Pluto is a Japanese manga series that has captivated readers with its gripping storyline, compelling characters, and thought-provoking themes. Written and illustrated by the talented Naoki Urasawa, Pluto is a masterful blend of mystery, science fiction, and thriller genres. This critically acclaimed series was serialized in Shogakukan’s seinen manga magazine, Big Comic Original, from September 2003 to April 2009. In this article, we will delve into the world of Pluto, exploring its plot, characters, production, and reception.
The Intriguing Plot
Pluto takes place in a world where robots and humans coexist, and the story revolves around the enigmatic Europol robot detective, Gesicht. Gesicht embarks on a mission to solve a perplexing case involving a series of robot and human deaths. What makes these murders even more puzzling is the fact that all the victims have objects positioned or shoved into their heads, resembling horns. As the investigation unfolds, evidence suggests that a robot may be responsible for these killings, marking the first time a robot has taken a human life in eight years.
As Gesicht delves deeper into the case, he discovers that the targets of the killer are the seven great robots of the world. These robots, known for their advanced technology and potential as weapons of mass destruction, are integral to preserving the International Robot Laws, which grant robots equal rights. The murdered humans are somehow connected to the preservation of these laws. Gesicht finds himself entangled in a web of conspiracy, danger, and moral dilemmas as he races against time to uncover the truth behind these heinous crimes.
Pluto boasts a diverse and memorable cast of characters, each with their own unique personalities and motivations. Let’s take a closer look at some of the key players in this intriguing manga:
Gesicht is a German robot inspector working for Europol. With a body made of the powerful alloy “zeronium,” Gesicht possesses incredible strength and the ability to unleash devastating attacks. Despite his robotic nature, Gesicht and his wife, Helena, both have a human appearance, blurring the line between man and machine.
Mont Blanc, a Swiss mountain guide robot, is tragically killed at the beginning of the story. Having fought in the 39th Central Asian War, Mont Blanc was beloved by humans, and his death is mourned by many.
North No. 2
North No. 2, a Scottish robot with six mechanical armed arms, is a former powerful fighting robot. He chooses to work as the butler of a blind renowned composer, showcasing his preference for peace rather than violence.
Brando is a Turkish robot pankration wrestler who holds deep devotion to his robot wife and five human children. He fought alongside Mont Blanc and Hercules in the 39th Central Asian War, forming strong bonds with his comrades.
Hercules, a Greek robot pankration wrestler, possesses a high sense of honor and bravery. He has been both a rival and a friend to Brando since the 39th Central Asian War.
Epsilon, an Australian photon-powered robot, embodies gentleness and sensitivity. He runs an orphanage, caring for war orphans, and is known for his pacifist outlook. During the 39th Central Asian War, Epsilon chose not to fight.
Atom, a Japanese boy robot, served as the peace ambassador towards the end of the 39th Central Asian War. His advanced artificial intelligence and sensors make him stand out among the seven great robots.
Uran is Atom’s robot younger sister, capable of sensing human, animal, and robot emotions. She plays a significant role in the development of the story.
The Creation of Pluto
The inception of Pluto stemmed from Naoki Urasawa’s desire to adapt Osamu Tezuka’s Astro Boy. After negotiating for the rights to the beloved character, Urasawa initially planned to create a limited or one-off manga in celebration of Astro Boy’s birth. However, upon rereading Tezuka’s work, Urasawa realized that certain scenes were missing or different from his recollection. Inspired by this realization, he proposed a long-term take on Tezuka’s “The Greatest Robot on Earth” arc, which became the foundation for Pluto.
Naoki Urasawa initially had no intention of creating Pluto himself. However, after receiving encouragement from colleagues, including Takashi Nagasaki, Urasawa took on the challenge. Tezuka Productions, supervised by Osamu Tezuka’s son, Macoto Tezka, provided cooperation for the series. The collaboration between Urasawa and Nagasaki resulted in a compelling narrative that pays homage to Tezuka’s original work while infusing it with Urasawa’s unique storytelling style.
The Manga’s Success and Reception
Pluto garnered critical acclaim and commercial success, selling over 8.5 million copies worldwide. The manga received several prestigious awards, including the ninth Tezuka Osamu Cultural Prize and the Excellence Prize at the seventh Japan Media Arts Festival.
Readers and critics alike praised Pluto for its engaging storytelling, complex characters, and exploration of deep themes. The series was lauded for its ability to tackle weighty subjects such as war, humanity, and artificial intelligence while maintaining a thrilling and suspenseful narrative. Pluto’s thought-provoking questions and emotional depth resonated with readers, making it a must-read for fans of comics and captivating storytelling.
Beyond the manga, Pluto has ventured into other forms of media, including film, stage plays, and anime adaptations.
In 2010, Universal Pictures and Illumination acquired the rights to Pluto for a live-action/CGI film adaptation. While no recent updates have emerged regarding the film’s progress, fans eagerly anticipate the realization of this exciting project.
Pluto also made its way to the stage, with a highly acclaimed adaptation incorporating 3D imagery through projection mapping. Directed and choreographed by Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, the play featured a talented cast, including Mirai Moriyama as Atom and Yasufumi Terawaki as Gesicht. The stage play received critical acclaim for its technical brilliance and thought-provoking exploration of the manga’s themes.
An anime adaptation of Pluto was announced in 2017, and it is currently in production by Studio M2. The series is set to premiere on Netflix on October 26, 2023, and will consist of eight 60-minute episodes. With Naoki Urasawa as the creative advisor and a talented team behind the animation, fans eagerly anticipate this animated interpretation of the beloved manga.
Netflix released PLUTO on October 26, 2023. The series consists of 8 episodes and is directed by Toshio Kawaguchi.
Pluto stands as a masterpiece in the world of manga, captivating readers with its intriguing plot, well-developed characters, and exploration of profound themes. Naoki Urasawa’s skillful storytelling and unique artistic style have garnered critical acclaim and a dedicated fan base. As the series continues to expand into various forms of media, Pluto’s impact and legacy are sure to endure. Whether you’re a fan of mystery, science fiction, or thought-provoking narratives, Pluto is a must-read manga that will leave a lasting impression.