Astro Boy Ultra Collector’s Edition Box Set 1 contains 52 episodes of the series on 10 DVDs. There is also an 11th DVD in the set, which includes bonus features. Since this is a release of Astro Boy, the episodes only have an English dub.
Astro Boy Ultra Collector’s Edition Box Set 1
English Publisher: Nozomi Entertainment / Lucky Penny
Release Date: March 28, 2006
At the beginning of each disc, there is a disclaimer which explains that the original masters for these episodes were destroyed in 1975. The company conducted a worldwide search to find the best quality versions of the episodes as they could, but it is warned that the audio quality differs greatly from episode to episode. While many of the episodes have a somewhat decent audio quality, there are also other episodes where the audio is extremely muffled or the audio sounds “tinny.” Unfortunately, for the viewer, these audio issues can diminish the viewing experience of this DVD set.
Many of the episodes in the original Astro Boy series are quite enjoyable. Unfortunately, I do have a bit of a gripe, because there is a contradiction that is introduced in the English dub. It’s established in the first episode that Professor Boynton’s son died in the year 2000, and Astro Boy was completed exactly a year after that. In other words, Astro Boy “came to life” in the year 2001. However, in later episodes, the announcer keeps announcing that Astro Boy’s adventures are taking place in the year 2000. I don’t know if this contradiction also existed in the original Japanese version of the series, or if this was introduced in the process of being dubbed into English.
Unfortunately, it’s clear by watching these sets that when the series was dubbed into English, they weren’t trying to make sure the episodes were done in chronological order. The most glaring example of this is seen through Astro Girl. In one episode, she suddenly appears out of nowhere with no explanation. However, in a later episode (“The Strange Birthday Present”), we are officially introduced to Astro Girl, who was created as a birthday present for Astro Boy so he could have a sibling. The way this episode is done, no one knew Astro Girl, so her appearance in the earlier episode as an already known character means it was out of order. I guess Right Stuf decided to present the episodes in their original English broadcast order, which works for viewers who remember the series from its original broadcast. But for those of us who didn’t watch Astro Boy when it was on the air in the 1960’s are left scratching our heads over the fact that episodes are not in chronological order.
The stories of most of the episodes on this set were enjoyable. Unfortunately, the audio issues really diminished my viewing experience. For some of the episodes, I had to spend so much time straining to hear the dialogue, that at times it made it difficult to follow the story.
On the episode discs, there are commentaries included for episodes nine and 52.
When it comes to the bonus disc, there are some bonus features included. First, there are two original Japanese episodes with English subtitles (“The Birth of Astro Boy” and “Toxor, The Mist Man”). It was fascinating to watch these two episodes in the original Japanese, and to be honest, I liked these versions of the episodes better. While they still have the physical humor that Astro Boy is known for, the dialogue was a more straightforward and serious than the tone used for the English dub. While I understand the English dub was being produced for a kids’ audience, the reliance on puns for the names and some of the hokey dialogue can get a little annoying at times. It’s too bad that Right Stuf will likely never acquire the rights for all the original Japanese episodes and releasing them on home video. From seeing these Japanese episodes, I see a lot of promise for the series as a whole, so it would be interesting to see how the entire series was like in its original version.
There is also a 19-minute interview with Fred Ladd, the man behind the English version of Astro Boy. Unfortunately, he had tendency to ramble. He would go off on two to three tangents before eventually returning to what he was originally talking about. My husband commented that it was like watching Grandpa Simpson on The Simpsons, except for the fact that Grandpa Simpson is more entertaining. In addition to this, there is an original character art gallery and a merchandise gallery.
The set is also packaged with a booklet featuring “The History of Astro Boy” and a biography of Osamu Tezuka.
If you’re a fan of the original Astro Boy anime from the 1960’s, then this set would be worth getting for your anime home video library in order to have the first half of the series, as well as for the original Japanese versions of the two episodes on the bonus disc. The booklet is also nice as well.