Acetylene Lamp is a reoccurring character from the Osamu Tezuka Star System. He is a tough, imposing man usually associated with big business or the law. Lamp appears in Tezuka's works mostly as a villain, especially in Astro Boy canon, where he has appeared in almost every series to date.
Lamp's initial concept came about from one of Osamu Tezuka's childhood friends. This friend had a noticeable dent in the back of his skull, which was said to be flat enough to support a candle; Tezuka would later model the shape of Lamp's head after this. Sometimes a lit candle will appear behind Lamp's head, usually when Lamp is feeling an extreme emotion. Lamp's full name further references this: an acetylene lamp is a fire-powered gas lamp often used in lighthouses or caves.
Tezuka originally designed Lamp with the idea to have him play an American spy. Lamp would later debut in the 1948 manga Lost World, as a criminal who joins a space expedition in hopes of finding treasure. Later on, Tezuka was inspired to model Lamp after Franco-Italian actor Lino Ventura. Tezuka caught notice of Ventura when two of his films, Touchez pas au Grisbi (1954) and Un témoin dans la ville (1959) had become popular in Japan.
Usually, Acetylene Lamp appears in Tezuka's works as intimidating and shady individuals. He most often plays villains, but has appeared in Black Jack as a dedicated but slightly loose cannon police inspector. He has a reoccurring role in the 1993 Black Jack OVA series; he appears as Lieutenant Takasugi, a gruff no-nonsense police inspector who becomes an ally to Black Jack. A heavily modified version of Lamp appears in the NOW! Comics series as Lance Lumiere.
In the 1980 anime, Lamp appears as an anti-robot rights terrorist in the episode Uran Falls In Love. Lamp utilizes the robot Zeus to assassinate robots with wealth or power. He only sees Zeus as a means to an end and treats him with the minimum of respect, even though Zeus at one point saves Lamp's life when Astro shoots down their helicopter.
During an attempt to kill a robot politician, he attempts to hold Uran hostage unless Astro will fight Zeus. This plan backfires and Lamp is arrested. In the English dub, he is renamed as Torch.
In the 2003 anime, Lamp is the secondary antagonist after Dr. Tenma, as a politician pushing for a ban on kokoro robots. He is the heir to a robot manufacturing empire, but shut down production of AI robots after the death of Buddy. Lamp is renamed in the dub as Mr. Drake.
In the episode Escape from Volcano Island, Lamp's stigma against robots is explored in detail. He begins to have flashbacks about a robot named Buddy that he befriended when he crashed on an island. When his search team arrived, they rescued Lamp but left Buddy on an erupting volcano. In coping with the loss, Lamp ended production of Buddy's robot model, and forced himself to believe that robots are just tools. Lamp at one point tried to interfere with the Robot of the Year award ceremony because of this point of view.
During The Robotonia Incident, Lamp was one of Chairman Lyon's henchmen. Finally, after an attempt to destroy Robotonia and with Astro damaged and out-of-service, Lamp found this as an opportunity to destroy the remaining AI robots. However, his shadowy associates gave up on him, pointing out that humans and robots were now closer than ever and it would be a pointless endeavor.
Lamp, now desperate and hysterical, went on to steal a colossal pilotable mecha and drove it to Dr. Tenma's mansion. Lamp attempted to finally destroy Astro and Tenma's lab, but was overtaken, crashing his mecha and being taken in by police.
Lamp also appears in an episode of Astro Boy sister series, Jetter Mars. Lamp plays a space trader and smuggler who impersonates a detective. Lamp convinces Mars that he will help Mars find his father, Dr. Yamanoue (who had actually died in a space accident); in exchange, Mars must work for Lamp by doing his space trader duties for him. By the end of the episode, Mars's stepfather Doctor Kawashimo and sister Miri come to Mars's rescue and help bring Lamp to the authorities.
- アセチレン・ランプの夜 / Night of Acetylene Lamp. Kawade Shobo Shinsha, 2002. 978-4309406657
- Nikkan Digital Creators article by film critic Sougou Susumu