Ever seen the movie Astro Boy? Yes, the movie that, like Mr.Peabody and Sherman, is based off of an older kids’ cartoon. In the movie, for readers who haven’t yet watched it, young Astro is created by a scientist father, who longs for his late son to be with him again, placing the boy’s memories into Astro’s programming, causing the robo-boy to believe he’s actually the late son. However, it becomes clear that, despite possessing the memories, Astro’s persona proved numerous times to be at least somewhat different from Toby’s (i.e., has more of a creative side). This heavily depresses the scientist father, who is constantly reminded of his loss by this, and soon disowns Astro. Astro, confused, hurt, and distraught about this and about his identity, flies off, and is hunted by a villainous, militaristic presidential candidate, the latter whom unintentionally knocks Astro from the Metro (the levitating, cloud-surrounded city), onto the Surface (of earth). Astro, through the story, progresses in his search for love, acceptance, and meaning behind his making. He eventually befriends a group of ragtag kids on the Surface, far below Metro, and gains companionship and affection from them. Things get messy, however, when his secret ID of being a robo is exposed, threatening not only his friendship with them, but his own life (the bad guys finally found him). The rest of the story is pretty much a Disney-isque summary: kid fights bad guy, good triumphs evil, kid makes up with new friends, and also with his scientist “father”, while the ever-diabolical presidential candidate gets his in the end. But (and maybe this is just me, because I just took a Intro to Literary Study and Research class this semester… it’s taught me to look at/analyze both texts and films in great depth since then) it still has many vital themes, ideas, and parallels that I’d like to share with you, that relate to US, as God’s Image Bearers.
First, I’d like to start off this in-depth analysis by comparing Astro Boy to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, in particular, the 1994 film adaptation. The Creature (who, unlike Astro, is never even given a name) has very distant memories, and, like the robotic boy, was created with a special “spark”, and was rejected by his maker, Victor Frankenstein, like the scientist father eventually initially rejected Astro; however, Astro had innate good inside him (the blue orb), while the Creature kept sinning, and increasing the remorse, the the unhappiness, upon both himself and his maker. Astro also succeeded in making good friends, and keeping them, while the well-intentioned, sensitive Creature only managed to scare away people with his hideous appearance. Both, however, suffered in the fact that they felt different from other people, at lost in what their purpose in life was. Their endings are both entirely different: the Creature is still despised by his maker, though he mourns his maker’s passing, and goes off to kill himself shortly after; Astro finds love, acceptance, and purpose at his story’s end. Two different characters, yet many similarities– one of which both try to find: love, acceptance, and understanding of why they are here on earth.
Astro’s story reminds me more of why WE, humankind, are put here on earth, while Frankenstein leaves more of an empty hole– the best we can conclude about Shelley’s greatest work is that man is a mix of good and evil, depending on good or bad choices, while the rest is rather a bit murky. Astro shows us, however, on several different levels, the history and purpose of the whole human race.
He is created, then shortly after pursued by characters of questionable moral fiber, thus causing him to PHYSICALLY fall from the Great Haven In The Sky. There, he struggles sometimes more with fitting in– does he belong to the robots, or to people? While he is innately good and thus “cannot” be evil, we still yet have a somewhat similar struggle of where we would fit in– we can choose between God, and ourselves. Unlike the scientist father in the movie, God never abandoned His Creation– there were times where our actions deeply grieved Him, true, but He never truly gave up on us. He loves us an incredible amount– all He wants in return is to live for Him, love Him, and love others. To live for God would be to die to ourselves, our selfish natures, and become True Image Bearers. To live for self, and only for self, would mean outright rejection of God, and yes, eternal (and very morbidly depressing) separation from God. Sometimes, this means doing things that you very well know are right, but, like Astro’s refusal to fight his friend, you too may get booed at. Laughed at. People may look down on you. And it stings, because we were specifically designed with a relationship-companionship type deal in mind. But you know what? That’s OK. God knows us. He built us to desire Him, desire His love and His companionship. Similarly, Astro was kind of built the same way. He got lonely, he longed for love and companionship– even a drop of affection. He eventually realized his purpose– to love and to be loved, and to help care for and protect people. Again, this reflects how we too were created with a very similar purpose– to love, be loved, reflect God, and, as stated early in Genesis, to be good stewards of God’s Creation… to value, care for, and protect it (within reasonable means, of course. Some people make the mistake of valuing Creation above their Creator…). This is our general purpose in Creation, and God wants to help us in fulfilling our purpose, to the maximum potential possible– but only if we rely on Him.
In short, we might never fit in, or be loved completely here on Earth… but God always loves you. He has a purpose for your life, always has your back when you’re for Him, and will never, ever abandon you– even when all seems lost.