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Astro Boy: Volume 2

Score: 85%
Rating: Not Rated
Publisher: Sony Pictures Home

Region: 1
Media: DVD/1
Running Time: 202 Mins.
Genre: Anime/Action/Family
Audio: English, Portuguese, Spanish


  • Episodes:
    • Reviving Jumbo
    • Robot Hunters
    • The Rise of Pluto
    • The Fall of Acheron
    • Dragon Lake
    • Lost in Outland
    • Deep City
    • The Blue Knight
    • Hydra-Jacked
    • Geo Raider

Don't confuse this Astro Boy release with the original-issue Tezuka series from the 1960s; Astro Boy: Volume 2 is part of a 5-DVD pack that collects the 1980's reprisal of Tezuka's super-powered robotic boy. Fans will know the difference, but uninformed citizens may even think this is something related to the 2009 new theatrical release. "Related" is probably accurate, and there's no question that Astro Boy: Volume 2 is more like what audiences will see on the big screen this year than what aired in the '60s. Fans will still recognize the fearless little "boy" from his long history in anime and manga, with a modern update that missed audiences in the US due to some funky screening times back in the '80s. Finally we have collected here the entire series, with over 50 episodes across five DVDs, so anyone not already a fan of Astro Boy will be more than able to catch up.

If you're just jumping on board, be sure to read our write-up of the first collection of episodes. Astro Boy: Volume 2 continues the action, and brings together ten episodes in total. The sequencing of episodes in this collection is very strange; within the first two episodes, we are presented with Astro's "sister" (actually a robot created as a companion for Astro by his father-figure and noted professor of science, Dr. O'Shay) as if she had been there all along. The sequence leaves out the backstory on her, much as it left out plenty of backstory on why Astro Boy is also claimed by another eminent scientist, Dr. Tenma. Compiling the series as they did here creates a rather non-linear storyline that probably works fine with young viewers, but will cause older kids or adults to scratch their heads. Be sure to read up on the backstory of Astro Boy if you're viewing with a young one, so you can answer questions about some of the characters that appear without much notice. Or, just watch the series out of sequence, following any particular flow you like...

The grouping of episodes here does make some sense. You have an actual double episode between "The Rise of Pluto" and "The Fall of Acheron" for instance, that really depends on having watched earlier episodes where Tenma and other characters were introduced. Bad Guy Skunk, a lightweight next to Tenma, appears again in the episode "Reving Jumbo," making trouble for Astro Boy and risking the lives of others in his relentless pursuit for wealth and power. If a theme can be identified on Astro Boy: Volume 2, it is the battle between predestination and free thought or action. Framed in a robotic sense, are we more than our programming? Astro Boy is on the side of a John Locke, arguing to any robot that will listen how programming doesn't define them and how robots were meant to get along. There's irony in this last concept, since Astro Boy ends up doing a lot of battling during the series. The best sequence on this DVD is the confrontation with Pluto, a robot designed to destroy the most powerful robotic opponents in the world, including Astro Boy. Astro doesn't quite achieve a Ghandi-like pacifist stance, but he does his best to answer violence with kindness.

The mix of standalone episodes and those driving the overall mystique of Astro Boy along makes this great fun to watch, and more sophisticated anime viewers of recent years will have no problem getting into the action. Sure, the style of late has trended toward more computer-aided animation and technical drawings, but the somewhat dark undertones of the show are what will keep older viewers engaged. Tenma and his desire to constantly test his "creation," Astro Boy, reminds us of that portrait of the overbearing father-figure that Robert Duvall played in The Great Santini. The ultimate confrontation between Tenma and Astro Boy is more than enough to keep us interested in what's to come. Keep reading for more coverage on the other DVDs in this great collection.

-Fridtjof, GameVortex Communications
AKA Matt Paddock

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