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.