Astro Boy (Tetsuwan Atomu) is a Japanese manga that was created by Osamu Tezuka. Tezuka has been labeled as the “Walt Disney of Anime”. Astro Boy was one of his most well known mangas. It was first released as a manga in 1952 and ran until 1968. A television anime series based on the manga began in 1963 and ran for a full three years before ending in 1966. The anime version of Astro Boy was the first animated movie to be given the anime title. It is Tezuka that began the stylization of the classic anime, with large eyes and other distinguishing features. In Japan, Astro Boy was as popular as Mickey Mouse.
Astro Boy is set in the future of Japan. It is a future that finds androids and humans living together in harmony. Astro Boy is created when Dr. Tenma, the head of the Ministry of Science, decides that he will build an android to replace his son, who died in a car accident. Astro Boy comes to life, but Dr. Tenma feels let down, as Astro Boy can not express any emotions and is very obviously a machine. He sells Astro to a circus owner named Hamegg. Hamegg is known to abuse his performers, and does the same to Astro.
Eventually, Professor Ochanomizu takes over as the head of the Ministry of Science. He discovers Astro doing silly tricks in Hamegg’s circus. He manages to trick Hamegg into turning Astro Boy over to him. Professor Ochanomizu treats Astro with the warmth that he has never had before, and even legally adopts him. After a short time, Professor Ochanomizu is shocked to discover that Astro not only has amazing skills, but has the ability to have human emotions.
The next thing Professor Ochanomizu realizes, Astro becomes a super-hero who can translate over sixty languages and has incredible strength. He also uses jets on his legs in order to fly around and can magnify his hearing over one thousand times. He has laser guns on his hips and a heart that is like a truth-telling device. Astro Boy then devotes his life to fighting crime and humans who hate robots.
Shunsaku Ban – He is a private investigator who often helps Astro Boy in his mission to fight crime.
Jetto – Later on in the series, after Astro Boy gets a sister, he gets a brother named Jetto, or Colbalt. He is very gullible but is also very loyal.