Atom, or Astro Boy as he is known in the West, takes the front cover of Idle Idol, so we thought it was about time we had a look at the different designs of this iconic character.
The hugely popular robot-boy was created by manga artist, producer, animator and licensed physician Osamu Tezuka. Tezuka, often called “the father of manga,” introduced Atom in 1951 with a manga called Captain Atom. Astro Boy looks like a human child who is about ten years old, but he’s really a robot with special powers. His powers include incredible strength, an amazingly powerful computer brain, rocket-boots, magnified hearing, the ability to send light beams from his eyes, enhanced sight, the ability to shoot lasers from his finger tips, the ability to sense whether someone is good or evil and a machine gun hidden in his bum. In the manga, Astro Boy was created by the lonely Doctor Tenma who wanted to create a replica of his dead son. The Doctor became annoyed with his creation for not growing up like a normal boy, and so gave him to the Robot Circus. Later, kind Professor Ochanomizu discovered him. The Professor called on Astro Boy to solve problems and to help bring peace between humans and robots.
The character has remained an icon recognisable to today’s youth as much as those who grew up with the early manga. However the studio was worried his popularity was waning with the young. Tezuka studios collaborated with artist Lily Franky and created a fish faced fat Astro Boy which has drawn complaints from fans. If you want to see a very cool fat Astro Boy check out Youngsun Kim’s wonderful painting. In 2009 a CGI Atom was released, the slightly more Caucasian looking Astro Boy was the result of much discussion and compromise between Tezuka Productions and Imagi Animation Studios who animated the movie.
There is much fan inspired Astro Boy art and commercial products which develop or change his iconic image. I’ve seen a cute baby faced Astro, a scary fur suit Atom, graffiti Astro and a lovely knitted toy.