astro boAstro Boy and Anime Come to the Americas: an Insider’s View of the Birth of a Pop Culture Phenomenonon by animation pioneer Fred Ladd and Harvey Deneroff is a wonderful trip down memory lane for those of us who started as otaku very early in life.  I was eight when Astro Boy premiered on American TV.  And I loved it. It was the only show I never missed.  It got me hooked on Anime or what they were calling Japanimation back then.

Thanks to family stationed in the Military in Japan I got lucky enough to be exposed to Anime and it’s live action cousin Tokusatsu (which is a subject for another day) I worked out a trade with my cousin where I’d send him American comics and he’d send me films of all sorts of things, from anime, to Ultraman, to Super Sentai.  When he came back to this country he wanted the films and then tapes back. I never should have given them back.

The book covers the whole intriguing process by which Mr Ladd managed to get Astro Boy on the air despite the sometimes idiotic interference by NBC who was preparing the show for syndication.  In fact Mr Ladd had to go to talk to Astro Boy’s creator,Osama Tezuka corncerning why six of the first tweleve shows were considered “unsuitable for airing” by NBC, and how they’d have to be edited.  192 episodes were produced but Ladd was only able to get committment from NBC for 104 and that was by doing some arm twisting.

Ladd was also involved in the pilot for Gigantor, which I didn’t know. And had he been able to continue with the program it might have been a better show.

Ladd also packaged and edited as well as supervised the dubbing of the second version of Gatchaman (Battle of the Planets, G-Force, Eagle Riders).  Which was the aforementioned G Force.

He also aiding in the dubbed version of Sailor Moon, but so many factors were out of his control that it’s hard to totally blame him with the butchery that DIC performed on it.  Just watch the subbed version and then the dubbed version to see what I mean. (Assuming you can find an afordable version of the subbed box set) Editing was egregarious, and the storyline was radically altered.

If you like me are old enough to remember the original airings, or the fact that it was in syndication til the seventies, then you’ll love this book.It’s also an interesting look into the minds of the people who control and provide childrens programs in America.  Frequently, the Japanese companies were amazed at how provincial we were concerning children.

Astro Boy and Anime Come to the Americas: An Insider’s View of the Birth of a Pop Culture Phenonmenon By Fred Ladd and Harvey Deneroff is highly recommended

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