Astro Boy (partially lost Canadian English dub of anime series; 1985)
Osamu Tezuka's Shin Tetsuwan Atomu was a 1980 anime series as well as the first full colour animated series featuring Mighty Atom, known in English as Astro Boy. An English dub was recorded in 1980 in America and primarily played in Australia and America throughout the 1980s. However, a second English version was produced in by Cinélume Postproduction Inc.  in 1985. Global Television licensed the dub for exclusive use within Anglophone Canadian regions.
This Canadian English version was never released on home video, and in the decades since, has since become extremely rare. As of October 6, 2020, only 7 of 51 episodes have been recovered and released online.
Dub edits[edit | edit source]
The dubbed audio was originally recorded in late 1985 in Montreal, as described by Astro's voice actor Stephen Bednarski. Early Canadian copyright laws did not require dub actors to be listed in credits, so most of the Canadian English cast is unknown. Actors have only been previously identified by recognizing their voices from previous roles.
Unlike the American English dub, the Canadian version was highly edited for violence, with entire sequences being re-edited. One such example was in the episode "Light Ray Robot," where the original ending - an invisible robot runs away with a bomb and explodes in a forest - was edited with spliced in footage to make it seem as if the bomb failed and never went off. The episode "Save the Carolina-3" originally has a scene with a man being shot in the eyes with a laser, but the footage was reorganized to completely remove scenes of him being shot, in pain, or even with his eyes bandaged for the rest of the episode. These edits are identical to those of the French dub, which was known as Astro le Petit Robot and also recorded in Montreal.
Curiously, the Canadian dub uses the American English dub's opening and ending themes, which were sung by the American dubbing cast. This suggests that the show's masters were either licensed from the other English dub production company, or the pre-existing English themes were provided by Tezuka Productions' international department.
Almost every character's name was changed, aside from Astro Boy, Atlas, and some background characters. Character name changes include Astro's sister Uran being named "Sarah," and Astro's scientist mentor Dr. Ochanomizu (or Dr. Elefun in American English) being renamed "Professor Peabody." Most famous is the addition of sequences at the end of each episode, where Astro reports his adventure to a computer named Geronimo. There is always one error in his report, which the viewer is encouraged to identify as part of a game. The exact error was never specified in other episodes, instead of left for the viewer to find themselves.
Known cast[edit | edit source]
- Stephen Bednarski as Astro Boy
- Walter Massey as Mac McNugget (Higeoyaji), various
- Janice Chaikelson as various
- Rick Jones as various
Legacy[edit | edit source]
The series ran exclusively on Global Television-affiliated regional stations from September 29, 1985, to September 10, 1994. As a broadcast network, Global Television's stations were available free over-the-air and in basic cable packages, making the network's content highly accessible at the time. Many older viewers primarily remember the Canadian dub's character names, scenes, and jokes over the ones in the more accessible American version. Amazon.com reviews for the American Astro Boy Anchor Bay and Madman Entertainment DVD releases often contain complaints about not being the version the reviewer remembers.
Availability[edit | edit source]
To date, only seven Canadian English episodes have been recovered. It was never released in any official home video format, and all surviving copies of the Canadian dub were recorded off of Global-affiliated stations during its run in syndication. A former employee of the Saskatchewan channel STV (now Global Saskatoon) has described the Canadian episodes being kept on beta tapes. Unfortunately, these beta tapes were then wiped and reused for another programming when Astro Boy's syndication period ended.
The French counterpart Astro le Petit Robot is available in full on DVD, but of course, these DVDs only contain the French dub audio.
Dailymotion user Robotkat has been actively searching for more episodes and maintains web uploads of all seven recovered episodes. Episode 5 was provided by contributor Daniel Owen. The first minute was lost due to tape damage, but the first minute was thankfully recorded prior by Owen as proof of him owning it.
On October 6, 2020, a Myspleen user named Conelrad uploaded the previously lost episode Episode 4: Save the Classmate, while also stating he had one more episode of the Canadian Astro Boy dub to upload.