Anime Relationships: How Animals and Machines are Treated by Humans

Momotarō’s Sea Eagles and Astro Boy both depict two opposing relationships between humans and either animals or machines.  In Momotarō’s Sea Eagles, Momotarō controls his animal soldiers and uses them to attack Onigashima.  In Astro Boy, machines are looked down upon.  However, both use the same genre, anime, to portray the different interactions between humans, animals, and machines.

In Momotarō’s Sea Eagles, the animals act like people and are treated like humans.  They represent the Japanese soldiers who attacked Pearl Harbor.  Much like humans, they are able to control the flight of the planes to their destination.  The interaction between the animals is much like competitive children.  However, when it comes to attacking, the animals act like any other soldier.  The relationship between the animals and the oni, who are essentially humans, is that of dislike.  However, this is not because the animals are being discriminated against.  The animals respect their leader, Momotarō, who is also human.  The interaction is not positive because their relationship is much like any other relationship between the different sides involved in war.  Momotarō is their general; the oni represent the opposing side.  The animals are essentially humans.

However, in Astro Boy, the relationship between machine and man is uneasy.  Unlike animals and humans in Momotarō, who are more or less the same, machines are seen as an entirely different kind of character.  For example, when Astro Boy’s real father realizes his “son’s” failure to grow taller, he also realizes he is a robot.  This causes him to reject Astro Boy, even though Astro Boy was originally created to replace his real son.

The first sign of the uneasy interactions between the humans and the robots.

This rejection of machine as humans is prevalent throughout the anime.  Astro Boy’s role in the circus portrays how robots and machines are lower than humans.  They are used for entertainment purposes in the form of gladiator-like battles.  In Ancient Rome, the gladiators were often prisoners of war.  This use of Astro Boy as a part of the lower class represents the condescending view of humans upon machine.  Also in this episode, robots that are unable to function properly are discarded.  Humans who have diseases would be taken to the hospital.  Machines who cannot work properly are tossed aside by the humans, without getting the problem fixed.  Again, this depicts society’s rejection of robots.  In the second episode, robots are still looked down upon, despite Astro Boy’s heroism from the first episode.  In the second episode, Astro Boy is blamed for theft.  Evidence implies that a robot committed the crime, which causes the human law enforcement to assume that the thief was Astro Boy.  The humans do not consider what Astro Boy has to say.  Due to his low position, Astro Boy has a lot to prove that he is actually not the thief.  However, despite the humans’ demeaning attitude towards the machines, the robots do not return this feeling.  Throughout both episodes of Astro Boy, the machines are always hopeful and sincere in helping the humans.

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