The Birth of Astroboy
In circa 1951 A.D., (or 54 B.P. for the P.C. out there), a certain doctor named Osamu Tezuka set into motion a chain of events that would eventually bring about the destruction of the world. Well, maybe not, but it did make pop culture from 1995 to present pretty darn crappy. Mr. Tezuka, of course, was the creator of Tetsuwan Atom, who became lovingly known to us westerners as Astroboy. Despite predating other manga-based shows, it wasn't until 1982 that Astroboy would make its way across the pond and onto our television sets, and by that point in time, Speedracer had been around for a good 15 years. Astroboy is kind of like the first plague of Egypt. Water turning into blood is pretty fucking cool, but after that it just goes downhill. They got swarms of locusts, we got swarms of pokémon. This article will be focusing on the first episode of the Astroboy series. It's pretty heavy at some points, and comical at others, the way 'Japanimation' was supposed to be. Unlike Samurai Pizza Cats, which took the Japanese cartoon Kyatto Ninden Teyandee, removed all semblance of seriousness, and ended up with a somewhat humourous farce.
Okay, so the episode opens in a futuristic Frankenstein's laboratory, though if you ask me, the good doctor looks more like Gene Wilder than he does Colin Clive. I guess it's the hair. Everything seems to be going along well, when suddenly a random computer screen says SOS, (or moreso, ZOZ backwards), and everything goes to shit. The poor monster's face explodes and bursts into flame. It tries to get up and run the eye-wash station, but the bastard of a doctor tells his lackeys to cut the power. The monster then falls to the floor with irreparable ocular damage. We later find out, with the help of the doc's eavesdropping son Toby, that not only is he the minister of science, but he has also failed four times, trying to create a robot with a soul. Apparently, in the future not only have they discovered the location of the soul, but have analyzed it enough to try and replicate one. I pity the poor people that checked the 'soul donor' box on their licence applications. Unfortunately, they didn't think of harvesting James Brown clones, because then those damned robots would definately have soul.
After trying to console his father, Toby suggests that they modify their work to construct a boy robot. It's a stroke of genius! "A boy robot! Why didn't I think of that?" The minister exclaims. That's exactly my question. Why the fuck couldn't the fucking minister of science figure that one out? He has to wait for his effeminate son to do it for him. Actually, on second thought, that's not my question. I want to know, WHAT FUCKING DIFFERENCE DOES IT MAKE? A boy robot, or an adult robot, metal is fucking metal. I guess it makes a difference when it comes to cybornetic soul infusion. Maybe you idiots should have spent more time researching this whole soul concept. Morons. Anyway, the pictures above show the first joke of the show. The minister tells his staff that they're going to modify the design to make a boy robot. The staff seems incredulous, until Igor pipes up saying "Why not? It is a children's show." Way to break the fourth wall you fucking douchebag. Then, even weirder, the doc comes out of the screen and yells at them.
After that bit of ridiculousness, we find out that Mr. minister stood up his own son. Good old dad was supposed to bring Toby to the amusement park, but instead forgot all about him. Way to go, you neglectful bastard. He tries to patch things up by saying they'll go next week for sure. This does little to ease Toby's hurt feelings, and he leaves dejectly. Toby then jumps in a robot car, and ends it all by driving into a train. Now, I don't know about you, but I was sad once when I was a little kid. I didn't kill myself. That would have been stupid. Nor did I jump in a car and try to drive home. That would also have been stupid. Apparently the kid who is smarter than the minister of science is still pretty fucking dumb. The same goes for the owner of the car. I guess back in '63 when the cartoon was made, they didn't have the foresight to think that cars in the future would have security measures, preventing random people from stealing your fucking car. Toby's death is a critical turning point in the show. But if you hadn't guessed that already, you're dumber than everyone, and should probably go stand on some railway tracks, as you probably don't have the mental capacity to drive.
Like most grieving parents, Toby's dad goes completely fucking apeshit. He decides it would a grand idea to build his boy robot with 100,000 horsepower, rockets, lasers, and machine guns. When this is fact makes its way to Quentin's boss, (as we learn the minister's real name at this point), he is ordered to decommission the experiment. Unfortunately, being apeshit and all, the doctor believes he is recreating his son, and finishes the project. The creepy thing is that he has a skin for the robot that looks like his son, and I'm not entirely sure if its synthetic, or if he actually skinned Toby's mangled corpse. As the robot comes to life, Igor and Ms. Ford enter the lab. After seeing the boy take his first steps and say his first word, Ms. Ford prolifically states, "This may mean trouble." Really? No shit. Thanks for that poignant piece of information. I thought that disobeying a direct order would make rainbows and puppies flying out the president's ass. Maybe we should just kill the robot. How about we light his face on fire like the last one? But wait, it has a soul, that would be bad. At this point it would have been interesting if Quentin ordered his son to kill the dumb bitch. Unfortunately, that's not the way things go.
The next few scenes show Astro learning about the world. (I know he doesn't get the name Astroboy in this episode, but I'm calling him Astro anyway, shut up). He also tries to learn how to use his powers. He ends up breaking things and eating a fork, which is kind of funny, but then he flies into power lines. I don't think that part is meant to be funny, judging by the music change, but how can you not laugh when a child gets electrocuted? I guess Louie the Lightning Bug wasn't around back then, so Astro had no idea that powerlines were dangerous. After unsuccessfully trying to get Toby's dog Jump to accept Astro, Quentin notices that Astro's gone catatonic and his eyes are glowing. Not knowing what to do he calls Captain Obvious, formerly known as Ms. Ford. She agrees to come look at Astro, but when doc gets off the phone, Astro is gone. I'm pretty sure Toby used to have a brother, until that one tragic bath night.
"Doctor, it's going to cause some real problems if that robot explodes." I'll give one guess as to who says this gem. I'm starting to think that Ms. Ford got her job for the same reason House gave Cameron her job. Now, I'm no mason, and I don't know the densities of concrete and steel, but in this scene, Astro walks through a concrete wall into a construction zone. He then walks into a steel girder, and gets stopped in his tracks. Regardless, this causes another girder to fall off the top of the skyscraper-in-progress and land on Astro, which he catches and then puts back on top of the building. I have no idea why a girder was left sitting unsecured on the top of a building, so I'm going to assume that they didn't have safety regulations back in '63 either. Anyway, enter Doc Q, Capt. O, and Igor in a tank. They shoot Astro off the scyscraper and then go to grab him with a claw, but the good doctor will have none of that. Shoot his son, sure. Pick him afterwards? Hell no. The three stooges then have a tug of war over the control panel, which causes the tank to go haywire and starts a destructive rampage. Why is it when machinery malfunctions, it always goes on a destructive rampage? Why can't things just fucking break? Oh right, because that wouldn't be exciting. Anyway, long story short, tank goes crazy, shoots down chopper, building catches fire, Astro saves trapped children, then dumps tank in ocean. Isn't it great how a long, exciting action scene can be summed up so mundanely?
Well, the proverbial cat is out of the proverbial bag, and the Minister of science gets proverbially canned. With no job to hold him back, he takes his creation and goes on a cruiseship. Here we see that Astro's incompetence at controlling his strength is really grating on Quentin's nerves. The final straw comes at dinner, when Astro inadvertently dumps a table of food on a fat snob. An angry Doc Q then proclaims, "You're not my son! Don't call me dad! You're a robot!" Boy, if I had a nickel every time I got that line. . . . A dejected Astro goes up on deck, intending to throw himself overboard, as there are no trains around. Luckily for Killy McSuicide a strange man comes up to him and gives Astro an offer he can't refuse, with heavy pedophilic undertones. "I don't have anywhere to go, what am I gonna do?" Oh Astro, saying that to a pedophile is like giving fire to a pyro, or a corpse to a necro. The stranger claims to be the ring master of a most wonderful robot circus, and that he will make Astro a star. Had he actaully seen the scene with the tank, I might believe his story. Seeing as this is not implied, I'm gonna assume poor Astro's in for a unpleasant trip. The ring master gets Astro to sign a contract saying the guy gets possession of Astro for 'an unlimited amount of time at no financial burden'. Now, if the People's Court has tuaght me anything, it's that contracts with children may be terminated anytime the child wishes to. On top of that, I'm pretty sure that property cannot sign itself away from it's owner. Legal jargon aside, the ship's got bigger problems: icebergs.
An iceberg may have sunk the Titanic, but that rusty tub didn't have a robot on board with AK-47's in its ass. Recognizing the peril everyone is in, Astro comes to the rescue and breaks up all the icebergs. However, this takes a lot out of the poor guy, and when he gets back on the ship, who should find him but his good friend the ring master. Dragging his prey back to his cabin, Uncle Feelgood tosses Astro in a trunk, while Quentin calls out to him. The show ends with the ship pulling into port. Now, I know that there have been a few people who have gone missing on cruise ships lately. I also understand that Astro is a robot, but you'd think that they would still hold everyone on the ship until he was found. Or not. Whatever, I don't fucking care.
Astroboy was a darn good show considering how long ago it was made. Unlike a lot of shows I enjoyed when I was young, I can still watch Astroboy and enjoy it. It has good action scenes, the jokes are still funny, and it even gets some PSA cred for teaching kids not to play around wires and not to talk to strangers. But most importantly, it taught us that if your parents don't love you, kill yourself. Then you'll get to be a kick-ass robot.
Posted by: Valdronius
Soaring high in the sky. . . .