David Blecken
May 27, 2016

Film shows role of 'Robot Town' in shaping Japan's future

TOKYO - An initiative to promote Kanagawa prefecture’s expertise in robotics draws on Astro Boy to present a vision of the future with a sentimental film.

Film shows role of 'Robot Town' in shaping Japan's future

Developed by Tezuka Productions and Geometry Global, ‘Robot Town Sagami 2028’ is an animated short drama showing the positive impact robots can have on human lives.

Tezuka Productions is the company behind the original Astro Boy series. The film features a father involved in a seemingly tragic accident just before the birth of his daughter. At Astro Boy’s invitation, he awakens from a coma to travel forward in time, joining his family as a ghost as they go about their high-tech lives in ‘Robot Town’, apparently happy enough without him… We’ll leave you to watch the video.

In reality, ‘Robot Town Sagami’ covers 12 municipalities across Kanagawa. The name stems from the area’s focus on the development of personal assistive robotics. In particular, the work of its research centres and laboratories aims to help Japan cope with aging populations and natural disasters.

Masato Mitsudera, head of creative at Geometry Global, said that the challenges Kanagawa faces are the same as those faced by Japan and the world as a whole.

Where does Astro Boy come into it all? The character has a special place in the hearts of Japanese people in their late 40s and 50s for presenting the ‘Japanese dream’ that they worked hard to realise.

In a statement, the governor of Kanagawa prefecture, Yuji Kuroiwa, said he “wanted people, especially children, to picture the future we are heading for".

“As an iconic, much-loved household name, Astro Boy will enable people to feel and see the substantial future of ‘Sagami Robot Town’,” he said. “Our hope is that this animation allows children to think and dream about the future of society.”

Campaign’s view: Kanagawa, and Japan as a nation, are right to be proud of their achievements in robotics. For many though, robotics is still either a novelty, or at worst, something to be feared. It’s still difficult for ordinary people to imagine the role such technology can play in daily life, and this film does a good job of ‘humanising’ the whole scenario. The branding of ‘Robot Town Sagami’ is also subtle, which is a welcome change from a lot of regional promotions. But two quibbles are: international viewers are likely to associate the film simply with Japan rather than any particular prefecture; and people might be getting tired of animated dramas. There are other, more adult, ways to move people.

Campaign Japan

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