ASTROBOY VOLUME 4

This is the fourth book of the original Astroboy manga.

1. ROBOT LAND

First serialized between May and September 1962 in Shonen magazine

This story was adapted for episode 5 of the 1980’s English dub using the exact same title and also for episode 9 of the 1960’s English dub under the title of Hullabaloo Land.

A beautiful robot swan flies to the home of Astro and his family one night and reveals that she is designed to assume the appearance of a human princess for one hour between midnight and one am. She introduces herself as Princess Odette. She has escaped from Robot Land and pleads with Astro for protection. Suddenly a powerful robot known as Lord Satan appears to take her back. Astro fights with him but is stopped by Professor Ochanomizu who tells him that by law Odette belongs to Dr. Haido and so Satan is entitled to return her to his master.

Astro is very upset about this and resolves to infiltrate Robot Land to uncover evidence that the robots are being mistreated. But he is captured by Satan. Dr. Haido summons Ochanomizu to Robot Land and demands that he destroy Astro or else face jail and dishonour with the Ministry of Science.

Astro’s teacher Mustachio has accompanied the Professor at his request but neither of them know that all of Astro’s friends from school have secretly followed them to Robot Land. They are able to save Astro and also uncover the guilty secret of Robot Land. It’s really a cover for an illegal black market racket. The robots are being forced to manufacture weapons, specifically guns, which are then smuggled out in submarines to be sold in foreign countries.

Dr. Haido summons Satan to destroy everybody but Astro overpowers and finishes him off. With Lord Satan gone all the robots rise up against Dr. Haido and take him prisoner. Robot Land becomes a wonderful place where Princess Odette and all her friends can live happily ever after.

Trivia

Tezuka loved finding various ways of using similar sort of things in his works. The concept of a princess who changes into a swan also appears in his Princess Knight manga when Sapphire is turned into one for a time through the magic of Madame Hell’s daughter Hecate.

2. IVAN THE FOOL

First serialized between February and March 1959 in Shonen magazine

This story was adapted for episode 20 of the 1980's English dub entitled The Wreck of the Titan and for episode 11 of the 1960’s English dub entitled Strange Voyage.

Astro has found a part-time job as a steward on a space cruise ship while on school holidays. Unfortunately the ship is taken out by a giant meteor and everybody has to escape in space lifeboats. Astro finds himself in a lifeboat with five passengers including a kid played by Rock and a ruthless criminal. They don’t have enough fuel to get back to earth so he drives them to the moon so they can land and work out a plan.

To everybody’s amazement they discover that when day dawns on the moon the sun’s rays melt a frozen atmosphere of oxygen and plants quickly sprout up bearing delicious fruit. They are overjoyed at their good fortune and Astro decides to knock some trees down and use them to spell out a giant SOS message on the side of the moon visible to scientist’s telescopes. He also discovers the wreckage of a space exploration rocket and an old antique tape recorder with a message recorded on it. The voice of Lt Minya Mikhailov of the Soviet Union Air Force tells how she was stranded on the moon in 1965 when she crash-landed and her radio transmitter was broken beyond repair. She lived out the rest of her life on the moon with a robot named Ivan, harvesting the oxygen with a pump, digging a well for water and growing the plants for food. One day she even discovered a mine of diamonds. They were worth nothing to her but she gave a pair to Ivan to wear on his antenna-like ears. When she died she instructed him to lay her to rest in a grave she had prepared herself. When the tape ends Ivan suddenly appears and tries to put Astro to sleep in his old friend’s bed. Astro ises his jets to escape and get back to the others.

They hear that their distress signal was spotted and that a rocket is on its way to rescue them. The criminal is determined not to leave without getting his hands on some of those diamonds however. Pulling out a gun he threatens to shoot the others one by one unless Astro takes him to them. Reluctantly Astro leads the way to Ivan with everybody following single file with their hands up. Astro says that Ivan has told him that he buried his two diamonds with his dear friend Minya. The criminal sets himself to digging up the diamonds while Astro tells everybody they must get back in time for the rescue rocket’s arrival. They all hold on to each other and Astro as he flies off leaving the bad man behind. He digs up the diamonds but Ivan is so delighted to have company once more that he picks him up and carries him protesting into the old wrecked rocket and forces him to go to bed while the rescue rocket blasts off without him.

Trivia

This is a prequel to The Hot Dog Corps story included in Volume 1. Lt Minya Mikhailov is the mother of the character the Grand Duchess Anta Maria.

3. A DAY TO REMEMBER

First published in the special expanded 1960 summer edition of Shonen magazine.

Mr. Mustachio has asked a special request of Astro. Every 15th of July many families place orders with the Ministry of Science for robots built in the images of their dearly departed loved ones for three days after which the robots are all sent down the river in boats with lanterns in memory of the dead. Mr. Mustachio is friends with a couple who lost their only son Jiro one year ago. Jiro looked just like Astro so he agrees to stay with the couple to cheer them up.

While there Astro discovers that Jiro had built a time machine in his bedroom. Astro tries it out and discovers that Jiro is still alive. He has been trapped in the 20th century when his machine accidentally went back without him. He returns home with Astro just in time to rescue his parents from gangsters whom Jiro had borrowed money from to help build his invention. Jiro’s parents are overjoyed by the unexpected surprise of getting their real son back.

Trivia

4. GHOST MANUFACTURING MACHINE

First published in a 1957 supplement edition of Shonen magazine

In this adventure Astro must fly to the Republic of Golgonia to rescue Professor Ochanomizu. Golgonia is ruled by an insane dictator, Premier Hitlini. The dictator forces an old friend of Ochanomizu, Professor Pablos to kidnap him. Pablos is being compelled to perfect a machine that will create a ghost-like transparent double of Hitlini. Then even if the dictator is killed his double will take over his reign forever.

Astro is assisted by Platinum, leader of a gang of robot freedom fighter. Professor Pablos in fact created Platinum and secretly plans Hitlini’s overthrow. Ochanomizu escapes while Pablos sabotages the machine. The dictator is betrayed and murdered by his own director of security who wants to take his place. But Pablos blows up the machine killing him at the cost of his own life. Astro and Platinum save Ochanomizu’s life while he flees but Platinum is destroyed.

Trivia

Hitlini is obviously modelled upon the real-life dictator Adolf Hitler, both in name and in appearance. Golgonia is probably intended to be a fictitous presentation of Germany.