Any anime fan knows, or at least learns quickly, that Osamu Tezuka was instrumental in creating anime as we know it today. His early creations drew from both Eastern and Western sources, combining into the art form we know and love. And fans who want to experience those shows for themselves can, thanks to this summer’s new RetroCrush premieres!
But we understand. There’s a lot of stuff out there. Taking on a new show is no small feat. So if you still need reasons to try out these titles from the manga master, let us talk you into it:
Princess Knight: The First Shoujo Anime
First to premiere on RetroCrush this summer is Princess Knight, Tezuka’s tale of a young princess named Sapphire, living as a boy so she can eventually rule her kingdom. At least, this is partially true. As it happens, Sapphire accidentally received two different-colored “hearts” (denoting gender) before she was born, thanks to the angel Tink’s clumsiness. Tink arrives to retrieve Sapphire’s blue “boy” heart to correct his slip-up, leaving her with the pink “girl” heart she ought to have. But Sapphire is perfectly happy as she is, and Tink instead accompanies her as she protects her right to ascend the throne.
Princess Knight originally ran as a manga in Shojo Club, commissioned in hopes of replicating the same success that Tezuka’s boy-oriented stories achieved. Inspired by the women of the Takarazuka Revue, who played male and female roles, Sapphire would herself go on to inspire series like Revolutionary Girl Utena.
Astro Boy: The Building Blocks of Anime
Just as much as Tezuka himself made anime what we know it as today, his series Astro Boy drove those elements home. Released in Japan as Tetsuwan Atom, the Pinocchio-esque story is equal parts sci-fi, drama, and… sometimes just plain weird. A scientist created Astro (or Atom) to replace his recently-deceased son. When that naturally doesn’t help matters, he sells Astro to the circus. As you do. Fortunately, Astro finds a home with Dr. Elefun, who builds him a robot family and accompanies him on world-saving adventures.
Astro Boy would help define the quirkiness, comedy/drama, action, and off-the-wall sci-fi/fantasy elements that inhabit anime today. It’s been remade many times, but the original is still a must-watch.
Kimba the White Lion: Educate Yourself on the Disney Controversy
Tezuka’s Kimba the White Lion (released in Japan as Jungle Emperor Leo) stands alone as an interesting, entertaining series. But it’s also stood at the middle of a controversy for several years. And if you actually watch the show, you’ll realized the controversy is… kind of pointless and nonexistent.
If you’ve not seen Kimba, you likely know it as the series that The Lion King totally plagiarized. Except it didn’t, not really. For one, Kimba being so long that you can find just about any plot point you want in it. Including many from The Lion King. For another thing, most of the clips and screenshots used to show the alleged plagiarism come from a Kimba movie made after The Lion King. Of course, the best way to lay it to rest is to watch it yourself. And you’ll have a good time as you do.
Keep an eye out for the slate of Tezuka classics coming this summer to RetroCrush!