Pluto, Volume 1 – Manga Review

Pluto by Naoki Urasawa and Takashi Nagasaki is based on the ‘The Greatest Robot on Earth’ story arc of the legendary and highly influential Astro Boy. Urasawa and Nagasaki took the relatively short story, and turned it into a cyberpunk noir that deals with the themes of what it means to be human, artificial intelligence, and murder. Instead of the story being a playful action story, it’s instead told as a mystery thriller. After Mont Blanc, one of the most renowned robots in the world, is murdered and torn apart, inspector Gesicht is tasked with finding out who would be capable of destroying such a powerful robot. Gesicht is also a robot, with a human like appearance, and is struggling with his own thoughts on life and value.

People don’t quite see that the robots are just as real as any human. When a robot policeman is destroyed on the job, the force throw his body away in a dumpster, leaving Gesicht to fish out his remains to present something to the robot’s grieving wife. It’s moments like this where Pluto really shines, when there’s a darkness in the story. It’s reminiscent of Blade Runner, and also feels like it must have been an ispiration on Detroit: Become Human.

The story, at least in the first volume, follows Gesicht as he investigates the murder of Mont Blanc as well as a human activist, following clues and trying to decide if it was a human or a robot that was behind it. Robots are built to not harm humans, but there have been instances where they have broken the code and killed. There’s a really creepy moment, similar to Hannibal in Silence of the Lambs, where Gesicht sees a robot who previously killed a human to get insight on what’s happening now.

Tonally this book is sombre and dark. All of the people in the story are struggling with their own lives and even though the world is presented as an almost futuristic utopia (besides the ongoing murders) there’s a sense that most people are lost. There’s a composer who isn’t able to create work, Gesicht is married but isn’t able to spend enough time at home, there’s a robot who was built to destroy other robots in war but has nightmares of everything that’s happened. There’s a lot of darkness.

I have long considered Naoki Urasawa’s Monster to be my favourite manga of all time. It’s a very dark and twisted murder story, that I absolutely loved from the first chapter. Pluto is so good in the first volume that is may overtake Monster. There are 8 volumes of Pluto and I’ve had the first 2 for a long time, and will be getting the rest as soon as possible. It’s a highly gripping and engrossing story and I can’t recommend it enough.

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About ashleymanningwriter

Young Adult Fiction writer. Horror and fantasy blended together.
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