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Pluto: Urasawa x Tezuka Volume 1

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Pluto: Urasawa X Tezuka Volume 1  by Naoki Urasawa, from VIZ Signature / VIZ Media

Pluto: Urasawa X Tezuka Volume 1

© 2004 Naoki URASAWA/Studio Nuts, Takashi NAGASAKI, Tezuka ProductionsAll rights reserved.

The Bottom Line

Based on a classic Astro Boy story "The Greatest Robot on Earth," Pluto is a bold, inventive remix of Tezuka's tale as seen through the eyes of a minor character. Gesicht is a German detective who's trying to find out who has been killing robots and humans, knowing that super-robot Atom may be targeted next.

Urasawa and Nagasaki have transformed a straight-forward shonen manga action story into a compelling sci-fi murder mystery. It will suck you in with its masterful storytelling, and will break your heart with its uncommon emotional depth. Pluto is a welcome reminder that great manga is also great comics, period.

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Pros

  • A sophisticated sci-fi suspense series that will appeal to anyone who loves great graphic novels
  • Astonishing reimagining of Tezuka's story that offers suspense and drama not seen in the original
  • Touches upon thought-provoking questions about robots and what it means to be human
  • Emotionally engaging artwork that makes you feel for these characters, minor or not
  • Includes a sly tribute to Black Jack, another beloved Tezuka character

Cons

  • If you're an Astro Boy purist, you might be surprised at how "Atom" looks in this book.
  • While originally a kids' story, Pluto is strictly for older teens and adults

Description

Guide Review - Pluto: Urasawa x Tezuka Volume 1

In America, generations of artists and authors have written and reinvented superhero characters created by other artists. In Japan, Osamu Tezuka was the sole creator of Astro Boy stories -- until manga-ka Urasawa and co-author Nagasaki took another look at one of manga's most iconic characters and re-imagined one of his most famous stories for a new generation.

But this is not your usual modern makeover. Astro isn't turned into "Dark Atom," nor a given a harem of cutie-pie schoolgirls. Urasawa and Nagasaki opted for a more inventive and radical approach: they took German detective Gesicht, a minor character from Tezuka's original story and retell "The Greatest Robot on Earth" through his eyes. In fact, Atom doesn't appear until the last page of Pluto Volume 1.

With less focus on Atom (a.k.a. "Astro"), robots that get only a few pages in Tezuka's original story are given time to shine. They become complex, compelling beings with fascinating back-stories. Urasawa and Nagasaki give these once throwaway characters families and endearing, distinctive personalities, all which make their deaths utterly heart-breaking.

If you haven't already read Astro Boy Volume 3, I encourage you to pick it up and read it first, because it will make Pluto that much more startling and mind-blowing. But even if you don't, Pluto Volume 1 holds up very well on its own, as a masterfully-written sci-fi mystery about a horrifying series of human and robot murders. It's also fascinating to see this comic for kids transformed into gripping suspense for grown-ups; all while remaining true to Tezuka's essential themes about humanity's uneasy relationship with robots and the senselessness of war.

If reading this addictive series doesn't convert manga-skeptics, I don't know what will. Pluto is not just great manga, it's just great comics, period.

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