Sunday, January 8, 2012

Pluto: Urasawa X Tezuka Vol. 4

by Naoki Urasawa after Osamu Tezuka, with Takashi Nagasaki

I'm glad that I made good use of Boxing Day sales to track down the remaining volumes in this series, because I find that each new volume I read ramps up the level of tension and my interest in this series.

Pluto is a re-make of a classic Osamu Tezuka Astro Boy story (which I've never read), although told in a longer, much more complex way.  In this fourth volume, we get a few more hints as to the identity of the person or robot who has been killing the world's most powerful robots, and any humans involved in the Bora Survey Group.  The Survey Group had examined the country of Persia for Robots of Mass Destruction, and while they didn't find any, the United States of Thracia had used them as a smokescreen for starting the 39th Central Asian War. 

I think what I admire most about this series is the political backdrop that Urasawa sets it against.  There is an easy comparison between the 39th War and the American invasion of Iraq, except for the fact that WMDs didn't later begin to advocate for their own rights and a place of equality within human society as robots have.  That aspect of the story is explored a little more here, as the anti-robot organization that businessman Adolf Haas is a part of has decided they don't need him anymore, and he ends up with main character Gesicht protecting him (despite the fact that Gesicht is dealing with the Pluto case - a weak story device, or proof of conspiracy?).

A lot happens in this volume, particularly to Atom, the boy robot we in the West know as Astro Boy.  Also, Epsilon, the pacifist robot is forced to take action, and Gesicht has to cancel his trip to Japan.

This really is a terrific series, and Urasawa has a lot of balls in the air at any given time.  I look forward to reading the second half of this run.

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