Cover of the first manga volume, featuring Gesicht.
|Genre||Mystery, science fiction, thriller|
|Illustrated by||Naoki Urasawa|
|Magazine||Big Comic Original|
|Original run||September 9, 2003 – April 5, 2009|
Pluto (Japanese: プルートウ Hepburn: Purūtō) is a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Naoki Urasawa. It was serialized in Shogakukan's Big Comic Original magazine from 2003 to 2009, with the chapters collected into eight tankōbon volumes. The series is based on Osamu Tezuka's Astro Boy, specifically "The Greatest Robot on Earth" (地上最大のロボット Chijō Saidai no Robotto) story arc, and named after the arc's chief villain. Urasawa reinterprets the story as a suspenseful murder mystery starring Gesicht, a Europol robot detective trying to solve the case of a string of robot and human deaths. Takashi Nagasaki is credited as the series' co-author. Macoto Tezka, Osamu Tezuka's son, supervised the series, and Tezuka Productions is listed as having given cooperation.
Pluto was a critical and commercial success, winning several awards, including the ninth Tezuka Osamu Cultural Prize, and selling over 8.5 million copies. The series was licensed and released in English in North America by Viz Media, under the name Pluto: Urasawa x Tezuka.
Pluto follows the Europol robot detective Gesicht in his attempts to solve the case of a string of robot and human deaths around the world, all the victims have objects shoved into or positioned by their heads, imitating horns. The case becomes more puzzling when evidence suggests a robot is responsible for the murders, which would make it the first time a robot has killed a human in eight years. All seven of the great robots of the world, the most scientifically advanced which have the potential to become weapons of mass destruction, seem to be the killer's targets and the humans killed are connected to preserving the International Robot Laws, which give robots equal rights.
- Gesicht (ゲジヒト, German for "face")
- The main character of the story, he is a German robot inspector working for Europol. His body is made out of an alloy called "zeronium", and he is capable of firing a devastating blast using the alloy as shell. He and his wife, Helena, both have a human appearance.
- Mont Blanc (モンブラン)
- A Swiss mountain guide robot that is killed at the beginning of the story. He fought in the 39th Central Asian War. Loved by humans, many mourned for him.
- North No. 2 (ノース2号)
- A Scottish robot with six mechanical armed arms, formerly one of the most powerful fighting robots during the 39th Central Asian War. He prefers not to fight, choosing instead to work as the butler of a blind renowned composer.
- Brando (ブランド)
- A Turkish robot pankration wrestler with a great devotion to his robot wife and his five human children. He fought alongside Mont Blanc and Hercules in the 39th Central Asian War.
- Hercules (ヘラクレス)
- A Greek robot pankration wrestler with a high sense of honor and bravery. He and Brando have been rivals and friends since the 39th Central Asian War.
- Epsilon (エプシロン)
- An Australian photon-powered gentle and sensitive robot with a pacifist outlook. He runs an orphanage to take care of war orphans. Epsilon chose not to fight during the 39th Central Asian War.
- Atom (アトム)
- A Japanese boy robot who was formerly the peace ambassador toward the end of the 39th Central Asian War. His artificial intelligence and sensors are more advanced than the other seven great robots of the world.
- Uran (ウラン)
- Atom's robot younger sister who can sense human, animal, and robot emotions.
- Brau 1589 (ブラウ1589)
- The robot that killed a human eight years prior to the story. He is imprisoned in an artificial intelligence correctional facility, where Gesicht visits him to get an idea of the killer he is trying to track down.
- Professor Tenma (天馬博士)
- A genius robotics scientist and former head of Japan's Ministry of Science. He created Atom and is the authority on artificial intelligence.
- Professor Ochanomizu (お茶の水博士)
- A Japanese robotics scientist and current head of Japan's Ministry of Science. He is the creator of Uran and also looks after Atom. He was a member of the Bora Survey Group, a UN-dispatched group of inspectors sent to Persia to look for robots of mass destruction.
- Professor Hoffman (ホフマン博士)
- The creator of zeronium and Gesicht.
- Professor Abullah (アブラー博士)
- The head of the Persian Ministry of Science, he lost most of his body, and his family, in the 39th Central Asian War, with most of his body now being robotic replacements.
- Dr. Roosevelt (Dr. ルーズベルト)
- A powerful sentient supercomputer, belonging to the United States of Thracia, whose only avatar to the outside world is a teddy bear.
- Adolf Haas (アドルフ・ハース)
- A German trader who is a member of the anti-robot group, KR, and suspects that Gesicht killed his brother.
- Pluto (プルートウ)
- An extremely powerful robot created by Dr. Abullah.
Naoki Urasawa began Pluto after over a year of negotiating to get the rights to adapt Osamu Tezuka's Astro Boy. With Astro/Atom's official birth date of April 7, 2003 approaching, Urasawa was initially going to do a limited or one-off manga in celebration. But due to the character's importance, he then suggested a long-term "serious" take on "The Greatest Robot on Earth" arc, which is his favorite. After re-reading it, he felt that some scenes were missing or different than he remembered, before realizing that he had created his own version of the story in his head.
Urasawa, his "producer" Takashi Nagasaki, and an editor from Shogakukan approached Tezuka Productions with the idea. Tezuka's son Macoto Tezka was informed of the idea in winter 2002. But with a new anime adaptation and other events already in the works, he did not want it to feel as if they were capitalizing on the special occasion. He felt there would be plenty of opportunity to have other artists do it at a later date and politely turned Urasawa down. However, Urasawa persisted and asked for a meeting where he would show rough sketches and explain what kind of story he wanted to create. Macoto met with Urasawa, Nagasaki and others on March 28, 2003. Macoto made Urasawa promise not to imitate his father but make the story in his own style, and even asked him to rethink the character designs.
Fusanosuke Natsume pointed out that in Pluto Urasawa included references not only to other Astro Boy arcs, but to other works by Tezuka as well. Such as the characters Tawashi and Nakamura; the police car designed to look like a dog; Uran's encounter with animals; and an obsolete robot maid. He suspects the last is a reference to the "Future" volume of Phoenix.
Written and illustrated by Urasawa, while also writing 20th Century Boys, Pluto was serialized in Shogakukan's Big Comic Original magazine from September 2003 to April 2009. The chapters were collected and published into eight tankōbon volumes, each of which had a deluxe edition that includes the color pages from the chapters' original magazine run released before the normal version; the first volume was published on September 30, 2004 and the last on June 19, 2009. Takashi Nagasaki, who would later go on to work with Urasawa on Billy Bat and Master Keaton Remaster, is credited as the series' co-author. Macoto Tezka, Osamu Tezuka's son, supervised the series and Tezuka Productions is listed as having given cooperation.
It was licensed and released in English in North America by Viz Media, under the name Pluto: Urasawa x Tezuka. They released all eight volumes, that include some color pages, between February 17, 2009 and April 6, 2010. Pluto has also received domestic releases in other foreign countries, such as in Spain by Planeta DeAgostini, Germany by Carlsen Comics, South Korea by Seoul Munhwasa, Italy by Panini Comics, France by Kana and in Dutch by Glénat.
|No.||Japanese release date||Japanese ISBN||English release date||English ISBN|
|001||September 30, 2004||ISBN 978-4-09-187756-7||February 17, 2009||ISBN 978-1-42-151918-0|
|002||April 22, 2005||ISBN 978-4-09-187757-4||March 17, 2009||ISBN 978-1-42-151919-7|
|003||March 24, 2006||ISBN 978-4-09-180309-2||May 19, 2009||ISBN 978-1-42-151920-3|
|004||December 12, 2006||ISBN 978-4-09-181028-1||July 28, 2009||ISBN 978-1-42-151921-0|
|005||November 20, 2007||ISBN 978-4-09-181595-8||September 15, 2009||ISBN 978-1-42-152583-9|
|006||July 18, 2008||ISBN 978-4-09-182185-0||November 17, 2009||ISBN 978-1-42-152721-5|
|007||February 20, 2009||ISBN 978-4-09-182460-8||January 19, 2010||ISBN 978-1-42-153267-7|
|008||June 19, 2009||ISBN 978-4-09-182668-8||April 6, 2010||ISBN 978-1-42-153343-8|
A play adaptation of Pluto that incorporated 3D imagery via projection mapping opened at Tokyo's Bunkamura Theatre Cocoon on January 9, 2015. Directed and choreographed by Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, it starred Mirai Moriyama as Atom, Yasufumi Terawaki as Gesicht, Hiromi Nagasaku as both Uran and Helena, Akira Emoto as both Professor Tenma and Blau 1589, Kazutoyo Yoshimi as both Professor Ochanomizu and Dr. Roosevelt, and Yutaka Matsushige as Abullah.
Pluto has sold over 8.5 million volumes and has won and been nominated for numerous awards. It was awarded the ninth Tezuka Osamu Cultural Prize and an Excellence Prize at the seventh Japan Media Arts Festival, both in 2005. Marking Urasawa's second and third time receiving those honors respectively. The series was given the Seiun Award for Best Comic in 2010. In France, the manga won the Intergenerational Award at the Angoulême International Comics Festival and the Prix Asie-ACBD award at Japan Expo, both in 2011.
The American Young Adult Library Services Association named the first three volumes of Pluto some of their Top Ten Graphic Novels for Teens of 2009, likewise, the School Library Journal nominated the series as one of the Best Comics for Teens. At the 2010 Eisner Awards, Viz's English edition was nominated for Best Limited Series or Story Arc and Best U.S. Edition of International Material - Asia, additionally, Urasawa was nominated for the Best Writer/Artist award for both Pluto and 20th Century Boys. Viz's edition was also nominated for the Harvey Award in the Best American Edition of Foreign Material category.
Joseph Luster of Otaku USA called Pluto "flat-out incredible" and feels it should be required reading, "not just for fans of comics, but for fans of solid, absorbing stories." He said that as a reimagining of another work, it "goes above and beyond the call of duty, and there aren't many other series out there that can get me clamoring for the next set of chapters like this one does."
In her review, Deb Aoki of About.com claimed Pluto "will suck you in with its masterful storytelling, and will break your heart with its uncommon emotional depth." and gave the first volume a five out of five rating. She also stated that the series conjures up "thought-provoking questions about robots and what it means to be human." Manga critic Jason Thompson pointed out the series' obvious allusions to the real-life Iraq War; the United States of Thracia (United States of America) invaded Persia (Iraq) after falsely claiming they had robots of mass destruction (weapons of mass destruction).
Reviewing volume seven, Anime News Network's Carlo Santos felt the story got a lot more enjoyable with all the loose ends tied up and said Urasawa does a fine job of integrating Tezuka's design with his own style. However, he wrote that "Urasawa continues to add pointless little flourishes to the story: references to Pinocchio, a creepy little children's song, a symbolic crack in a wall ... it probably all has some kind of thematic unity in his head, but it sure doesn't do much to advance the story." Santos strongly praised the final volume, saying it works on every level; with philosophical points of war and humanity and artificial intelligence, and feelings of love, hate, hope, and despair that tug at the heart.
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