Astro is a Japanese manga Pinocchio based story set in the future. The 2003 series features 50 episodes on 5 separately issued DVD. The 2003 Astro Boy is the third incarnation of the cartoon created by Osamu Tezuka. The new version keeps some of the graphic stylistics of early Japanese cartoons including goofy looking adults and characters with really big round eyes with either a white triangle or window inside the pupil. Each DVD features 10 episodes in a loosely connected story.
The 2003 series’ story line is Astro is the robotic reincarnation of Dr. Tenma’s son Tobio. energized by Dr. O’Shay (an authentic Japanese name if there ever was one). The conflicts are between Tenma and O’Shay and the inhabitants of Metro City and the boy robot some believe is not a good guy. Astro Boy himself is more or less 6 years old and can sometimes hear his first father’s thoughts and his original memories.
It is somewhat hard to figure out the audience for this cartoon DVD series. The animation is pretty decent so the series should please manga fans. Astro Boy is clearly aimed at young children but is on the rather violent side for such a young audience. The plot lines, often referring to past episodes or past series, are a bit on the confusing side even for an adult so imagine what it is like for a kid.
My guess is adults who were fans of the first two incarnations of this cartoon (1960 and 1980) will enjoy the new series while manga geeks can debate which version is better to their heart’s content.
There are a lot of scenes in Astro Boy that involve strobing and lots of flashes. This could pause a problem for anybody with epilepsy.
The 5 Astro Boy DVDs are being rereleased in preparation for the November 2009 release of the Astro Boy 3D movie. One thing for sure is the price, roughly $11.00 at publication time, is certainly right.