Naoki Urasawa is almost surely the most important genre-related cartoonist working today. The recently concluded Pluto and still-coming out 21st Century Boys have more suspense, action and mystery in one volume than entire months of most other publishers comics. But he remains a bit of an acquired taste here in the US — cartoonists love him, but sales remain modest. So maybe it’s good news that Illumination Entertainment is developing a live action/CGI PLUTO movie .

Now if you remember Illumination was responsible for the horrible Astro Boy movie that came out last year, you would be correct. However they were also responsible for this year’s well-received Despicable Me and have a few things in the hopper that sound good, including something called Hop. Pluto is an adaptation of an Astro Boy story, so Tezuka Productions is part of the deal.

Oops we screwed this part up entirely based on some fast and sloppy reading. Illumination is a NEW company, founded, by ex-Fox animation topper Chris Meledandri and has nothing to do with that horrible Imagi crew that made the Astro Boy movie and went out of business while doing so. THey made Despicable Me and have several other promising projects in the pipeline. Universal is co-producing. Pluto is being licensed by the Tezuka Productions since it is a retelling of a much loved Astro Boy story, “The Greatest Robot on Earth.”

Urasawa’s 20th Century Boys has previously been adapted into a very successful series of live-action films in Japan. Pluto would make a fantastic movie, and would more importantly, sell a lot more Urasawa manga in the US, so we say full speed ahead.



  1. Story-wise, I thought DESPICABLE ME was chock-full of missed opportunities and kids’-movie cliches – much worse than the so-so ASTRO BOY plot and more on the level of half-assed moneygrabbers like ROBOTS or IGOR. The animation was okay, though, so maybe Illumination will hook up with a good writer and director and do the PLUTO material justice. Fingers crossed.

  2. I’m still trying to wrap my head around these details.

    “Illumination Entertainment, headed by former FOX Animation head Chris Meledandri, will execute the project, a follow-up to the successful Despicable Me.”

    Are they out of their minds?! Pluto is an adult twist on the kids manga Astro Boy. It is NOT a kids manga. It’s like Universal taking Crime and Punishment or Steven King’s The Green Mile and saying they want to make it into a CG / live action kids film. It doesn’t work that way. Urasawa’s a very mature writer for adult readers. While his work isn’t really graphic in nature, his themes and tone are adult.

    Honestly, this is the most mismatched adaptation I have heard in some time. What’s next, some idiot suit is going to want to make a kids cartoon out of Slaughterhouse Five?!