The last episode of Atom the Beginning is both sad and hopeful. I am a sucker for more bitter endings and I think this was a bit more positive that it should have been. Yet, this was the prequel of a much bigger story that deals with the same themes in more depth. As a ‘beginning’ this final episode and the series as a whole were a treat for both Atom fans and newcomers to the franchise.
Japanese Title: ビギニング
A106 has come a long way in the series. He now has not only a consciousness but a distinct personality that is evident from his dream sequences. The first half is the sad half. Being aware but not entirely self-autonomous means that we see parts of conversations and a lot of dream-like sequences that suggest a grim end for A106. Like a child abandoned by its parents, Six is left speechless (literally) as webs remind him of his abandonment. His creators are fighting like a father and mother would, and even if emotions are not part of his programming, there is an underlying sadness in his robotic voice. In the beginning, Ochanomizu was adamant in repairing A106 but as the plans for a better, faster, and more human robots surfaced, even he began postponing the necessary repairs to A106’s body. This is the bitter end I was expecting. An A106 inside a box like A105 before him (we never found out what A105 was and why it was a failure, did we?) remembering his robotic life until his battery died out.
Instead, the possibility of such an ending is abruptly stopped by the one person who cares most about the robot: our narrator, Ran. I wish their relationship had been explored a bit more, but I am probably asking too much of a 12-episode series. As Ochanomizu and Tenma work on the new Seven that will not only be far more powerful and clever than A106 but also be infused with human emotions, Ran is trying to make the repairs to A106 herself. Eventually, he is fully repaired, just in time for my favorite scene in the series, his boost jump and what he witness above the clouds.
Atom: I must admit that like A106 I had my doubts if his memories were real or not. As he does his new and improved boost jump, the little robot that he sees flying in the sky is none other than Mighty Atom, or as we know him in the West, Astro Boy. You can clearly see his silhouette if the rocket feet were not enough. If you still have no idea who Astro Boy is, then I suggest to check the Trivia section and then go read about Tezuka and his most famous creation.
Mars: I’m still not sure why Mars shut down during their fight but this episode did give us some hints. As Atom is reminiscing the fight between them, he is once again referring to the nature of robots:
Robots are tools that were made to listen to our owner’s orders and carry out their objectives
Mars was self-aware as well, albeit with a very different personality. Yet, he knew that the first step to freedom was an act of defiance against his maker.
Themes & Trivia
Astro Boy: If you liked this story, then this is your obvious next stop. Astro Boy is probably one of the most iconic anime characters. You have stumbled around him somewhere. He is small but powerful, 100,000 horsepower (much more than A106), robot that resembles a boy. He is the one our two scientists refer as Seven and he is the main protagonist of the Mighty Atom/ Astro Boy series.
People say that we tend to judge things by our last memory of them. Eat perfect snails for a lifetime but if the last batch is bad, it’s going to leave a bitter taste in your mouth. Not the greatest analogy, I know, but Atom the Beginning is a bit similar. I was not part of the group of anime fans who were disappointed by the lack of action. I always saw Atom the Beginning as an exploration of Tezuka’s favorite themes and as a rekindle of interest to the franchise. It wasn’t perfect. No anime is perfect. At times it was even less than that. Yet, there was not a single episode that was plain or boring. And the brilliance of this last account of a robot that will never be anything more than he already leaves a sweet aftertaste. If you know of Tezuka’s work, you will probably always remember A106 as part of the legacy. If you are a newcomer, then I suggest you go straight to Atom and discover the legacy of the first true mangaka.
A New Beginning
A106 was not just another anime. In the abundance of new titles we get each season, Atom the Beginning had the luck to belong to a legendary franchise, and its quality makes sure that it will remain a part of it forever. I will not go as far as to call it a classic, but next time I’ll be recommending Tezuka’s work to someone, I will certainly mention A106 and his adventures.
Did you like the final episode of Atom the Beginning? Let us know in the comments below by using either the forum or the Facebook tab! Join us in our new forum and let’s talk about our favorite series! Also, don’t forget to check the rest of our last episodic anime reviews for Spring 2017.