Astro Boy (Tetsuwan Atomu 鉄腕アトム) is a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Osamu Tezuka making its debut in Weekly Shonen Magazine in April of 1952. The series was an immediate phenomenon in Japan and spawned a media franchise consisting of several manga, anime, films, video games, soundtracks and merchandise. The would later be compiled into 23 tankōbon volumes consisting of 112 chapters by Kobunsha.
In 1963 Astro Boy became the first serialized anime dubbed into English and aired outside of Japan, ever since its anime adaptations have appeared on several television networks worldwide. The 1963 Series was produced by Mushi Production and aired on Fuji TV, with its North American debut airing on NBC. With further broadcasts through syndication and on Adult Swim with a marathon on Christmas Day 2007, and again on April 1, 2012, among the line-up of a April Fools broadcast of Toonami.
Astro Boy has been a critical and financial success. Many critics praising it for its importance to the medium and themes of coexistence. It remains the tenth best-selling manga series of all time and has sold over 100 million copies, with the franchise generating over 3 billion dollars.
Astro made his debut appearance in 1951's Ambassador Atom He only played a very small role in the story and often only appeared in the background. Although, Ambassador Atom itself was only a moderate success, Atom became incredibly popular, with Tezuka and the publisher receiving many letters from young boys requesting the character.
Tezuka's editor would suggest that he create a manga series in which Atom was the star and had human emotions. When working in the hospital Tezuka was punched by a frustrated American G.I. who was having difficulties understanding him, this encounter gave Tezuka the inspiration to make Atom a robot who fights for the innocent.
Early Years (1952 - 1970)