Tezuka smile in Heaven.

Astro Boy, the original number one anime superstar, has got a movie now, people! Do you realize how big that is? Let's do this! IT'S GO TIME!


Continue reading "IT'S GO TIME."...

Hero Complex on the Sadness of Astro Boy

The LA Times Hero Complex Blog features an excellent article about the Astro Boy movie that contains quotes from many of the film's key players, including Nicolas Cage and director David Bowers. Cage in particular speaks on what drew him to the project.

For Cage, it was those themes that set the movie apart from the standard lighter-than-air animated entertainments of today. The 45-year-old father said he was pulled in by the premise of a synthetic boy who believes he is a “real” human and then finds himself cast out by his creator.

“The sadness of the story,” Cage said, “is exactly what drew me to ‘Astro Boy.’ I can't help but feel for him especially when his father rejects him.”
You can read "Nicolas Cage: ‘The sadness of the story … drew me to 'Astro Boy' ’" on Hero Complex or by clicking the link below for an archived version.

Nicolas Cage: ‘The sadness of the story … drew me to 'Astro Boy' ’
October 23, 2009 | 8:13 am


Astro Boy blue

It’s been 57 years since Astro Boy first took flight in Japan, but today the rocket-powered robot boy attempts flying to new heights with a feature film that may surprise even loyal fans with its bittersweet tale.

“Astro Boy” features Freddie Highmore in the role of the mechanized wonder boy while Nicolas Cage, Kristen Bell, Bill Nighy and Samuel L. Jackson lead the deep supporting cast. The movie is heavy on heroic action and futuristic spectacle, but there are also themes of identity and loss that may remind adult viewers of Steven Spielberg’s “A.I: Artificial Intelligence.”

For Cage, it was those themes that set the movie apart from the standard lighter-than-air animated entertainments of today. The 45-year-old father said he was pulled in by the premise of a synthetic boy who believes he is a “real” human and then finds himself cast out by his creator.

“The sadness of the story,” Cage said, “is exactly what drew me to ‘Astro Boy.’ I can't help but feel for him especially when his father rejects him.”

Cage’s character, Dr. Tenma, is a famed scientist in the floating metropolis of Astro City, where he spends less time than he should with his son, Toby, and too much time with the belligerent military leader Gen. Stone (Donald Sutherland). Stone’s recklessness causes the lab test of a new weapon to go awry and Tenma’s son is killed in the chaos. Driven to obsession by grief and guilt, Tenma constructs a robot that resembles his lost child and invests it with the boy’s memories. That robot becomes the superpowered Astro, but Tenma sees only a cruel reminder of his dead son.

“Astro Boy” presented a number of challenges for producer Maryann Garger, director David Bowers and their team. For one thing, the film was made in 20 months, a mad-dash pace compared with most contemporary animated features. Garger said that was in part a result of the needs of the movie’s first-time production company, Imagi of Hong Kong, and imperatives from deals with McDonald's, L.A. Looks and other licensing partners.

But Bowers, who also co-wrote the screenplay with Timothy Harris, said there was a freedom in the rigid schedule. “Some of these films take five years and it’s just too long,” said the British filmmaker, whose directorial debut was "Flushed Away" in 2006. "I was intrigued by making a movie so quickly because I knew I would have to go with first instincts.”

Another challenge was finding a film that would satisfy loyal, longtime fans of the character but also deliver a crowd pleaser to the wide Western audience that had little knowledge of the hero. Garger, who was also the producer of "Flushed Away" and "First Flight," said the key thing was to hold on to the sadness of the origin story and then build a bright action film around it.

Astro-boy a real boy

"It's part of the lore, and what makes that lore so powerful is that it is about this tragic event that happens and it's nothing that we could shy away from, even though there were concerns" from some voices involved in the production, Garger said. "But it's the core of what this property is. It's a very emotional story. I think that's why it's so classic and it's lasted over 50 years."

What about pleasing Japanese fans and the wide Western audience? Cage, a longtime fan of "Astro Boy," dismissed the notion that anything would be lost in the translation during Astro's flight into feature film.

"I try not to think of things in terms of how one culture will receive a movie versus another. The fact that 'Astro Boy' appealed to me as a boy in America was proof that the story and character transcend cultural stereotypes."

Astro_Boy manga Bowers said his approach was to please himself first: “I’m quite selfish, so I just made the movie for myself. At the same time I love Astro Boy, I love the property, so I wasn’t about to throw the baby out with the bathwater.”

Astro Boy began as Tetsuwan Atomu (Iron-Armed Atom) and was created by the late, great Osamu Tezuka. It first appeared in 1951. The manga jumped to the television screen in the 1960s for a black-and-white animated series, which was followed through the decades by popular color cartoons, a mountain of manga, toys, etc.

“There’s a lot of love and respect for the original property -- especially the manga as opposed to the television shows -- but this film is not entirely faithful,” Bowers said. “One of the wrinkles I added is that when Astro is created, Tenma gives him Toby's memories, so when he awakes for the first time Astro believes he’s a real boy. That’s different from the manga, where he always knows he’s a robot. ... I wanted to give Astro some serious identity problems.”

Highmore has plenty of experience dealing with roles steeped in bookshelf history and fan expectation. He starred as Charlie in Tim Burton's "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" and took on roles in "The Spiderwick Chronicles" and "The Golden Compass."

Highmore was the first one cast on "Astro Boy" and, recording his parts in the studio first and alone, he was a key shaper Astro Boy of the film's tone, Bowers said. For Highmore, the project was a satisfying mix of plot elements that recalled "Pinocchio" and the vivid spectacle of a highflying sci-fi romp.

"There's different layers to the movie, there's a lot of action and the fact that he is a superhero and the kids will love all that," said the 17-year-old British actor. "But there's also some bittersweet things, like Astro's desire to fit in, his search for identity and his relationship with his father. There's all the history of the character too, but for us it was important for this film to be its own piece. I think fans who know 'Astro Boy' will enjoy and so will people coming to it all for the first time."

The cast also includes Nathan Lane, Charlize Theron, Eugene Levy and Matt Lucas (who will be playing both Tweedledee and Tweedledum in the upcoming "Alice in Wonderland").

With Jackson, Lane, Cage and Sutherland, Bowers acknowledged that there are big personalities in the movie, but he said they all deliver performances that are controlled.

"It was a challenge coming in but in the end it worked wonderfully," Bowers said. "I told each of them that the movie that I hoped I was making would have an emotional truth to it and that the performances would be very natural, I didn't want it to be cartoony or broad. But there's a lot of humor in the film. Once we got the emotional side of the story working, then we just went and put as much action, fun and spectacle in the movie as we could fit. The action makes the movie fun and, hopefully, the story makes it involving."

Continue reading "Hero Complex on the Sadness of Astro Boy"...

Revolutionary Role Model

The Los Angeles Times has a new article about the history of Astro Boy and what makes the character so important. It goes through the different iterations of the character from the original manga and animation and leading up to the animated movie. It's another great primer to get average people to know the roots of this character, and includes insight from Frederik L. Schodt. Also included is a gallery of almost human characters.

You can read "Astro Boy was role model who revolutionized manga" on or by clicking below for an archived version.

Astro Boy was role model who revolutionized manga

First drawn in the 1950s, then seen on TV in the 1960s, the little robot boy has had a loyal following.

By Charles Solomon

October 23, 2009

The smiling boy with the pointy hairdo flying into theaters today in David Bowers' computer-generated film "Astro Boy" isn't just a clever diversion for the kids. He's got a storied past that helped revolutionize manga and launch the artistic explosion that became anime. He also paved the way for the "Pokemon," "Naruto" and "Yu-Gi-Oh" cartoons currently on American airwaves.

After a failed outing early in 1951, when graphic novelist and filmmaker Osamu Tezuka first introduced the robot as the peacemaking Ambassador Atom in a Japanese magazine for boys, "Astro Boy" as we know him was launched a year later.

In the new manga story, brilliant scientist Dr. Boynton loses his son Aster in an automobile accident, so he creates Astro Boy as a replacement. Beneath his cute exterior, the little robot has a 100,000-horsepower engine, rocket jets in his legs and machine guns in his derrière. When Boynton realizes his android can never grow up, he sells Astro to a circus. Dr. Packadermus Elefun rescues him and becomes his surrogate father.

The manga, which would soon go on to become an animated TV series in Japan and in the U.S., tackled social issues in an accessible way.

"The original stories are much more sophisticated than the animated series," says Frederik L. Schodt, author of "The Astro Boy Essays," who notes that, though begun in the '50s, the series was set in 2003. "It's fascinating to see how Tezuka foresaw some of our problems with artificial intelligence, ecology -- even suicide bombing and terrorism. There are stories that address racial discrimination in the United States and discrimination within Japan. He even had Astro Boy go to Vietnam and protect the villagers from American bombers. It's hard to believe all that's built into a story designed for 10-year-old boys."

Low-budget origins

A celebrated hero in Japan, Tezuka, who produced animated features for Toie Studio, introduced cinematic storytelling into manga, drawing close-ups, master shots and sequences of images that suggest camera moves.

An animated adaptation of "Astro Boy" premiered on Japanese television in 1963 and ran for 193 episodes. It was not the first Japanese animated TV series, but it was the first with a continuing story. Its popularity bolstered the fledgling Japanese animation industry: Until then, Japanese stations had broadcast dubbed American shows.

Of Astro Boy's success, Tezuka's son, Macoto Tezka (he shortened his last name), said in an e-mail interview, "Astro Boy has super powers, but his appearance is as an adorable child and he has a pure mind. The animated 'Astro Boy' started right after I was born. So sometimes I feel like Astro is my twin brother."

Although Tezuka greatly admired the films of Walt Disney, the "Astro Boy" television program was made on an absurdly small budget that precluded fluid animation. Fans often compare Tezuka, who died in 1989, to Disney, but Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera might be a more apt comparison: "Astro Boy" established animation in Japan as a product that could be turned out quickly and cheaply. Later animators, including Hayao Miyazaki, have criticized Tezuka's decision to accept such small budgets and tight deadlines, with which they still struggle.

As Schodt notes, the stories in the animated "Astro Boy" were simpler and less sophisticated than the original manga. The stories were then further simplified, and most of the scenes depicting violence or racial minorities were excised in the dubbed version that premiered on WPIX in New York in September 1963 -- the first Japanese animated program to air in the U.S.

In 1980, Tezuka worked on a second, color version of "Astro Boy," which was better animated than the 1963 original. But action scenes lacked pizazz, and the pedestrian English dub failed to generate much excitement. Still wildly popular in Japan, however, Sony produced a third "Astro Boy" series in 2003, with a few of the episodes airing on American TV in 2004. A lavish combination of drawn and computer-generated animation, it lacked the naive charm of Tezuka's low-budget original, which remains the definitive "Astro Boy" for many fans.

Appealing design

Asked about the popularity of his father's character more than a half-century after its creation, Tezka replies, "After WWII, people took 'Astro Boy' as a dream future. The stories often criticize the authorities and technology, while Astro is portrayed as a humane and affectionate character. Today, when the world is suffering an economic crisis, I think people crave that humanity and affection more than ever."

Like Felix the Cat or Betty Boop or even Mickey Mouse, Astro Boy is more popular as a product than as a film or print character. People who buy merchandise bearing his image may not have seen the cartoons or manga that came out decades ago. "In Japan and to a certain extent in the United States, the popularity of Astro Boy is dependent on the appeal of the character," Schodt says. "Tezuka hit a sweet spot in terms of appealing character design."

Continue reading "Revolutionary Role Model"...

Astro Boy Flies Again!

Newsarama has a great new article about the Astro Boy movie featuring thoughts from director David Bowers coming out of the film's recent Japanese premier. Here's a slice.

“When I was growing up in England in the 70s and 80s, the show wasn’t on television and the manga wasn’t available,” Bowers recalls. “I came aware of him more as a design icon. When I was young, the image of Astro Boy flying appeared to be everywhere, especially in imported products in my native Manchester.

“So the more I dug into Astro Boy, the more I liked it. I especially went back to the original manga, which to me is the purest source of him. I also drew from the 80s TV show. I found the 60s TV show to be fantastic but also a bit strange. It was also quite violent.”
You can read "Animated Shorts 611: ASTRO BOY Flies Again!" on or by clicking the link below for an archived version.

Animated Shorts 611: ASTRO BOY Flies Again!
By Steve Fritz
posted: 22 October 2009 02:52 pm ET

Director David Bowers has every reason in the world to sound relieved.

After innumerable trials and tribulations his latest project, the CGI feature film version of “Astro Boy,” had its world premiere in Japan.

“It was very well received,” said Bowers, whose past directorial effort was “Flushed Away.” “It got praise and did some ridiculously powerful figures over there, which is always encouraging. When I was there, it was a very surreal scene. I mean I was there along with Astro Boy, and next thing I knew, the Honda Asimo robot walks on the stage. It was a night to remember, and I don’t think Honda had anything to do the movie.”

Created as a manga by Osamu Tezuka in the early 50s, “Astro Boy” earned its stripes as the first Japanese anime series ever back in 1963. The TV series was imported to the U.S. by Fred Ladd back in 1963, where it quickly kick started the first anime revolution domestically. Over the years, Ladd would revamp the tales of the Mighty Atom in the early 80s, and Tezuka’s son Makoto would do another one with Sony the beginning of this century.

Still, no animation feature in recent years had as many problems getting off the ground as this one. A production of a new company, the directors attached to the film at one time or another included the likes of Genndy Tartakovsky (“Dexter’s Laboratory,” “Samurai Jack” and the first “Clone Wars”) and Colin Brady (“Everyone’s Hero”).

If that wasn’t enough, the world financial recession played into the movie’s production. Imagi had to fish for new backers due to losses on the global stock market.

“It was touch and go for a while thanks to the world economic crisis adversely affecting the film being made,” Bowers admits, “but it was made. The people who came in to help Imagi finish it thought they saw something special there. So seeing it made was a huge relief. Still, it’s nerve wracking”

As it happens, Bowers managed to get the job done. He managed to pull a fairly high caliber voice cast for the project, among them Freddie Highmore as Astro, Nick Cage as Tenma, Bill Nighy as Dr. Elephun and Donald Sutherland as new villain President Stone.

He also threw some bones for old time fans.

“Inspector Detector doesn’t appear,” Bowers acknowledges, “but. Professor Elephun and Mr. Mustachio play quite big parts in the movie. Mustachio was actually Toby’s teacher at the beginning of the movie. He then makes some major appearances throughout the movie.”

Bowers, who grew up in the British city of Manchester, acknowledges he came to Tezuka’s work in a non-traditional manner, at least for an animator.

“When I was growing up in England in the 70s and 80s, the show wasn’t on television and the manga wasn’t available,” Bowers recalls. “I came aware of him more as a design icon. When I was young, the image of Astro Boy flying appeared to be everywhere, especially in imported products in my native Manchester.

“So the more I dug into Astro Boy, the more I liked it. I especially went back to the original manga, which to me is the purest source of him. I also drew from the 80s TV show. I found the 60s TV show to be fantastic but also a bit strange. It was also quite violent.”

The basic plot follows the classic storyline. When Dr. Tenma loses his son Toby in a car accident, the robotic genius loses his bearings. He devotes himself to the creation of a robotic replacement of his child, named Astro. Yet in a twist on the Pinocchio legend, Tenma discovers no robot can replace his lost boy, he rejects Astro, making the robot homeless.

This is where Bowers’ tale starts to go in its own direction as opposed to Tezuka’s original vision.

“It’s a little bit nerve wracking in one respect,” says Bowers. “When you’re dealing with a character that’s so much beloved, you think twice before changing anything. People want things that have gone on before.

“Fortunately, Tezuka Productions encouraged me to go a little bit broader with the character and expand on the universal story that already existed. They actually gave me a lot of freedom. Without that, I might have worried about taking the movie into directions that I did.

“Times have changed. You can’t exactly do the Astro Boy they grew up with and loved. With that in mind, all you can do is hope they will like this one even more. The original manga is still there. All the other versions of Astro Boy are available on DVD. I haven’t spawned something that doesn’t already exist.”

One thing that Bowers had to balance carefully was keeping the film true to its roots while making sure it would work on the U.S. front.

“I think people underestimate kids and their abilities,” he states. “I mean I also look back at the films that I loved, like “Snow White” and “Bambi,” which are horrific and traumatic. The origins of Astro Boy is quite tragic, too. The original story is a brilliant scientist loses his son in an auto accident. So he creates a robot to replace him, but the robot can’t replace him. So the scientist throws the robot out.

“At its core, that’s the real drama of the movie. It’s what keeps the movie moving forward. Done right, it becomes interesting, exciting and engaging. So we kept that in and it does move. It’s not overly violent or overly graphic, but I also didn’t shy away from the things that made the story great and resonate. In fact, I would say that made the story last for over 50 years.”

Luckily for Bowers, all his modifications were done with the blessings of Tezuka’s son, Makoto.

“It was great. He was very collaborative,” says Bowers. “He was mainly concerned with design. He liked the story I came up with, so there were never any problems there. He was very keen that Astro Boy looked like the character everyone knew and loved. We made him a little older in the movie. In the past, he was about the height and looks of about an 8-9 year old. He looks a little younger than that because of his trademark big eyes and his body proportions.”

Other key changes are the introduction of the character of President Stone and the young girl Cora (Kristen Bell).

“He’s actually the president,” says Bowers, who is correcting false info given out on the IMDB. “There are actually quite a lot of new characters. President Stone is the villain and he’s actually quite fantastic. He’s playing against type. He isn’t supposed to act like a villain in the movie. I wanted him to be likeable as well. Luckily, Sutherland has plenty of warmth. So he gives a very nuanced performance.

“President Stone’s deal is he’s up for re-election, but he’s not that popular a president. He feels if he can create a phony war he could sway the populace of the Earth. I won’t say it’s ripped right from the headlines, but it should sound a bit familiar. You could say it was inspired by what went on.

“Cora is kind of this artful dodger girl that Astro bumps into. They form a great friendship, but he never quite tells her that he’s a robot. So when she does find out, she reacts. Robots are treated like second-class citizens in Metro City.”

Actually, the treatment of robots is a common metaphor for anyone familiar with Tezuka’s work. It not only was seen in “Astro Boy,” but also in his other works, such as “Metropolis.” Bowers adds his own twist to the matter though.

“Another set of new characters are a bunch of robot revolutionaries,” he notes. “They are very keen on overthrowing human slavery. They will do anything they can, no matter how shocking. Unfortunately, they are harnessed by The First Law of Robots, which states they can not directly harm any human or let any human come to harm. So the most they can do is write angry letters to the local newspapers...but they are very militant about it.”

Otherwise, the film does stick to one important subtheme of the original manga, that of Astro learning about himself while the readers learn about his world.

“We treat the movie through self-discovery for Astro,” he said. “In the beginning of the movie we do a little set-up to show what Metro City is like. It’s a fake documentary called ‘Our Friends The Robots.’ The documentary talks about how great they are, how helpful, all that. Then it ends with telling us how they are ultimately dispensable. They are treated with no more respect than kitchen appliances.”

In the meantime, Bowers is already at work on his next film. He won’t disclose it’s title or nature. Still, he’s glad to see his current movie hitting the big screen this Friday.

“It feels great. I’m really proud of the movie. So far it’s gotten a really great reaction from fans and people who are new to Astro Boy. You always wonder if people are going to like your baby when you bring it out to the world.”

If the Japanese reaction is any indication, the kid is going to do just fine.

Continue reading "Astro Boy Flies Again!"...

Astro Boy Movie Video Interviews

SuperHeroHype recently got to sit down and talk with members of the Astro Boy movie vocal cast, as well as director David Bowers. Check out the video below.

There are a lot of these types of things floating out there. I'm just a simple ninja so I can't get to all of them! At least this one is pretty cool.

UPDATE: I'll throw a link in another batch from IGN.

Continue reading "Astro Boy Movie Video Interviews"...

Total Tezuka Turbine

This wind turbine, found at the Wakasu Kaihin Park in Tokyo’s Koto ward, is one the largest wind turbines in all of Japan. But what makes it even more special is that it has been decorated with artwork featuring Osamu Tezuka's characters.

More pictures and information available at Pink Tentacle!

Continue reading "Total Tezuka Turbine"...

Thursday, October 22, 2009

New Stuff!

It's one day before the release of the Astro Boy movie. And it's a decent enough day, too. The wait has become slightly more bearable. Look what I found waiting for me on my doorstep.

Expect reviews sometime in the next week or so, right here on ABW!

Continue reading "New Stuff!"...

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Astro Boy Hollywood Premier Coverage

Plenty of cool coverage of this past Monday's Hollywood premier of the Astro Boy movie is now on the net. Let's dive right in and see what we've got!

Gossip Center
has some photos of Freddie Highmore and Kristen Bell, along with an Astro character mascot.

L.A. Looks was in the house, giving Astro-hair-dos to volunteers. Read their press release here.

AceShowBiz has a report of the event and an extensive photo gallery.

Coming out of the UK, ITN has a video report of the premier.

The Mainichi Daily News brings the Japanese perspective of this American premier, featuring Makoto Tezuka who had this to say about the festivities:

"My father would be happier than anyone else that his work has been titled in English and screened in Hollywood. My heart is too full for words,"
And finally, thanks to Pacific Rim Video, I am able to present some video coverage of the red carpet. Below is an interview with Freddie Highmore. Click the "Continue reading" link to see the rest of the videos.

Continue reading "Astro Boy Hollywood Premier Coverage"...

IDW Astro on iPod too!

Astro is hitting the iPhone and iPod Touch in a big way!

Following up on the recent announcement of Weekly Astro Boy Magazine in English, now IDW's Astro Boy comic books are also available for download on iTunes. Every issue of both the movie adaptation and the prequel are available right now individually or as complete graphic novels.

Check out "Astro Boy Soars onto iPhones!" at IDW for all the info and download links.

Continue reading "IDW Astro on iPod too!"...

A Brief History of Astro Boy

The Sci-Fi Block is now presenting a great article that will serve as a primer or re-introduction to the rich history of Astro Boy. This retrospective on the character touches upon pretty much every iteration of the story, starting with the manga and moving onwards to each of the 3 TV series, noting the story themes and what makes each of them unique. On board to help set the scene is the amazing Ada Palmer from Tezuka in English.

Even if you've been a fan for a long time, this article is certainly worth checking out. And if you're new to all this, it's a great place to start. Read "A Brief History of Astro Boy" on The Sci-Block.

Continue reading "A Brief History of Astro Boy"...


You got that right! Finally, a dose of Tezuka goodness is coming to the iPhone and iPod Touch, officially in English!

Weekly Astro Boy Magazine is on its way to the US later this month thanks to D-Arc. The first volume will be free, and subsequent weekly volumes will cost 99 cents. This is huge news that might just mean some big exposure for Astro and the whole cast of Osamu Tezuka characters.

Pictured to the right is Tezuka Productions President and all around awesome guy, Takayuki Matsutani.

You can see more about this upcoming development here and check out the press release by clicking the link below. Thanks to Yoshihide Kinokawa for sending this to me!

Tezuka Manga to Deliver 'WEEKLY ASTRO BOY MAGAZINE' to the U.S. and Around the World Through iPhone.

Tokyo, Japan--October 20th, 2009--D-Arc, Inc.(CEO:Tsuneo Ishii) and Tezuka Productions Co. Ltd (President:Takayuki Matsutani) announced at the Foreign Correspondents Club of Japan that they will start delivering TEZUKA MANGA to iPhone/iPod touch users as 'WEEKLY ASTRO BOY MAGAZINE' through iTunes App Store.

One volume of the 'WEEKLY ASTRO BOY MAGAZINE', consisting of almost a hundred pages, will be published weekly. The first volume includes `ASTRO BOY', the most popular of Osamu Tezuka's MANGA, as well as 'PHOENIX', 'BLACK JACK' and more. The cover page depicts `ASTRO BOY'. The first volume is free, and each volume after that will be on sale for 0.99$ per week/one volume.

As the environment surrounding network infrastructure and information technology continue to change, Tezuka Produtions' publishng division has created a brand new style of enjoying MANGA. The main project is the 'Osamu Tezuka Magazine branding project, which carries the themes "reading, seeing, chatting, creating". These services have already been put in motion this past year, commemorating the 80th anniversary of OSAMU TEZUKA.

'WEEKLY ASTRO BOY MAGAZINE' is part of the project that aims to promote and spread TEZUKA MANGA and Japanese Manga culture around the world.

'WEEKLY ASTRO BOY MAGAZINE' is powerd by D-Arc Inc's D-Arc Viewer that has been developed for digital publishing on iPhone. Venture company VOICE-BANK, Inc. announced through Safari Web App "The start of the Manga delivers to US on iPhone" in July 2007", coinciding with the release of iPhone. The company has already started delivering the trial version as the "Digital Manga Project"(

Since then joint venture company D-Arc Inc, that archives Manga and distributes it on iPhone, has been joined by VOICE-BANK, Inc. (March of 2009). After the start of "WEEKLY ASTRO BOY MAGAZINE" in October of 2009, D-Arc Inc. plans to distribute other manga created by popular authors on iPhone.


D-Arc, Inc.
Director:Yoshihide Kinokawa

Musashino-building 707
1-20-26 Hyakunin-cho,Shinjyuku Tokyo
169-0073 JAPAN
tel: +81-3-5332-7598
fax: +81-3-5332-7599

Continue reading "WEEKLY ASTRO BOY MAGAZINE on iPhone in English!"...

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Astro Boy in Toronto

City News' Popcorn Chatter reports that Astro himself recently made a visit to my neck of the woods, Toronto! He was in town to see some very lucky kids at the Hospital for Sick Children. Not only did Astro give them a surprise visit, but also a special viewing of the animated Astro Boy movie.

This is totally cool and really touches my heart. The Hospital for Sick Children, aka "SickKids", is a world renowned facility and I know people who were taken care of there when they were young. It's only fitting that such an important place dedicated to the health of children would be visited by the child creation of Osamu Tezuka, who was a doctor himself. Kudos to everyone involved in making this happen.

Continue reading "Astro Boy in Toronto"...

EXCLUSIVE! New Astro Boy Movie Still!

Wow, I am overwhelmed by the awesomeness of this!

With special thanks to Ryan from Summit Entertainment, I can present to you all an exclusive image from the animated Astro Boy movie by Imagi. That's right, exclusive! It's just for all of you awesome AstroBoy World readers. And what makes this even more incredible is the image itself. Wait until you get a load of this! Make sure you click for a closer look.

Holy cow! Astro is the Fist of the North Star! YOU WA SHOCK!

Other websites can use this as long as credit is given to AstroBoy World with a link back here.

Continue reading "EXCLUSIVE! New Astro Boy Movie Still!"...

Kristen Bell is an Astro Girl

Another new interview with Kristen Bell about the Astro Boy movie. Another good excuse to put a photo of her up here.

Here's a slice that gives some depth to her character of Cora.

Cora, she points out, is a real girl who grows up “in a society that thinks robots are unimportant and you should look down upon them. She feels really betrayed when she finds out Astro is a robot, but ultimately in the end makes the decision, ‘He is my friend and I’m not going to throw him away just because we’re raised to not like robots.’
You can read "‘Astro’ girl" on the Boston Herald or click the link below for an archived version.

‘Astro’ girl

Bell chimes in on voicing sassy cartoon role

Kristen Bell gets to play one of “her favorite kinds of girls - sassy and smart” when she voices Cora in Friday’s “Astro Boy.”

Originally a ’60s Japanese anime cartoon, “Astro Boy” has been given a digital makeover and a voice cast that includes Freddie Highmore as Astro, Nicolas Cage and Samuel L. Jackson.

“It has echoes of so many different stories - ‘Pinocchio,’ ‘Oliver Twist,’ ” Bell said of the futuristic tale where a scientist creates a robot in the image of his late son, complete with his memories.

For the actress best known as teenage TV sleuth “Veronica Mars,” Cora was a role with interesting implications.

“My philosophy of life is just opening up your heart a little more,” she said. “There are so many things that can make you jaded and selfish.”

Cora, she points out, is a real girl who grows up “in a society that thinks robots are unimportant and you should look down upon them. She feels really betrayed when she finds out Astro is a robot, but ultimately in the end makes the decision, ‘He is my friend and I’m not going to throw him away just because we’re raised to not like robots.’

“That’s a really important message, even subliminally for kids: to follow your gut and not follow the masses when your heart tells you something different.”

The 29-year-old actress gave this interview as she finished a dance rehearsal for the film “Burlesque,” which co-stars Christina Aguilera and Cher.

“Nobody gets naked, it’s about the art of burlesque. It’s a tease,” she said.

She calls her role, that of an alcoholic drug addict, “sexier but very sassy as usual. I’m open to everything. I’m not ready to do nudity in my career and I don’t know if I ever will be. Although it’s very comical to me that the two movies I’ve done recently, ‘Couples Retreat’ and ‘Forgetting Sarah Marshall,’ I’ve been in a bikini half the time - and that’s so not me.”

Continue reading "Kristen Bell is an Astro Girl"...

Movie Astro on iGoogle

For those of you using the Astro Boy / Atom iGoogle theme, you may have noticed an interesting change recently! Now it features images from the movie. Not sure how long it will be like this. It could very well be a temporary thing, so enjoy it while you can!

Thanks again to Robert from the Sci-Fi Block.

Continue reading "Movie Astro on iGoogle"...

Monday, October 19, 2009

Imagi Lifting off?

Here's an interesting editorial targeted towards investors out of Hong Kong that focuses on the financial aspect of Imagi and the Astro Boy movie. There were some money problems mid-way through production of the film, and naturally it's still up in the air how well Astro will perform at the US box office this weekend, but judging from this, the current outlook on the company is rather positive. Do keep in mind that there are some factual errors to be found (Imagi created the TMNT movie, not the TV series).

We'll have to wait and see what the Astro Boy film will mean for the future of Imagi, but until then you can read "Lift-off?" on the Standard or by clicking the link below for an archive version.


Timothy Kwai

Monday, October 19, 2009

Imagi International (0585) will be looking for much more than Anime magic when its US$65 million (HK$507 million) animation, Astro Boy premiers in the United States and China on Friday.

Based on a popular Japanese manga character originally created by Tesuka Osamu in 1965, the film, Imagi hopes the movie puts it on a much stronger financial footing.

It opened in Hong Kong theatres on Saturday. But some investors are not waiting for box office returns.

They have already regained their faith in the company and the stock has been one of the most volatile counters on the local bourse, which some analysts have said is already quite topsy-turvey.

Imagi specializes in the development and production of animated feature films using computer generated imagery (CGI) technology. In 2007 it produced the very successful television series Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

Astro Boy was completed in June. Many fans of animation around the world are eagerly waiting to see the film -- a proof that Imagi US$40 million outlay to promote the movie has not been in vain.

But some observers are wary of the company itself as it has had to climb stiff hurdles to be where it is today. In January, it conducted intense negotiations to secure a bridge loan facility of up to US$16.6 million.

In May, the firm said that it had reached an agreement with one of its shareholder -- Winnington Capital Limited -- to restructure the terms of its HK$132 million convertible note dated January 30, 20
08 issued by the Company pursuant to a subscription agreement dated December 4, 2007 between the Imagi and Winnington.

The initial conversion price of the Winnington shares is HK$0.30 subject to certain adjustments.

Also, there has been an earthquake in the boardroom. The founder, Francis Kao, has been appointed to handle design and financial matters while Phoon Chiong-kit, an experienced film executive, -has been elected as the deputy chairman.

A large-scale animation like Astro Boy and it has taken around 3 years to develop this project. During this time most of Imagi's human and financial resources were devoted to this animation.

However, sources in the industry point out that the profit-sharing deal between Imagi and Warner Brothers -- the distributor of Astro Boy -- does not favor the Hong Kong company.

This is important as a big slice of the income from such films is derived from the sales of toys and related items.

The film no doubt is expected to fare well in Hong Kong and the mainland. But that is unlikely to be matched by the reception of the much more lucrative American market.

With his prior connections in the industry, Phoon Chiong-kit has been able to ensure the screening of Astro Boy in 1,200 mainland theaters.

This is no small feat as Western movies rarely get such a wide exposure at the same time in China.

Foreign films distributors usually need to bypass a number of bureaucratic obstacles before being screened. Although Astro-boy is a foreign-made film, Imagi has got the license allowing direct talks on profit-sharing deals with individual theater owners.

There are around 4,000 theatres in China. So, being screened in 1,200 theatres is a breakthrough.

But investors should be aware of the fact that Imagi is pulling all resources on Astro Boy.

This is fraught with risks. If anything goes wrong with the film's reception, the stock price, currently trading at 38 Hong Kong cents, will be under great pressure.

I have the impression that Imagi is under such pressure to produce a successful animation or the management has to sell the company to someone else.

Investors are advised to keep track of the returns from the American box office at the end of this month. Surely, such returns is likely to correlate with the stock price.

Timothy Kwai is an investment strategist at Quam Securities

Continue reading "Imagi Lifting off?"...

Astro Taking Flight with D-BOX!

From The HD Room:

With Pandorum wrapping up its theatrical run, D-BOX Technologies has announced Summit Entertainment's CGI animated Astro Boy movie is next in line to take advantage of motion controlled seating.

Astro Boy is the first Summit Entertainment film to feature D-BOX Motion Code technology that matches action on-screen to pre-programmed chair movements. Previous films released theatrically with D-BOX have included Terminator Salvation and Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.

Astro Boy opens October 23 and can be found with D-BOX MFX seats at the following seven theaters beginning this Friday: Cineplex Odeon Queensway Theatre in Etobicoke, Canada; Mann Chinese 6 Theatre in Los Angeles, California; Theatres at Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota; Galaxy at the Cannery in Las Vegas, Nevada; Galaxy Highland Theatre in Austin, Texas; UltraStar Cinemas in Surprise, Arizona; and UltraStar Apple Valley in San Bernardino, California.
Sounds interesting. I wonder if I'll get a chance to check this out.

Read more information on the press release and on the D-Box website.

Continue reading "Astro Taking Flight with D-BOX!"...