As a child in America, I would rush home from school, dash through the living room without bothering to take my jacket off, and leap for the TV dial. If I was lucky, the set would come on just in time to see an animated racing car steering wheel spin into the frame, accompanied by an upbeat, jazzy soundtrack. “Go Speed Racer, Go Speed Racer, Go!”
Ah, he’s a young guy.
My first encounter was the fantastic 1960s edition of Astro-Boy, created by the brilliant Osamu Tezuka. It’s still far superior to the two more recent, color series. First, due to fewer commercials, there’s more story. Second, Astro Boy was introspective and melancholic. He had a depth not found in cartoons at that time. It made a deep, lasting impression on me. Third, the design just kicked the ass of crap being churned out by DePatie-Freleng, Hanna-Barbera, and (eventually) Filmation. Fourth, it showed the future.
And, unlike the writer quoted above, we kids at the time did know these cartoons were from Japan.
I don’t have time to do a detailed analysis. And, really, for those who are astute, only two images are necessary to show why American animation was a national embarrassment and why we kids not only favored but decades later still remember Japanese animation.
Here is a still from Astro Boy:
Even though everyone is standing still, the image just reeks of excitement! The characters’ positions are dynamic and emotional.
Here is a still from Flash Gordon, which was a very expensive project for the hacks at Filmation:
Why did I pick Flash Gordon, which was one of their later series? By that time, Japanese animation was no longer a niche item in America. Filmation had close to two decades of excellence in animation to guide them (ie, to steal from!). Yet they still produced stilted shit with less detail than some children’s coloring books! If I had to guess, I’d say those robots were in an attack formation. Yet it all looks so damned dull! This was one of their most expensive series too. Can you imagine how much worse the extra-low-budget churn-them-out stuff was?
Here are two more images:
The drawing is not the greatest; the proportions are all way off. But, damn, the pose is still dynamic and you can see the Japanese are at least trying.
I mean, really!
Astro Boy is now available on DVD!
The very first anime ever produced, Osamu Tezuka’s (KIMBA, THE WHITE LION / HI NO TORI / METROPOLIS) original 1963 – 1964 ASTRO BOY delighted children around the world with its touching stories and compelling characters. In the U.S., many will remember this popular children’s series which aired on TV during the 1960s.
Now, this groundbreaking series returns for the first time ever in a stunning new collector’s edition that includes the first 52 episodes of the original black and white series as seen in the US, restored to pristine detail, and featuring never-before-seen footage and brand new exciting extras.
The very first anime ever produced, Osamu Tezuka’s original Astro Boy delighted children around the world with its touching stories and compelling characters. In the U.S., many will remember this popular children’s series with its catchy theme song which aired on TV during the 1960s!
ASTRO BOY returns for the first time ever on DVD! In this stunning second collector’s edition, you’ll find the final 52 episodes of the original black and white series as seen in the US, restored to pristine detail, and featuring never-before-seen footage and an amazing collection of extras!
“The Beast from 20 Fathoms” was created during the 1963 television run by a handpicked team of talented animators. The show’s creator, however, was said to be somehow unsatisfied by the results of this cooperative effort, and finally ordered that the episode be destroyed.
Before this occurred, a copy had been sent to NBC for English dubbing. To this day, it does not exist anywhere in Japan. Here at last is the missing episode after 30 years: make up your own mind! Please note that this print was extensively damaged, and that there are still some very minor visual defects. Our audio restoration was totally successful.