ASTROBOY VOLUME 23

EXTREMELY SHORT STORIES

1. THE ROBOT DISPOSER

First appeared in the September 1980 issue of Shogaku Ninensei magazine.

Dr. Foola becomes unreasonably angry with the robot population when a construction worker accidentally steps upon a single watermelon seed he had planted for himself. He tells the Ministry of Science there are too many robots around and that surplus numbers should be scrapped. Professor Ochanomizu protests this drastic move and the rest of the Ministry agree. Foola takes matters into his own hands and builds a huge tank-like robot designed to dispose of robots by crushing them to pulp in its jaws. Eating them so to speak. Foola sends it out but is very upset because it smashes his own home as it leaves. The robots hide underground in the sewers but Astro gets a good idea and tunnels up from below to pick it up by its underbelly. Taking it by surprise he overpowers it, smashes it and dumps it in the ocean. As for Dr. Foola he seems to change his attitude to robots when Astro shows him how the robot carpenters will be able to repair his home in no time at all.

2. FRANKEN

First appeared in the October 1980 issue of Shogaku Ninensei magazine.

At the Ministry of Science a malfunction occurs with a giant robot becoming activated before completion. He has no head and goes berserk snatching five various heads off the shelves and stacking them upon his shoulders. Out of control he smashes buildings and everything else in his path. Professor Ochanomizu tells Astro that worst of all he will explode in ten minutes unless deactivated. Astro has a big battle and it is tough even for him but he gets the upper hand in the end. Astro is damaged but he is repaired and Ochanomizu says that the robot has been repaired and stabilized and the computer has crafted a real head for him in the style of his own choice. Astro thinks it very funny when he sees what the robot chose but Ochanomizu is outraged. The robot’s head looks exactly like the professor’s own face.

3. ASTRO VS ATLAS

First appeared in the November 1980 issue of Shogaku Ninensei magazine.

The evil Count Giss has created a robot boy very similar to Astro named Atlas to destroy him. His assistant is none other than Skunk. The two scoundrels have built Atlas with the exact same powers as Astro. But Giss intends to give him an extra special power. Then Giss gets the idea to modify Atlas to make it possible for him to pee just like a human. When he pees on Astro with special explosive liquid he will blow up on contact. Astro tracks down the castle of the Count and fights with Atlas. Their strength is too evenly matched though and finally Atlas tells Astro he’s going to pee on him. But Astro says that’s not right. You should pee in a toilet not on people. Atlas is persuaded to do the right thing and to the horror of Giss and Skunk he flies into the castle to visit the bathroom. They run for cover as the toilet explodes knocking them out. Atlas is stunned but recovers and helps Astro tie up Giss and Skunk and fly away with them. He says he wants to be a good robot like Astro from now on.

4. PULA, THE BABY ELEPHANT

First appeared in the December 1980 issue of Shogaku Ninensei magazine.

Astro’s old enemy Skunk is using a robot elephant to poach real elephants for their ivory tusks. He pilots it like a tank and uses its trunk to pick the elephants up and smash their heads into the ground. One of the elephants he kills has a poor little baby. Astro discovers the orphan by his mother’s corpse and investigates. Tracking Skunk down he fights him and disables the robot sending it out of control. Astro saves and captures Skunk, smashing the robot. The elephants who are left alive take revenge upon it crushing it flat under their feet. The orphan baby elephant is adopted by the herd.

5. GUINNESS BOOK ROBOTS

First appeared in the January 1981 issue of Shogaku Ninensei magazine.

Professor Ochanomizu is visited at his home early one morning by an extremely tiny female robot. She tells him that she is in the Guinness Book of Robots as the world’s tiniest robot and that she nominates Astro for the world’s most powerful robot. But while she talks to him at his breakfast table he accidentally swallows her along with his toast and coffee. Then a jealous fighter robot calls Astro and challenges him to a duel to prove who is really most powerful. Ochanomizu doesn’t approve but begrudgingly accompanies Astro by boat to an uninhabited island in the south seas because the tiny robot inside his stomach insists that Astro must answer the challenge. The robot so eager to duel is waiting on the shore and attacks Astro even though Astro tells him he really doesn’t want to fight. The combat has barely begun when the island suddenly rises up revealing a giant robot. He addresses the two of them saying how years ago he was created just so he could be listed in the Guinness Book of Robots as the world’s largest robot. But because of his size he was useless to humans and so they abandoned him at sea where he became an island. All this bickering and fighting is pointless. There’s no advantage in being the world’s most powerful robot and Astro’s opponent is humbled. Later while the professor is in bed recovering from his stomach complications Astro tells him he has made it into the human’s own Guinness Book. He is the first person in the world to swallow a robot but he is not very impressed about getting this official recognition.

6. THE BERSERK ROBOT

First appeared in the February 1981 issue of Shogaku Ninensei magazine.

A renegade defective robot is roaming the streets at night committing acts of vandalism. He attacks Astro’s pet watchdog Jump and he needs to be sent to the vet. Astro’s parents hire a robot watchdog the following day but the delinquent robot attacks it too that night and drinks all its energy through a straw like siphon tube. The third night Astro disguises himself as a watchdog and when the delinquent shows up they fight and Astro defeats him putting him out of commission. Later at the veterinarian’s surgery Uran is so deeply relieved to hear that Jump will recover from his injuries. And so is Astro.

7. THE MAGNET ROBOT

First appeared in the March 1981 issue of Shogaku Ninensei magazine.

A beggar man who used to work in a robotic engineering factory has built a robot beggar to assist him in gathering handouts. People are fascinated by the robot and give heaps of coins but the man becomes greedy and overambitious. He builds magnets into the robot so all the peoples’ coins are drawn to him including their wallets. But he doesn’t stop there. He converts the robot into a giant and increases the magnetic force ten times. He sends the robot walking around Japan and it causes chaos and panic as everything metallic is stuck to him including bicycles, cars and other robots. Astro uses a very long indestructible rope with a coin attached on the end to reel the robot in like a fish. He carries him away to an iceberg in the Arctic Sea and drops him on the tip. Unfortunately the magnets catch him before he can fly away. He saves himself with his lasers inside his fingers aiming through the debris at his circuits neutralizing the magnets. With a boom they are shorted out and the giant robot actually is grateful for the relief of all the weight he had been carrying. The beggar man has to answer to the local police who tell him how ashamed he should be of himself.

8. GIANT URAN

First appeared in the April 1981 issue of Shogaku Ninensei magazine.

A woman with a German accent overhears Uran having a temper tantrum about how her brother Astro always gets his way over her after a fight they had over which of them owns an energy cassette. She bullies her poor father into rebuilding Uran into a giant, strong robot girl. He protests that there are rules against such tampering but his daughter is a big, strong woman and he caves into her pressure easily. Uran is pleased to be so large and powerful at first, especially when she is able to force Astro to give her back that energy cassette. However she realizes that in some ways she is not really more powerful than her brother when she presumes to take on a giant monster robot bird built by an evil inventor. She is still much smaller than it and her new super powers are ineffective against it. Astro comes along just in time to save her and destroy the monster bird. Uran is gratefully humbled and Astro demands the man who modified her change her back to normal. His daughter is furious and snaps at him telling him he’s ruined such a perfect robot. He tells her triumphantly that he did at least let her keep one special power. The ability to make loud-mouthed nagging people shut up and Uran chases her away shooting some sticky substance at her head.

9. SPACE DOLL

First appeared in the May 1981 issue of Shogaku Ninensei magazine.

This time Astro has to deal with a very weird giant robot spraying a strange sticky liquid all over the place. Just as he punches through the robot’s stomach to find the liquid is actually milk and the robot is absolutely full of it, a UFO appears and draws it up with Astro in the stomach. It turns out the aliens are a family of giants. Mother, Father and their very young daughter. The robot is her baby bottle and play doll combination which was left behind when she was playing on earth and she is at first upset to see it damaged. But next minute she is laughing as her father tries to spray Astro with insecticide and then hit him with a swatter supposing him to be a bug of some kind. Astro picks up and throws the big alien knocking him out but he meets his match in the little girl who wants to play with him in place of her doll. She promises to let him leave after she’s had a bit of fun though and she keeps her promise. Ochanomizu, Mustachio, Uran and everybody else are so delighted to see Astro return even though he is deeply embarrassed because the alien girl sent him back still wearing the dolly dress she had put upon him.

10. GHOSTS IN THE DESERT

First appeared in the June 1981 issue of Shogaku Ninensei magazine.

Professor Ochanomizu sends Astro to investigate alleged sightings of ghosts in a desert area. He discovers strange specters that all resemble him in one form or another but they are all made out of the sand. He realizes that a long time ago aliens established a factory underground to produce ghosts from the sand to scare off any armies that might threaten their safety while they were living in the desert for awhile. Even though the aliens all left long before Astro came they left all the machinery switched on and Astro hears the full story from one of the sand specters when they attempt to take him prisoner. Since robots don’t feel fear he smashes the machinery dispelling the ghosts forever more and peace is restored to the desert.

11. THE SPACE BUG

First appeared in the July 1981 issue of Shogaku Ninensei magazine.

An astronaut has brought a tiny little insect back from outer space and displays it to people in a glass bubble. It makes a beautiful singing sound that makes everybody so entranced they want to dance to it. Astro suddenly appears to say that his electronic brain can recognize that the “insect” is really a very very small alien and the “song” is in truth a call for help. The astronaut won’t believe him and in a rage demands that he leaves. Shortly afterwards a giant monster comes to earth and terrorizes Tokyo. It locates the building with the glass bubble and grabs it with many tentacles. Astro tries to protect the alien and fights the monster for a little bit. Then the monster suddenly transforms into a cute faced creature and shrinks down. The alien in the bubble pleads with Astro not to attack any more explaining that this is his pet dog from his home planet. Normally he is such a cute small dog as he is now but he sells up into a monster when he gets angry and he was mad because his master was being mistreated on earth. Astro releases the alien from his prison, gives the space dog a cuddle and waves good-bye as they depart together.

12. CRAZY DUCK

First appeared in the August 1981 issue of Shogaku Ninensei magazine.

Dr. Foola is up to his old tricks again. Feeling incensed against Professor Ochanomizu because he feels like he’s always making fun of him, Foola builds a robot duck and mails it anonymously to Ochanomizu. The duck constantly follows the professor everywhere honking loudly even at night by his bed. It drives Ochanomizu crazy and he is placed in hospital but even then the duck won’t leave his side. Astro comes up with a plan and has dozens of robots modified to look like the professor roam around the hospital. Seeing so many professors at once the duck’s electronic brain becomes so confused that it short circuits and blows up. Later Astro meets Foola who brags about all the trouble he caused Ochanomizu. Astro is furious and hands Foola a box saying he has a gift for him specially made in return at the Ministry of Science. Foola accepts the parcel but when he opens it a giant robot Cicada bug latches itself onto his back.

13. A FELINE GUARDIAN DEITY

First appeared in the September 1981 issue of Shogaku Ninensei magazine.

Astro’s home is overrun by thousands of cats and Astro and all his family are possessed into thinking they themselves are cats by a weird cat like giant calling herself the Guardian Deity of Cats. When Astro’s teacher Mr. Mustachio visits to find out why Astro’s missed school for a very long time he is captured and the Deity announces her intention to raise up cats on rebellion against humans who’ve made pets of them and Astro is commanded to take Mustachio upstairs to the kitchen and chop him up for cat food. Fortunately Mustachio had been able to alert Professor Ochanomizu by phone before being taken by surprise. The professor uses a freeze raygun to stop Astro just in time. He explains to Mustachio that the Cat Deity is a robot from the film studio where they were making a movie about cats possessed by the devil. The robot went haywire and started believing she was real and led all the real cats provided for the movie to freedom. Astro and his family were possessed by very strong radio waves but the professor is able to fix the damage and Astro fights and defeats the robot. All the cats however still think of the robot like their mother and won’t leave her body. Ochanomizu and Mustachio try to make them understand but get themselves badly scratched up and Astro has to drag the robot away with all the cats following.

14. THE SPACE SHUTTLE

First appeared in the October 1981 issue of Shogaku Ninensei magazine.

Professor Ochanomizu sends Astro to outer space with a small but vitally important piece of a space shuttle launched that morning. The piece was overlooked because of its small size but without it the shuttle may go out of control and crash back on earth. Astro locates the shuttle and installs the piece but the shuttle insists that it look for its mother. Astro tries to explain that its “mother” was only the booster rocket that carried the shuttle into outer space and detached when it was high enough. The shuttle is convinced that it is its true mother so Astro promises to find it. He realizes that it is floating in a space junkyard however unlike the poor shuttle it does not have a computer brain. It is just an empty shell of a rocket. Rather than upset the shuttle Astro carries it back and hiding behind it talks to the shuttle encouraging it to feel confident in its responsibilities as a space shuttle and that though they must go their separate ways “she” is very proud of “her” child. The shuttle is happy to have seen its mother one last time and resumes its normal flight pattern after a cheerful goodbye to Astro’s great relief.

15. SHOWDOWN ON MT. FUJI

First appeared in the December 1981 issue of Shogaku Ninensei magazine.

Dr. Foola is making one last attempt to get the better of Astro. He sends him a challenge to a duel with his new robot on Mt. Fuji. Foola has designed and built his robot in the form of a giant unicorn and its horn can extend up to 25 000 miles in only four seconds. Astro latches onto the unicorn’s face and begins punching it. Foola is furious and shoots out the horn but 25 000 miles happens to be the distance around the earth and Foola ends up skewering his own creation from behind resulting in a very humiliating defeat.

Short Story Trivia

Some elements from these stories are used in the 1980’s animation series.

The Robot Disposer: The tank set loose by Dr. Foola is fought by Astro and destroyed by him in the exact same way as an out of control Ministry of Science vehicle in episode 1 The Birth of Astroboy. Right down to getting dumped in the ocean.

Franken: The robot that goes out of control looks exactly the same size and form as Frankenstein as he appears in episode 6.

Astro vs Atlas: The first two episodes of the original Japanese series were actually edited into one when the English dub was created but on the official DVD release they are included as a bonus with English subtitles. It reveals that Skunk was indeed at first the henchman of Count Giss who helped him build Atlas. In the anime there is also the character of Giss’s robot maid Livian. Eventually Atlas goes crazy when Giss destroys her in spite. He attacks Giss and knocks his car off a cliff while Skunk escapes in a helicopter. Later he rebuilds Livian because he loves her so deeply and redesigns his own body into an adult version. He and Livian become recurring characters throughout the rest of the series. Atlas is a villain and an enemy of mankind. Livian helps Astro oppose him to his consternation. However they really do love each other. Eventually Atlas does become good in the end like in the manga story though.

Pula the Baby Elephant: A similar story is told in episode 33 The Baby Elephant Pook. It even involves the same robot elephant though Skunk is not the person behind it. Instead the story uses Dr. Foola called Dr. Huntley in the dub.

The Berserk Robot: The storyline involving Jump and the robot watchdog being attacked by a robot delinquent and Astro disguising himself as another dog is loosely used in episode 25 The Robot Vikings.

16. THE SILVER TOWER

First appeared in the April 1976 issue of Shonen Jump magazine.

Astro and Professor Ochanomizu are investigating reports of a strange tower resembling an oil well sighted in the Iranian Desert uncovered by an earthquake. They locate it in their plane with Astro’s help and land nearby the amazing structure along with their pilot and guide, Abulla Frai. The tower is built out of rocks coated with silver dust. At the top Astro calls out that it is hollow, like a deep well. Ochanomizu and Abulla attempt to climb up to him and are attacked half way by a pair of snakes. Astro kills the snakes saving the professor just in time but sadly Abulla is bitten and dies from fast acting venom sliding back down to the sandy ground below.

Astro and the professor carry on with their exploration and find a chamber behind giant bronze doors. Inside they find a couple of humanoid robots that are coated with so much dust they must have been standing still for at least one thousand years. Ochanomizu can’t understand it. There were no robots on earth one thousand years ago but Astro maintains that his calculations are always correct.

Suddenly the professor touches something that brings the two robots to life. They are male and female and call themselves Lord Adam and Lady Eve. They are robots built by aliens and the Silver Tower is a guest house for tourists from outer space to stay at. They think Astro and the professor are interplanetary travellers and give them hospitality. Unfortunately the food and drink are not suitable for human consumption including gasoline to drink and methane gas for dessert.

Later Ochanomizu tries to explain that they are from earth but the lord and lady have just observed on their computer radar how polluted the people of earth have made the air and the water. Almost half the forests are destroyed and there’s even radiation in some places. They conclude that they must annihilate all humans to save the planet.

They tie up Astro by his arms with very strong cable wire and disconnect all their own bits and pieces combining into one giant flying monster bursting out the top of the Silver Tower. Astro cannot use his machine guns in his backside to break free. They just won’t sever the cable. He has no choice but to resort to shooting his own arms off. He can still fly though and saves the professor from the storage pot where he has been thrown to be used as food for future alien tourists lifting him out by his mouth.

Then he flies off after the robots and fights them in their monster form penetrating their body by rotating like a screw and kicking out all the little pieces. They are destroyed and collapse on the ground in a heap. With their final words they beg Astro to destroy the Silver Tower as it will no longer be needed without them to take charge. But they also warn that earth will be doomed as long as the humans he just fought so hard to protect continue to exist.

Astro flies home with the professor clinging to his back as the Silver Tower blows up. He tells Ochanomizu what they said. Ochanomizu asks him if he believes that humans really will doom the earth. Astro says he does not agree with that in the least.

Trivia

The names given to the lord and lady of the Silver Tower, Adam and Eve, are taken from the account of the beginning of the world in the first book of the Bible. They are the names of the very first man and woman in the creation story.

The ill-fated character at the beginning of this story, Abulla Frai, is played by Boone. Lamp also appears in a very brief flashback for three panels after Abulla is killed in the role of a government official who tells Ochanomizu that they want Astro to investigate the discovery of the Silver Tower and to find out if there are any advantages to the Japanese Embassy if they can claim it before anybody else. You can even see his trademark lighted candle stuck to his head in the first picture.