Yea…yea…YEAH!!! This will surely end well!!
English: Atom: The Beginning
Japanese: アトム ザ・ビギニング
Season: Spring 2017
Length: 12 ep. x 24 min.
Studio: Production I.G., OLM, Signal. MD
Admittedly, I only vaguely recall watching some Astro Boy episodes at a very young age, and consequently I had no idea what to expect from this show. It’s apparently adapted from a prequel manga written by Tezuka Osamu’s son, so it’s at least perhaps authentic in its vision.
[Warning: Minor Spoilers Ahead]
At its core, Atom: The Beginning is a story about what it means to be human. We have our two genius roboticists, Tenma Umatarous and Ochanomizu Hiroshi, whose unconventional graduate thesis led them to develop a robot, the A106 (nicknamed “Six”), with a Bewußtsein, or “consciousness”, program.
From there on, the first half of the show takes on a slice of life/episodic feel as the the duo, along with Ochanomizu’s sister, Ran, his secret lover/admirer Tsutsumi Motoko, and Six tackle odd jobs that demonstrate Six’s independent process and action, like saving a bus load of kids from a hijacked self-driving truck.
The second half pivots to the robot-wrestling arc. The genius duo is invited by the beautiful, famous, yet mysterious roboticist Dr. Lolo to enter their robot, Six, into a robot wrestling competition. As a robot with “consciousness”/independent thought, Six ends up defeating all his opponents “compassionately” by dealing them the minimum amount of damage needed, earning him the affection of the crowd despite the sport’s lust for destruction.
At least his costly robot wasn’t destroyed
Unfortunately, Atom: The Beginning never ventured deep into the philosophy of what it means to be human. Instead, it was a lighthearted affair, childish even, in the portrayal of its main characters. Consequently, Atom: The Beginning is littered with mildly comedic moments like mutual nose grabbing:
…which happened more times that I could count, as well as hints of romantic attractions:
He likes her… but she likes the robot… TRIANGLE
All in all, Atom: The Beginning isn’t a bad show per se, but it’s barely interesting enough to keep my attention for twelve episodes.
I was surprised to find that three different studios collaborated on this show, presumably at more involved levels than mere subcontractors. Honestly can’t remember another instance of three studios collaborating on a single show. The animation is good enough, about on-par with what 2017 shows should look like, but nothing to write home about.
At the end of the day, Atom: The Beginning is another one of those average shows that becomes forgotten over time. It’s interesting on the surface, but the surface is where it stops because it never digs any deeper into the real meat of the themes. Watch it only if you are bored.
Something for you to think about