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Tezuka Osamu Manga Museum

TOMM the 36th Exhibition: Gigantor vs. Astro Boy – Dream match between super robots


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Time: Oct. 27, 2005 – Feb. 20, 2006
Place: The Tezuka Osamu Manga Museum

The theme
In the 1950s, two legendary robot comics were born in the Japanese comic world. They were Gigantor and Astro Boy. The stories of the two contrasting robots had been serialized concurrently for years in the magazine Shonen (published by Kobunsha Publishing). They drove children wild with excitement. Their popularity expanded beyond the comics as they widened their appeal through animation and merchandising. Gigantor and Astro Boy are described as being the inspiration for the theme of “giant robots” and “humanoid robots” respectively that has become so popular in the Japanese comic world.

Even now, about 50 years from their first appearance, these works are still alive in people’s hearts. This must be partly because they have been made into animations a number of times and have constantly been in the public eye. Astro Boy was made into an animated TV series in 1963, 1980 and most recently in 2003. Meanwhile, Gigantor was made into an animated TV series in 1963, 1980, 1992, and 2004, and a live action film was released this year.

From parents to children to grandchildren, Gigantor and Astro Boy are loved by three generations. With this project exhibition, the stories of these two robots from their comics and animated TV series will be compared and examined. In addition, the careers of the two cartoonists, who came from the same region of Japan, will be presented.

We hope visitors will enjoy exploring the reasons for the popularity of these two works; Gigantor which is referred to as the original giant robot and Astro Boy which is referred to as the original humanoid robot.

The composition of the exhibition
The author of Gigantor, Mr. Yokoyama Mitsuteru, is a cartoonist from Kobe, Hyogo and Tezuka Osamu was born in Toyonaka, Osaka and lived in Takarazuka from the age of 5 to 24.

This project exhibition will focus around the magazine Shonen in which Gigantor and Astro Boy were serialized and enjoyed equal popularity. The exhibition is composed of three parts. The first part will present aspects of the 1950s. The second and main part will present and compare Gigantor and Astro Boy from various angles. The third part will present the two cartoonists.

Moreover, life-sized 3D Gigantor and Astro Boy models standing face to face with a group of buildings from a big city lit by searchlights in the background will be exhibited in the great vault space under “Mother Earth” to create a symbolic space for the exhibition and to make a good spot for taking commemorative photos.

Part I: The birth of super robots
In 1952, the serialization of Astro Boy started in the April issue of the magazine Shonen. Four years later in 1956, when the serialization of Gigantor started in the July issue, it gained instant popularity. It was supposed to be a short-term serialization but it continued for a long time until the May issue of 1966. When it was made into an animated TV series in 1963, its popularity surged even more and it had a significant influence on subsequent robot comics including Mazinger Z and Gundam. In this part of the exhibition, a number of magazines including Shonen, supplements of these magazines, and readers’ contribution pages from magazines will be exhibited. These take visitors back to the 1950s when the comics were serialized. Moreover, a chronological table will chart the circumstances surrounding the works.

Part II: Gigantor vs. Astro Boy
Astro Boy, who has a heart, acts on his own free will. On the other hand, Gigantor, who has no will of his own, is manipulated by a controller. In this main part of the exhibition, the two works with their antithetical leading characters will be compared and presented from all angles.
First, profiles of the two characters will be presented, and then stories, other characters, and rival robots will be presented with original drawings and descriptive panels. In addition, nostalgic merchandize will be exhibited. At the time of serialization the two works also shared equal popularity in character goods such as stickers, patches, tin toys, and PVC dolls.
Both became more popular when they were made into animated TV series and a number of remakes were produced. At the end of Part II, clips from the two animated TV series from different times will be shown for comparison.

Exhibits (tentative)

Original drawings 72 in b/w and 3 in color from Gigantor
48 in b/w and 4 in color from Astro Boy
Characters From Gigantor 10 villains including Thrill Suspense, and Chanel Five, 10 robots including Bacchus, and Black Ox, and 5 doctors including Dr. Franken
From Astro Boy 8 villains including Skunk, and Lamp, 8 robots including Saturn, and Pook, and 8 doctors including Dr. Fooler, and Dr. Tenma

Part III: Yokoyama Mitsuteru vs. Tezuka Osamu
After establishing an impregnable position as a cartoonist with the great success of Gigantor, Yokoyama Mitsuteru published a wide variety of comics including Sally the Witch, Babel II, and Masked Ninja Akakage. Sally the Witch in particular started a genre called “magic girl comics” and remained as the standard of the genre, as was the case with Gigantor. In Part III, episodes of interactions between the two cartoonists and their thoughts about their works will be presented with a chronological table of their works.