I think Episode 9 of Atom the Beginning was the first that didn’t feature Ran as a narrator. I don’t know if they are creating the episodes as they go, but there were a few would-be constants (like the last segments of Episode 1 and 2) that were forgotten. Nevertheless, two matches before the final match of the Robot Wrestling tournament, it seems that the fundamental differences between the harsh reality of Tenma and the utopic idealism of Ochanomizu are going to clash at some point before the series ends its cour.
Japanese Title: シックス戦闘不能
We can agree that there is a 50/50 chance that the spare part given to our guys from Dr. TroLoLo will probably be rigged in some way. And if it isn’t, it’s probably bugged with monitoring equipment. Both Tenma and Ochanomizu are being fooled, since the former is infatuated by her overly masculine voice and huge covered boobs, and the latter believes that the spare part is her way of apologizing. Even if kindness and camaraderie are main themes in this episode, it’s naïve to think that the main antagonist is just helping A106 out of the goodness of her heart. For starters, that damn robot who looks more like Mercury than Mars almost killed Ran during its attack. I wonder what her role in all of this is. Why does she want to fight A106 and why in the tournament? She could have challenged him somewhere outside the ring.
On the other hand, we have A106 who is showing signs of independence. He is still following the orders of his creators, but the last call is always his. It’s clear that he shares more with the Ochanomizu family than he does with Tenma-sama, and the latter’s insistence that A106 is just a robot is not only a foreshadowing of the future, but also the main schism between the two nose-budding friends.
Is A106 a protector? A friend? A tool? I highly doubt that he is anything close to a tool, since his consciousness has been explored in every single episode. He is learning, adapting, and creating his own character. Then, he acts according to his own beliefs. Does it matter that he wasn’t born in our way of defining ‘natural’ and that he didn’t ‘grow’ as we do? He did grow, from a machine that knew little to a machine that knows enough to help him reach his own conclusions.
Tenma, you bastard: Both Tenma and Ochanomizu are passionate geniuses, and we have established in the previous episodes that even though Bewusstein is their common goal, the reasons they want to achieve the perfection of AI are very different. I hope that most of you (myself included) will go on to experience Astro Boy (which incarnation is another thing that I might have to cover in a separate article). There, you will find that the series is doing a good job setting the bases of the two protagonists. Tenma does have a soft spot for his human nakama but he is utterly heartless when it comes to robots. For him, A106 is really ‘just a robot.’ Just another step to his quest to create the ultimate slave, the ultimate soldier, the ultimate AI that its role will be to serve humanity. Remember that the series deals with characters whose future we already know. Tenma is not going to change. And you’ll be surprised to find out how he will treat his magnum opus, Atom!
Why do you fight? In case you don’t recognize the question, ALWAYS SEE THE POST-CREDITS SCENES. There, I said it. Again. A106 poses the question to Mars, and what an interesting question for a robot to make. For starters, it’s proof that Bewusstein is a raging success. ‘Why’ questions are only asked by conscious beings, such as ourselves. You will not find your PC questioning your search choices or the way you smash onto its keyboard. It will certainly not question your peculiar taste in the anime you watch. But A106 has a reason it fights. I wonder what that reason is.
Themes & Trivia
Exoskeleton: What an interesting word. I’m pretty sure that the Japanese word sounds differently, but the English word is proof how exotic Greek stems sound when combined. The word comes from the Greek words for out and skeleton and it refers to the external skeleton that protects an animal’s body in contrast to our own skeleton that is internal. Examples of animals with exoskeletons include insects such as grasshoppers and cockroaches, and crustaceans such as crabs and lobsters. When it comes to robots and suits, however, a powered exoskeleton is a wearable (if a suit) is a wearable mobile machine that is powered by a system of electric motors, pneumatics, levers, hydraulics, or a combination of technologies that allow for limb movement with increased strength and endurance. In the case of A106, he is all a powered exoskeleton who is far more strong and endure than a common human.
Being a prequel to Astro Boy, most anime fans were expecting an action series full of punches and flying circuits. In reality, Atom the Beginning, however, has an inherent theme duality that is evident in all episodes so far. The first half of each episode is more of a slice-of-a-life segment that sets the tone of the series. If you pay close attention, many elements throughout the episode have to do with size and ‘spare parts.’ There is an in-between segment that delivers the intended message, and the rest of the episode is dedicated to the action that the people were expecting. These three parts are not necessarily succeeding one another. In other words, the focus of the title is not on the action. It’s on establishing the characters and the pre-history of a narrative that for many was told as anime was establishing its roots in Japan. A tale of war, compassion, cruelty, and the heart of humanity.
Don’t Doubt the Goodwill of Others
In the end, the most important message that Episode 9 of Atom the Beginning conveyed was one of camaraderie. It’s just a game, guys. And anime are just anime, and manga are just manga. Entertainment is there to entertain, not to create rivalries and ill feelings. Sadly, that’s just a utopian attitude that is far from the truth, but you never know… Someday…
Did you like Episode 9 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 episodic anime reviews for Spring 2017.