Astro Boy (1980)

The second series was the last Tezuka would have a hand in before his death in 1990. After the massive success of the 1960 series this one had a lot to live up to.

The series is engaging and while episodic, still manages to have some character development when viewed in order. This series also starts to veer away from the original manga, occasionally tweaking a story or two and adding brand new stories with the introduction of Astro’s rival and “brother” Atlas, whom was built from stolen blueprints of Astro’s design but also given “omega factor”, a device which allows robots to do bad things as well as good. The action sequences are much more creative and (understandably) much better in motion

Unfortunately this series didn’t manage to match the success of its predecessor. This could be attributed down to the fact Tezuka was much less involved in the series (only writing a few of the episodes) and generally a darker tone overall. The stories were the same as the manga; the same characters die or suffer to some degree. Though while the 60’s Astro would spare a moment for thought and move on with determination. This version of Astro takes each plight to heart and is easily hurt or upset. In a way the series succeeds too well in emotionally connecting the viewer to the one shot character and Astro himself at times.

Even the final episode, despite being open ended, requires mass breakout of tissues. As Astro finds the last robot built like him, a girl robot, and falls in love with her. Only to find she’s virtually a walking time bomb, and the only way to stop the bomb is to dismantle and shut her down for good.

This series is best for those who want to relate to the story on a level slightly deeper than usual. If you prefer a more lighthearted storyline go with the 2003 series.

The series itself is available on DVD. There is two versions of the set, American and Australian. I personally suggest the American version as it comes with Episodes with less cuts and has the Japanese soundtrack and subs. Though the Australian version has the first 2 episodes wholly in their original Japanese (along with the Atlas Boy scenes) a\nd a few additional deleted scenes not on the North American release