Widely considered the original manga comic, Astro Boy was conceived and written by the recognized pioneer of the genre, Osamu Tezuka in 1952.
From the franchise's diminutive launch pad, the endless chain TV anime franchises took flight. Without Tezuka's creation, there's no Lupin III, no Golgo 13, no Ghost in the Machine, no Cowboy Bebop, etc. The strange thing is, some of those TV shows from different eras pack more U.S. pop culture recognition than the franchise that set the table.
Even though TV Squad's very own John Scott Lewinski is fighting his way through hordes of overweight Rorschachs and pre-pubescent Chun Lis to get exclusive interviews and scoops on the newest TV news at the San Diego Comic Con, don't forget that our partners-in-crime from Cinematical are also there covering the latest flim-flam in film.
The movie side of the annual pop-culture cavalcade opened with one of the biggest names in the history of film and what could very well be one of the biggest names in the future of film. Director James Cameron screened a solid 25 minutes of his forthcoming sci-fi epic Avatar. Blogger Todd Gilchrist got a hint of the plot and special effects movie-goers can expect when the film hits theaters later this year and said it "promises to be both hugely entertaining and technically groundbreaking." Man, that's got me worried. That's what they also said about Titanic.
"Here he comes, here comes Speed Racer. He's a demon on wheels." -- The beginning lyrics to the theme song of Speed Racer.
In this week's installment of 'Saturday Morning' we take a break from our regularly scheduled coverage to talk about a cartoon near and dear to many readers' hearts. A cartoon that, while not the first anime to reach the shores of America of the 60s, it was certainly the most influential.
Even though it was never part on any official network schedule, Speed Racer was on somewhere at sometime during the era of Saturday morning cartoons. And, why wouldn't it be? It had everything that a child hopped up on sugar-coated, chocolate-filled cereal could want: action, drama, comedy, mysterious heroes, villains, gadgets, cars, and a boy and his chimp. It also featured animated characters with more natural characteristics than those previously seen on American television. Plus, it had a kick-ass theme song that dug into your brain.
Much has been written on the history of Speed Racer since it premiered over four decades ago. However, with the new Speed Racer live-action film now in theaters, it's a good time to revisit the origins of Speed, Trixie, Pops, Racer X, and the rest of the players. So, if you have your Mach 5 model kit in front of you, let's Go, Go, Go!
Here is a pleasant letter I got this week from a fan named Everett Mason...
Everett writes, "Hi Paul, I'm trying to remember a 70's anime. I know it was about a boy from outer space that had powers. It was in black and white. It might have been called space boy or something like that."
Well, clearly the answer is Astro Boy. Even if you have never seen the show, I'm sure most of you are at least familiar with it. The character has been one of the more successful crossovers from Japanese animation to America.
Great news for Adult Swim fans who wanted an extra night to watch episodes of Family Guy and Futurama for the three-hundredth time: the late night block of (im)mature cartoons now airs on Friday evenings, which means you'll never be without it again, shivering cold and alone in the corner praying for tomorrow to come so you can watch all your favorite shows again.
Basically, there won't be anything new on Fridays, just the usual repeats and anime. Saturdays will still be anime night (with episodes of Astro Boy starting July 14) and Sundays, as always, will be home to original series and premieres. Look for the final two episodes of Harvey Birdman July 15 and 22, new Robot Chicken and Frisky Dingo in August, and the premiere of Lucy, Daughter of the Devil in September.
Check out the schedule grid here.
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