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Astro Boy, Vol. 3 Paperback – June 11, 2002
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From Publishers Weekly
For those unfamiliar with Tezuka, Japan's manga master, the first English translation of the original Astro Boy series will be a revelation, both for its inventive charm and for its surprising sophistication. In "The Greatest Robot on Earth," the novel-length first story of this third volume in the series, the eponymous hero is one of seven robots being targeted by a crazy sultan intent on declaring his own robot, Pluto, the greatest in the world. Pluto dispatches his competitors with ease, but Astro Boy is a robot of a different order. He's the size and shape of a little boy, with spirit and spunk to match, and also has searchlight eyes, jet rockets in his feet and an atomic engine for a heart. This is a pre-digital, 1950s Cold War vision of modernity. Astro Boy must open his chest when he wants to check the time, and the threat of an arms race haunts the story, but Tezuka's generous characterizations give this story a timeless relevance. These robots might disintegrate into piles of screws and bolts, but like humans, they're capable of pride, affection and even a kind of love. Operating out of a steadfast loyalty, they are undone by the greed of the humans who created them. The clean, bold lines of Tezuka's remarkably efficient artwork complement his dynamic storytelling, proving the artist equally adept at capturing nuances in expressions and the explosive action of fight sequences. Entertaining and beautifully executed, this, along with the other pocket-sized editions in the series, is destined to become a classic.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Top Customer Reviews
First, as Tezuka tells us himself in the introduction, the novel-length story "The Greatest Robot on Earth" that comprises most of this volume is one of his most popular Astro Boy stories. It's a children's comics classic about the world's seven strongest robots, and like all Tezuka works has a number of themes and messages buried beneath the surface. It's excellent reading for kids, Tezuka fans, and adults interested in the comics medium in general.
Second, "The Greatest Robot on Earth" inspired a recent manga called Pluto, which has been running in Japan since 2003, won numerous awards and is drawing comparisons to such graphic novel greats as Alan Moore's Watchmen. Pluto is by Naoki Urasawa, famous for his long, intelligent and realistic mystery and sci-fi thrillers Monster and 20th Century Boys. Viz is scheduled to start publishing Pluto in English in February 2009. Having read most of Pluto myself, I can say that it is a marvel of modern manga storytelling that re-imagines "The Greatest Robot on Earth" and makes it darker, more adult, and more complex. It's fascinating to read this volume and Pluto together to see how Urasawa took inspiration from Tezuka's adventure story and expanded on its characters and universe (Pluto has run 50-odd chapters as of mid-2008).
If you only ever buy one volume of Astro Boy, make it this one.
“Astro Boy, Vol. 3” by Osamu Tezuka, a legendary manga master, is the third volume in a twenty-three-volume manga series Astro Boy. The Astro Boy series, a three-decade project that became a worldwide phenomenon and an inspiration for countless manga artists, features an extremely advanced android named Astro Boy that fights villains and their destructive creations to protect his friends, save the Earth and preserve the peace.
This volume contains two stories: “The Greatest Robot on Earth” (1964) and “Mad Machine” (1958). In “The Greatest Robot on Earth,” the most popular story arc in the whole Astro Boy series, a villainous sultan creates a giant robot that is programmed to destroy the seven great robots of the world, including Astro Boy, and to become the king of all robots. In a much shorter story, “Mad Machine,” Dr. Foola invents a device that causes all other machines to go crazy.
1) Entertaining, thought-provoking and skillfully drawn.
Just like in “Astro Boy, Vols. 1 & 2” (https://www.amazon.com/review/R3RPEMHS6IQZU6/ref=cm_cr_rdp_perm), the stories in the third volume, especially “The Greatest Robot on Earth,” are action-packed, entertaining and funny in a silly-cute way but at the same time quite touching and thought-provoking as they raise quite a few philosophical and moral questions about technology and our shared humanity. Plus, the illustrations, which are strongly influenced by the works of Walt Disney, are very dynamic, detailed, entertaining and simply endearing.
2) Likable villain.
Although most of the characters in the Astro Boy series are rather two-dimensional, Pluto, the destructive robot in “The Greatest Robot on Earth,” is a powerful exception; he is complex, relatable and, above all, extremely likable.
3) Inspiration for the Pluto series.
“The Greatest Robot on Earth” is the base for Naomi Urasawa and Takashi Nagasaki’s science fiction manga series Pluto (https://www.amazon.com/review/R39D2RIEIAPZRO/ref=cm_cr_rdp_perm). Although the Pluto series is much more thrilling and suspenseful, way more thought-provoking and emotionally powerful, and the characters are much more complex, realistic and relatable, it is definitely worth reading this original version as it makes you appreciate Urasawa’s story even more. However, I do recommend reading “The Greatest Robot on Earth” first as it might seem a little bit disappointing otherwise.
COULD BE BETTER:
1) Two-dimensional characters.
To avoid spoilers, I read “The Greatest Robot on Earth” after I finished the Pluto series. As a result, I was slightly disappointed as the original story is quite childish, and most of the characters are rather two-dimensional. For example, I absolutely hated Tezuka’s version of Astro Boy’s little sister Uran - such a spoiled brat! She is definitely not the same cute, lovable and smart girl I’ve met in the Pluto series.
2) Overly simplistic and too goofy.
Although “The Greatest Robot on Earth” is more compelling and thought-provoking than the other Astro Boy stories I’ve read, “Mad Machine” reminded me why I gave the previous volumes only two stars: it’s overly simplistic and way too goofy for my liking.
VERDICT: 3 out of 5
Just like the previous volumes, “Astro Boy, Vol. 3” by Osamu Tezuka is entertaining, quite thought-provoking and skillfully drawn but also overly simplistic and too goofy. Plus, the characters are rather two-dimensional. However, this volume contains the most popular story arc in the whole Astro Boy series, “The Greatest Robot on Earth,” that inspired Urasawa’s manga series Pluto, and therefore, it is a must-read for the fans of the latter.
Pluto has long been depicted as Astro Boy's Arch Enemy, and any action shots of Astro Boy are likely to be seen in battle with this mighty horned robot. One by one, Pluto tackles and destroys the greatest robots from several countries, such as Mont Blanc from France, Hercules from Greece, as well as champions from Australia, Germany and Scotland. In order to challenge Pluto, Astro Boy has his power increased to 1 million horsepower. Will it be enough?
As well as a good story, "Astro Boy (Volume 3)" is a glimpse into Tezuka Osamu's soul. Unable to make Pluto completely evil, he redeems the murderous robot with a sense of honor and responsibility, as well as a desire for the friendship of Astro Boy's sister, Uran. As with all of Tezuka's stories, there is more going on under the surface, as the struggle to build a more and more powerful robot becomes a metaphor for the nuclear arms race of the 1950s Cold War.
Also included in this volume is a short story, "Mad Machine," where an evil scientist creates a device that makes all machines, from clocks to Astro Boy, go berserk. He uses the machine to extort 2 billion yen from the robots of the world. Of course, such a scheme could never work with Astro Boy around!
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