Late October 2009 In USA and January 2010 will see the release of the Animation of the classic Astroboy. This animation classic was created by Osama Tezuka a way back in 1952 right through until 1968 and was called “Tetsuwan Atom” and it was a a lot years later USA got the first English spoken version (I’m unsure if the cartoon was aired in UK though).
Osamu Tezuka has been credited many titles like “God Of Manga”, “God of Anime” and even the “Japanese Disney” which upset the great man(though he was inspired by Disney and Bambi). Along with Astroboy, he created Kimba The White Lion which many critics believe was the inspiration for the Lion King (maybe a post for another day) but what we can say is the big puppy eyes we see in anime he was the man to start the trademark style.
I’m a massive Anime fan I haven’t seen much of Tezuka classics, though I have seen a lot of pictures read a few of the graphic novels and I can see and respect why the animation had become a cultural part of American and in some other lands. It’s Like Mickey Mouse to Walt Disney, Astroboy is to Tezuka. It was shown by NBC during a period of time when the world was recovering from World War 2 along with world economy recovering, people will simply rebuilding themselves and it was also a fascinating time for technology with a lot of gadgets like microwaves, the sort of things we take for granted these days. television was improving slightly, lots of programmes and films where sci-fi based so anything robotic was big news.
Basically, anything we grew up watching, buying, doing when we were younger is iconic be it for positive or negative reasons. I’m one of Thatcher’s children, the children of Britain who grew up with iron lady dictator in power, iconic things I remember are Ulysses 31, dogtainian and muskerhounds, rainbow, return of the Jedi, Miyazaki’s Laputa, the list goes on.
So why has Astroboy and its upcoming film caused so much stir among many fans? Americanizing is a little harsh, yes an American company was involved but so was a company from Hong Kong and Tezuka productions (a company started by or on the great man’s behalf) which shows the production team want to keep originality. The tv shows have been made twice, once in 1980’s and again 2000 and the 2000 edition did have a lot of Americanisms in it but no comments were made then. I have to say the two things I see why people are up in arms about the new anime is the use of big known Hollywood actors and the new Astroboy look.
Astroboy himself is voiced by Freddie Highmore (Spiderwick Chronicles, golden compass) who 17 year old English actor , Astroboy’s father and creator Dr Tenma is voiced by Nicholas Cage and the choice of him as a important character is annoying a lot of people the most. Donald Sutherland, Bill Nighy, Kristen Bell, Eugene Levy and Little Britain’s Matt Lucas are in it as well. It has always been traditional to use actual voice actors rather than big Hollywood stars in animations especially Japanese ones, the producers want the money to fly in so they chose these big names, but if this anime is an iconic kid classic, why is there a need for known actors, the actual fact its a classic story (based loosely on Pinocchio) so why use these actors. What will I say is was there any outcry of use of big Hollywood actors for Miyazaki’s and Studio Ghibli’s classic anime? No despite Miyazaki views of fat cat corporate Disney.
Well we know Astroboy was a story of an era in the future with androids and Dr. Tenma created an android boy called Astro to replace his son tobio who was killed in a car accident and built the android in the same image as his son. Astroboy is an 9-year-old android boy but suddenly the new film he is a 16/17-year-old teen with an English accent! It may be the fact Astroboy was roughly the same age as the children who watched him and that now he’s an adolescent teen boy?! The other thing he wore just pants in the original now he’s virtually fully clothed and to many its Astro hair quiff the only recognizable thing from the original.
I cant see how its going to be an Americanised as not every actor is American some are British, the production team is mixed. I am however a supporter of keeping some originality if you’re going to make or remake a classic or simply lose that loyal fanbase, so keeps Astroboy similar to the original cartoons. As for voices, it doesn’t matter for me, everyone one these days wants to make a few extra bucks and in the year(s) of the remakes or reboots, watch it as if its one of those reboots, just look at star trek! So wait until the animation is released go watch and then judge the animation then.