Western Animation: Astro Boy
Fitting in isn't always easy.Astro Boy
is a CGI movie
produced by Imagi Animation Studios, released in October 2009. Based on the manga Astro Boy
In the future, there exists a city in the sky, hovering over the garbage-ridden surface of the Earth. Metro City is a utopia in which robots have been created to take over many of the tasks once done by humans, from simple shopping trips to the dirty work that no one wants to do. Their creator is none other than the brilliant Doctor Tenma, the head of the Ministry of Science.
As it just so happens, Tenmaís son, Toby, has inherited his extraordinary intelligence, and is absolutely fascinated by robots and the science behind them. After breezing through a pop quiz at school and receiving permission to leave early as a result, Toby learns from a brief chat with his fatherís hologram that he wonít be able to take him to the Symposium, because it turns out heís needed at the unveiling of the Peacekeeper, a new military robot to be shown to President Stone later that day. Naturally, despite being ordered to go home, Toby hacks into the robot in charge of driving the car and immediately goes along to see it with him.
From there, things take a turn for the worse. There are two newly discovered cores capable of powering a robot; a blue, positive one, and the extremely unstable red one that resulted as a side effect from the creation of the first. While initially the blue one had been intended for the robot, President Stone, despite having little to no knowledge in the field, decides to use the red one instead. Disaster breaks loose as the robot goes berserk, and in an effort to seal it in behind a glass wall, Toby gets trapped inside with it. When the robot attempts to break free, he is caught in the explosion and completely vaporized.
The experience shatters Tenma, who soon gets to work building a robotic replacement powered by the blue core, giving it all the memories of his deceased son in an effort to return things to normal. In the beginning, it seems as though the robot is a perfect copy, but Tenma starts noticing differences, and rejects him. (There's an implication that the robot isn't as different from Toby as Tenma thinks, but rather he's seeing a side of his son he never saw before, because he's giving the replacement the attention he was always too busy to give the original.) As if the sudden rejection by his father werenít enough, it isnít long before President Stone finds out that Astro is in possession of the blue core, and resolves to hunt him down and retrieve it for use in the Peacekeeper. Astro finds himself alone in a search for his destiny, the place in the world where he belongs. At the same time, the president is hot on his tracks for the core that powers him, and will stop at nothing to get re-elected by the public.
The 2009 film provides examples of, in addition to tropes inherited from the manga:
- Adaptive Armor: The Red Energy-infused Peacekeeper. To the point where it adapts President Stone. Don't worry, he's fine. He/it then uses a giant gunship as its arm cannon and whole buildings as armor.
- Adult Fear: The death of a child. Inverted with Child Fear, the fear of rejection by a parent.
- Amusing Injuries: Astro is extraordinarily prone to crashing through signs, buildings, streets....
- And the Adventure Continues: The film ends with Astro setting off to fight a new threat posed by an enormous flying creature with many tentacles.
- Armies Are Evil: The creators saw fit to incessantly hammer you over the head with this.
- Genre Savvy: One of the faceless mooks drops his weapons and runs for it in the few seconds before the Peacekeeper starts its rampage.
- Gentle Giant: Zog, but don't push him.
- Glad I Thought of It: The robot revolutionaries, during Astro's first encounter with them.
- Goldfish Poop Gang: The robot revolutionaries. They're about as capable as a deflated tire — and as funny as one, too.
- Gone Horribly Right: The President wants to put the evil red orb inside the war machine to make it more aggressive and violent. Well, it worked...
- Good Colors, Evil Colors: The red and blue cores.
- Go Out with a Smile: Astro during his Heroic Sacrifice.
- Half-Identical Twins: Widget and Sludge, who also invoke Sibling Seniority Squabble.
- Headdesk: Trash Can's reaction after his numerous failed attempts to tell the orphans that Astro is a robot. He even writes "HE'S A ROBOT" in the dirt with an arrow pointed right at Astro, unfortunately for him, the only orphan present at the time happened to be the illiterate one.
- Infant Immortality: Averted: Toby dies a very family-unfriendly death.
- Ink-Suit Actor: Hamegg is SO Nathan Lane, right down to the eyebrow movement.
- Kill the Cutie: Toby. Unlike the original version, this character gets a fair amount of screen time before he is vaporized by the Peacekeeper.
- Lampshade Hanging: The window cleaner robots note Astro/Toby's unusual hairstyle; he explains it off as "gel". Also a meta example of Product Placement: a hair-gel company did an ad campaign in which kids used its products to get the "Astro Boy look" to tie in with the film. The first editions of the DVD came with rebate coupons for said hair gel.
- Marilyn Maneuver: When Metro City starts to fall, a woman's dress flies up.
- Meaningful Echo: The RRF on Astro's name, and then the kids' reaction to it.
- Messianic Archetype: Astro, right down to communing with unfortunates, Heroic Sacrifice and resurrection by Zog.
- Missing Mom
- Toby's mother is never mentioned.
- There's a lot of this going around; all of the kids with Hamegg are stated to be orphans, though dialog implies that Widget and Sludge may have been actively kicked out while Zane was apparently abandoned at a young age. Averted with runaway Cora, whose parents are shown to have been looking for her and are delighted to find her again.
- Most Writers Are Adults: Inverted; most child characters look and behave much younger than their given age. (Astro/Toby is said to be thirteen and more closely resembles a nine-year-old; Cora is claimed to be seventeen but comes off as perhaps fifteen; the twins are said to be nine but seem more like six or seven-year-olds. Zane, on the other hand, is fourteen and seems accurate.) Of course, this is long-term in Astro Boy — the original was claimed to be nine and looks six.
- Mythology Gag
- The bit where Astro drills through Mount Sophia is a visual echo of a bit from the 1963 TV series title sequence.
- One of the scientists that works with Dr. Tenma and Dr. Elefun looks quite a bit like Tezuka-as-drawn-by-Tezuka, including his trademark hat. Tezuka's signature pig-mushroom doodle appears on a billboard that's in the background of several scenes.
- Several Reused Character Design characters turn up in bit roles, most noticeably Mr. Mustache/Shunsaku Ban as Toby's teacher.
- Elefun plugging the Blue Core line into the Peacekeeper looks remarkably like him reattaching the cable during Astro's activation in the 2003 series.
- Astro's movements on being activated closely resemble his first attempts to walk in the 1980 series. And when he takes his first steps, Astro makes the same squeaking sounds he does in the 60s anime.
- The blueprints to build Astro are actual drawings from the Manga.
- Clothing Damage results in Astro being dressed in only his original 50s Underwear of Power by the time the final battle is done.
- Butt-mounted machine guns. Even Astro doesn't get it.
- Never Say "Die": Averted. Tenma says to Stone that if he wants the core, he'll have to kill him.
- Never Trust a Trailer
- All over the place. The sun-like alien that appears in two shots of the trailer only shows up at the end of the film, and has nothing to do with the story at all!
- Not to mention, the trailer barely shows the movie for what it is (a heart-warming tale of a robot boy finding his place in the world) and decides to make it look like a mindless comedy/action film. Unless you find the Japanese trailer that is.
- Artistic License - Nuclear Physics: One researcher says the blue energy sphere is more powerful than nuclear energy. A watt is a watt, no matter what the source. This is like saying a pound of steel weighs more than a pound of feathers. It's all the same, unless you specify the basis for your comparison (such as "...more watts than X" or "...a higher voltage than Y.")
- Papa Wolf: Tenma becomes one, ultimately willing to sacrifice himself to the military (alongside Elefun) to protect his boy.
- Please Wake Up: Astro Boy sacrifices his Blue Core energy to save the world.
- The Power of Friendship: Astro is literally powered by this.
- President Evil: President Stone, an exaggerated pastiche of General Hein.
- Puppy-Dog Eyes
- When Toby realizes he is in danger of dying.
- When Astro/Toby realizes that Stone has ordered firing missiles at him, as well as when Tenma reveals his true nature. (Actually, in general Astro seems to have mastered this as thoroughly as Tenma has mastered the Death Glare.)
- Orrin manages a surprisingly effective version when watching Astro leave the Tenma household, though only the audience gets to see it.
- The Quiet One: Zog, and any time he actually speaks he says automatically cool - it's Samuel L. Jackson.
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: The negative and positive energy cores, respectively. Force-fed to the audience very early in the film as to which is good and which is evil.
- Rent-a-Zilla: The giant Peacekeeper robot in the finale.
- Replacement Goldfish: True to its source material.
- Ridiculously Cute Critter: Trash Can, the pet robot dog of Hamegg's band of orphans. Also doubles as Ugly Cute because he's, ya know, a trash can.
- Robot Buddy: Played straight and subverted with the whole scrap heap sequence.
- The Runt at the End: The remaining third of the Robot Revolutionary Front.
- Shout-Out: Lots.
- The Peacekeeper near the beginning makes The War of the Worlds noise.
- President Stone seems like an evil version of General Hein.
- The Alien in the end is actually an Artificial Sun from another Tezuka Manga and appears in the Astro Boy: Omega Factor game.
- The flashlight in the briefcase is a reference to Pulp Fiction.
- The Robot Revolutionaries attempt to make the "Transformers" sound.
- President Stone's campaign banner: "We Don't Need Change!" Subtle.
- Astro gets attached to strings several times.
- When Astro first visits the surface, many derelict robots approach him and eventually end up chanting "One of us! One of us!"
- Astro's interaction with Trashcan: What is it, boy? Is someone in trouble?
- When Astro learns about the robots destroying each other in the arena, Cora jokingly remarks, "What did you expect? Rock, paper, scissors?"
- On his first flight, Astro swirls a cloud into an ice-cream shape, as the Magic Carpet does in Aladdin's "A Whole New World" sequence.
- Sibling Seniority Squabble: "I'm older." "By ninety seconds!"
- Skunk Stripe: Cora's got two purpleish stripes on either side of her face.
- Strawman Political: President Stone. Cut taxes for his rich friends and starts a war to get himself reelected.
- Telescoping Robot: The fighting robot called "Little Stinker", which starts out smaller than Astro, then unfolds into something much larger and more threatening.
- Those Two Guys: The window-cleaner bots, who are scared into a bit of oil splatter by Astro's passage.
- Three Laws Of Robotics: Every robot must obey them, save Zog, who existed 50 years before the rules were mandatory in every robot. Astro is an exception as well, though he does assert that he doesn't want to hurt anyone. Later, he moves into his final confrontation with Peacekeeper because he wants to — he could easily walk away, and almost did, thus violating the law regarding allowing humans to come to harm. It's only Widget's distress that brings him back to fight. He's also more than capable of disobeying a human's orders.
- What Measure Is a Non-Human?: Played somewhat inconsistently; it's a major theme of the movie that Astro and the other robots possess human worth, but the filmmakers aren't above thoughtlessly trashing a robot for a cheap laugh.
- Who Is Driving?: Trash Can is driving.
- You Gotta Have Blue Hair: Cora (actually blue-black with purple Skunk Stripes).