February 14, 2009
A few more regular characters make it over from Astro Boy. Superintendent Tawashi, the eternal pessimist when it comes to robots, and Inspector Nakamura, his better half, make an appearance in the first pages of the volume. They discuss a redesign of the police cars, and our friend Professor Ochanomizu appears later to confirm our suspicions: the police will be using the puppy cars. I can stop reading Pluto now, because I’ve gotten what I wanted: Naoki Urasawa drawing puppy cars.
Just kidding. Sort of.
Putting that aside, that may be the only humorous thing that happens all volume. Things start off with a murder in the first chapter, and soon afterwards we see the battle between Brando and Pluto. We don’t see it so much as we see what Brando is seeing, and the reader and the other characters are left to make heads or tails out of it. It’s an interesting way of depicting the fight. Also notable: Brando abandons his human-looking body in favor of a robot fighter body that is probably more consistent with Tezuka’s original Brando design.
Before the Brando fight, Gesicht and Atom have a talk in a cafe. This scene is fantastic, if only because it points out the differences between what we’re seeing (a man and a little boy enjoying themselves in a cafe) and what’s actually happening (neither of them need to eat or drink, they’re just going through the motions to imitate humanity). They talk about a few other things as far as the gap between the most advanced robots and human emotions, and it is… well, just great. It’s difficult to remember, since Gesicht and Atom look so human, that they just aren’t, and I think we’re meant to speculate on what emotions they can and can’t process, and that perhaps both of them are more human than Gesicht realizes.
The contrast is illustrated further a bit later in the book. We get a bit of a history lesson and see a flashback between Brando, Mont Blanc, and Hercules, a robot we’re introduced to this volume. All of them fought in the war, all of them took out thousands and thousands of robot soldiers. None of them can understand exactly why, and all of them seem saddened by the senseless destruction.
At this point, Gesicht and Atom are key players. We don’t find out anything new on Pluto or the murders that Gesicht is investigating, or if the two are even related, but Gesicht and Atom got more character development in this volume than… well, pretty much any other two characters you can think of. There’s a lot of nuances to this series, and I’m really, really looking forward to seeing what kind of story unfolds.
This was a review copy provided by Viz.