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Japan's Tezuka Respins 'Astro Boy' For Africa

TOKYO -- Tezuka Productions, the maker of the pioneering TV cartoon series "Astro Boy" has remade its signature show for the African market.

Tezuka has partnered with Nigerian broadcaster Channels TV to make eight 15-minute episodes dubbed into French and other languages. Test broadcasts will begin on March 22.

Called "Robot Atom" in its English version, the show will feature Atom and other characters, both human and robot, in Robot Town. The target viewership is kids six and under.

Japanese animation producers are searching for new markets now that their export numbers have been hit by piracy and lower birth rates in the West and elsewhere. The recent retirement of anime maestro and B.O. king Hayao Miyazaki has strengthened the impression that the Japanese animation industry's best days are behind it. But Africa, where a baby boom is still underway, is seen as offering a ray of hope.

Tezuka launched Japan's first animated TV series, "Astro Boy," in 1963. The show was later remade three times for the Japanese and Western markets, but the new remake is the first for a non-developed country.

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