Astro Boy: The New Era

Imagi’s much-discussed Astro Boy movie was launched in Japan today. The movie breaks with ‘classic’ Astro Boy/Tetsuwan Atom traditions in many ways in its attempt to take Osamu Tezuka’s iconic little robot to a new generation of fans, but one  traditon has been restored for the Japanese dub of the movie. The voice of young Hollywood star Freddie Highmore has been replaced with that of a grown-up actress. 23-year-old Aya Ueto voices the little robot, following in the footsteps of original Japanese voice artist Mari Shimizu and American Billie Lou Watt, who played the role when Atom made his debut in the 1963 Japanese and US TV versions.

In Japan and America, there has been talk about the problems facing the anime industry, but elsewhere in Asia there is more optimism, according to this morning’s AFP report by Matthew Scott. Imagi’s Tim Cheung  is unsurprisingly upbeat. Kim Ji-Seok, programmer for the Asian animation segment of Korea’s Pusan International Film Festival also sees positive signs in the emerging animation industry beyond Japan.

The film isn’t scheduled for a US opening until later this month, though visitors to the Chicago International Film Festival will be able to see it there on October 18. The USA and China will see the movie on 23 October. UK release plans have yet to be confirmed.

6 thoughts on “Astro Boy: The New Era

  1. Considering the market for online downloaded fan subs in anime, you would have thought that distributors would be pushing for a joint USA/UK release date, because while thousands will want to see it on the big screen, even more will just be happy to see it and will quite happily download it as soon as someone posts it online.

    Really looking forward to it though, having just discovered Astro Boy after your Tezuka season at the Barbican.

    AP

    • You’re right, and the industry has to find a new financial model fast. Those of us who love the big screen/big sound of cinema and are happy to shell out cash and travel to see a movie are, let’s face it, too few to sustain the industry in its present form. I think I’m the only Ghibli fan in the world who’s decided to wait and see Ponyo on the big screen before I get it on DVD (and this was before I knew we’d be showing it at the Barbican!) Downloads and illegal copies are really hurting the market at every level, so we can only hope that the guys in suits start observing their market a bit more closely and find a way to work with reality rather than sticking their fingers in their ears and going “la, la, we can’t hear the pirate guns…”

  2. Hey Helen,

    I saw you briefly at AWA this year, but I didn’t get the chance to talk to you. I just wanted to share some Astro Boy stuff with you.

    The New York Kinokuniya display of your new Tezuka book.

    Tomorrow they are hosting a Tezuka day, and your book will be featured.

    http://www.mediumatlarge.net/2009/10/osamu-tezuka-day-at-kinokuniya.html

    Today I just watched an advanced screening of the Astro Boy film and met the director.

    http://twitpic.com/lwtr4

    • Hi James, and thanks so much for this great material. I liked it so much I gave it an entry of its own, with due to credit to you of course. Great pic of David Bowers, too – I hope you’ve sent him a copy! So what did you think of the movie? – Helen

      • Sorry for the delay. I didn’t want to comment on the movie until it opened. The film was good. Many die hard otaku or Tezuka fans might have problems with the changes that the director made (story and new characters). Overall, I could sense that Bowers tried to capture the spirit of the Astro Boy character. His intended audience was obviously children (most of whom don’t know Astro Boy or Tezuka). I saw the film in small theater loaded with children, and they were very fond of it.

  3. I LOVED the Astro Boy movie! I think Imagi did a very good job updating Astro for the 21st Century. Unfortunately, the film was overlooked at the box office and has had its troubles; happily it’s doing better on DVD. I’d love a sequel. Keeping my fingers crossed…

    Oh, and because I loved the movie, I bought your book! Great stuff! Thanks for all the work you put into it. It’s worth every penny.

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