Pluto 3

May 8, 2009

I have a crippling headache tonight, but I feel the need to talk about this since it’s Pluto and all, and I just finished reading it.

I really like Uran.  I liked her in Astro Boy too, but she’s a great character to have in this series.  She’s likely going to be one of the most positive characters we’ll see, and not only is her empathy an interesting ability, she scored major points for the awesome scenes between her and the robot hobo in the park.  She seems like one of the only robots that would appreciate his chaotic emotions and get along with him.  For that matter, there are so far very few human characters that would appreciate the robot hobo, so Uran may be the only one period.

There are a few scenes between Atom and Uran at school and at home.  The absence of Cobalt, Atom’s brother, is notable.  He may not have been a part of the original story, or perhaps hadn’t been introduced at that point in Astro Boy, but it seems strange not to include him.  I’d love to see Urasawa’s character design for him.  Maybe he’ll appear later.

It’s not clear what the robot hobo is going through (mentally) during his stay in the park, but he slowly opens up to Uran more and more, and we see later that he’s got special un-robot-like abilities to control nature and life.  He’s never really all that friendly, or approachable, but he is a robot who does abstract art, and the conclusion of his story towards the end of the volume is an interesting one.  His painting, the two times it appears, is in color.  Not that the page is a full-color spread or anything, but just one panel is in color, and just the painting in the panel.  I’ve never seen anything quite like it, and it makes his painting that much more striking.

Also in this volume: Epsilon is introduced, who stuck around with Astro until the very end in the original story, if I’m not mistaken.  He stays pretty close to his origins here… powered by a special type of energy, loved by children, and a lover of peace, which I thought was interesting.  Of course, besides Astro himself, he was the only one of the robots in the original that had any character development, so I suppose that has something to do with it.

Also introduced is a bizarre anti-robot cult.  A subplot involving one of the members wanting to destroy Gesicht begins developing, and… well, it raises an interesting question about Gesicht, too.

We get to find out a little bit more about Pluto by the end of the volume, too.  A member of Pluto’s entourage is a robot taken straight out of Men in Black.  There’s just no way to not think of that movie when you see him.  He’s got an Edgar suit and everything.

Anyway.  The series continues to reward me with an extremely deep and interesting story that keeps adding more layers, including questions of morality that can’t be answered, as it continues.  The anti-robot cult should prove to be an interesting addition to the story, and I’m very much looking forward to how the aggression/accusations against Geischt will pan out.

This is a review copy provided by Viz.

10 Responses to “Pluto 3”

  1. mark thorpe Says:

    I don’t know if it was volume 3 or not but I remember seeing a few pictures of a ?robot? with cockroaches seeming to take up residence inside of his body and crawl out his mouth. Do you know who this is and was he in the original Astro Boy?

  2. Connie Says:

    Hmm, he’s in this volume, but he’s not given a name. It seems like he’ll come back later, though. I don’t believe he’s in the original Astro Boy story. It seems like I’d have remembered something even vaguely like him, but I don’t have my volumes with me here to check, either.

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  4. Cyphomandra Says:

    Uran is great! My only problem with her and Atom is that I get distracted by how incredibly cute they are and then have to go back and check I haven’t missed any vital plot details, but I can live with that.

    I haven’t read much Astro Boy, and I’m probably not going to read it now while Pluto’s running, but in the distant future it would be really interesting to read what you thought about the whole Urasawa vs Tezuka aspects of the storyline. At the moment I keep getting flashbacks to Asimov’s robot detective stories (which I imprinted on as a teenager), and there are some similarities – especially with Gesicht – but also some differences. I’m also fascinated by the Central Asian war backstory, which seems to be referencing Alexander the Great as much as anything…

    I do think Viz has done a great job of presenting these – the robot art in colour was great, and my copy of this arrived with volume 4 of Real, which is also amazing to look at (as well as being all about Kiyoharu, who I like a lot – although I felt sorry for Nomiya’s complete failure as a dinosaur!).

  5. Connie Says:

    Nomiya is just such a sad dude. Which is saying something since he is failing in his own way while everyone seems to be overcoming physical shortcomings and triumphing and whatnot. I want to laugh at him, but I just can’t.

    I mentioned this just a day or so ago in another comment, but as awesome as the stories in Astro Boy sometimes are, it’s kind of not worth reading, especially all the way through. Tezuka’s earlier works have not aged well, and Astro Boy is sadly among them, though it still shines in some places. The story that Pluto is based on is in volume 3, but the only part that is… well, really worth reading is the volume 6-8 origin story of Astro Boy. I need to re-read the Pluto story to compare it to the new series again. The part I’m most interested in is the end, since it seems like everything else is roughly going according to schedule.

    I hadn’t thought about the Central Asian War referring to specific historical events, though I probably should have. Now I kinda want to read up on Alexander the Great and spot the parallels.

  6. Cyphomandra Says:

    I have not managed to finish any Tezuka (although I’m currently halfway through v1 of Dororo, which I like although am a bit baffled as to where it’s going) and feel kind of guilty about it, given his importance to the genre. I tried Black Jack and really didn’t like it, and I only ever seem to stumble across late volumes of Phoenix and Buddha and be unconvinced on flicking through them. MW does sound interesting, in a possibly deeply disturbing way, but I haven’t seen it around.

    Alexander the Great – Pluto so far has a King Darius of Persia starting a war against a President Alexander, but everything I know about Alexander the Great pretty much comes from reading Mary Renault’s series, and I have retained only the haziest grasp of any actual politics. I definitely don’t remember robots, tho’ :)

  7. Connie Says:

    A lot of his series are… a little dated, though the ones published by Vertigo stand up pretty well to time. As much as I like Black Jack, I got a bad first impression from a story included in Astro Boy that had a pretty simplistic moral, and a lot of the stories suffer from being moralistic with a message that is literally handed to the reader on the last page. That’s its biggest flaw for me, but I’m a big fan of the crazy stories otherwise.

    I haven’t read Buddha… but Phoenix can be a bit impenetrable. It’s not necessary to read the volumes in order since all the stories are standalone, and again, I really like the plots and the craziness going on, and the messages usually aren’t written on the character’s faces. But sometimes the themes are a bit far-reaching, and it makes reading the stories difficult sometimes… like something you read because you should rather than because it’s fun to read. Karma’s pretty amazing, and is probably the best volume, but the more entertaining stories were in Nostalgia and Life. Also, the stories set in the past are sometimes a bit inaccessible since they are modeled after ancient Japanese history and legend, topics that I am completely unfamiliar with. Karma (4) is a past volume, Nostalgia (6) and Life (9) are both future volumes.

    I liked Dororo, enough that I played and beat a video game based on it after I read it, but most of the attraction for me was with Hyakkimaru and the craziness surrounding him. It’s not as heavy-handed as most of the other Tezuka series I’ve read, and is better as entertainment fodder than some of the others. But it never really goes anywhere. MW and Ode to Kirihito are the most entertaining/awesome of the Tezuka series released, or at least I thought so. MW is pretty depraved, and Ode to Kirihito can be too, in a dog-face disease kind of way.

    Thanks for the info about Alexander the Great. Admittedly, a lot of the stuff I know about history comes from reading novels that I hope are historically accurate, lest I be embarrassed later. Vanity Fair and The Club Dumas are the two that spring immediately to mind, and I’ve actually pretended knowledge of Alexander Dumas based on the facts in the latter, so I hope everything was accurate. ^_^;

  8. Cyphomandra Says:

    Ooh. I really liked The Club Dumas. I would assume it was historically accurate, but this is mainly because I like Perez-Reverte’s books and they usually feel right, rather than my having conducted any relevant studies.

    I read his Queen of the South earlier this year just after finishing Dumas’ The Count of Monte Cristo, without realising that the first was an explicit remix of the latter (with a female Mexican drug-smuggler as the Count). I liked them both a lot – complex, unexpected and interesting, and some brilliant plot/action sequences.

    (and most of my Napoleonic war information comes from naval fiction, with some input from Les Miserables :) )

    Thanks for the volume pointers for Phoenix – yeah, I do feel more like I should read Tezuka rather than actually wanting to. I find the art style a bit off-putting, too.

  9. Connie Says:

    I’m sorry, I accidentally deleted your comment, Cyphomandra, when I was trying to scroll up. I’m not sure how I managed to do that, and I’m sorry.

    I loved the Club Dumas, I read it last summer and was pretty tickled by the ending. I watched The Ninth Gate before I read the book, so I was also kind of surprised by how much funnier/strange the plot in the book was. I keep meaning to follow it up with The Flanders Panel or The Nautical Chart, which were the two my boss always recommended. I did not realize Queen of the South was a sort of remix of The Count of Monte Cristo, though, so now I kind of want to read that. I should probably read the real Count of Monte Cristo first, which I’ve neglected to read over the years. It’s popularity and the constant homages to it have always sort of left me feeling like I’ve already read it, though. ^_^;

  10. Sara K. Says:

    I also picked up on the Alexander-the-Great/Darius connection. And I couldn’t help noticing that a country called the United States (of Thracia) accused a Middle East country of having weapons – or rather, robots – of mass destruction just before an invasion. Which is interesting to me, because whenever I’ve encountered somebody describing the Iraq war in terms of ancient Persian-Hellenic relations, they described it as the other way around – the USA is Persia, and the Hellenic people are Iraq.

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