Archive for astro boy

The REAL story behind the USA localization of “Astro Boy”

Posted in advertising, anime, future + scifi, japan, manga, television with tags , , on May 20, 2009 by reccaphoenix
Astro Boy or Mighty Atom? Or Tetsuwan Atomu?

Astro Boy or Mighty Atom? Or Tetsuwan Atomu?

Everyone loves Astro Boy.  He’s world-famous, lovable, and righteous.  What about Mighty Atom?  Or Tetsuwan Atomu?  Or 鉄腕アトム?  Those are his “real” names and their various translations and transliterations….but why did his name change when he was imported to the U.S.A.?

Well, the common myth is that “Mighty Atom” (1) had too strong a connection with “atomic bombs” and similar ideas, and/or (2) sounded too much like existing characters “Mighty Mouse” and “Atom Ant,” and was therefore changed to the unoffensive “Astro Boy.”  But recently, some ‘research’ of mine suggested otherwise….

For the English version, the producers, NBC Enterprises, settled on “Astro Boy” after discussions with producer Fred Ladd and representatives from NBC led them to the name. (The title “Mighty Atom” for an atomic powered robot, as “Astro Boy” was thought of back then, was considered too generic and not “catchy enough” a title for a program for American TV.)

(taken from the “Astro Boy” article on wikipedia)

So, it was really just a question of what was catchy, I suppose.  When you think about it, poor Leo the lion went through something similar.  Leo is such a stereotypical lion name in Western countries, while “Kimba” sounds exotic and African.  What sounds more rare and exciting than “Kimba the White Lion”?  I guess “Jungle Emperor Leo” just doesn’t have that “kid show” ring to it, now that I think about it.

Things have changed quite a bit from the “old days,” where localizers often went to great lengths to make sure a show didn’t appear “Japanese” in any way.  Even as recently as when I was a little girl watching Sailor Moon, I remember that all the signs were painted over to have English on them and all the characters’ names were changed to “English” ones.  In recent years, however, dubbers and localizers have responded to changes in audience and the audience’s increased knowledge of/interest in Japanese culture and anime and minimalized changes.

John Lennon manga – 1st page up! PLUS, Tezuka’s MW (ムウ)

Posted in japan, manga, merchandise, osamu tezuka, reviews/opinions with tags , , , , , , , , , , on October 31, 2007 by reccaphoenix

reccaspriteSee the John Lennon manga page for more information.

It’s only the prologue, and it’s only one page. But I figured it was better than nothing…

Oh, speaking of Tezuka-related things, I just got the recent translation of MW (Muu), great translation by VERTICAL, who have decided to translate all of Tezuka’s more “serious” works. (Please please please do Alabaster next!) They have already done Buddha, Ode to Kirihito (a.k.a. Eulogy for Kirihito) and Song of Apollo, but I haven’t read any of those yet. I applaud VERTICAL over and over, 1) for translating Tezuka manga, 2) for translating the more obscure/dark Tezuka manga, and 3) for GREAT packaging and reasonable pricing. MW came in a single thick hardcover volume (how convenient!) with a dust jacket PLUS different art on the actual hardcover! It’s fuschia (barf) but still very sleek and modern-looking. Only problem – it has a picture on the spine of Yuki having sex with a girl. Not explicit, but it makes it look sort of hentai-esque on your shelf there. If you remove the dust jacket, no problem, but still…maybe they were looking to lure the potential hentai buyer at Barnes and Noble?

But MW….it’s reportedly one of Tezuka’s darkest and most “adult” manga. I agree. It’s also a masterpiece of suspense, my heart was pounding away at several moments. If you want a good manga to write an essay/thesis on…..look no further! MW covers political, religious, and moral issues aplenty, many of which mirror actual issues in Japanese society. College Students and bored intellectuals….get on that!

This is NOT for children and definitely not for the faint of heart. They give it a “16+” rating, which seems okay to me I guess. But here’s a rundown of what happens here for those who are wary: genocide, rape, murder, extortion, homosexuality, manipulation, government scandal, less-than-desirable portrayals of the United States, extramarital affairs, priests involved in several of the above, torture, etc.

At times I couldn’t believe it was a Tezuka manga. This is what Tezuka wrote after “The Vampires” to more fully express a story about true evil, not bound by the limits of writing a children’s manga. True, Rock in “Vampires” is “the most evil man in the world,” but Yuki in MW makes Rock look like the boy next door. If I had to draw up some kind of “scale of evil,” with 1 being naughty, 5 being bad but still appealing, and 10 being pure, unadulterated evil, here we would have….

<<—-Tolen from “The Knack” (1) —-Rock (5)—-Alex from “A Clockwork Orange,” pre-reform (book Alex, not movie Alex) (7)—–Yuki (8)—Hannibal Lecter (9)—-Satan (10)—->>

Damn, that sounded better in principle. But yeah, something like that. Boy oh boy, would I like to see Hannibal Lecter and Yuki try to kill each other off…..fanfiction writers: *wink wink nudge nudge* No way, it would probably end up horribly badly written. So scratch that.

There are many similarities between “MW” and “Vampires”, but MW has no elements of fantasy, and much more politics, controversy, philosophical issues, and evil. Even the style itself is almost “manga realism,” with the exception of the obligatory “weird gourd character” appearance and a few gag panels here and there. This makes it really weird for me to see Higeoyaji (Moustachio/Mr. Mustache) in this manga, though he plays a very minor role. Even when drawn more “realistically,” he still sticks out as a cartoony-looking Tezuka character.

I won’t give away anything, but I found the ending rather disappointing. The more I thought about it though, the darker a message it seemed. Why would Tezuka think this *message which I won’t mention here*? Damn.