French filmmaker Thomas Astruc, the creator and director of the popular computer animated children’s television show, Miraculous – Tales of Ladybug & Cat Noir, has signed on to reboot Astroboy, Variety is reporting. The latter franchise is being updated after it became one of the best-selling manga television series of all time upon its release in the mid-1960s.
Astruc will be working with Method Animation, the production company behind Miraculous, to create the new adaptation of Astroboy. The filmmaker and company will also be joined by Shibuya Production to produce the upcoming show, which will be shot in CGI-3D and comprise of 52 half-hour episodes.
The original animated Astroboy television series premiered in 1963 and became a global sensation, especially in Japan and France. The show also became the first anime to air in the U.S.
The original series followed the eponymous robot boy, who lives in a sci-fi future after he was built by a scientist named Doctor Tenma as a replacement for his dead son. Astroboy, who possesses various other superpowers, eventually starts fighting villains and big robots.
Based on the manga collection created by Osamu Tezuka, which sold over 100 million copies worldwide, the original show helped popularize other Japanese television animation series. Astroboy also spawned a popular merchandising line, as the show turned the titular child-like robot character into a pop-culture icon and best-known superhero of Tezuka’s career.
Although Astroboy has appeared in several iterations since its creation in the 1950s, Astruc’s take on the property is poised to be timelier than ever. The franchise’s latest reboot is set to address modern issues, including the impact of the internet, social media and the damages caused to the environment by humans.
“Tezuka’s original comics were far advanced in delivering a powerful message to readers worldwide. These fantastic stories of the little boy who flies are all about strong values that still resonate today for a global audience,” said Mediawan and Shibuya, which jointly acquired the rights to the franchise from Tezuka Productions.
Cedric Biscay, the president and CEO of the Monaco-based Shibuya Productions, has been building relationships within Japan’s creative community for the last 20 years and is a fan of animation and mangas. He said he was able to build strong ties with Japanese talent at the annual event that Shibuya organizes in Monaco, where all the biggest stars of mangas, animation and video games are invited.
“It is a huge responsibility to revisit the mythical character of Astroboy. I am particularly happy to have met at Method Animation an ambitious and passionate team that will allow us to take this series to the highest heights,” said Biscay.
Aton Soumache, the founder and president of Method Animation, also commented on the series, particularly working with Astruc. He said: “Thomas Astruc will bring a fresh and unique take on Tezuka’s work.
“Astroboy is so universal and contemporary that we are not only developing a reboot but a consistent continuum in the full respect of the original universe,” the production company’s CEO continued.
“It took us several months to secure the rights and there were of course many Japanese and American companies which were circling this property, but ultimately (Tezuka’s right holders) entrusted us with it because we have a similar sensibility and culture of graphic novels in both our countries, and what we have achieved with Miraculous in Japan and around the world also played a big role in convincing them,” Soumache added. “It’s a collaboration based on respect and trust.”
Astruc also spoke about the experience of signing on to create and direct Astroboy. He admitted that he had “no words to describe how much Osamu Tezuka has influenced (his) life and (his) work.
“Astroboy is a cult series that has overseen the future like no other property. In the strange world we live in today, everybody needs Astroboy to come back!” added Astruc, alluding to the themes of the show, including the relationship between men vs. nature, as well as such values as pacifism and respect.
The creator-director also compared the cultural impact of Tezuka’s work to that of Victor Hugo and Jack Kirby. “Astroboy sparked the boom of mangas and created the industry for modern anime,” Astruc explained.
Julien Borde, the EVP, managing director and CCO of Method Animation, also chimed in Astroboy: “The show is really in line with what we love to do at Method Animation: Adapting and creating IPs, bringing together the best international talents to create stories that will entertain and inspire kids and their families everywhere in the world.”
The announcement of Astroboy‘s reboot comes after the French animation company revealed earlier this week the creation of Mediawan Kids and Family, a new division dedicated to the production and distribution of youth programming.