ASTROBOY VOLUME 2

1. HIS HIGHNESS DEADCROSS

First serialized between September and December 1960 in Shonen magazine

A mysterious robot representative from the country of Gravia comes unannounced to the home of Astro and his robot family one evening. He urgently requests Astro to secretly come to Gravia to help with a very serious matter they are facing. Astro bids his mother, father, sister Uran and brother Cobalt farewell and sets off in disguise with the strange robot to board a plane for Gravia.

On the way they happen to meet Astro’s teacher, Mr. Mustachio. He suspects he recognizes Astro and follows them undercover all the way to their destination.

Gravia is the world’s first country to have elected a robot for their president and a sinister society led by a masked man known as His Highness Deadcross has been threatening the new President and those who support him. After Astro destroys some giant crab-like robots sent to attack the President at his home Astro first meets him and solemnly promises to do everything he can to protect him.

Meanwhile Mustachio is captured by the society. Deadcross proceeds to torture him to persuade him to make Astro return to Japan.

As the story progresses Deadcross manages to capture the President and remove his electronic brain turning him into his puppet so he’ll publicly renounce the presidency. He also actually destroys Astro but not before he was able to set free his teacher. Mustachio helps the President’s right-hand man recover Astro’s body and Professor Ochanomizu suddenly turns up to help repair him.

Thus Astro is able to overcome the evil society, help arrest Deadcross and force him to return the electronic brain he stole. It turns out that Deadcross was actually the man who originally created the President. He wanted his robot to help him become president but the robot ran against him promising to make life easier for his fellow robots who were traditionally viewed as humans slaves. When he lost the election to his creation that was when Deadcross had formed his society vowing revenge. But of course justice triumphs and Astro and his friends go home with the Robot President established in office.

Trivia

The President’s name is Rag, but in episode 10 of the 1980’s series (A Robot President) he is named Richie. The people who decided on the name change for the English dub may well have been making a humourous pun on the old saying “From rags to riches”.

The story was also adapted for episode 43 of the 1960’s series dub. In this version his name is Ditto, which is also the title of the episode.

2. THE THIRD MAGICIAN

First serialized between October 1961 and January 1962 in Shonen magazine

This story was adapted for episode 33 of the 1960’s series english dub The Three Magicians.

A very famous robot magician named Kino is taken prisoner by a human magician named Noh Uno. At first it appears that Kino has helped Noh Uno steal a valuable collection of paintings from the museum with his illusion tricks. However Kino is able to escape and to convince Astro that Noh Uno has created a duplicate of himself programmed to commit crimes on his orders. With Astro’s help, Kino is able to clear his name. They capture Noh Uno and the imposter and recover the paintings.

The second magician, Noh Uno is sent to jail, but he Kino, the first magician is apparently going to break down as a result of Noh Uno’s tampering. So he has had Professor Ochanomizu reprogram his twin, the third magician, so that he can take his place. Astro is very upset when the original Kino collapses but before he “dies” Kino tells Astro consolingly that he will live on in his refurbished clone.

Trivia

This is the first time Inspector Tawashi (Gumshoe) appears in a manga story within the Dark Horse release.

There is an error of continuity in the translation. Noh Uno sends the police a message in Kino’s name bragging they’ll be unable to prevent his theft of the paintings on the 20th of December at midnight. Yet later on in the story the robbery and the attempt by Inspector Tawashi to thwart it takes place at midnight the 20th of October.

3. WHITE PLANET

First published in the special expanded 1963 New Year’s edition of Shonen magazine

This short story closely follows episode 9 of the 1980’s series The White Planet.

White Planet is the name of a champion racing car from Japan. Gangsters break into the driver’s home carport and destroy it. He is devastated but Professor Ochanomizu promises to repair White Planet in time for the Race by implanting Astro’s electronic brain into the engine.

So White Planet races but the gangsters try to destroy it again and even kill the driver during the competition. Strangely Astro appears and overpowers the baddies.

The driver can’t believe Astro can be there until Astro explains to him that when his late father created White Planet he also created a spare electronic brain for the car and he built it into a special robot. The man never knew that his sister was really a robot and she had told Ochanomizu that she wanted to be built into White Planet for her brother. Needless to say White Planet wins the race retaining the championship.

Trivia

The 1980’s anime adaptation featured Skunk as the leader of the gangsters. He is absent from the manga and there is no clearly defined big boss in his place.