Astro Boy is among the most iconic and beloved anime characters from all through the many years, along with his early success placing the medium on the map. The titular robotic’s infantile cuteness and whimsy exemplified what anime would grow to be recognized for, however one story would flip the mighty Atom’s world utterly the wrong way up.
Pluto was a 2000s manga that utterly upended the story of Astro Boy, placing the boy robotic within the background and specializing in a grisly homicide thriller. Crammed with topical social commentary and a take a look at the underbelly of the unique collection’ world, Pluto took one of many brightest and cheeriest anime tales and made it really feel way more actual. This is how the “dark and gritty” reboot that should not have labored in anyway someway did.
The Story of Pluto
Pluto is actually a retelling of the story arc “The Greatest Robot On Earth” of the unique Astro Boy collection, and the manga was written and drawn by Naoki Urasawa. The plot follows a robotic named Gesicht who’s investigating the mysterious deaths of each robots and people. These deaths all appear to be focused at a few of the world’s best robots, with one other robotic doubtlessly being behind the murders. This causes pressure among the many human and robotic populace of the world, because the occasion is the primary homicide of a human by a robotic in years.
These occasions lead many to query the rights of robots, in addition to whether or not or not they’re actually alive and if these lives trump these of people. Though it was based mostly on one main arc from Astro Boy, Pluto lasted for six years and was comprised of eight manga volumes. Regardless of how simplistic the supply materials might have been, Urasawa created a masterpiece that was far better than the sum of its components.
How Pluto Subverted Astro Boy
Urasawa is most recognized for his darkish and considerably real looking tales comparable to Monster and twentieth Century Boys, with Pluto pulling fairly a bit from the latter’s deconstructive tone. Gone is the kid-friendly whimsy and surprise of Astro Boy and his kid-friendly antics, and as a substitute is a way more ground-level take a look at his world and the way on a regular basis individuals would react to its occasions. As an alternative of action-adventure, it is way more a noir thriller thriller, completely becoming in with this extra grounded take.
The artwork from Urasawa additional evokes this, and though the characters are usually based mostly on their unique Osamu Tezuka designs, they’ve a far much less cartoonish look. These extra subdued and real looking character designs may be seen in Dr. Tenma and particularly Astro Boy himself, who actually simply seems like every other boy. This has the impact of creating the extra out-there occasions within the collection appear much more vital. An apparent comparability is the 2008 Western Astro Boy CGI film, which tried to modernize and Americanize a few of the story beats. Pluto is way more profitable at this as a consequence of altering the designs and actually committing to jettisoning the kid-friendly tone.
There’s additionally a ton of social commentary, with the collection consistently asking questions involving AI and what it means to be alive. Equally, concepts such because the then nonetheless latest Conflict on Terror are introduced up, with robots being allegories for supposed weapons of mass destruction. The collection was critically lauded, as mirrored by its gross sales of over eight million copies.
Sadly, nonetheless, the collection will not be almost as remembered accurately, doubtless as a consequence of many considering that it is likely to be a kids’s title. There have been rumblings over time of live-action movie and anime diversifications, however the closest factor to this has been a play model in Japan. Fortunately for Western followers, the manga has been localized in its entirety, permitting them to learn a a lot bleaker model of the adventures of Astro Boy.