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Inspiration for Urasawa's manga series Pluto
on June 26, 2015
WHAT IS IT ABOUT?
“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.