ASTROBOY VOLUME 7

This is the seventh volume of the original manga.

"Once Upon A Time" Astro Boy Tales, Part 2

First serialized from December 24th 1967 to September 27th 1968 in the Sankei newspaper

1. The Summer of 1993

The last chapter in volume 6 left Astro at the bottom of a river in Vietnam completely drained of energy.

One day twenty-four years later some industrial workers discover Astro while dredging the river with a huge industrial shovel. Unwrapping the covers they also find the note requesting that whoever finds this doll send it to Japan. They send Astro to the Japanese Embassy and they in turn deliver him to the forwarding address of his old friend Shin-Chan.

Shin is now thirty-eight years old and has become the big boss of a Building Materials Corporation. He is so thrilled to see Astro after all this time and orders an atomic energy tube for robots. His workers say they haven’t enough budget to afford this. Shin says just buy it and he’ll pay for it somehow. Astro is revived inside Shin’s private office. Unfortunately he is not really much better off than he was twenty-four years ago in Vietnam. Today’s energy injectors are not quite advanced enough for robots of Astro’s design and all the energy Shin is able to give Astro is enough for one day.

Shin’s daughter, Surume, pays him a surprise visit and meets Astro. She is very deeply moved by his cuteness and asks if she can hang out with him while he still has energy. Astro agrees but first he takes Surume in his arms on a flight to the mountains. He calls out Scara’s name but there is no answer. He sadly concludes that his dear friend must have died by now. Then he and Surume fly back to one more place he wants to check out. In Surugadai he he finds that Dr. Whitebeard’s old hospital has disappeared and the area has been filled with massive buildings.

Surume manages to show Astro the local Fun Zone Center. Even though robots are forbidden to enter she passes him off as her boyfriend. However at the end of this chapter security guards recognize Astro as a robot and throw him outside, along with another robot they have captured. They call Astro and the other robot “tinheads” as a derogatory insult.

2. Robot Chiruchiru

Ochanomizu has continued his robotic research these past twenty-four years. He is now a professor and his 63rd robot is successfully operational after one year. The robot’s name is Chiruchiru and the professor has given him a pair of masks to wear to express emotion. One to show he is happy and one for when he is sad or worried about anything.

But while Chiruchiru is out shopping with his happy mask on a pickpocket steals the other one and his boss uses it to disguise himself as a robot when he leads his men on robberies. Chiruchiru is arrested and Professor Ochanomizu hires a private eye to help prove his innocence. The detective is the son of his old friend Dr. Whitebeard who will one day become Astro’s school teacher Mr. Mustachio. He is known as Shunsaku Ban, private investigator.

In the meantime Astro hears about the case on the news while spending more time with Surume. even though she begs him not to waste his remaining half a day’s energy so they can still have fun that evening he makes up his mind to try to help Chiruchiru.

In the course of Astro’s investigations he tracks down the villains headquarters just in time to save Shunsaku Ban who was captured and about to be burned alive in an incinerator along with the incriminating mask. However the boss stops Astro from leaving to recover the stolen jewels claiming that the locker they are hidden in have been rigged to blow up with dynamite. Unless Astro remains where he stands they will detonate the bomb killing thousands of people. Astro can’t risk innocent lives so he stays all night and the following morning as noon approaches he knows two things for certain. Chiruchiru’s trial will begin soon and also his energy will expire.

3. Astro's Energy Runs Out

Astro is able to turn the tables on the villains by recording his voice on his artificial larynx and throwing it sneakily out of the window. It asked whoever found it to take it to the police and it informed them of where the diamonds were hidden and about the bomb. when Astro starts to fight his captors the boss presses the switch but the cops have de-activated the bomb. They try to flee but Astro prevents their getaway and the police take them into custody.

However even though Astro has proved Chiruchiru’s innocence the court goes ahead with scrapping him and dumping him in the ocean. Professor Ochanomizu is outraged at this injustice and vows to make sure that robots have the same rights as humans one day.

Astro says good-bye to a tearful Surume telling her that he wants to go and sleep forever in the field in the mountains where he last saw his dear friend Scara. He cannot allow himself to be a burden on her father Shin. He’ll go bankrupt providing him with energy. He just has enough energy to reach his destination and he lies down to rust among the grass.

Professor Ochanomizu learns from Shunsaku Ban that the boy who rescued him was Astro. The very same boy who had worked with him in his robotics lab twenty-four years ago and had turned out to be a robot. Ochanomizu is certain that Astro must have somehow come from the future and he feels strongly encouraged to carry on with his experiments. His research into robots obviously cannot have been all for nothing.

4. Dr. Tenma

Time goes on ahead and finally Dr. Tenma becomes the Chief of the Ministry of Science. He begins producing robots in bulk. Upon concern that robots are going to take away humans jobs, Tenma assures the government that the robots will be slaves and give all their earnings to humans.

Tenma gives his only son Tobio a present of a toy car that can be driven just like the real thing. Tobio takes it for a ride and is struck by a truck and killed. Tenma is devastated and vows to build a robot in his son’s image to bring him back. However the committee at the Ministry refuse to go along saying that they simply can’t spare the budget for such an outrageous project. Tenma is bitterly disappointed and he meets a man named Taba Koh who offers him ten million dollars to build his robot on condition that he be permitted to borrow it for one day. Tenma succumbs to temptation and makes the deal. His robot is built in two years but he can’t be brought to life.

Meanwhile up in the mountains it transpires that Astro’s old friend Scara is still alive. She had been hibernating and didn’t wake up until Astro had already lain down lifeless to rust and decay. She didn’t know how to renew his energy and mourned deeply. Discovering a newspaper left discarded by a hiker Scara reads all about Astro at the Ministry of Science. She realizes that as long as Astro’s future body continues to linger in the grass of the mountain field his present self will never be able to wake up. She sets up a time bomb to blast it into tiny pieces and finally Tenma is able to activate his Tobio.

Taba Koh says in one month’s time he wants to borrow Tobio as agreed. Tenma says that one of Tobio’s special powers is the ability to tell whether people are good or bad. When he asks Tobio about Mr. Koh he says that he is not a bad man. So Tenma promises to loan Tobio to him for a day in a month’s time.

Tenma undertakes to educate and raise Tobio in the meantime. Tobio is lonely and sad however because he longs to be friends with other robots but he is forbidden to socialize with them. All other robots are slaves, but Tenma created his new son to be a one of a kind special robot. He can never mix with them and they run away when they see him because they know talking to him will bring trouble upon them. Poor Tobio wishes he’d been built as a slave himself.

5. The Tragedy of Bailey

Mr. Koh turns up as agreed one month later and borrows Tobio for one day. He takes him to America to his home in Beverley Hills, Los Angeles. There he introduces Tobio to a robot named Bailey who is helping to promote Mr. Koh’s efforts to gain robots the same rights as humans. Today Bailey is going to the city’s government offices to apply for registration as a human. Mr. Koh instructs Tobio to secretly follow Bailey and protect him.

Bailey is registered as a human at the offices but as he leaves he is attacked and smashed to pieces by a crowd of furious humans. Tobio watches it all happen but he is powerless to intervene because robots are forbidden to attack humans. Taba Koh is disappointed but he understands. He tells Tobio he wants him to be as brave as Bailey was and fight for robot rights.

The mob shows up at his front door to threaten him, but he chases them off by revealing hand grenades concealed inside his coat. Mr. Koh returns Tobio to Japan though he strongly warns him that if he continues to live with Tenma something bad may one day happen. Tenma doesn’t really care for Tobio at heart. Deep down he thinks of him as just another robotic experiment. But Tobio feels he cannot abandon his father.

6. Astro Goes to the Circus

Eventually Dr. Tenma goes crazy. He becomes angry with Tobio because he won’t grow like a normal human child, abandons all the feelings of love he had cultivated towards him and sells him to Hamegg the Ringmaster of the circus. Hamegg renames Tobio Astro.He abuses and mistreats Astro telling him that unless he obeys him when he is commanded to smash other robots to pieces during the show, he won’t give him enough energy to sustain him. Scara appears and tells Astro she has been secretly keeping an eye on him and urges him to run away to seek refuge with Professor Ochanomizu. The Professor takes him into protective custody but Hamegg and his henchmen trick Astro into leaving his sanctuary and recapture him.

Eventually there is an accident at the circus while Astro’s performing and the tent catches on fire. Hamegg is trapped in the inferno and Astro saves his life. Professor Ochanomizu visits Hamegg in the hospital where he is disgusted to learn that Hamegg has shut down Astro’s energy and stored him in the closet in his hospital room. Hamegg says he doesn’t owe Astro anything for saving his life. He’s just a machine to him. When he is fully recovered he’ll have Astro repaired so that he can continue to make heaps of money for him. Ochanomizu is so outraged that before leaving he shoves a pie he had brought as a get well present for Hamegg into his face.

Trivia

From the chapter entitled Dr. Tenma onwards the events in this serial amount to an expanded re-telling of the short story The Birth of Astro Boy in Book 1 of the Dark Horse manga series. Most significantly is the addition of Tenma’s wife, the mother of Tobio. She is never identified by name, but she shows Astro a true mother’s loving heart, despite being initially unsure what to make of the idea of a robot replacement for her son. She shows her husband what she thinks of his cruel, unfeeling actions in selling Astro by handing him divorce papers and attempts to visit her son at the circus but is refused entry.

Hamegg uses her to trick Astro by sending a phony phone call to Ochanomizu saying that she is in hospital. Afterwards she really does go to hospital where she dies of a heart attack. Tenma tries to request that Astro be sent to see her. Hamegg says no.

This serial began in Book 6 and continues into Book 8 of the Dark Horse Manga.