What food meant to Astro boy: being a human with food

Osamu Tezuka’s work Astro Boy tells the story about Doctor Tenma’s venture to turn his deceased son into a humanoid robot, and the adventures that the robot has with different people and adjusting in regular life. The first episode to air, however, points out some problems with his attempts to adjust. Because he is part robot, he is unable to fully adjust back to being human. This conflict of wanting to be human and actually being a robot is the main tension in the first episode, where the father, Doctor Tenma, tries to act like his son really is alive through Astro Boy, feeding him and allowing Astro to be taught by tutors.

Astro Boy attempting to eat in front of his father, only to have to return the donuts back because he cannot digest them.

Astro Boy, throughout the beginning sequence where he is trying to act like a human child, seems to be aware as to what he has to do, as his attempt at eating the donuts shows. However, he is also aware that he cannot do some of these things, like eating his food. His relation with food has now changed. It can be presumed that before, he really liked donuts, or they were at least provided by his father back in the past. In the past, he knew that his food was to be eaten, because this was what one did with food. However, as this shot of this scene illustrates, all he can do with the donuts now is take them out of his middle compartment, or the stomach, and place them back on the table. He can no longer eat the food, creating a symbolic detachment with it in the process.

This symbolic detachment is also seen in how he now sees food as a robot. During the sequence with the tutors his dad brings in to teach him about mathematics and the arts, Astro Boy is given the task of drawing fruit that is placed in front of him. Instead, what he draws seems to surprise the author greatly.

The tutor is surprised with what Astro Boy gives him for the assignment to draw fruit.

The chemical composition of the fruit Astro Boy was shown to draw.

The end result of the assignment to draw fruit ended up being a model of the genetic composition of the fruit, and not an attempt to actually draw the fruit.

The drawing of the fruit’s chemical composition and Astro Boy’s failed attempt at eating the donuts shows that the relationship with food has changed from what we would perceive would be the way that he used to look at food. With the chemical composition of the fruit, we see a drawing that would be described as logical and detached from the object in front of him, whereas we would imagine a child would have at least attempted to dra something resembling the fruit. The donuts also show that he has a new relationship with food that he himself needs to get used to, as inferred by his sad look on his face as he returns the donuts. The food in the first Astro Boy episode seem to symbolize Astro Boy’s new look on many things in life that are new to him.This new meaning may be symbolic to his shift from human to robot as well.


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