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Pluto: Urasawa x Tezuka, Vol. 3 Paperback – May 19, 2009
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About the Author
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.
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“Pluto: Urasawa x Tezuka, Volume 003” by Naoki Urasawa and Takashi Nagasaki is the third book in an eight-book science fiction manga series Pluto. The whole series is based on “The Greatest Robot on Earth,” the most popular story arc in Astro Boy series by a legendary manga master Osamu Tezuka.
The mysterious villain, who is targeting the seven great robots of the world and might be responsible for the related homicides, is still unknown. Meanwhile, members of KR, a far-right group aiming to eliminate robot civil rights laws, come up with a sinister plan. Finally, Atom’s little sister Uran, a robot girl with ultra sensitive receptors, befriends an odd robot.
1) Excellent story building.
The story unfolds slowly, but I wouldn’t dare call it slow-paced as it is thrilling and completely engrossing. New background details and answers to the previous questions introduce new mysteries, moving the story along as well as keeping the suspense at its highest. The final three acts in “Pluto, Volume 003” are especially absorbing, and although quite a few puzzle pieces are revealed, I feel like I have even more questions than I had before and thus cannot wait to read the next volume to find out what’s going on.
2) Multidimensional characters.
The more I get to know the characters in Pluto, the more I like and care about them. Also, background details and side stories not only make the story line more complicated, more relatable and more engaging but also add some layers to the main characters, making them multidimensional, realistic and more interesting.
3) Social commentary.
This volume brings up a lot of interesting issues such as human and robot identity and human-robot conflict. A social commentary not only adds depth and complexity to the plot but also hints at a few universal topics such as humanity and compassion. For example, KR, a robot hater organization in Pluto, strongly resembles the Ku Klux Klan and its ideology.
COULD BE BETTER:
1) The last of the seven.
I didn’t really enjoy the act in which the last of the seven great robots of the world was introduced. The episode was rather uneventful and the character itself didn’t strike me as likable or particularly interesting. Hopefully, my mind will change in later volumes.
2) Static and colorless illustrations.
I know I talked enough about this issue in my previous reviews, but I still cannot get used to the artwork, which is truly stunning but too static for a comic book. The illustrations in the third volume seem more dynamic though, but only the ones picturing kids. The portrayal of adult characters is still too static (limited range of facial expressions and closed mouths when talking). What is more, in “Pluto, Volume 003,” only six first pages are colored and the rest of the illustrations are black and white, EXCEPT for two random panels towards the end of the book. Those few colored illustrations are SO MUCH better and just feel like a tease.
VERDICT: 3.5 out of 5
“Pluto: Urasawa x Tezuka, Volume 003” by Naoki Urasawa and Takashi Nagasaki exemplifies an excellent story building and character development and contains an intriguing social commentary, but the illustrations portraying adults are still too static for a comic book.
Check out my reviews of the previous two volumes:
1) “Pluto: Urasawa x Tezuka, Volume 001”: http://www.amazon.com/review/R39D2RIEIAPZRO/ref=cm_cr_rdp_perm
2) “Pluto: Urasawa x Tezuka, Volume 002”: http://www.amazon.com/review/R3PJZDE2SFGRI6/ref=cm_cr_rdp_perm
This is the basis of the story "PLUTO", a reimagining of "Astro Boy - The Greatest Robot on Earth" written by manga great Naoki Urasawa ("Yawara", "Monster", "20th Century Boys" and many more titles) and co-authored by Takashi Nagasaki. The Astro Boy or Tetsuwan Atom stories are based on the popular works of Osamu Tezuka and with cooperation from Tezuka Productions, this manga project is managed by Makoto Tezuka.
The first volume showed us how the great Mont Blanc and the North No. 2, two of the seven powerful robots in the world were destroyed by an unknown force. We also learned that several scientists were murdered. All of them were found dead with antlers next or stuck to their heads.
In the second volume of "PLUTO", another great robot is destroyed and Gesicht, the investigation robot is racing to find out who is doing the killings. But this time he has shared his memories with the boy super robot known as Atom.
In this third volume of "PLUTO", we are introduced to Atom's sister Uran, another great robot who is much different than Atom (who tends to like being treated like a regular boy and has emotions that the other great robots do not have). Uran is able to feel the pain of animals and so she is always trying to save them and is often scolded by Atom for missing class, because she walks on the beat of her own drum.
Here is a brief summary of each chapter in vol. 3 (short summaries, no spoilers):
ACT 16 - URAN - We learn more about Atom's sister Uran and learn how different the brother and sister robots are. We are also introduced to the mysterious Professor Abullah, Central Asia's greatest intellect.
ACT 17 - DEATH TO MACHINES! - We are introduced to a group similar to the Ku Klux Klan but known as KR who want death to the machines. We are introduced to Adolf.
ACT 19 - EPSILON - The great robot fighter Hercules wants to take action after his fellow great robot counterparts have been destroyed but another great robot named Epsilon makes his appearance.
ACT 20 - ROBOT HATERS - We learn a little about the past between Adolf and his relationship with his brother.
ACT 21 - URAN'S SEARCH - Uran's sense is working in overtime once again and this time it's not an animal that is in need but a man.
ACT 22 - PLUTO - The robot hating group KR has hired an assassin to eliminate a great robot.
ACT 23 - WANDERING SOUL - The man that Uran is helping out may be not a kind man but something worse.
"PLUTO: Urasawa x Tezuka" vol. 03 unlike the first two volumes focuses less on the battles between the great robots and focuses on character development of Uran and also a new side of humans who have harbored a hatred towards the robots.
This side of humanity has never been explored in the previous volumes and now we are getting a much clearer picture in this volume of people who are very much against the peaceful co-existence between man and robot.
The volume also quickly gets into introducing the reader of who may be responsible for the deaths of the great robots and how unstable this character truly is.
Overall, "PLUTO: Urasawa x Tezuka" is another enjoyable volume that definitely is setting up for major repercussions between the peaceful co-existence of man and robot, so I definitely can't wait for volume 4.
If you are looking for a manga series that is well-written, you can't go wrong with this reimagining of the "Atom Boy" series. Darker, dramatic and overall captivating!
In Pluto, Urasawa has developed a murder mystery centered around the seven most advanced robots in the world as one by one they are picked off by a murderous Robot that arrives in a tornado and always disfigures the bodies of its victims by arranging the corpse with antler like horns protruding from their head. The story follows the lead investigator of the murders, Geist, who is himself one of the seven robots. Themes of emerging Robot consciousness, anti-robot hate groups, world politics, and a mystery in Geist's past all meld together into possibly the finest manga series I have read to date. (Although Akira is still up there...)
Action, Mystery, Robots, and an engaging story; this manga has it all!
Whether you are a manga fan or if you are just interested in a great story, I cannot recommend Pluto enough!!!
Urasawa can do no wrong in my book. Please also follow up with Monster and 20th Century Boys.