Astro Boy manga to hit US iPhones

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The Independent Online

Japan's Astro Boy and other comic heroes by late manga legend Osamu Tezuka will soon appear on iPhones and iPods in the United States, Japanese companies said Tuesday.

The English-language "Weekly Astro Boy Magazine" will be available for iPhone and iPod touch users as early as this month in volumes of about 100 pages each, said Tezuka Productions Co. and D-Arc Inc.

The first large-volume manga service for mobile devices entirely in English comes after the release this weekend of a modern 3D computer animation take on "Astro Boy" in the United States and China.

First sketched by Tezuka in the 1950s, the "Astro Boy" series charmed children across the globe with its tale of a powerful little robot boy built by a scientist in the image of his deceased son.

A number of versions of the story have been produced since, most famously the 1960s series which heralded the rise of the influential Japanese "anime" style of cartoons used in television and film.

The first mobile-device trial volume is free, and the companies aim for one million downloads, said Yoshihide Kinokawa, a director at D-Arc, who was behind the development of the English-language cartoon delivery for iPhones.

Each volume afterwards will sell at 99 US cents per weekly.

Readers can see the whole page on the screen and zoom in for close-ups of individual cartoon cells.

"I hope people who saw the movie will want to read the original," Kinokawa said. The companies plan to expand the service to other countries gradually.

The digital weekly will also carry "Phoenix," "Black Jack" and other works by the late "God of Manga."

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