WARNING: The following contains spoilers for DuckTales Season 3, Episode 6, “Astro BOYD,” which aired Saturday on DisneyXD
The newest episode of DuckTales, “Astro BOYD,” focuses on the origins and true potential of Boyd, the robotic little boy Louie first encountered last season. When Boyd begins to malfunction, his creator, Gearloose, ventures to the Japanese capital of Tokyolk alongside Huey and Fenton/Gizmo-Duck to investigate and deal with the problem.
While in Japan, DuckTales finds plenty of ways to subtly (and not so subtly) reference numerous classic anime, manga and comics. Here are all the direct references in the episode.
Boyd was introduced in the second season episode “Happy Birthday, Doofus Drake,” initially presented as a creation of Mark Beaks. But “Astro B.O.Y.D.” reveals that it was actually a young Gearloose who invented the boy with his mentor Akita years earlier. Much of Boyd’s origins are derived from Astro Boy, the classic anime/manga character. The pair share similar designs, with both characters having their blueprints. Like Astro Boy, Boyd is also a deceptively powerful fighter, sharing his inspiration’s rocket booster feet, enhanced durability and super strength.
Boyd also wants to be treated as a real boy, which is a consistent character beat for Astro Boy as well. Both of them also prove to be more than their programming and become heroes. There’s also a more subtle reference to Osamu Tezuka, Astro Boy’s creator, in the name of Detective Tezuka, a police officer who appears frequently throughout the episode.
Sailor Moon is referenced multiple times throughout the episode. Created by Naoko Takeuchi, Sailor Moon focuses on the titular hero and her fellow Sailor Scouts, who use their magical abilities to protect the world. It turns out Sailor Moon is a popular franchise within the DuckTales universe as well. A poster for the character appears on a wall, and a cosplayer can be seen dressed as the character and taking a selfie in the city. Even Akita, the scientist who created Boyd and has been in hiding for years, is shown to have Sailor Moon memorabilia in his secret lab.
While Katsuhiro Otomo’s Akira doesn’t receive too many story references, there’s a direct allusion to the designs of the motorcycle gangs from the opening of the manga/anime. The motorcycle thieves that rob a jewelry store both have unique helmets, which reference characters in Akira. The male thief uses a clown design on his motorcycle helmet (which is a shout out to the Clown Gang), while his girlfriend has a distinct pill on her helmet. The pink and blue design of her helmet is the same as the one on Kaneda’s jacket.
Lupin The Third (otherwise known as Lupin III) is a long-running franchise created by Monkey Punch and focuses on the charming, cunning titular thief and his allies. There are actually two very direct references to Lupin in “Astro BOYD.” A character appearing to be a dog version of Lupin (complete with his distinctive hair-style and a specific choice of clothing) can be seen in a handful of crowd shots – including fleeing from Boyd when he’s sent on a rampage by Akita.
There’s a more consistent reference to a supporting character from Lupin the Third, however. Detective Tezuka is largely modeled after Inspector Zenigata, the detective antagonist who is always trying to bring Lupin to justice. She’s dedicated to protecting her home from Gearloose and Boyd. She even runs like Zenigata in an exaggerated and high-stepping sprint. Tezuka is also shown to be a dedicated crime-fighter but allows the heroes to leave Japan undisturbed, reflecting Zenigata’s occasional willingness to let Lupin get a running start.
There’s even one reference to a character who isn’t from manga or anime. When Boyd first starts to malfunction, his laser eyes activate uncontrollably. To counter this, Boyd is given a pair of red glasses that can allow him to contain his blasts. These are very similar to the glasses typically worn by Cyclops from the X-Men. Also incapable of containing the destructive blasts that come from his eyes, he uses ruby quartz glasses when in civilian clothing.
DuckTales Season 3 stars the voices of David Tennant, Danny Pudi, Ben Schwartz, Bobby Moynihan, Kate Micucci, Beck Bennett, Toks Olagundoye, Tony Anselmo and Paget Brewster.
DuckTales just slipped in a number of sly references to multiple classic anime and comics in its newest episode, “Astro BOYD.”