For many newcomers to anime and manga, it can be hard to tell characters drawn by the same artist apart. In general, Japanese designs use fewer lines, especially in the faces, than those of Western comic books, and even some artists themselves, such as Touch creator Mitsuru Adachi, have been known to get their own cast members mixed up.
That’s not a problem with Atom, though. Also known as Astro Boy, Osamu Tezuka’s beloved mighty robot is instantly recognizable, whether in the pages of the manga where he debuted, onscreen in one of his many anime adaptations, or, in his most recent appearance, a pedestrian walk signal in Kanagawa Prefecture.
Sagami, a coastal area in southern Kanagawa, is home to a number of technology and manufacturing centers. In order to promote the district’s cutting-edge image, 10 Sagami cities have banded together under the umbrella organization Robot Town Sagami.
Atom serves as the group’s mascot, and in its promotional video, Robot Town Sagami says it’s inspired by seven of Atom’s features: his 100,000-horse power motor, satellite and camera, sense of hearing 1,000 times stronger than a normal human’s, speech capabilities, artificial intelligence, empathy, and jet engine-powered flight.
The citizens of Robot Town Sagami may not have ticked off every item on that checklist yet, but Fujisawa, one of the member cities, does now have Atom keeping pedestrians safe, as shown in this photo.
Even in silhouette, you can instantly tell who it is. Atom’s stalwart “don’t walk” posture shows you can be cool even when following the rules, and his gallant “walk” stride somehow makes the simple act of crossing the street seem like the start of a jaunty adventure.
▼ All right! Let’s do this thing!
Unfortunately, Atom doesn’t have jurisdiction over all of the city. Cool as it may look, the special signal doesn’t comply with the standards signage on public roads are held to, so the only place you’ll find this one-of-a-kind signal is inside Tsujido Kaihen Kouen Park.
Personally, we think it’s a little unfair that Atom is being put in a different class than signals depicting fully biological humans. Maybe one day, when Sagami Robot Town perfects its emphasizing machines, Atom will become the crosswalk standard all over Japan. For now, though, if he’s going to be limited to just one town, we’re happy that it’s the one many people call the nicest place to live in Japan.