DVD Review HTF REVIEW: Astro Boy - The Complete Series (2004)

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Michael Osadciw, Mar 28, 2005.

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  1. Michael Osadciw

    Michael Osadciw Screenwriter

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    [​IMG]

    ASTRO BOY
    THE COMPLETE SERIES





    Studio: Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment
    Air Date: 2003

    U.S. Rating: NR
    Canadian Rating: G

    Total Set Length: 1010 minutes
    Genre: Anime/Fantasy

    Aspect Ratio:[*] 1.33:1
    Colour/B&W: Colour

    Audio:[*] English, Spanish, Portuguese Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo
    Subtitles: None
    Closed Captioned: Yes
    SLP: US $49.95






    Release Date: March 29, 2005.



    Show Rating: [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] / [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Voices of: Candi Milo (Astro Boy), Wally Wingert (Dr. O’Shay & others), Dorian Harewood (Dr. Tenma), Greg Cipes (Atlas)

    Created by: Osamu Tezuka



    Welcome to Metro City; and in a future where humans and robots coexist. Astro Boy is the newest development in robot technology. He is unlike every other robot. Not only does he look very much like a real boy, but he possesses “kokoro” – a Japanese word for the concepts of heart, spirit, intelligence and human-like personality and emotions.

    In a world where people use robots daily but yet sometimes don’t trust them, Astro Boy believes that both humans and robots can coexist peacefully together on Earth. He will do his best to be clever and resourceful and to use his super human powers to deliver "good" out of any tough situation.

    Astro Boy [or Tetsuwan Atomu] is based on a popular manga comic from the 1950s. He is built on atomic power who uses rockets for feet and flies super-fast and has unrivalled strength. He was created as a secret robot modelled after the deceased son of research scientist Dr. Tenma. The robot was lost after the Doctor went mad and burned down the Ministry of Science where he worked. He just couldn’t cope with the loss of his some. The new head of the ministry, Dr. O’Shay, discovers Astro Boy and continues the work on him. This proves to be the right thing to do because Astro Boy becomes the fearless, selfless, and incorruptible robot who saves mankind from the rebellious robots in Metro City.

    I had no idea a new series of Astro Boy came out the past year. I was always familiar with the series from the 80s and was expecting to hear the Astro Boy song during the opening titles. It is absent on this new series and is updated with a faster and more charged electronic music with no lyrics. It is not objectionable, but I do miss the opening theme [that now seems dated when I think about it]. The goal of the animators was to stay as true to Astro Boy world as possible when developing this new series. Is it successful at this? I have to agree. While I have not seen the animated series in over 15 years, I can say the look and the feel seem very similar to what I remembered. This made me very happy. The only thing that felt updated was the voices and the music, but the look of both series is very much alike. I have not seen the series from Japan that aired in the 1960s.

    This box set features five DVDs with a total of 50 episodes with a run time of about 20 minutes each. Twenty-nine of these episodes have never been aired in the USA. This is a wonderful bonus for fans of this series because they will be able to see the complete entire series for the first time. Each of the five discs are packaged in a slimcase and the episode listings and their summaries are in the inside covers of each slimcase and continues on the back. All five discs are kept in a large glossy-black cardboard outer shell. Very attractive.

    The aspect ratio on this set is 1.33:1. The word going around is that the show was originally produced with a 1.78:1 aspect ratio. While the Region 4 DVD sets (available separate as Volumes 1 through 5) come with enhanced widescreen 1.78:1 video, I’m not sure if this was the intended aspect ratio.

    So how do these discs look and sound??


    [​IMG]VIDEO QUALITY
    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] / [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    The picture quality is very good on this DVD release accurately showing the pale-coloured futuristic society in Metro City. Contrast is excellent as it is in most cartoons, although there is the slightest bit of grain seen due to being traditional animation on film. Be happy that this wasn’t a computer animated series! Compression artefacts are noticed occasionally and a few times the image seemed out of focus. Unfortunately there is ghosting around most of the edges with sharp contrast transitions. It is difficult to ignore especially for a release advertising “mastered in High Definition”. For the most part, this DVD collection does look good and is definitely a winner over viewing it on broadcast.


    [​IMG]AUDIO QUALITY [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] / [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    I was surprised to hear how good of a soundtrack Astro Boy has! Delivered in its original English language, the Dolby 2.0 stereo soundtrack is very well done. I had to check my surround pre-amp to make sure that I wasn’t listening to a Dolby 4.0 soundtrack because there were many sounds recorded out of phase giving the impression of a full surround sound field! These sounds are not limited to ambience, but it is very directional in terms of independent left surround and right surround splitting. How can I hear this, you may ask? It’s very simple and too frequently overlooked in system setup.

    When in your listening position, you should be sitting perfectly between your left and right speakers at the tip of an equilateral triangle. Your main speakers should be 30 degrees off center and a distance from you where your speakers’ tweeter and woofer come together in sound (ask manufacturer for this info). In my case it’s roughly nine feet thus giving me a speaker spread of the same distance and toeing them in appropriately. Sitting in the middle of this spread will give you the best imaging, depth, and resolution your system is able to offer. This is the way to hear [recorded] surround information without the use of surround speakers, whether its in music from your CD or movie soundtracks [5.1 channel movies frequently contain natural “surround” sounds in the front left and right channels without using any surround speakers]. If you have not adopted this method of sitting between your main speakers, you will be missing a lot of your audio system’s potential.

    Now, back to Astro Boy; when sitting between my two speakers when listening to this stereo soundtrack, I DID think this was an active 4.0 soundtrack. Dialogue is nicely placed in the middle of the two speakers, albeit a slightly forward sound took away from pinpoint accuracy heard on many great music soundtracks. Bass was adequate enough from the subwoofers crossed over with my main speakers and a few times this bass was directional. The soundtrack is also a hair too bright for my liking. You can have fun listening to this soundtrack but don’t take my comments as referring it as an audiophile recording.


    [​IMG]SPECIAL FEATURES [​IMG] / [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    There is one special feature on this DVD titled Remaking of Astro Boy for this 2003 release. It is a good eight minute featurette featuring discussions with the Japanese animators as well as the American involved to make the cartoon acceptable for American audiences. It’s amazing how strict or “censored” things are on this side of the world compared to the more loose television standards overseas. Anyways, there are brief discussions about this and I think you’ll find it interesting.


    IN THE END…

    Astro Boy is presented here in a respectable DVD collection. I am hoping that one day the complete series from 1980-81 will be released but for now this series will do. It does look aged and it does keep true to the Astro Boy feel. I am looking for the new Astro Boy movie slated for later this year and is directed by the same person who directed the recent Star Wars: Clone Wars series. But for now, this collection should be added to any fans of this manga superhero.

    Michael Osadciw
    05.03.28
     
  2. James T

    James T Screenwriter

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    I saw it for $50 CDN. I thought that was really cheap, considering there's like 50 episodes on here, but with lack of special features, I guess I know why.

    Still, you can't go wrong on a cheap buy.
     
  3. Paul Pro

    Paul Pro Stunt Coordinator

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    Yeah I also didn't know there was new Astro Boy series. I have never seen it so I'm hesitant buying it as a blind purchase.

    But I definitely enjoyed the Eighties version. I'll see if I can catch it anywhere before deciding.
     
  4. Scooter

    Scooter Screenwriter

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    Damn..I was watching Astro Boy in THE 60'S!!!!! When I was 10 years old!!!!
     
  5. Russell G

    Russell G Fake Shemp

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    I bought it blind thinking it was the 80's series, which thought was a color version of the 60's, so I apparantly don't know s**t when it comes to Astroboy. That said, I haven't had a chance to actually set down and watch this yet (Twilight Zone Season 1 is my priority rght now), but what I sampled looked slick. I second the Michaels review, this really seems to have the feel of the 80's version, I actually suspected that it was a jazzed up version of the 80's version with a new soundtrack and fancy computer graphics added, so I'm releived by Michaels review tht it is in fact a new series. cheap blind buy or not, I can now enjoy the set as a new work, instead of a bastardized one that I thought it might be.

    Great review!
     
  6. Michael Osadciw

    Michael Osadciw Screenwriter

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    Russell

    I remember watching Astro Boy all of the time when I was young, but vaguely remember the contents of the episodes. This is an instance when I put the disc in before reading to cover.

    Although I didn't say it in my review, I came to the same conclusion you did when I first put the disc in. I did think this was the '80s series with new soundtrack and special effects. I was so disappointed not to hear the Astro Boy song I was familiar with.

    When reading the package I realized this was a different series. I proceeded to watch many episodes and found the same "feel" as the previous incarnation. I found the experience very pleasant, and almost retrospective.

    I recommend this box set to any fan of the series.

    Mike
     
  7. Russell G

    Russell G Fake Shemp

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    I'm in the same boat. I couldn't tell you hte contents of a single epsode of the 80's series, just that I liked it. The only thing I remember is the recap at the end of the episodes where Astro changes his report, to make it a game for the viewer to guess what Astro changed. I remember my friends and us always looking at each other completely miffed, never able to figure out what is was. I'm guessing something was lost in the translation, making it impossible to figure out, and they never gave you the answer!

    I still haven't watched any of these new one, but i'm glad you found it similar to the previous series. I'll probably get a good kick out of it, so thanks again for the reasurring review! I read the packaging before putting the disc in,and was still surprised, I figured the 2002 copyright was an American renewal on the 80's version. Still, the price was ight, and if the episodes ape the original Manga closly, well that's a great thing! I'm going to cue this up to be my next set after I finish Twilight zone Season 1.

    Anyone know if the 80's or 60's (Which I've never seen) series well get a release?
     

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