Robots to Save World, Animals to Conquer Enemy, Humans to?

Astro Boy and Momotaro’s Sea Eagle are two Japanese animations during 1950s. They are both black and white cartoons. Although served for different purposes, they have one thing in common, that is they both propagate harmony with thing around human beings, no matter it has life or not.

Astro Boy is a series of TV animation that aired after WWII. Astro Boy, although a robot made by Dr. Tenma to replace his son Tobio, is gifted with human emotions and super powers. In the series, he fights against crime, injustice and evil.

In many of the episodes, it raises questions such as “whether robots will replace human beings” and “do robots have human rights”. Different from those traditional fiction animations, which describe robots as super-man, Astro Boy concerns not only the conflict between human and robot but also their dependent relationship. As an anti-war cartoonist, Tezuka Osamu wants to deliver his thought of discrimination and class struggle under the theme of human and robot technology development.


Astro Boy has been human saver since created.

Astro Boy is just a perfect example of Asimov’s Three Law of Robotics, he can’t hurt human, must obey human and can’t see human get hurt. Astro Boy can be perfect, but the world can’t. He can save human from time to time, but he can’t save their heart for even one time: greedy, selfish, cheating, etc. Tezuka actually wants to tell us that no matter how technology develops, these bad habits will still remain us. In the era of booming technology, human can hurt robots, but robots can only obey and bear. Astro Boy is such an animation reflecting the worries about future human development, exploring the relationship between human and robot.

If we say Astro Boy discusses the issue between human and things around us by showing us the outcome if we treat them wrongly, the Momotaro’s Sea Eagle does so in a different way. Momotaro’s Sea Eagle is a wartime propaganda animated movie depicting Momotaro and his animal army fighting and conquering the Demon Island, which is a dramatization of Pearl Harbor Attack. The movie uses the same staffing as the old folktale, where the monkey, the dog and the pheasant team up together to win the attack.

In the original folktale, Momotaro treat animals as humans. Before the monkey, dog and pheasant joins Momotaro, they all act aggressively to him at first, which actually shows that animals don’t treat humans as friends and they worry humans would hurt them. But when they heard that he is the “Peach Boy”, they all surrender themselves and are willing to serve him. This huge turnaround needs to be considered. On one hand, it may show that Momotaro is righteous; on the other hand, it also shows that animals will only treat humans well if we show them respect. But in Momotaro’s Sea Eagle, the story starts with a harmonious situation between Momotaro and animals. But to the demons, the animals are not so friendly, as they destroy their island. Although the story doesn’t tell why the demon island needs to be destroyed, we may infer from the animals’ action that the demons may oppress them. Although this is only a 37-minites movie and its purpose is to propagate the war, we still can see the theme of respecting animals and getting well along with them in it.

Although both are aimed for children, Astro Boy and Momotaro’s Sea Eaglecan still teach us a lot of things. In such a fast-pace world, we need to consider our relationship with technology and life.


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