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PLUTO: Urasawa x Tezuka vol. 003 by Naoki Urasawa (a J!-ENT Manga Review)

July 2, 2009 by  



“Continuing the reimagining of the Astro Boy (Tetsuwan Atom) series, the third volume features many significant revelations of who may be responsible for the deaths of many of the great robots.  Another enjoyable and captivating volume in the ‘PLUTO’ series from Naoki Urasawa!”

(C) Image courtesy of 2004 Naoki URASAWA/Studio Nuts, Takashi NAGASAKI and Tezuka Productions   All Rights Reserved.

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MANGA TITLE: PLUTO vol. 003: Urasawa x Tezuka

STORY AND ART BY: Naoki Urasawa, Takashi Nagasaki and supervised by Makoto Tezuka with the cooperation of Tezuka Productions.

FIRST PUBLISHED IN JAPAN: Shogakukan, Inc.

PUBLISHED IN USA BY: VIZ Media, LLC

RATED: T for Older Teen

In this daring reinvention of “The Greatest Robot on Earth” story arc from Osamu Tezuka’s Astro Boy series, the world is a place where humans and robots coexist.  The lives of the seven great robots of the world – Atom, Mont Blanc, North No. 2, Brando, Hercules, Epsilon and Gesicht – are turned upside down into a virtual garden of terror filled with carnage and destruction.   A killer is after them, but what exactly is his motive?  The story intensifies when Pluto, the namesake of the lord of the underworld, makes his appearance in this finely crafted work of science fiction and suspense.

In the first two volumes of “PLUTO”, we learned about a world where robots and humans work together alongside with each other.   In this world, robots are treated (by most) like sentient beings comes a world where the planet has robotic heroes and even police squadrons of human and robot partners.  Of course, it’s not an all perfect world as there are humans who rather not co-exist with the robots.  And someone makes their agenda known when someone has decided to disrupt that peaceful coexistence by destroying the great robots and possibly murdering those who protect the rights for robots.

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.  So, there are many revelations.

Overall, “PLUTO: Urasawa x Tezuka” Vol. 3 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!

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