It’s ironic given this series’ title that what really mattered was the ending.
Listen, I’m not going to blame anyone who didn’t stick with Atom: The Beginning. I blogged a couple of episodes, liked it but didn’t love it and dropped coverage. But I did stick with watching it, and am I glad I did.
Here’s the thing – the last two episodes of Atom were, believe it or not, among the best anime of Spring 2017 (even if it finished in summer). What I hoped all along for this series is that it would be a re-imagining of Tezuka Osamu’s ideas for a modern age. And while it was that intermittently throughout its run, it was only in the final couple of episodes that it gloriously bloomed into the creative flower it always could be. Rarely do we see anime address the ethics and morality of artificial intelligence with such thoughtfulness and emotional insight as we did here. I wish it had done more of it rather than get bogged down in tropes and anime convention – that’s not the sort of re-imagining I wanted. But better late than never.
Here’s the thing – Tezuka was a visionary when it comes to robotics (and a lot else besides). His kind of exploration into mankind’s expanding relationship with artificial intelligence has never been more needed than it is now. His son is one of the co-writers of the Atom:The Beginning manga, of course, and I’d like to think that some of what we saw in the anime (especially the final arc) reflects Tezuka Makoto’s desire to see his father’s ideas kept alive and explored seriously. I wish Atom did it more seriously more often, but the kind of material we saw in those final episodes is important – for anime, and for humanity’s consideration of what kind of future we want to create.
If by any chance a few of you are convincible, I hope you’ll give Atom another shot. It’s a good series and worth watching all the way through, but even if you just come back for the final arc I don’t think you’ll regret it.