{comics} pluto vol 1-7

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If you are going to check out this manga series by Urasawa x Tezuka from your local library, please be sure they have all 8…As it is, I need to carve out time to find the 8th volume somewhere. Believe me, one volume will throw you into the next and you’ll not want to hit a wall. You know that dramatic Noooooo! that one can hear outside the house as it echoes down the street, from above the city, and even into outer space? Yeah, that was me.

URASAWA Preeminent manga artist Naoki Urasawa, collaborating with editor, producer and manga writer Takashi Nagasaki, creates a daring revisionist take on Osamu Tezuka’s timeless classic Astro Boy. Conceived under the auspices of Tezuka’s son Macoto Tezka, a visual artist in his own right, Pluto: Urasawa × Tezuka is more than just an homage piece — Urasawa takes Tezuka’s masterwork and transforms it into a new groundbreaking series of his own. Pluto: Urasawa × Tezuka will surely delight loyal Tezuka fans, but it will also capture the imagination of anyone who loves a compelling work of great science fiction.

× TEZUKA The legendary Osamu Tezuka is arguably the most influential person to shape the landscape of the narrative art form known as manga. In 1964, Tezuka created a revolutionary story arc in his Astro Boy series called “The Greatest Robot on Earth.” Tezuka’s engaging tale struck a chord with the children of that time to become the most popular story line of the series. It would also prove to profoundly influence and inspire a generation of manga artists to come. –Powells “about the author

This is where I admit to not reading much manga and my touches with Astro Boy are fleeting. I’m proof that Pluto will be accessible to just about anyone. It will help to know how to negotiate the right to left movement of the book and page, but it isn’t that hard to figure out. And Pluto is well worth the effort to step outside your norms and pick up manga.

note the mimicry of the top two panels. this portion of Pluto: 001 involving the story of North .02 is beautiful and heartbreaking.

Theirs is an idealized world where man and robot should coexist. But not everyone cares for robots and someone or something is out to destroy both the seven great robots of the world and key robot’s rights figures. Gesicht, a Europol detective and one of the seven, is brought in to investigate the serial murders marked by the composition of the remains, horns coming from the victims heads. What follows is a puzzle steeped in a near past and a race against time to stop the murderer from striking again.  Visiting Asimov’s rules, the conversations on Artificial Intelligence and its potential evolution fascinate. As for the political messages…who didn’t find weapons of mass destruction and declared war anyway?

All destruction and creation is not without consequence.

Pluto was created as a tribute to Urasawa’s hero Tezuka and the challenge was, in part, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Astro Boy. Loosely based on Astro Boy, Urasawa refers to Atom as he’s called, and apparently references the original series throughout, including imitating a few classic images.

{image: source}

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Gesicht could use a vacation from his work, and he and his wife keep talking about it, even as his work interrupts the best laid plans. Pluto writes a familiar script for both human and robot alike. Indeed, many people in the story have a hard time discerning the differences between the most advanced robots and humans. Even so, Urasawa creates very human connections with the most obvious looking robot, primarily by placing them in very human situations. There is some discussion as to the fairness and the value of creating humanizing expectation while yet holding robotic expectations as well. The conflicts on the level of characterization as well as the greater arcs are beautifully balanced and interconnected. There are a lot of philosophical ideas, and historical parallels, a lot of action, an incredible amount of intrigue. Not one piece works without another.

Moving in and out of time, ranging all over the planet, the transitions are easier than one should expect. The progression of the story wasn’t expected. I’m not going to give anything away, but there are moments of absolute dread. I really need to read volume 008, except I worry. But I have to read it. I need to know how it could possibly end happily. And I have to know more about that creepy teddy bear. Yes, Urasawa manages to make a teddy bear more terrifying than a demented robot kept in pieces and raving in the boiler room.

If you get to very little manga in your time, consider Pluto worth some of it; especially you sci-fi fans.

*also Hiromu Arakawa’s Full-Metal Alchemist (Viz Media).

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 Pluto by Urasawa x Tezuka

Viz Media, 2009 (orig. 2004); tradepaper.

w/ post scripts and interviews and the like in each volume.

—-2012 Science Fiction Experience–@ “Stainless Steel Droppings”—-

4 Comments Add yours

  1. I’ve ne’er read manga. It’s always been anime for me if I’ve dabbled into the culture. But this review has me thoroughly intrigued. I love the premise. I like the art. Looks like my library has only Volumes 1-3, though, which sounds like it’ll be problematic.

    As for the “dread” you mentioned…. I know exactly what you mean, and it’s simultaneously thrilling, exciting, and absolutely horrible. Good luck with 008.

  2. jeremyfrantz says:

    Wow. I’m not familiar Astro Boy either but I am a fan of stories with humanized robots. Definitely want to check this one out! Great Review.

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