ASTROBOY VOLUME 8

The eighth volume of the original manga.

"Once Upon A Time" Astro Boy Tales, Part 3

First serialized from September 28th 1968 to February 28th 1969 in the Sankei newspaper

1. Living Mold From Outer Space

The last chapter in Volume 7 left Astro in the clutches of Hamegg, the Circus Ringmaster - all completely deactivated and stored in a locker at the hospital.

Professor Ochanomizu receives a phone call from the United States requesting Astro to help them investigate a serious incident involving a rocket ship that has encountered bacteria in space and has landed on an island. The professor sneaks into Hamegg’s hospital room and steals Astro for he knows there’s no other way. Astro is reactivated and sent off on his mission.

On the island he discovers the last remaining crew member Colonel Remos. The Colonel has been transformed into a very tall walking tree and he tells Astro that the bacteria are in reality very tiny extra-terrestrials who are looking for a place to live in peace since their own planet has died. They have attached themselves to all the trees and other vegetation on the island and are living off them just like they are living off the Colonel. They did not mean to kill his partner Major Kornet. They realized their mistake too late. But he assures Astro that they only wish to peacefully exist here on this island and he will spend the rest of his life with them.

Unfortunately when Astro tries to radio his report he is informed that the government has already made the decision to vaporize the contaminated island with a hydrogen missile and it will hit in three hours. Astro quickly responds by uprooting all the vegetation and stowing them inside the rocket. Even though Colonel Remos reappears and thinks Astro is planning to strand the aliens in space Astro manages to overpower and store him inside with everybody else. He carries the rocket away into the stratosphere as the island explodes.

The aliens tell Astro that even though the earthlings tried to destroy them because he rescued them they will forgive them and search for another home. They also tell astro that in exchange for his heroic actions they would like to grant him a wish. Astro says if he could have just one wish it would be for the end of all discrimination against robots. So before departing the aliens announce over the rocket’s radio speakers to all governments around the earth that they must grant all their robots equal rights as humans in exchange for their not wiping out all life on earth. All discrimination must cease immediately.

2. A Declaration of Robot Rights

Since the aliens made their proclamation in many countries robot rights are granted by the law including Astro’s own country, Japan. Therefore when Astro returns home Hamegg has no option but to relinquish his claim of ownership on him and he screams and pounds his fists into his bed at the hospital.

Professor Ochanomizu takes Astro home and informs him of the death of his mother. Also there is a letter from Dr. Tenma telling Astro that he is too ashamed to show his face anymore in public but from a distance he will always be watching him and wishing him well. Astro is very sad but when Ochanomizu shows him the body shells of the new robot mother and father he has built for him he cheers up immensely.

During the night somebody breaks in and steals the bodies of Astro’s parents but when Astro investigates he discovers that the culprit is Dr. Tenma. However Tenma tells Astro that he will return them safely after he teaches them how to be good parents for him, especially his mother. Astro is content to wait and after ten days his parents turn up on the doorstep. They all decide to apply to go to school for they have lots still to learn. Ochanomizu agrees and asks his old friend Shunsaku Ban the private eye, now a teacher, if they can enrol. He is very happy and Astro is placed in Grade 5 based upon his intelligence, while his parents are still only just beginning to develop and are placed in Grade 1.

3. Astro Goes To Elementary School

A big problem arises for Astro and his parents when one of the school’s major benefactors strongly opposes their enrollment. Mr. P. K. Yuni’s only son is believed to be drowned when their robot driver sends the car over a cliff into deep water. Mr. Yuni manages to swim to shore and blames the driver who has also disappeared. Even though the driver had tried to warn him about the danger, Mr. Yuni had insisted that he drive in the direction he was ordered.

Astro discovers what has really happened to the boy. The driver forced his drowning body inside his torso and his arms, legs and head self-destructed leaving him inside a protective cocoon with generated oxygen and liquid food through a tube. Mr. Yuni is mortified to hear his son was saved by a robot and hires a hypnotist to erase his memories. He tries to tell the press that his son miraculously saved himself but Astro is able to break the spell and restore the boy’s memory revealing the truth.

Mr. Yuni attempts to drive away from town with his wife and son but the members of his club that opposes the new robot rights intercept them. They force the family to come with them to the scene of the original accident. They demand that they toss their boy back into the river and whether he survives or not Mr. Yuni’s standing with them will be restored. Mr. and Mrs. Yuni are devastated but their son sees Astro winking in the water and jumps in. Astro holds him up from underneath while he pretends to be swimming to safety and everybody cheers in admiration.

One hour later Astro meets Mr. Yuni alone. He begs Astro’s forgiveness and promises to see to it that he and his parents can go to school. Astro accepts his humble apology and thanks him. So Astro finally goes to school and is introduced to all the human children.

4. Gone With the Snow

This is the final chapter of the Astroboy Chronicles. Strange things have been happening up in the snow covered peaks of Mount Otafuku including radiation build ups. Professor Ochanomizu sends Astro to investigate and he discovers a spacecraft manned by an escaped convict from the planet of locust people. Astro’s dear friend Scara accompanies the Professor to the mountain when she hears that her husband, Doctor O’Hara came to Earth to search for her and was taken hostage when this convict hijacked his ship.

With Scara’s help Astro is able to save O’Hara and Ochanomizu from the convict who is killed in an accident. O’Hara forgives his wife and restores her back to her true form. The happy reconciled couple say good-bye to Astro and Ochanomizu and fly away home.

Trivia

The storyline involving Scara and how she vainly leaves her husband at the beginning of the Chronicles back in Book 6 is inspired by the novel and movie called “Gone with the Wind” Scara’s name is based upon the character Scarlet O’Hara.

In the chapter where Doctor Tenma borrows the shells of Astro’s parents something is revealed about his mother. Even though the name of Tenma’s wife was never disclosed throughout Book 7 while he is training the robot mother he tells her she is Hoshie Tenma implying that this was his wife’s name.

This marks the conclusion of this long serial which commenced back in Book 6.

Extra Story For This Volume

The Faceless Robot

First serialized between January and February 1967 in Shonen magazine

This story was adapted for episode 11 of the 1980’s series entitled Goliath‘s Head.

A huge robot named Damdam designed to do mining work on the moon is knocked unconscious when the rocket transporting him from the moon to earth crashes and explodes. When he comes to in the robot hospital he finds his head is missing. The staff at the complex have installed an electro brain and voice box into his torso so he can function. Damdam refuses to allow them to build him a replacement head however and leaves hospital determined to find his missing head. He goes crazy tearing the heads off other robots to see if any of them are his own lost head.

Meanwhile a shady character, Mr. Gibs, pays a visit to a gangster named Skunk Kusai. Mr. Gibs reveals that he has stolen Damdam’s head and if anybody were to build a body to go with it, the result would be the most powerful robot in the world. Gibs offers it to Skunk for $500 000 but Skunk treacherously shoots him dead.

Later while Astro confronts Damdam and tries to stop him hunting other robots for their heads, a robot calling himself G12 appears. G12 has been sent by Skunk to destroy Astro but Damdam recognizes G12’s head as his own and tries to take it back. In the ensuing fight G12 sets off an avalanche that buries Damdam and Astro in rubble. He reports back to Skunk but Skunk snaps at G12 saying that’s not enough to finish off a robot as powerful as Astro. He reminds G12 that he was just a junk model robot that they “picked up” at a factory and attached a head to, so he should show his gratitude by making sure Skunk’s bitter enemy is absolutely destroyed.

Astro has indeed survived and so has Damdam. Astro promises to retrieve his head for him as long as he stays quietly waiting where he is. Astro asks around the factories to find out where G12 was made. He senses one man lying at the last factory and challenges him. Three of Skunk’s gang try to shoot the terrified man to silence him but Astro protects him and captures the criminals. Finding out that Skunk’s behind this he has the man take him to the gang’s hideout disguised as a robot maid for G12. When he is asked to check a loose bolt on G12’s shoulder he loosens it further and fights G12 with his head precariously wobbling.

Suddenly Astro is zapped unconscious by the blast of a ray gun from Skunk and his henchmen. Dr. Maxun, the head of the robot hospital has tracked Skunk down and pleads with him to give him Damdam’s head. He explains that it’s extremely dangerous. It is a powerful disintegrator weapon that could accidentally destroy the moon or the earth. Damdam had stubbornly refused to let Dr. Maxun modify his head so he had had a time bomb built into his rocket. The doctor had flown to the crash site, took the head and hid it. But upon discovering that Mr. Gibbs had stolen the head Maxun followed the trail right to Skunk. Skunk laughs and claims he bought the head off Gibs for a million bucks, so if Maxun wants it back he can pay him a million.

Upon hearing this G12 realizes that Skunk is evil. He bends down, picks up Astro and siphons off some of his fuel reviving him to the horror of Skunk and his gang. Before they can shoot G12 Astro comes to life and bashes them all up. G12 takes off Damdam’s head requesting Dr. Maxun to make him a replacement before he collapses to the floor on his back.

Astro tells Dr. Maxun that he is honour bound to return Damdam’s head to him. Even though Maxun is very worried he agrees when Astro promises to reason with him. However Astro regrets showing it to Damdam. He demands to have his head back and attacks Astro for it. In the ensuing fight Damdam is blasted to smithereens by the dangerous weapon built into his head when he pulls it out of Astro grasp unknowingly setting it off. Astro is devastated and laments the folly of human being who had designed Damdam’s head in the first place.

Trivia

This is the first time the character of Skunk Kusai appears in one of the manga stories. He often appears in the Astroboy anime series as a recurring arch enemy for Astro. He fulfills a very similar role as Lex Luthor the opponent of Superman.