Astro Boy & the God of C1

a Company One rehearsal & development blog

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Anime’s Influence on the Japanese Robotics Industry

Japan’s Agency for Cultural Affairs (the Manga, Animation, Games, and Media Art Information Bureau) recently funded a study into the history of Japanese anime. Part of it, The History of Robot Anime, has been translated into English.

The report finds a connection between the humanoid robots often featured in Japanese manga and anime (like Astro Boy, of course!) and the focus on creating robots that mimic the human form. The report notes that “the robot anime genre has exerted a great influence on the real world, inspiring its fans to study space technologies, or to enter the automotive industry to bring their designs to life, or to even create actual bipedal robots.”

Read more about the report here.

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WBUR On Point: The Rise of Robots in Our Everyday Lives

Host Tom Ashbrook brings together Oliver Morton, briefings editor at The Economist, Ken Goldberg, roboticist and professor of industrial engineering and operations research in robotics, Howie Choset, professor at Carnegie Mellon’s Robotic Institute, and Mark Aaron Goldfeder, senior lecturer at Emory University School of Law to discuss robots in popular imagination and reality. They discuss new breakthroughs in robot technology in manufacturing, the hope that robots will be able to help us care for the elderly, and at what point robots should be granted legal personhood. describes the conversation thusly: “There is need – we have aging societies that could use the help.  There is risk – talk of jobs lost to robots and “killer robots.”  And there is reality – they’re moving in.”

Listen here!

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Astro Boy Characters

Dr. Boynton

Dr. Boynton animates Astro Boy

Dr. Boynton animates Astro Boy

In both the original manga and television series, Dr. Boynton (Dr. Tenma in the original Japanese) creates Astro Boy after he is grief-stricken by the death of his son. At first he is pleased with his robotic replacement, but he becomes incredibly angry when he realizes Astro isn’t growing like a real boy. He sells Astro to a circus, where Astro is forced to fight other robots.

Dr. Boynton becomes upset when Astro Boy does not grow

Dr. Boynton becomes upset when Astro Boy does not grow

Dr. Boynton’s character takes different roles in the manga and TV show after this. He appears multiple other times in the manga, and still has affection for Astro, though he knows he can never be forgiven for what he has done. He helps him out on multiple occasions. In the TV series, however, he is only seen once more after the first episode, and it is suggested that he has either killed himself or been institutionalized.



Dr. Elefun 

Dr. Elefun (Professor Ochanomizu in the original) is essentially Astro Boy’s adopted father in both the manga and TV series.

Dr. Elefun saves Astro Boy from a violent circus

Dr. Elefun saves Astro Boy from a violent circus

dr elefun 2


dr elefun 3


More to come!

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Geek Theatre On the Rise!

In their February 2014 issue, American Theatre Magazine published this article by Robert L. Neblett, titled “The Geek Shall Inherit the Stage: by mining science fiction, superheroes and RPG fandoms, geek theatre puts the outsider front and center.”

Neblett writes: “Astro Boy and the God of ComicsOf Dice and MenShe Kills MonstersTwo Point Oh! A Klingon Christmas CarolMacHomerA Very Potter MusicalMr. Burns, a Post-Electric PlayThe Intergalactic Nemesis. This is just a small sampling of the plays dotting the marquees of stages throughout the nation, each one representing a different aspect of geek culture, from RPGs (role-playing games), to science fiction, to Japanese manga/anime, to comic book superheroes—a selection of categories that barely scratches the surface of the wide diversity of the geek community. … What were once terms of contempt or ridicule have been reclaimed as self-referential monikers of empowerment.”

HowlRound hosted a twitter chat on “Genres in Theatre: Science Fiction, Anime, Fantasy, Steampunk, etc.” You can read the transcript here. Part of it is an interesting conversation around whether “anime” can be considered a genre of theatre or only an influence or aesthetic. It also includes a few shout-out to Natsu and Astro Boy!

For another take on the Geek theatre trend, read an interview with playwright Crystal Skillman on HowlRound. She thinks about Geek Theatre this way: “While all geek theater plays are very, very different—some plays put an original genre story on stage while others follow real characters who are actual geeks living in the geek community (as in this play)—both approaches are using genre for their characters to discover something greater. I think we are all excited to use genre to explore the story of the outsider, which we pour our hearts into because it is indeed personal. The story of the outsider longing to find their place in the world is one everyone relates to.”

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Android Actress

From The Creators Project: “In the Japanese play Sayonara, previewed above, the porcelain doll-like Geminoid F android (developed by Hiroshi Ishiguro) stars alongside a live actress in the 20-minute stage performance. The director of the show, Oriza Hirata, is especially appreciative of robot performance because, “ultimately, their acting problems can be solved,” as Geminoid’s voice and movements are controlled from a computer backstage.”

See her in action:

What do you think of the performance?