Astro Boy 15
December 29, 2007
This is it for the Astro Boy I actually have in my possession, but there’s still… 8 volumes of the series left that I’ll need to pick up at some point. I think I’ve had Astro Boy overload for the time being, though.
This volume was much different than any of the others in the series so far, and is actually more what I pictured Astro Boy being like after reading all the annotations and stuff in volume one. There are 3-4 stories, all of them are really old, and I think all of them have intros from Tezuka, which have been missing from a lot of the stories in recent volumes. I like stories from the ’50s more, because it’s easier to see how far Tezuka’s come since the beginning of the series. The stories from that era have been extremely rare up to now though, so maybe there’ll be a bunch in the last 8 volumes I have yet to read.
The intros from Tezuka are all really interesting this time around, too. The first one talks about some of the people submitting manga to the magazine Astro was running in. These stories start out just like boring stories artists write about their assistants in other manga, except then Tezuka will mention the pen name the person wound up writing under, and you’re like, “ooh, it was LEIJI Matsumoto that won that contest.” There actually is a really long story about one of his assistants in this volume. I was losing patience with it until he revealed at the end the assistant had drawn many of the pages in the next story, and the assistant was actually Shotaro Ishinomori. He also mentioned that Shotaro Ishinomori looked like a potato, which I thought was interesting.
Also included in this volume was one episode of the “Ambassador Atom” story that Tezuka had been running when he came up with Astro Boy, and the actual story called “Ambassador Atom” which reads like a transition from the former series to Astro Boy. Or, at least, that’s how I understand the progression, I wasn’t too clear on the titles et al and how the transition took place, though the first, shorter story leads into the longer story, and that seems to lead into Astro Boy pretty nicely. The older sample is only a few pages long, and is pretty primitive. The first story that actually had Astro Boy in it goes through Astro’s complete history (though the circus ringmaster isn’t Hamegg in this version, sadly), then proceeds to kill off Tenma and Space Tenma. It’s a lot more coherent and less primitive than you’d expect, though still has weird idiosyncrasies that you’d expect from early Tezuka stories.
And in case you were missing Hamegg, he appears as a bad guy in one of the other stories. So does Skunk. Kenichi shows up pretty prominently too, and I think I remember a brief flash of Lamp, but I could be wrong.