DVD Review: Page (1) of 1 - 03/23/05

The Astro Boy Complete Series

DVD set now available

By Stephen Schleicher

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Astro Boy is often credited as the first television anime series and has had a rich history spanning over 40 years.  To honor the 40th anniversary, a new series of Astro Boy was introduced, and now is available on DVD.

Astro Boy was created by a research scientist who lost his son in a tragic accident.  In an attempt to recreate his son, he builds a robot child.  Part Pinocchio, part Superman, the atomic powered robot soon discovers his powers allow him to fight for justice and peace for the entire planet.

Created by legendary Tezuka Osamu, the updated Astro Boy is a bit of what you expect and a bit of what you dont expect from an anime series.  Young children should enjoy the wiz bang action that is in every episode, and even though there are hints of a deeper message, it wont interfere with the kid friendly entertainment.  Fans of the original series will be happy to see all of the original characters and designs in tact, but may be disappointed in the lack engrossing stories found in other television series. 

There is certainly a much larger story arc that develops as the series progresses a robot/human war that is sparked when one robot is wrongly accused of harming a human, but getting there can be a struggle.  It is a sad note that the original series ended with Astro Boy sacrificing his life to save the earth, but in the updated version Astro Boy stops the war, saves a bunch of peoples lives, and in the new equality between humans and robots becomes a ?real boy.  Personally, I liked the ?sacrificing for the greater good ending more.

If it wasnt for the cleaner art styles and computer generated particle effects used throughout the series, you would swear you were watching lost episodes from the original series.  Tezuka Osamu should be commended for keeping the original style in tact all these years later.  It could have been very easy to update all of the characters and totally change the feel of the entire show.  If you like the overly stylized anime characters, you will enjoy this series.  If you are looking for more realistic characters, you might enjoy Astro Boy in bits and pieces, but will not be a fanatic.

Unfortunately, the series was not well received in the US and was cancelled after the first 21 episodes aired.  This left many wondering what the fate of Astro Boy was.  With the Astro Boy The Complete Series DVD, you get to see the missing 29 episodes that make for a complete story.  In addition to the missing episodes, there is a documentary feature on the remaking of the series.

Astro Boy The Complete Series DVD collection contains all 50 episodes on five discs and has an MSRP of $50.00.  However a quick search on online sites reveals you can obtain the collection for as low as $35.  For those that like Astro Boy, this is a great addition to your collection.  For animators, there is enough information for you to appreciate the marriage of 2D and 3D work, but you probably wont gain much over what you already see in other series.  Children should love the adventures of the robot child, and I give this collection a Good Buy Recommendation.

Stephen Schleicher has crossed the country several times over the last couple of years going from Kansas to Atlanta , Georgia, and Southern California. In his time traveling, he has worked as an editor, graphic designer, videographer, director, and producer on a variety of video productions ranging from small internal pieces, to large multimedia
corporate events.

Currently, Stephen shares his knowledge with students at Fort Hays State University who are studying media and web development in the Information Networking and Telecommunications department. When he is not shaping the minds of university students, Stephen continues to work on video and independent projects for State and local agencies and organizations as well as his own ongoing works.

He is also a regular contributor to Digital Producer, Creative Mac, Digital Webcast, Digital Animators, and the DV Format websites, part of the Digital Media Online network of communities (www.digitalmedianet.com), where he writes about the latest technologies, and gives tips and tricks on everything from Adobe After Effects, to Appleā??s Final Cut Pro, LightWave 3D, to shooting and lighting video.

He has a Masters Degree in Communication from Fort Hays State University in Hays, Kansas. As a forward thinker, he wrote his Thesis on how Information Islands and e-commerce would play a major role in keeping smaller communities alive. This of course was when 28.8 dialup was king and people hadnā??t even invented the word e-commerce.

And, he spends what little free time he has biking, reading, traveling around the country, and contemplating the future of digital video and its impact on our culture. You can reach him at [email protected]

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