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PLUTO: Urasawa x Tezuka vol. 005 by Naoki Urasawa (a J!-ENT Manga Review)

September 18, 2009 by  



“The latest volume of ‘PLUTO: Urasawa x Tezuka’ features another great robot willing to take on Pluto but also a major revelation of the great robot detective Gesicht!  A more suspenseful volume but  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. 005: 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

Deep into his investigation of the serial murders of the great robots of the world and the former members of the Bora Survey Group, Gesicht discovers the hatred that exists between man and robot.  He also begins to unlock another mystery about a memory of his own that had been locked away and all but forgotten….  Meanwhile, the mighty Hercules is out for revenge and is finally about to take on the mysterious Pluto.

In the first four 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 seven great robots and possibly murdering those who protect the rights for robots.

We eventually learn that there are anti-robot hate groups who will do what they can to stop robots (including committing murder).  And despite robots not having emotions, we are starting to see a few of them develop certain emotion(s) that they don’t understand why they are feeling it.  And for the primary character, the great robot Gesicht, will the greatest detective be able to stop the murders of robots and humans and find out who is behind Pluto or will he discover something that can change the course of his investigation?

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 manga series revolves around the great robot Gesicht, who is a detective.  He is investigating the murders of professors who have supported the cause of the robots but has been taken aback by the elimination of other great robots and the numbers of those still alive are starting to dwindle.

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.

In the fourth volume of “PLUTO”, Atom confronts the nemesis and needless to say, we learn major revelations and a major tragedy takes place.

Here is a brief summary of each chapter in vol. 5 (short summaries, no spoilers):

ACT 32 – THE SCARS OF MEMORY – Gesicht must take Adolf and his family to a safe house.  Meanwhile, Adolf is told to eliminate Gesicht.

ACT 33 – VICTORS, SAGES AND MORTALS – The great robot Epsilon tries to convince the great robot Hercules from fighting the one responsible of killing off their comrades.

ACT 34 – GOD’S CHOICE – Hercules vs. Pluto

ACT 35 – GESICHT, DO YOU COPY? – For some reason, Gesicht is starting to have memories of the past when he joined the serial child robot abduction and destruction investigation.

ACT 36 – PURSUIT OF HATE – Gesicht tries to protect Adolf and his family but someone is closely following them and wanting to kill them.

ACT 37 – SAD VISITOR – Uran is trying to deal with the death of her brother.

ACT 38 – THE CHAOS OF SIX BILLION – Professor Tenma makes a decision to bring a great robot that was killed by Pluto back to life.

ACT 39 – THE IMPRISONED KING – Gesicht goes to visit the alleged mastermind of the robot serial killings.

“PLUTO: Urasawa x Tezuka” vol. 005 is a volume that takes things back to the character of Gesicht and his investigation of the murdering of the robots.  But also Gesicht starting to realize an emotion that he has and thought is not possible.   Robots are programmed not to hurt humans but somehow, we start to see that although Gesicht is a great robot dedicated to upholding the law, there is something about him that he is trying to discover that is quite off.

Meanwhile, the battle of Pluto vs. Hercules is another battle which may come to help Gesicht in his investigation.  But the big surprise is the possible return of a fallen great robot.

Where this volume focuses more on the investigation, there is quite a bit of action aside from the battle but also Gesicht trying to do all he can to protect a family from being killed.  And that despite what emotions he’s starting to discover himself, he still upholds the law and will protect even those who despise robots.

If you have invested your time in reading the first four volumes, volume five is definitely setting the reader up for something even greater for the sixth volume.  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 and this latest volume is one of those volumes in which he is able to showcase not just fear on the human side but also emotions on the robotic side.

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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