Saturday, November 29, 2008
ASTRO BOY Teaser: GET ON BOARD, MUTHAFUCKERS!
How can this not excite you?
How are you not filled with the awe and excitement of your youth? How can you not be overwhelmed with nostalgia?
When I was a kid, probably around 6 or 7, I got up at 6:00 every day to watch first THE MIGHTY HERCULES, but that what I was really up to see was ASTRO BOY. And, as the impressionable young boy that I was, what I took from that show was that I wish, hoped, and dreamed... that I was a robot. For real, no exaggeration. I wanted to be a robot. A robot with a heart and soul. The protector of humanity and robot-kind alike; the World's hero.
I remember so many great stories from ASTRO BOY... the robot liar, the Snow Leopard, the Robot God, Uran's Twin, Robio and Jullie-8, and of course, the greatest of them all; The World's Strongest Robot. Stories filled with adventure, romance, imagination, and likable, memorable, characters.
But why is it ASTRO BOY resonates so much with a young boy, like I was? I think it might be that I projected myself into Astro... though a robot, he had a family, friends, and went to school. And while he eventually gained friends, at first he was picked on and ostrecised for being different... hell, looking at his origin, he was even horribly abused by first his father, and then the robot circus he was sold into; but he persevered. He questioned the descisions of adults and had a childhood niavitte that I could identify with; he just wanted to save everyone. Astro didn't judge the villian, but rather looked for a compromise. That didn't mean he was stupid though. Astro was incredibly smart, and after some deliberation, his positronic brain could come up with the optimum solution to any problem. Astro represents childrens empowerment fantasy at it's finest, because it emphasises the best qualities of a hero: Honor, respect for all life, seek compromise before conflict, but take decisive action, and most importantly, use your strength to help others. Thus it was through that projection, that fantasy, that I shaped my moral compass.
So as to this trailer... am I excited? You bet your ass! What I don't get is why other people aren't? While looking for the trailer, all I came across was petty bitching and moaning; people that didn't like the look of it, that questioned the need for a revitalization of a childhood classic, that didn't think Tezuka would approve of the use of computer animation... Fuck that.
How does it look? EXCELLENT. IMAGI is a great studio that's been slowly but surely tempering their craft, and TMNT, while not a perfect movie, was nevertheless well directed and had some pretty astounding animation, and more importantly, art direction. I think that Tezuka's art actually lends itself quite well to computer animation because designed with animation in mind; every single character in Astro Boy is simply constructed with solid, geometric, volumes and very little unnessessary detail, which lends itself greatly to computer animation (as a student of animation myself, I have to say, the simpler the structure, the easier to animation). My only real critical point is that I wish the eyes on Astro were bigger than they are. But look at what they show us; the tunnelling through the ground, arms flailing wildly, flashlight eyes, and exploding through Mount Fuji, are both lifted directly from the 1960's opening of the show. This shows me that they're being true to the character. I'll even wager they put the machine guns in his ass.
As to the need to bring Astro back... have you ever watched kids movies, or saturday morning cartoons these days? Have you seen what we're teaching our kids? I'm not saying it's all garbage, but... what do kids learn from fucking BRATZ, WINX CLUB, SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS, or FAIRY GODPARENTS? It's all vacuous, commercial, and mean spirited. Have you ever just HUNG OUT with kids these days? O_O Do we need to revitalize a hero that once served faithfully as a positive rolemodel for everything that one should aspire to be? You're damn right! And all the better that it's something from everyones childhood; parents should be able to identify with their children, and there's nothing kids love more than to have their interests validated by adults, rather than being met with a condesending, "That's nice dear." Children's eyes sparkle when you show interest in what they are interested in. How many parents can tell their children stories of a character they loved that the children haven't heard of? "You think that's something? Why I remember the time Astro had to save the world's Seven Strongest Robots from Pluto, the Strongest Robot of them all!"
As for whether or not Tezuka would want to see Astro in all his 3D animated glory? Are you fucking kidding me, here? The man practically invented animation the Japanese! To his dying days he was on the forfront of artistic innovation. If he had a chance to actually build a robot boy with a 10,000 horsepower heart, he would have. As much nostalgia I have for classical animation, especially pretaining to this character, Astro Boy isn't about the past; he's about the bright and shining future. The promise of a better tomorrow. PROGRESS! INNOVATION! HOPE! Astro Boy has already conquered every aspect of the two-dimensional medium; time for the next.
So get on board with me people. Leave behind your pessimism and anger! Leave behind your paranoia and selfishness! Leave behind your anxieties and fears! By embracing a nostalgic hero of the past, may we find hope for a brighter tomorrow!