Exclusive: AstroBoy Concept Art and Director Interview
by Alex Billington
November 12, 2007
The beloved Japanese manga series AstroBoy is getting a big screen adaptation courtesy of the CGI gurus at Imagi Animation, the same studio that made the CGI movie TMNT earlier this year. Although the film is quite far from completion, aiming for a 2009 release, FS.net exclusively interviewed director Colin Brady and was given the very first concept art photo which can only be seen here. Die hard AstroBoy fans and newcomers alike will definitely be excited at what ILM and Pixar animation supervisor and Toy Story 2 co-director Colin Brady has to say about helming his first feature film and what we can expect in a full featured AstroBoy CGI movie.
Back in October we ran the first look photo at the CGI version of AstroBoy but we were asked to remove it as it wasn't a final version. Although Colin and everyone at Imagi is still working hard on the final look of a CGI Astro, we have an exclusive concept art photo of the new and improved AstroBoy which you can check out below. Our interview with director Colin Brady follows below the photo.
AstroBoy (via Wikipedia), which debuted back in 1952 originally as a cult Japanese manga and eventually as a TV anime series, tells the story of a powerful robot boy created by a brilliant scientist in the image of the son he lost. Our hero journeys to find acceptance in the human world and ultimately discovers true friendship as he uses his incredible powers to help others and save Metro City from destruction.
Colin Brady is an immensely talented animation supervisor who has worked previously at Pixar, Rhythm and Hues, and Industrial Light and Magic (ILM). Brady was also a director of the animated film Everyone's Hero and co-directed Toy Story 2. In our interview, he talks about his past career and introduction to AstroBoy, as well as a lot of what we can expect in the film from the story to what it's likely to be rated - PG. Read on to hear what Colin says about the project below.
FS.net: What drew you to the AstroBoy project? Why did you decide to direct this CGI film?
I first met with Paul Wang, Executive VP of Development at Imagi Animation Studios, about 18 months ago. He felt AstroBoy was a good fit for me. My experience at Pixar and ILM directing characters like Buzz Lightyear, the Hulk, and E.T. seemed to make AstroBoy a good fit because his character has some elements of each. I am very drawn to power of Anime's sense of mythology, whereas a lot of American animation is full of fluff. AstroBoy is an icon, packed with action and full of heart.
FS.net: What will the story focus on / what adventures will AstroBoy get involved in? Will it start with his origin and go from there?
Similar to Spider-Man or the first Superman, it makes sense to start with the origin story. Although I admit that I thought it would be fun to simply start with the sequel. AstroBoy is kind of a dark Pinocchio story, but unlike Pinocchio, Astro never can become real flesh and blood. Astro's journey of self discovery and acceptance is directly linked to the hardcore killer robot fights, and to the rejection by his creator, Dr. Tanner.
FS.net: Will this AstroBoy be aimed purely at kids or will it have a grungier, tougher aspect for older fans? (e.g. what rating are you going for?)
We're going for as hard PG as we can. Luckily robot violence is less disturbing than humans fighting each other with guns.
FS.net: What kind of voice actors will you be considering? Will they be completely from scratch or any from the series?
We're mostly looking at a mix of popular American and Japanese actors. But certainly they have to be right for the part.
FS.net: What are you bringing to AstroBoy that will hopefully allow this version to succeed whereas the relaunch of the series recently in the US "failed"?
We will present Astro's story as more of an epic Sci Fi fantasy. Although Astro is a robot, there's a deep dark human struggle that we're exploring. In bringing Astro to CG we're trying to create a texture and beauty similar to the original Star Wars films. We're extremely influenced by Hokusai, Noguchi, and Miyazaki. We're very careful to stay as true to the original design as possible but at the same time aging up his voice and the overall tone.
FS.net: Are you trying to modernize him or do anything to create a more widespread appeal beyond just the fans?
The challenge is to appeal to the non fans while not upsetting those who grew up with this character. Every step of the way we are including Tezuka Studios to ensure we're being respectful to one of Asia's most recognizable icons.
Thanks to Colin Brady and Imagi Animation! I think AstroBoy has a strong chance of ringing true with fans, just as TMNT did with all the fans of that franchise. The film sounds like it is in some incredibly capable hands and although it may be Brady's first feature film, his character animation history shows that he will bring a certain needed dynamic to the character of AstroBoy. Keep watch for more updates as the project continues production.
Reader Feedback - 11 Comments
I was a HUGE astroboy fan in my early years, but have unfortunately forgotten a lot of the show. I look forward to reaquainting myself in the lead up to seeing this movie.
Nathan on Nov 12, 2007
The recent series failed because it was lousy, not because of anything else.
Anonymous on Nov 12, 2007
I like the original figure of astro boy, so the new full cg version of astro boy seems to be not attractive enough and it makes me a little sad... I want people to know how the original astro boy is great.
miho y on Nov 15, 2007
they shouldn't do that..........*tear
astron on Nov 15, 2007
i'm working at takadanobaba,tokyo now. here is the place astroboy was born. because this Station's music is the theme tune of astro boy.fantastic! 🙂 By the way,this CGastroboy makes me nervous. Does it differs when moving?Do really? i can't believe that story...
ichiro on Nov 17, 2007
Disaster waiting to happen, there is no doubt in my mind that this movie is going to suck.
yeah on Nov 18, 2007
The orig b/w Astroboy was simplified, funny, highly stylized and incredibly well tracked i.e., voice and sound fx. The co-stars were worth cheering about as well, particularly Astro Girl and Mr. Pompass. Also Astro was more or less normal looking and had a limited number of powers. This arms coming apart into a blaster business just added too much drama. Having a blaster located in his rear end was both effective and hilarious!
diddymuck on Dec 29, 2007
I heard a rumor that they will not be adding his super power of the beams/machine guns attached to his rear. I just wish they would stick to Osamu Tezuka's original. This also a rumor that they are going to base the movie on the 2003 cartoon series, and this made me most dissapointed. Depressed even, for I have been a fan of the manga, 1960's, and 1980's cartoon series as my father before me. With taking out the super power of the beams/machine guns to his rear which is so profound than any other hero, they plan for him to reveal his last seventh power at the end of the film as one million(1,000,000,)horse power. An american director who was not a fan of Astro Boy is surely to have his ideas of his own to bomb the movie. Damn It!!!!!
Poetic Phantom on Feb 18, 2008
You sillies! This isn't final artwork! This is just the inspirational concept work that people are hired to do before the making of the movie. The final version will more than likely look completely different than this. Anyway, I'm always interested in a new experience, I'm quite looking forward to a cg version!
Roxin on Mar 3, 2008
I can't imagine how anyone who thinks of themselves as an Astro Boy fan could possibly have any complaints about the 2005 cartoon series that recently came out on DVD! I was a kid watching that show on NBC when it first aired on American Television and, as I watched the series progress in it's first run and later in re-runs in the afternoons and early Saturday mornings, that was the first time I began to relate to a character in a story of any kind! Astro Boys struggle for acceptance in the human world was something that struck a cord inside me as a young kid trying to fit in with all the other personal and emotional problems that plague us all when we're growing up. The 2005 cartoon "re-creation", of the Astro Boy story not only captured the essence of what made the original cartoon series so appealing but added a dimension and updated style to the characters that gave the series an individual identity that the writers, animators and producers of the series should be proud of! If the production team working on this new GCI movie maintain a strong link to the personal conflict between Astro Boy and the world he's compelled to live in, and don't stray too far from that adolescent image created for the 2005 cartoon series, they can hardly go wrong!! If the TMNT movie is any indication of the "depth", they will explore in both the story and characters in the Astro Boy movie, then, it'll be something we can all look forward to!!!
Flatrat on May 7, 2008
I loved the original series, and I am looking forward to seeing this latest encarnation. I'm also still waiting to see a live version of Astro. I always wondered, "if the Americans made a live action Astro Boy, would he still have his machine gun packed up inside his butt?" Bwahahahaha!!!! 😀
Billzilla on Nov 3, 2008
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