ASTROBOY VOLUME 1

This is the first volume of the original Dark Horse manga.

1. THE BIRTH OF ASTRO BOY

First published June 20th 1975, as part of an original story for Volume 1 of Asahi Sonorama’s edition of the Tetsuwan Atomu (“Mighty Atom”) series.

This account of Astro‘s origins is perfectly close to that presented in the first episode of the 1960’s anime series.

Sometime in the year 2003 a young boy named Tobio Tenma is driving a hover car and perishes in a terrible traffic accident. His poor grief-stricken father, Dr. Tenma, is head of the Ministry of Science and makes up his mind to bring his dead son back with an immortal robot body. So he directs all his staff of scientists and engineers to put everything into the construction of a robot boy. When the robot is built and activated Tenma christens him “Tobio” and takes his “son” home to live with him.

At first he is very happy and aims to be a good, caring father. But as time goes by he realizes that Tobio is not growing any taller. Tenma becomes furious and disowns poor Tobio selling him to the ringmaster of a robot circus breaking his heart.

Eventually Professor Ochanomizu observes Tobio performing in the circus one day. He is identified as being the chief of the Ochanomizu Research Lab and he realizes that Tobio is no ordinary robot. Ochanomizu has the circus people give Tobio over to him though it is not revealed what transpires in the exchange. He promises Tobio he’ll be like a father to him and help him learn to be a wonderful robot.

So Tobio learns how to use all his amazing powers including flying, magnifying his hearing, using his eyes as searchlights and firing machine guns out of his rear end. He is given a new meaningful name. Astroboy.

Trivia

Even though the circus ringmaster is never identified by name in this short story, he is undeniably recognizable as Hamegg.

2. THE HOT DOG CORPS

Originally serialized between March and October 1961 in Shonen magazine

This is a highly imaginitive story that focuses upon the idea of turning living flesh and blood creatures into part robots, known as cyborgs. In this case dogs.

Astroboy’s school teacher, Mr. Mustachio, is very upset, when his beloved pet dog, Pero is stolen by a mysterious aristocratic woman and her servants. Later on a mysterious force attacks and annihilates a rocket ship bound for the dark side of the moon.

When Astro investigates he discovers that the murderers are the very same people who abducted Pero. The woman is known as the Grand Duchess Anta Maria and she has enlisted the services of a mad robotics scientist by the name of Dr. Junkovitch to convert dogs into human-like cyborg robot soldiers. They are able to talk and to fly rockets and the Duchess has them at her command to destroy anybody who attempts to explore the moon’s dark side.

Astro realizes that the commander of the Hot Dog Corps was in fact created from Pero. He is referred to as #44. Pero’s animal instincts cause him to remember his master Mustachio and although he struggles with his loyalties to Dr. Junkovitch and to the Duchess he secretly helps to save Astro’s life and thus allows him to escape the enemy headquarters.

Later on things lead to a showdown between Astro and the Corps in outer space and they end up on the moon itself. Astro and #44 have a one on one struggle and fall into some crater filled with diamonds. Junkovitch and the Duchess arrive shortly having followed in their own rocket and lay claim on the diamond horde. But suddenly a giant robot appears who is the guardian of the treasure and attacks. Although Astro is able to overcome the robot causing it to collapse and self-destruct, everybody is killed except for #44.

Astro is able to persuade him to come back to earth where the ministry of science is able to convert him from a cyborg dog with human characteristics into a cyborg who looks and acts just like a real dog again. Mr. Mustachio and Pero are thus reunited and are very happy again.

Trivia

Junkovitch and #44 make appearances in the theatrical anime version of Tezuka’s Metropolis

3. PLANT PEOPLE

First published in the special expanded 1961 New Year’s Day edition of Shonen magazine

This story was adapted for the 1980’s series episode “The Girl From Alsoar” and the 1960’s series episode “Grass Boy”.

Astro and his friends are having fun on a skiing adventure when they come across a most unusual flower growing out of the snow. His friends want to pick it but Astro stops them and tells them a very extraordinary story.

Awhile back Astro had been on holiday in that area during the snowy season and he met a strange boy crawling in the snow who claimed to be a visitor from Alsoa 12 and warned him of an invading spaceship from Alsoa 12 with an “X” marked on it. Suddenly the boy was taken prisoner by the invaders he had escaped from and they vanished.

Astro learned from Professor Ochanimozu that Alsoa 12 is the name of a star, however recently it was wiped out in an explosion.

It was revealed that the invaders were all robots except for the young boy. He had already learned of his home’s destruction but the robots had been programmed to bring back water to Alsoa 12 and when he tried to call them off they put him in chains and started sucking up earth’s water into spaceships led by the one marked “X”.

Astro rescued the boy, froze all the water in the spaceships causing them to explode and destroyed the robots. The boy asked Astro to let him live on earth and revealed himself to be a plant inside a human-like shell disguise. So Astro planted the boy from Alsoa 12 there in the snow where he turned into that blooming flower.

When Astro’s friends hear this story they all agree to leave the flower alone in respect.

Trivia

The plant boy is nameless although in the 1980’s english dub he is presented as a girl named Violet.