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PLUTO: Urasawa x Tezuka vol. 004 by Naoki Urasawa (a J!-ENT Manga Review)

August 16, 2009 by  



“This volume features major revelations into who is responsible for the deaths of the scientists and the great robots.  Perhaps the deepest volume in the manga series yet!   Overall, another well-written, well-drawn, 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. 004: 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

The seven great robots of the world are being destroyed one after the other, and the former members of the politically charged Bora survey group are also being targeted.  Could Professor Tenma, the man who created the Japanese boy robot Atom, hold the key to finding the killer and his motive?  The latest developments in the investigation send shock waves throughout the world in this masterful work of science fiction and suspense.

In the first three 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 the 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.

And now, with the fourth volume, whoever has killed the scientists and the great robots now have Atom and Professor Ochanomizu, the head of the Ministry of Science as their target.

Here is a brief summary of each chapter in vol. 4 (short summaries, no spoilers):

ACT 24 – THE PROFESSOR’S DAY OFF – The person(s) responsible for the deaths of the scientists and great robots is revealed.

ACT 25 – A FINE DAY FOR A TORNADO – It was once thought that robots are incapable of emotions or hatred but how is it possible that a robot has the ability to contemplate revenge?

ACT 26 – THE CONFRONTATION – Pluto goes after Uran and Bobby, will Atom save them in time?

ACT 27 – A DIFFERENT DREAM – For some reason, Gesicht is having nightmares.  Meanwhile, someone is sent to to kill Gesicht.

ACT 28  – EMERGENCY CALL – Another great robot has fallen.

ACT 29 – WHISPERING SHADOWS – Gesicht is ordered to protect Adolf who may have information on the identities and purpose of those who killed the scientist or the great robots.

ACT 30 – THREE SCIENTISTS AT KIMBERLY – The next scientist targeted is Professor Hoffman.  Will the police be able to save him in time?

ACT 31 – THE GREATEST ROBOT ON EARTH – Professor Hoffman reveals of a secret meeting between him, Professor Ronald Newton-Howard and Professor Tenma in talks to create a super robot if need, in order to save the world. And what happened during that meeting between the greatest minds in the planet.

“PLUTO: Urasawa x Tezuka” vol. 004 is a volume that features major revelations and simply is an important volume as we learn of the agenda of a group who are anti-robots but also who may have orchestrated the murders of the world’s top robotic scientists and the great robots.

The volume is probably the most serious and also for the fact that compared to past volumes, much less story is focused on the great robots themselves but more of the dramatic, suspenseful storyline of showing motives for murder but also how sinister the people behind the murders really are.

Needless to say, although there is less story focused on great robot battles, the storyline for this volume definitely ramps up because of several major revelations that are quite shocking.  In fact, it’s difficult to even talk about what happens in volume 4 because of how many plot twists are revealed.  And along with that, the surprising shocker of the latest great robot who falls in battle.

If you have invested your time in reading the first three volumes, volume four is simply a no-brainer because Urasawa’s storyline just continues to get better and better.  One thing that Urasawa is quite successful in this series (and also his “20th Century Boys” manga series) is effectively create a story that is well-written but also artwork that shows detail in emotion.  May it be the fear, anguish, happiness or even the lust of killing, he manages to capture the emotion quite well with his character designs.

If you have not read any of the volumes of “PLUTO: Urasawa x Tezuka” but are curious, this is one manga series that is worth owning, worth reading and trust me you won’t be disappointed.  Another highly recommended volume of “PLUTO”!

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