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Robotboy

Entry updated 25 October 2021. Tagged: TV.

UK-French animated tv series (2005-2008). Alphanim, Cofinova 1, LuxAnimation. Created by Jan Van Rijsselberge. Directed by Charlie Bean, Bob Camp and Heath Kenny. Writers include Robert Mittenthal and Michael Rubiner. Voice cast includes Laurence Bouvard, Rupert Degas, Togo Igawa, Eiji Kusuhara and Lorraine Pilkington. 52 23-minute episodes, each containing two segments. Colour.

When Professor Moshimo (Igawa) invents Robotboy (Bouvard), a child-like Robot who can transform into a larger, multi-Weaponed fighter, he fears his creation will be stolen by evil Dr. Kamikazi (Kusuhara) and used to take over the world. So he sends him "somewhere safe, somewhere perhaps he can learn to be a true boy": into the care of the Professor's biggest fan, ten-year-old Tommy Turnbull (Pilkington). Unfortunately Dr Kamikaze is well aware of Robotboy's location; most stories involve his elaborate kidnap attempts. Professor Moshimo sometimes helps Tommy fight off Dr Kamikaze, but the boy usually has to rely on his friends "Gus" Bachmann Turner (Degas) and Lola Mbola (Bouvard). Gus is overconfident, selfish and not bright ("I didn't deserve a F on my test ... [the teacher] said so himself ... but, he said, it was the lowest grade the school's allowed to use."), whilst Lola – the daughter of an African ambassador – is technologically proficient, competent and has a crush on the oblivious Tommy.

One episode has Tommy seemingly receiving a series of messages from a century in the future, warning of ... Robotboy leading a robot attack on humanity ... an assassin droid coming via Time Travel to destroy him ... Robotboy avoiding this fate if Tommy takes him to a "Dr Kamikaze" to be cured. Tommy is taken in by this variation on The Terminator (1984), but fortunately an Alien announcement scares the Doctor away: this was faked by Professor Moshimo, who knew that messages from the future are an impossibility (see Time Radio). Not that the series is always scientifically literate: at one point Dr Kamikaze invents a Devolution Ray to regress cats into Sabre-Toothed Tigers (see Scientific Errors). Other episodes include a Robotboy/Gus Identity Exchange; a synthetic brain to boost a yak's Intelligence; Powered Armour that ignores its wearer's wishes; Gus abducted and displayed in an "inter-galactic freak show"; Dr Kamikaze's nanobot (see Nanotechnology) assassin being swallowed by Gus, so a Miniaturized Robotboy enters his body. The Doctor is clearly an ingenious Scientist, also building an ageing ray (see Time Distortion) and using Cloned, Uplifted animals as troops.

The show was influenced by Anime, particularly Astro Boy (1963-1966; vt Mighty Atom; Astroboy). One episode has Robotboy believing Tokyo is being attacked by Monsters and interrupting the shooting of a Tokusatsu movie, assaulting the men in Kaiju suits; ironically, news reports refer to him as a "killer robot ... terrorizing the city." However, Gus awakens "Clammadon, the fearsome radioactive clam who's been asleep for centuries", so Robotboy does get a real monster to fight. This was a moderately entertaining series, though Tommy and Robotboy are bland leads, and Lola little better; leaving Gus – reminiscent of South Park's (1997-current) Cartman – as the only memorable main character. [SP]

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