Astro Boy Collection Box Set

While anime fan-boys wait breathlessly for the upcoming live-action/CGI feature film version of Astro Boy helmed by Samurai Jack mastermind Genndy Tartovsky, the '80s cartoons most of us remember so fondly have made their way to DVD. Though lacking the sophistication of modern anime, there might be no Miyazaki without Osamu Tezuka, who took the Pinocchio story to gloriously iconic heights with this post-war, kid-friendly classic. The 51 episodes (in the original Japanese-aired order but missing "Astro vs. Atlas"), collected here on eight discs, are not the original black-and-white ones that first brought Japanese animation to the world stage, but the Tezuka-helmed '80s upgrade that added higher production values and colour, along with a deeper layer of philosophising. Despite its indelible disco theme song, the remake stayed true to the story of a robot boy built to replace a grief-stricken scientist's dead son only to be rejected and, after a bad bout with some carnies, fall in with a kindly and considerably less-insane inventor. Though naïve and innocent, Astro is a weapon with laser eyes and machine gun turrets victimised by rising anti-android racism, but mostly he's just a boy learning to be a man (which isn't easy since robots don't age). The special features include an informative 24-page booklet, onscreen art galleries and storyboards, deleted scenes (mostly skippable, though one has a live-action Tezuka bizarrely revealing that beneath his red boots Astro has girl feet) and a short featurette comparing the washed-out originals to the now-restored pristine cartoons. (Anchor Bay)