Pluto Vol 001 by Urasawa x Tezuka Manga Review

Title: Pluto Vol 001

Author: Naoki Urasawa & Osamu Tezuka

Publisher:  Viz

ISBN: 9781421519180

May Contain Spoilers

Wow.  This is another title that I have let linger in the TBR pile.  I didn’t find the cover, with the glowering Gesicht, all that appealing.   After reading the first volume, I have to admit, the poor guy has a lot to frown about.  Pluto is stylish and intelligent, and once I picked it up, I couldn’t put it back down.

Gesicht is a detective, and he’s also a robot.  You can’t tell at first glance, because for all outward appearances, he looks completely human.  He is top of the line AI, and he’s working on two tough cases.  In the first, a robot sympathizer has been brutally murdered, and in the other, Mont Blanc, a robot loved by millions, has been savagely torn apart.  As Gesicht negotiates a puzzling course of contradictions, he also has to grapple with what it means to be human.  When he becomes a target, there’s an added sense of urgency to his cases.  Will he be able to solve them before he becomes the next victim of murder?

This introductory volume caught me hook, line, and sinker.  It addresses some very meaty questions, like what it means to be human, and it has fashioned complex characters who breath life into the question.  Gesicht comes across as glum and dour, but as the pages progress, it’s obvious that he has the same tangled emotions that we all do.  He’s stressed about his job, he doesn’t spend enough time with his wife and he feels guilty because of this shortcoming.  He has dreams, he has concerns, and he has hopes for the future.  Despite sporting a gruff, unapproachable countenance, I really like this guy.

As Gesicht moves forward with his investigation, he is met with both prejudice and admiration.  Many people can’t see past the fact that he’s a robot.  They think that he is less than they are, that he doesn’t suffer from the same anxieties that they do.  Character interactions drive the story, and it is chock full of great personalities.  Everyone found within the pages, robot or human, has a distinct, believable personality that pushes them into action. 

The art is phenomenal. Every panel vibrates with emotion, and painstakingly detailed illustrations set places and moods as Gesicht moves forward with his investigation.  From a raging forest fire to the dark, dank depths of an artificial intelligence correctional facility, you never wonder about the settings, but instead feel how menacing – or somber – some of the places can be.  The art alone makes this worthy of a second, and even third, glance.

Pluto provides a suspenseful, tense read, with believable characters and a deeply engrossing premise.  When you’re tired of Naruto and ready to hit the grown-up books, this is the title to dive into. 

Grade: A

Review copy provided by Viz