Over at Comics Worth Reading, Ed Sizemore reviews PLUTO: URASAWA x TEZUKA, Volume 1, the mash-up reimagining of Astro Boy by Naoki Urasawa, master of the psychological thriller. PLUTO is the first great comic we’ve read in 2009, and if you find the idea of Astro Boy cloying, don’t worry. Imagine David Fincher remaking Pinocchio and you get the idea.
Let me start by saying that this series is completely accessible to any reader. You don’t need to have read any of Tezuka’s works to enjoy Pluto. However, for fans of Tezuka, like myself, there is an added pleasure of seeing one master of the manga medium interpret another. And I confess to geeking out trying to imagine how Urasawa will draw such odd-looking Astro Boy regulars as Dr. Ochanomizu (he’s the one with a nose as big as his head).
It’s a vision of robots we don’t see really see here in the West.
Urasawa takes us deep inside a world where robots are considered persons with full legal and civil rights. He does it so simply; we follow Gesicht in his day-to-day investigation of the murder cases. As Gesicht goes about his inquires we discover that robots get married, go on vacations, go to the doctor for annual physicals, are permitted to adopt human children, etc. It’s fascinating to see robots and humans interacting as equals. To see a world where robots are treated as ordinary citizens and just another part of the population. It’s a vision of robots we don’t see really see here in the West.
Related: a three-part interview with Urasawa:
Q: Do you mean that from the start of your career you’ve looked at it from the standpoint of a “producer”?
Urasawa: That might be a close description. When it comes to graphics, I’ve had an abnormal sensitivity for it since I was a kid. For example when I was in elementary school and I watched the “Star of the Giants” cartoon, I somehow knew it was done by four or five teams. I’d worry about stuff like, “If I consider the rotation, next week’s work will be by that team. Next week’s going to have some good scenes, but can that team handle it?” I was an annoying kid (laughs).