Beyond its cool design, in the context of taboo-free expression, mechanical nature in Manga and Anime may take on a meaning of anthropomorphism or animism. Tezuka’s first major comic book, mighty Atom (鉄腕アトム, Astro Boy), appeared in magazine series from in 1952 and on Japanese TV sets in 1963. Astro was a self-contained AI robot created by the Ministry of Science, Dr. Tenma to replace his son Tobio who died in a car accident. Dr. Tenma built Astro in Tobio's image and treated him as lovingly as if he were the real Tobio, but soon realized that the little robot could not fill the void of his lost son, especially given that Astro could not grow older or express human aesthetics; he Tenma rejected Astro and sold him to a cruel circus owner. After recovered by the new head of the Ministry of Science Professor Ochanomizu, Astro then is shown fighting crime, evil, and injustice. Many of his enemies were robot-hating humans. Astro was a pure-hearted being because he was not a human, paradoxically human beings hate Astro out of jealousy, because they were very humans. At the end of the series, Astro sacrifice himself for saving the earth.

Nagai also developed the concept of giant mecha. Mazinger Z was the first Manga where a giant robot was piloted by the hero, considered the first successful "Super Robot" anime show, and has spanned numerous imitations. The idea of a robot controlled by a young hero was first used in 1956 with Gigantor (鉄人28号, Tetsujin 28-gō, lit. "Iron Man 28”), by Manga artist Yokoyama Mitsuteru, which featured a giant robot piloted by remote-control by a young boy named Kaneda Shotaro, who used it to fight against evil. However, the first anime to use the phrase Super Robot and the one that set the standards for the genre was Mazinger Z making its debut in manga publications and TV in 1972. The main difference between Mazinger Z and previous robots was that the hero, Koji Kabuto, would pilot the robot from the inside in the same manner as one would drive a car. This anime show was hugely popular and spanned numerous sequels and imitations during the 1970s, and revival shows later during the 80s and 90s, and manned or womanned Super Robots have became mainstream as shown in The Super Dimension Fortress Macross (超時空要塞マクロス, Chōjikū Yōsai Makurosu, lit. Super Spacetime Fortress Macross), Mobile Suit Gundam (機動戦士ガンダム, Kidō Senshi Gandamu, lit. Mobile Soldier Gundam), or Mobile Police Patlabor (機動警察パトレイバー, Kidō Keisatsu patoreibā).

Evangelions (エヴァンゲリオン are piloted by the motherless Children under the age 14 with the nerve connection in the spinal cord trough contact with mothers’ spirits, and a special type of armor in Sakura Wars (サクラ大戦, Sakura Taisen) activated by maidenly psychic powers. Both may fall in the category, in a sense, that the mechas are operated by humans, cyborgs, clones or whatever human based organic beings. In the mainstream of manned or womanned Super Robots, AI robots have not appear until Tchikoma in Ghost in the Shell , besides in fantasies that are much more likely to be figments such as Doraemon (ドラえもん), or Dr. Slump (ドクタースランプ, Dokutā Suranpu).

—ODAKANE Fuji

Feature Story

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