Moon Child ☆ Tetsuwan Yotsugi

The comic Astroboy is labeled as kagaku manga (scientific comics) on the cover, and the protagonist Astroboy is presented as a crystallization of the future of Japan’s (advanced) science and technology and a “child of science”. There, science is depicted as power; yet it is not mere violence, but the power of justice to punish the evil and recover peace. Astroboy is the power of the atom that in the real world, the power of the United States represented in the immediate postwar era. Astroboy’s name Atomu signifies not simply the smallest unit of identical chemical property but atomic power, as evidenced in the names of his siblings (Uran and Cobalt). In the world of Astroboy, as with the robots of Isaac Asimov, advanced robots like Astroboy are designed to be incapable of wrongdoing. Only humans and less advanced robots are capable of doing evil – unless an advanced robot is equipped with a special circuit. This idea appears repeatedly in Astroboy. For example, in “Frankestein”, a group of robots commit crimes and attempt to take over Tokyo, but in the end, it turns out that they are not robots but humans who pretend to be robots. It also turns out that Frankenstein, the robot that commits outrages, has a mechanical malfunction caused by the negligence of one of its engineers. The message is clear : the robot (i.e. technology) is inherently good. It becomes evil only when its human user is evil. Even in such a case, the damage is undone by the benevolent power of robots (technology). Thus, the image of Astroboy combines democratic values with positive depictions of science and technology.

Kenji Ito, Robots, A-Bombs, and War, in Robert Jacobs, Filling the Hole in the Nuclear Future, 2010, p.84

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