ASTROBOY VOLUME 5

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

1. CRUCIFIX ISLAND

First serialized between January and April 1957 in Shonen magazine

This story was adapted for episode 19 of the 1980's English dub titled The Transformation Robot and for episode 5 of the 1960’s English dub titled Cross Island.

A scientist named Dr. Tozawa has been working on a special robot boy with the ability to transform his shape into the form of various animals. However he has been embezzling money from the Ministry of Science and is caught and imprisoned before he can fully complete his project. The robot boy is residing on Crucifix Island where diamonds, gold and uranium are being drilled for by robot miners. He is a student at a school for robot children along with Astro taught by Mr. Mustachio.

One night Tozawa escapes from jail along with two other prisoners played by Hamegg and Lamp. The trio make their way by rowboat to Crucifix Island where they take Mustachio hostage and tie him up in his room. The robot boy, Pook by name, is so happy to see his creator. They love each other just like father and son. Then Astro is also captured and Tozawa uses part of his circuitry to complete Pook. The other two convicts ask Pook to use his new abilities to steal some of the diamonds for them and when Pook leaves they turn against their former boss and shoot him. They leave his body and go to meet Pook as he returns. However Tozawa does not die immediately and manages to free Mustachio so he can assist him to restore Astro so he can save Pook. Just as Tozawa pushes the switch to awaken Astro; he dies.

Astro and Mustachio chase after the villains. Lamp is just a simple jewel thief but Hamegg reveals to him that he is actually a member of the mafia gang led by Kim Sankaku. Hamegg gives all the diamonds to Lamp as his boss is only interested in the island’s supply of uranium but his boss also gets Pook to help collect the uranium. Lamp meets up with Mustachio trying to escape and realizes that he may be a jewel thief but he can’t allow Sankaku to get all that uranium to threaten his country with. He changes sides and is eventually shot and killed while helping Mustachio rescue and repair Astro who had been captured. Pook fights Astro aboard the gang’s submarine and is broken when Astro throws him into some pipes. The sub blows up but Astro manages to save his teacher and in spite of what he has done, Pook also.

Professor Ochanomizu says he will be able to restore Pook back to a normal robot boy and Pook apologizes to Astro and cries in his arms when told of his creator’s death.

Trivia

Lamp appears in countless roles throughout Tezuka’s stories like many of his other “star” characters, but this is a unique appearance for him in that he is depicted with a beard.

In the 1980’s anime adaptation the little robot boy is named Buck. Interestingly the name Pook was used however in a different 1980’s episode The Baby Elephant Pook in which it was given to an orphaned baby elephant in a safari park as the title itself focuses upon.

Tezuka’s themes has been often featured in the video game Astro Boy: Omega Factor; Pook the transformation robot is one of them. He can change into a tiger and pounce on Astro, turn into a Phoenix-like bird and shoot fireballs, turn into a monkey or into a shark.

2. SPACE SNOW LEOPARD

First serialized between February and April 1960 in Shonen magazine

Earth is under alien invasion. The first strange thing is that a mysterious blanket of snow falls upon Tokyo that sucks up all the energy of robots causing them to break down. Only Astro seems to be unaffected, apparently because he has far more energy than most robots, though he is very upset that his mother and father are among those put out of commission. But next an alien humanoid shows up with a powerful creature that looks just like a leopard but it sucks up energy like the snow.

By sheer good fortune Astro is able to fight off the leopard. The alien takes Mr. Mustachio prisoner to use as a hostage. Astro is finally able to rescue him with the help of several other robots and Professor Ochanomizu. He instructs the Ministry of Science to build Astro and all the other robots into one huge robot body so that not even the leopard can drain all their energy combined.

In the course of his escape Mustachio discovered the leopard’s weakness. It can only absorb artificial energy so Astro and his friends drag it into the middle of a thundercloud. The lightning takes all the fight out of the leopard. When the alien sees this he sends word back to his home planet that their invasion has failed and he self-destructs his spaceship. The leopard and all the snow dissolve into nothing.

Trivia

This story was adapted for episode 43 of the 1980’s English dub, The Snow Leopard, with a significant alteration. Instead of the alien invasion concept, the villain is depicted as a mad scientist human who has invented the snow and the leopard to assist him in crime and dictatorship. In the end he is captured and presumably sent to jail.

3. THE ARTIFICIAL SUN

First serialized between December 1959 and February 1960 in Shonen magazine

This story was adapted for episode 38 of the 1980’s English dub, The Man-Made Solar Sphere.

The basic premise is that a machine that gives off light and heat just like the sun was invented by Professor Ochanomizu for assistance in mining and developing on places such as the far-distant Pluto, but it has been stolen by terrible criminals who are killing and terrorizing people with its power. A British Intelligence detective known as Sherlock Holmspun has been sent to investigate and Astro is to assist him. Mr. Holmspun hates robots however though he begrudgingly agrees to take Astro with him.

Holmspun is an extraordinary man. He was seriously wounded by a bomb planted in his car and needed to have his limbs and torso amputated and replaced with artificial metal parts. He has the appearance of a robot but his head is the only flesh and blood part of his body and thus is his link to his humanity.

He is very arrogant and mean to Astro but Astro is kind and caring in return and helps Mr. Holmspun who slowly begins to mellow towards Astro. Together they discover that the leader of the criminals they are seeking is none other than Kim Sankaku, who obviously somehow managed to escape when his submarine exploded near Crucifix Island in the first story of this volume. Even though they destroy the artificial sun and capture Sankaku tragically he shoots Mr. Holmspun in the head thereby killing him.

In the epilogue it is revealed that the surgeons have given Holmspun an artificial head, thus he has now become a complete robot himself. Holmspun declares that Astro made him see that unlike many selfish humans, robots always endeavour to uphold justice and help others. He is so very proud to have become a robot.

Trivia

Sherlock Holmspun reveals to Astro that he is descended from the famous detective, Sherlock Holmes. Sherlock Holmes is a very well-known character of classic literature created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.