Thursday, October 13, 2011

Pluto: Urasawa x Tezuka Vol. 1 - Review


One of the world's most popular and beloved robots, Mont Blanc, is murdered in the mountains of Switzerland during a large fire. His head is found with as strange set of horns sticking out of his decapitated head. He was one of the most powerful artificial life forms on the planet, and he's just the first in a series of grizzly murders across the globe. Gesicht, a Europol detective, is recruited to solve the mysteries. But as one of the world's greatest robotic detectives, he's also on the murderer's hit list.

Based on the classic Astro Boy manga series by Osamu Tezuka, Pluto: Urasawa x Tezuka is a beautifully concocted story and piece of visual art. The series combines the artistic power of Naoki Urasawa and the guidance of Tezuka's son, Makoto Tezuka. The artwork, though simple, is very stunning and vivid. There are panels that feel as if they're moving right on the page, and those images come often in the first volume.

The story is a slow burn, taking time to develop and build on the universe as well as the characters. It gives readers the chance to form bonds with the robots that are on the villain's list to be killed, and it makes it more powerful every time it's announced that he's acquired another victim. Gesicht's ability to have nightmares and a strange sense of self makes him a complicated character, and some underlying problem in his subconscious is tormenting him. I often forgot that he was mechanical, and it seems that people in this world also feel that way. It's one of the few science fiction stories I've seen where artificial people are just as cared about in the public eye as flesh and blood humans.

I give this first volume an astounding 5/5 for adding more depth to one of the most famous manga series ever produced. Tezuka, the godfather of manga, would be proud.

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