Astro Boy: the Complete Series

Anime may currently be the Canadian hipster geek's favoured eye candy, but it's been a staple of the Japanese diet for decades thanks to Astro Boy, the seminal creation of master animator Osamu Tezuka. Updated in 2003 — the once far-off year when Tetsuwan Atom was originally "born" — the latest Astro Boy series mixes hand-drawn and CGI animation but hews closely to Tezuka's original manga. The heart of the series is still the concept of "kokoro" (roughly translating to, well, "heart") and the unlikely presence of that humanity in an atomic-powered robot boy, who was built to resemble the dead son of his somewhat mad scientist creator. Though the first few episodes skew young enough to put off older viewers, especially considering the adorable character design, the prejudice-based plots soon deepen in complexity, if not darkness. Conceived in the aftermath of WWII, Astro's underlying theme deals with Japan's love/fear relationship with technology. Taking place in the futuristic Metro City, much of the allegorical storylines are rooted around the uneasy, often hostile co-existence of robots and humans in a manner that the X-Men mutants would later expand upon. Though lacking the nostalgia-factor of the black-and-white '60s original or the '80s-era colour cartoon, the stories stand up and provide a good primer for the impending Astro Boy movie by Samurai Jack creator Genndy Tartakovsky. The box set is comprised of all 50 episodes, 29 of which never aired over here, and slight extras including trailers for animé flicks like Steam Boy and the too-brief featurette "The Remaking of Astro Boy." (Columbia/Sony)