TV anime Atom the Beginning's teaser visual (c)手塚プロダクション・ゆうきまさみ・カサハラテツロー・HERO'S／アトム ザ・ビギニング製作委員会
Atom the Beginning is a peculiar show in that it makes every episode seem like a filler when it actually gives everything the show needs to advance its plot even further. Ran is one of the main characters and the participation of her all-female team at the Junior Rescue Robot Competition gave us some valuable insights on how robots work and how the former school of Ochanomizu always focuses on humanoid robots.
Japanese Title: 蘭とTERU姫
Ran is a peculiar kid. She is a genius with limited social skills who is nevertheless very popular with the children that recognize her talent. Being weird doesn’t mean that you only hang out with the weird kids or that you are all alone. Most often it means that you hang out with the people that have the necessary empathy to accept you for what you are, even if you yourself have no idea what that is. Since we have only seen Ran in relation to her brother, we haven’t had the chance to see her interact with her friends (A106 and F14 don’t count).
What kind of person is Ran? She is fixated to what needs to be done but she doesn’t turn to cruel to get her way. When in the end she realizes that there was a reason she wasn’t in the know about Princess Teru’s new mode, she finds the silver lining and takes the most out of the situation. I would had been mad like hell, to be honest.
With another, more realistic anime take on the robotics competition coming in 2017, all the info on the competition and how robots work was very interesting. I don’t know if having an all-female team was deliberate to show that this is not just boys’ toys, but I have always thought that the people who do have that kind of prejudice will not be convinced by such scenes. On the other hand, people who do see such a meaning in this scene, don’t need to be convinced. The same goes for Princess Teru. It may seem stereotypic to have a pink robot called a Princess, but I don’t think that has anything to do with them being girls. I would have loved the opportunity to create a pink princess robot.
A106, on the other hand, is the ever-present silent guardian. He already knew that the structure was compromised, but he waited until the threat was real to take action. I was baffled by the fact that he saved Princess Teru, but maybe that’s proof of Ochanomizu’s vision: A106 values robots as much as he values humans. In his robotic mind, they both have the same right in being.
Six recognizes Mars as his nemesis. His AI may even give him the notion of revenge and go all out on him on the last battle. He is going to make it to the last battle, right?
Tenma in Love: If Tenma would have ever fallen for a woman, it would be for one in power. Ojousama certainly has that aura of importance around her and their flirt will be played in a very peculiar way.
Themes & Trivia
Rescue Robots: Rescue robots are a contemporary concept and their first incarnations are already roaming disaster sites around the globe. When the tsunami hit the Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear plant, robots where sent first but couldn’t live up to the task. From that moment, robotics research has soared globally. If you want to learn more on the subject, there is a very interesting book from Robin R. Murphy called Disaster Robotics.
Plawres Sanshiro: The second thing that came to my mind when I saw the Robot Wrestling was Real Steel. After all, the protagonist of the robot wrestling Hollywood movie is called Atom, in my eyes a direct reference to Tenma’s greatest creation. But the first thing that came to mind was an 80s anime called Plawres Sanshiro. ‘Plawres’ refers to Plastic Wrestling. Combining robotics, plastic modelling, and pro wrestling, in Plawres the contestants create robots 30 c.m. tall which fight inside a proper ring and are controlled from outside the ring using all kinds of remote controls. Also, the main robot protagonist, Juohmaru, is one cool-looking robot.
Atom the Beginning may not have a tight scenario, but its semi-episodic nature resonates with my nostalgia for that kind of anime. Ran is a very interesting character and seeing her interact with her classmates in relation to her passion projected a very positive message: you can be as geeky as you want and that doesn’t need to affect your desire to belong to a group or have friends who value you and love you.
That ojousama has the villain aura surrounding her. Having A106 go through a robot wrestling tournament to get to Mars is brilliant and I’m looking forward to see the fights. Up until now, A106 had only chances to show his extraordinary agility and strength, but now he will be able to go full throttle against his opponents to get to the one that threatened Ran’s safety. I’m also curious to see how far Tenma’s infatuation with her will go. Are we looking to our third potential ship here?
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