Astro Boy (name in the original Japanese: 鉄腕アトム ・Tetsuwan Atomu) is one of the most popular heroes of manga. The earliest Astro Boy manga, published in 1952, gained immediate success – and made his creator, Osamu Tezuka (Japanese: 手塚 治虫) one of the main figures of international children’s literature. Osamu Tezuka befriended among others Walt Disney and Mauricio de Sousa, and was nominated an honorary chairman of the Superman Fan Club in Japan.
If you like Japanese animation on stamps, then you might want to take a look at our article devoted to Doraemon.
Placed in a futuristic context where humans cohabit with robots, the adventures of Astro Boy relate to the joys and sorrows of being a child, even if a child-robot. Astro Boy is lovable and instantly captivating, despite the manga being almost 70 years old. His charisma never faded, and even in the 2000’s movies and video games featuring Astro Boy are still topping sales.
Astro Boy stamps are not numerous, however, they are really philatelic gems. The stamps presented below all come from Japan – Astro Boy’s homeland.
The first series of Japanese stamps featuring Astro Boy were issued in 1997, within a series called “50 Postwar Memorable Years” (Japanese: 戦後５０年メモリアルシリーズ).
Pictured above: Yujiro Ishihara (1934-1987), actor; Hibari Misora (1937-1989), singer; Osamu Tezuka (1926-1989) with some of the characters he created, among which we can of course find Atom Boy.
Astro Boy was again honored on stamps with a vintage look on Japan’s Millennium stamps in the year 2000.
Just like Doraemon, Astro Boy got his honorable mention in the series of stamps called “Science and Technology and Animation Heroes” (Japanese: 科学技術とアニメ・ヒーロー), thanks to the immediate connection with science and science fiction.
Pictured above the 2003 Japan Post stamps featuring Astro Boy. Top row, left to right: physicist Nagaoka Hantaro the Morph3 robot; H-II rocket; and Yumihiki Doji (Japanese: 弓曳き童子), or the Boy Archer, one of the first robotic toys inspired by a traditional character. Bottom row, left to right: various images featuring Astro Boy.
Manga characters were again marketed by Japan Post in 2011 on two sheets issued on the occasion of the PhilaNippon Exhibition.
The above sheets present left to right: Atom Boy (Japanese: 鉄腕アトム ), Doraemon (Japanese: ドラえもん), Pikachu (Japanese: ピカチュウ); and Hello Kitty (Japanese: ハロー・キティ).
Stamps featured in post: 36; Period: contemporary (1997-2011); Pricing: moderate; Availability: rather scarce.