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ASTRO BOY

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Everything’s been coming up Astro lately: Dark Horse Comics is releasing English-language reprints of Osamu Tezuka’s groundbreaking original manga, the black-and-white episodes that stunned U.S. youngsters in the early 1960s are now on video, a big-screen treatment is en route for 2004, and now the second animated-series version — made in color for Japanese TV — is hitting video. Not to mention that Stanley Kubrick and Steven Spielberg seem to have swiped half of A.I. from little Tetsuwan Atom — if you doubt it, check out ”The Birth of Astro Boy” and ”Robot Circus.” Not as weird or influential as the ’60s version, but way more compelling than ”Pokemon.”

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