|Astro Boy is considered by many to be the granddaddy of Japanese animation. In Japan, the series (titled Tetsuan-Atoma) was one of the most popular of all time, and when it was brought to America it was greeted with the same excitement it had gotten at home.
The premise of the show was considerably dark for a cartoon. Dr. Boynton was a scientist whose son was tragically killed in a car accident. In order to escape his grief, Boynton created a robot in his son’s likeness. Naming the creation Astro Boy (a variation of the child’s real name, Astor Boynton), the doctor equipped the tyke with a variety of superpowers and basic human emotions. Despondent over the fact that his “son” would never grow up, Boynton gave the lad away.
Eventually, Astro Boy was adopted by the kindly Dr. Elefun (so called because of his impressive proboscis), who encouraged the boy to use his powers to protect the innocent against all evildoers. Later, the good doctor even built our hero a sister, appropriately named Astro Girl.
The cartoon Astro Boy is responsible for many of the trademark “Japanimation” techniques still in use today. Osamu Tezuka (Astro Boy’s creator) was a huge fan of Walt Disney and Max Fleischer cartoons, and he drew all his characters with oversized eyes to emulate those American animators. This famed look is a quality still found in today's anime.
Also influential were the stories on Astro Boy, noticeably dark for a children’s show. This aspect has carried over into a number of other Japanese imports, some of which feature violence so extreme it has to be edited for American television.
Because it was produced in black and white, Astro Boy is rarely seen on television today, but any die-hard animation fan will tell you that Speed Racer, Kimba the White Lion and Voltron all owe a debt to the tiny hero.
”Everything is GO, Astro Boy!”
Tetsuwan Atom ("Mighty Atom")