Phantom 1st Episode of "Astro Boy"Includes Tezuka's Requests for Senario Modification
An investigation by Eiji Otsuka, a professor at the International Research Center for Japanese Studies, or Nichibunken, Nishikyo Ward, Kyoto, has revealed the existence of a phantom scenario of "Astro Boy," Japan's first domestic TV cartoon, which was not aired. The scenario was produced by Mamoru Makino, a film historian born in 1930, when he was in his 30s. Instructions for modifications written by the late Osamu Tezuka, the original author, also remain on the scenario.
■Released by Professor Otsuka at Nichibunken
Professor Otsuka, who is engaged in studies of modern popular culture, came across the scenario while he was interviewing Makino, who is known as a collector of materials related to film history. In addition to the 36-page scenario manuscript, materials discovered include instruction notes written by Tezuka, a contract and other items. Professor Otsuka has recently released them all in "TOBIO Critiques," a magazine edited by him.
The discovered scenario was titled, "The first episode: Frankenstein," in which Astro Boy stands against the villain "Franken," who was produced by a robot. In the script and the notes, there are comments in Tezuka's handwriting, such as "Wouldn't it be better if the first scenes are mechanical and dialogue-free?" and "Villain --> incident occurrence --> justice's arrival: this unfoldment is rather mediocre."
Although a contract that set a payment of 780,000 yen as remuneration was signed in February 1962, in the end, the scenario was not adopted. The first episode that hit the air in January 1963 was titled, "Birth of Astro Boy" which introduced the story behind the birth of Astro Boy and his abilities.
■Shows the closeness between cartoons and documentary films
At that time, Makino was an unknown filmmaker who was involved in production of documentary films. Regarding the reason Tezuka requested a scenario from a young person of his same generation who could be regarded as an outsider, Professor Otsuka explained, "During the war, there were personnel exchanges between cartoons and documentary films, both of which were considered cutting-edge art. They also shared methodology, such as camera blocking and expression of realism. It seems Tezuka wanted to introduce the aesthetic of documentary films into his own dream." Although the reason why the scenario was not adopted is unclear, Professor Otsuka conjectured, "It is possible that he could not gain consent from the people involved as it would cost too much to pursue realistic expressions." He explained the significance, saying, "These are valuable documents that reveal the chaotic situation of popular culture of that time, which cannot be classified into genres."(Translated by Mie Hiuzon, Psyche et l’Amour, Inc.)