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Astro Boy – Hero of Manga and Anime

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Astro Boy statue, Kyoto

Tetsuwan Atomu (lit. “Iron Arm Atom”), or Astro Boy, was Japan’s first great modern cartoon hero, on the printed page and the TV screen, and he is still considered an icon.

He was the hero of a 1952 Japanese manga series by the “God of Manga”, Osamu Tezuka, which was adapted into the first popular animated Japanese television series in 1963. From this beginning Japanese animation, known now as anime,  has grown into a massive industry, recognised around the world. The term anime is actually simply the abbreviated pronunciation of “animation” in Japanese, where this term refers to all animation, but in other languages, the term has come to mean animation from Japan or in Japanese style, typically characterized by colourful graphics, vibrant characters and fantastic themes.

Astro Boy himself was inspired by the Pinocchio legend.  His creator wanted to build himself an artificial son to replace the human child he had lost, so there’s an emotional side to the series, as well as typical action hero antics. This may be part of the reason he has remained so popular.

After his initial appearance on Japanese screens in the 1960s, Astro Boy went on to enjoy success abroad, and was remade in the 1980s and again in 2003.  An American computer-animated 3-D film based on the original manga series was released in 2009. In November 2007, he was named Japan’s envoy for overseas safety.

Linked to Daily Prompt: Hero.

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