Takuma TerashimaKengo KawanishiYoshino NanjoAstro Boy
Atom: The Beginning
Episode 1 also reviewed here: Anime 1st episodes 2017: A
Medium: TV, series
Year: 2017
Director: Katsuyuki Motohiro, Tatsuo Sato
Writer: Jun'ichi Fujisaku
Original creator: Osamu Tezuka, Tetsuro Kasahara
Actor: Ayane Sakura, Kengo Kawanishi, Mikako Komatsu, Mitsuki Saiga, Nobuo Tobita, Takahiro Sakurai, Takuma Terashima, Yoshino Nanjo, Yuichi Nakamura, Yuki Inoue
Keywords: Astro Boy, SF, anime
Country: Japan
Language: Japanese
Format: 12 episodes
Url: https://www.animenewsnetwork.com/encyclopedia/anime.php?id=18989
Website category: Anime 2017
Review date: 28 August 2018
atom beginning
It's a prequel to Tezuka's Astro Boy, which is probably one of the five most important manga/anime. (I've never seen it, alas. That's part of why I chose to watch this.) In this prequel, two scientists are working together to build a robot called A106. (It looks like a Troughton Cybermen without the jug-handle ears.)
Scientist #1 (Umataro Tenma) is a dick who thinks he's cleverer than everyone and sees robots as soulless tools.
Scientist #2 (Hiroshi Ochanomizu) is a sentimental chap with a huge nose, whose goal with A106 was to build a robot with a heart.
This anime's sort of okay, but it doesn't really have a story. There's some interesting set-up, but I can't tell if it's for the parent series or for a hypothetical Season 2. (What happened with A105, for instance?) It's a collection of incidents, really. Tenma and Ochanomizu do part-time jobs because they've blown all their money on spare parts. A106 stops a runaway truck, finds a missing pet, etc. I suppose there's the robot wrestling championship in eps.8-11, but unfortunately that's just lots of robot fights and I ended up fast-forwarding through ep.11.
The characters don't really feel as if they're going anywhere either. A106 is being portrayed as a real robot, pretty much. He'll do good things, but he's still basically hardware and software. His face and voice are expressionless and he hardly ever speaks anyway. The Tenma-Ochanomizu debate is central to the series, with ep.12 being all about whether to repair A106 (who can hear everything they say) or discard him and start working on A107. The robot pet episode (ep.3) also contributes to that.
The girls are particularly underused. Ochanomizu's sister Ran and their friend Motoko never end up amounting to anything. (In fairness, though, there's a Ran-centric episode about her school robotics club.) There's also a stupid detective who refuses to believe that robots can be as good as humans because they don't have feelings, even when the job's finding another missing robot. (The detective's method is to tramp around and search random locations, while Tenma just tells A106 to do a scan.)
To be honest, I wouldn't recommend this. I got bored by the robo-wrestling and I'm not planning to keep the episodes, not even for the sake of a hypothetical rewatch after hunting down Tezuka's original Astro Boy. It's a prequel with the problems you'd associate with prequels, plus some additional ones like a slightly awkward art style that doesn't want to be Tezuka's but is borrowing famous bits of it (i.e. Ochanomizu's nose). That said, though, this will have felt more meaningful to Astro Boy fans and it's not a bad show. A106's super-strength is cool. It's okay.