Pluto: Urasawa x Tezuka Vol. 1

Publisher: Viz Media

Creators: Naoki Urasawa, Osamu Tezuka

Publishing Date: February 2009

Price: $12.99

ISBN: 978-1421519180

Page Count: 200

Format: B&W, 8 color pages

Age Rating: 16+

ICv2 Rating: 5 Stars out of 5


Pluto is a 7-volume (and still ongoing) seinen manga series that is based on “The Greatest Robot on Earth” story arc from Osamu Tezuka’s Astro Boy.  Naoki Urasawa, who is best known for his spellbinding thriller Monster, re-imagines Tezuka’s saga as a police procedural/thriller, which he sets (like Monster) in Europe.  The protagonist of Pluto is Gesicht, a robot detective who lives in a future society in which robots and humans coexist peacefully (a murder of a human by a robot hasn’t occurred for eight years).  But suddenly there is a string of murders of both popular altruistic robots (like the Swiss forestry robot Mont Blanc) and humans with connections to robot laws and ethics. 


Urasawa’s realistic style fits surprisingly well with Tezuka’s retro robot designs, and Tezuka always had the kind of deep philosophical themes in his stories that can support the weight of a narrative such as the one Urasawa presents.  As was the case with Monster Urasawa once again demonstrates his ability to create a powerful page-turning saga that leaves reader eagerly awaiting the next volume--the main difference is that working with Tezuka’s material adds a layer of humanism to Urasawa’s typical psychologically-probing, bullet train-fast narrative. 


Based on the first volume in the series, which has no sexual content at all, the “16+” age rating seems a bit high, though this is clearly a saga that will appeal to readers who are “mature” in the best sense of the word.  Like Monster, Pluto is a title to recommend to comic book readers who don’t like conventional manga.

-Reviewed by Tom Flinn