Monday, August 22, 2011

The Original Astro Boy: Mighty Atom

I use the black and white image of the original Astro Boy as my online avatar because when I was growing up, the imagined future had the cheerful optimism that after the unambiguously virtuous hero is tested, she wins.

There was also the belief that while technology can be used for good or for evil, the people using it for good would defeat the people using it for evil.

"IN THE YEAR 2000..." Thus began many episodes of ASTROBOY, the first Japanese animated TV series to reach the American market.

Today, the future is more complicated. Climate change is a greater threat than the cold war, but green technology has no funding equivalent to the Apollo program. Space dollars from the government built the foundation for the computer industry (and the internet) -- what changes could come from making green technology and green jobs as urgent?

Meanwhile, technology does give us many paths back to the future:

-- Flying cars are a decade overdue, but the idea is an anachronistic extension of current transportation paradigms, and not nearly as cool as pod cars that you take and leave.

-- YouTube has the black and white intro for the first English language version of the Astro Boy TV series, featuring the unforgettable theme song.

-- YouTube also has a home video of the Astro Boy theme song playing as the outro for trains leaving Takadanobaba Station (I want to go to there).

-- Wikipedia has a long Astro Boy and a profile of its creator, Osamu Tezuka.

21st century technology also offers ways to purchase memories:

-- has the full original Astro Boy black and white box set on DVD
-- eBay has old and new Astro Boy collectibles
-- iTunes has a bunch of more recent stuff

And the 1960's B&W Series: Opening Credits are, of course, online:

There you go, Astro Boy,
On your flight into space
Rocket high, through the sky
For adventures soon you will face!

Astro Boy bombs away,
On your mission today,
Here's the countdown,
And the blastoff,
Everything is go Astro Boy!

Astro Boy, as you fly,
Strange new worlds you will spy,
Atom celled, jet propelled,
Fighting monsters high in the sky!

Astro Boy, there you go,
Will you find friend or foe?
Cosmic Ranger, laugh at danger,
Everything is go Astro Boy!

Crowds will cheer you, you're a hero,
As you go, go, go Astro Boy!


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