Osamu Tezuka Astro BoyWe’re getting closer and closer to this year’s release of the CG-animated Astro Boy, courtesy of British director David Bowers (who last brought us Flushed Away), and one can’t help but wonder how this Western depiction of a truly great Japanese icon will translate when compared against the original source material.

Luckily for us then, so far there’s been nothing but positives coming out on this particular project! :)

One thing we do know is that a lot of the robot character designs for this movie are going to have their roots inspired by pre-Colombian characters, a far cry from its Japanese heritage, thanks to the Argentinian character designer, Luis Grane (an ex-Dreamworks employee who has had his hand in Spider-man 2, The Matrix and Pixar’s Ratatouille). Another thing to perk up to is the fact that Bowers and Tezuka’s son, Makoto Tezuka, are paying particularly close attention to the look and the feel of the on-screen characters, forcing as much of the historic elements of the original onto this new incarnation as possible.

At this stage, for those of you still in the dark, Astro Boy was a particularly famous and almost universal Japanese cartoon series created by the legendary Osama Tezuka (1928-1989), the so-called “God of Manga” back in his heyday around the 1960s. The story revolves around a boy robot who has been imbued with human feelings and emotion and who undertakes a journey in search of his true identity before returning to the futuristic Metro City to reconcile with his estranged creator, the genius scientist Tenma.

Bowers has gone on record as saying that despite the fact that this is primarily a family-orientated movie, it will most definitely have its darker elements because no matter how one looks at it, the story of Astro Boy is a fairly sad and lonely one. The aim of the story is to ensure that it is emotionally, dramatically terrific and at the same time be complete and utterly respectful to this most important icon of Japanese culture.

In terms of the voice cast, Bowers has managed to roll in some heavy hitters to take part, like Nicholas Cage (as the voice of Tenma), Kirsten Bell, Nathan Lane, Donald Sutherland and 17-year-old Freddie Highmore, known for his title role in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, as Astro Boy.

The movie is currently being crafted at Imagi Animation studios on the outskirts of Los Angeles and has a release date set for October 23rd, 2009. Needless to say, if you are a true Otaku who pays proper respect to the history of the art form which we all love so much, then you’ll definitely be looking forward to this one!

Related link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Astro_Boy