The world is stunned when one of the seven greatest robots on earth, the universally beloved Mont Blanc, is found murdered with his head desecrated with makeshift horns. To confound the situation, the renowned robot rights activist Bernard Lanke is also killed and mutilated in a similar manner. Eager to solve these puzzles, Europol German Division employs the help of detective Gesicht, an advanced robot who has cracked some of the most difficult cases known to man. But no sooner has Gesicht received his orders when the robot North No. 2 meets his end along with the creator of the international robot laws, Junichiro Tasaki. While society struggles to come to terms with these incredible events, one thing becomes clear to Gesicht: someone is targeting all of the world’s most powerful robots and it is only a matter of time before they get to him…
You know, I really wish that for all the works made by Naoki Urasawa that are reviewed, they would simply say: "Made by Naoki Urasawa. Stop reading this and go read/watch -manga/anime being reviewed-". But alas, sometimes one thinks they need more of a reason than the series being completely awesome or the creator being as equally awesome. Then again, it wouldn't fill the reader's noggin with praise for said works. And then again, they shouldn't need to be told that he's awesome. They should know it. Oh well, lets begin. To start off, it uses an arc that appears in Astroboy and makes it it's own, with plenty of the characters seen there appearing here. This includes the title character Astroboy, Dr. Ochanomizu, Dr. Tenma (No relation to the surgeon) and a few others. It doesn't just slap the characters in for the heck of it, it brings them into the story and makes it feel like they belong there; that they aren't simply there to appeal to the Astroboy fans. Since there's no synopsis at the time of the review, I suppose I have to give out a bit of the story, as spoiler free as possible. And don't worry, it's all in the first volume. It's essentially a murder mystery, as it starts off with Montblanc, one of the seven most advanced robots (Out of all of them) in the world, found dead, torn to pieces. Detective Gesicht, another one of the seven, is tasked to find the murderer of Montblanc, but it goes far beyond destroying a world-renowned robot, as a human who worked for the Robot Law Protection Society is found dead as well. Both are connected with two large horn shaped... objects (Varies) found near their head. And to be fair, that's all in the first chapter. It gets worse, as the body count rises and pieces of the puzzle come into play, it's a race against time to find out who is commiting the murders of both robots and humans alike. That last part sounds a bit cheesy, but the story is far from. It's not as slow-paced as Monster but it nearly tells a great of a tale with it's own twists and turns and surprises throughout. The artwork is Urasawa's usual style, which means that it looks good, suits the manga perfectly and is serious. But a few characters do look like others that appeared in his other works, most notably Epsilon, in relation to that certain devilish mastermind Johan. Nevertheless, it gets the job done and it does it well. I can't really say much else apart from mentioning again that it works in bringing it together. Characters are the same in other manga of his in terms of how amazing they are. Robots that can act like humans, that can appear to feel emotions and at times can make the reader forget they're robots. That right there is what makes the characters here shine (The robots at least). To make robots that look, feel, act and overall overpower what they originally are. But that's not to say that the humans fail in comparison to them, as even some characters that are only in a small handful of chapters are fleshed out, which is a pleasant surprise, and that they play a decent role in the plot makes it all the more amazing. Almost like Monster in a sense, where nearly every minor character has a role to play that relates to the plot or further enhances certain themes. Pretty much all of the seven (Most advanced robots) have some backstory to them, or at least a bit about them. Some might not have much (Montblanc for one), but others are quite nicely fleshed out (Even Astroboy, which is a great touch). Overall, some characters aren't as fleshed out as others but that's made up for the main characters and the ones brought over from the source material, and those which I must say again, aren't wasted and fit the story like a glove. This series needs to be read more, by far. Not simply because it's based off a universe by the godfather of manga or created by a legend, but because it by itself is a true work of art. It's an amazing tale of mystery with great characters and an even better story. If this were an anime it would probably be pretty long and be obscenely faithful to the manga, but with a manga this good, that would be the biggest compliment it could get. If you gotten this far, start reading it immediately.
Enter Urasawa Naoki, author of many classic manga, and one of my favorite mangaka. Now what happens when you cross God of Manga Tezuka Osamu, and Urasawa Naoki? You get the gritty, realistic portrayel of Tetsuwan Atomu's (Astro Boy) World's Strongest Robot Arc, boldly reinvisioned as the manga Pluto. I will admit, I know barely anything about Astro Boy but when applying it to Pluto, you don't really need anything more than the most common background knowledge. It's the future. There are robots everywhere. That is the world of Pluto. There is a force after the world's 7 strongest robots, and it has spun into a serial murder case, starting with the death of a beloved swiss robot known as Montblanc. The news spreads across the world and into the data banks of German Europol Robot Gesicht, who is the main character of this story. Living hapilly in Dusseldorf with his robotic wife, Helena, Gesicht is saddened by the death of Montblanc, and decides to take his wife on a vacation. But before that can happen, a human murder occurs and Gesicht notices a similarity.. both Montblanc and the human's remains have been set up to look like their corpses have horns. This bothers Gesicht and leads him down the road of investigation. But as in traditional Urasawa works, every single character is as compelling as the lead, infact as I was reading Pluto I felt that many of the side characters could be taken out of Pluto and given their own story, stories I would definatly read, so don't worry about being bored with Gesicht's own story with all the other remarkable characters.Montblanc, Gesicht, Brando, North Mk II, Atom, Heracles, Epsilon, the world's seven strongest robots are being hunted down and Gesicht has to find the killer before none of their kind are left. The culprit is a gigantic creature that is able to control the elements, create life-and destroy it. Able to summon tornadoes from nothing, all these traits leave one to believe this creature is truly indestructable. At times I had marveled at the sheer brilliance and terror than was Pluto, each panel where the 'monster' appeared had breathtaking art that truly proves Urasawa is a cut above other Mangaka in terms of pure skill, and at times the giant robot provided what I thought 20th Century Boys lacked with its giant robot presentation. As much as I love the art, I noticed a slight trend in Urasawa's illustrations.. some characters are quite similar to others.. anyone notice Epsilon's similarity to Johann, the antagonist of Urasawa's previous hit, Monster? Even if a small fraction of his characters look similar, he still does an amazing job of creating new designs and reimagining old ones.To summarize, Pluto is a deep, involving mystery from the minds of Tezuka Osamu and Urasawa Naoki, a match made in heaven for this realistic spin on one of manga's humble beginings. I was not disapointed in the least, and neither will you be when you flip to the last page of this wonderful story.
Pluto. One of many Naoki Urasawa’s award winning and critically acclaimed manga. After seeing everyone and their mother gush over this story I had to check it out for myself. After reading this showpiece of a manga I can completely understand why people gush over it. And this review is practically a gush fest too. Pluto deserves every award it has been given and every damn second of your time. Filled with brilliant writing, deep characters, an amazing plot line, and heavy hitting themes I guarantee this manga will captivate you. We are introduced to Gesicht, an extremely intelligent German robot used for fighting crime and figuring out mysteries. After world renowned forest robot Mont Blanc, was murdered the world is in awe and turmoil because of the strange way it was killed. With the corpse adorning two horns over the deceased head no wonder it's a terrifying spectacle. A couple months later these exact deaths keep popping up in the string of killings involving people that are close to the most powerful robots in human existence. Because of this, the high performing AI Geischt is put on the case. From there it just snowballs into a masterpiece of a story and one of the most well written sci-fi mangas I have ever read. If there is something that’s lacking from Pluto then it is mediocrity. Originality and authenticity is oozing from this manga, there was never a time where I thought something was cheesy. I was amazed at the ingenuity that I kept witnessing as I turned each page. Every character, every plot twist, and every event always had me bewitched from the innovativeness. The way the story is multilayered in conflict and themes had me constantly trapped in the strife and the topics that intertwined within it. I am also amazed at the wonderful worldbuilding. The ease at which it was presented through the dialogue was truly impressive. I kinda hate when mangas have a unique or out of the ordinary setting and present worldbuilding in their exposition. It just takes the fun out of paying attention and immersing yourself within the story. Pluto took “show not tell” to heart and it pays off. Everytime they talked about a war with countries or foreign protocol or anything including the world they lived in it always came with such naturality. This goes with the beautiful artwork too. Having amazing control of drawing ethnic diversity, intricate backgrounds, expressions, a wonderful artstyle, and great character design, the use of sci-fi drawn visuals in this manga is amazing. Since the world in Pluto mostly mixes everyday things you would see and the usual sci-fi gadgets in a way that wasn’t over the top or gaudy I could genuinely see a reality like that in the future. The characters weren’t explaining each machine they saw or had forced dialogue to explain what they were witnessing either. We as the audience had to make conclusions based on the artwork and the very natural dialogue. Pluto doesn’t assume you’re dumb. Nothing is spoon fed to the audience, this manga takes careful consideration in that. While it does give a run down towards the end of the manga about the connections and mysteries within the story, I wouldn’t call that spoon feeding. Rather it's a clever way of wrapping up the conflict up until that point so people would remember certain details. This isn’t assuming you’re dumb, it’s again taking a natural approach to wrapping up events. I can say this too with its thought provoking themes and great social commentary. This manga talks about war, the effects of it, what it means to be human, the topic of morality, and of course the ole’ robots developing emotions. I felt like this was all executed exceptionally and because of this great execution Pluto in my opinion, is one of the best examples of a sci-fi manga done correctly. These themes never once felt like they were out of place or laid down too thick. All of these were presented either through the cast or their struggles. Because of this, the themes were able to fully present what they were trying to convey from the role of Pluto’s wonderfully written and beautifully diverse cast. The cast was created with such likability and natural-ness that I found myself becoming increasingly attached to the characters that were presented to me throughout the story. Even the secondary characters had my heart. But one character that stands out literally, and to me is of course our main character Gesicht. Gesicht is written brilliantly, his character is full of dimension, mystery, and depth. Him figuring out his past, emotions, and his duties as a robot had me hooked. The way his story seamlessly intertwined within the main conflict and the other character’s conflict yet was a part of its own as it was continually solved piece by piece throughout the story just had me in a state of awe. Pluto is clever, clever in its way of implementing the character's backstories, clever in its way of twisting the story, and clever in its reveals of important information. I cannot say how much this blew my mind time after time. I loved the tension that was brought from Geischt’s internal struggle from either following his duty or following his “heart”. I loved seeing him struggle to figure out his past and cope with his crimes as an individual. The latter also goes with the other cast, particularly the ones who went to Persia or witnessed the carnage from it. Pluto goes into depth about the ravages of war and how it can affect humans and robots on a mental level. Most of the characters that went and fought in Persia regretted it because of the needless slaughter. We see this manifest in different ways. Such as Heracles feeling guilty from it, Gesicht having amnesia, and Elipson feeling hatred for the war because of what it did to her children. Despite their seemingly programmed apathetic surfaces, most of the robots in Pluto have very real emotions and human-like motives. We see this in depth as the perspective changes in the story, hopping from a robot to human to robot to human. This tactic gives us a better understanding of what is happening, creates suspense, and overall gives the character’s its honing in on more dimension. Each side character had their own reasons for their actions and their own circumstances. They also had their own unique and likable personalities that I fell for as I was introduced. This doesn’t last long though, so many character deaths die that I was balling through the last half of this manga. While we may see these main characters as heroes, Pluto doesn’t present them in a way that shows that these are some exemplary main characters incapable of committing atrocities. The cast is very different in their own ways, and most of all from their own set of morals and accompanying sins. Like I said earlier many characters went to Persia and did their fair share of wrongdoings and others just making mistakes in general. But this is what makes this manga’s cast well rounded. They aren’t perfect nor the epitome of a perfect person. They all deal with their struggles from overwhelming emotions, their crimes, and even guilt. That is what a good well rounded, well written, and extremely diverse cast is. As you continue to read you find that despite the cast’s differences every character is connected in one way or another and are able to portray the same theme. Hatred doesn’t bring anything good. Just as this was done naturally, the omnipresent tension between robots and humans feels natural as well. Living in the current state of this hate filled world with personal wars brewing with each other I totally felt like the topics about the robots and humans having political and moral conflict came off easily. It felt so life-like and it was handled with such meticulousness and obvious understanding of political disputes and international wars that I was blown away. I was also blown away with the superb ending Pluto had. It gave me one hell of an emotional rollercoaster but it was worth every millisecond. Just taking a step back to really appreciate how much obvious detail that was put into the plot line and characters truly amazes me. I cannot believe how much quality this manga exuberates. The way everything is intertwined and the way there was so many plot twists and surprise divulgences of information just really makes this a top notch manga. And if you have read this far or just skimmed down to here you need to know that this is one manga that you have to read if you want to get into Naoki Urasawa as an author. Read Pluto. You won’t regret it at all.
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