starlady: Raven on a MacBook (Default)
Urasawa Naoki with Tezuka Osamu. Pluto. 8 vols. Tokyo: Shogakkan, 2003-09.

I am not a particular follower of the God of Manga, for reasons that became clear to me all over again after I read the episode of Tetsuwan Atomu ("Chijô ni Saidai Robotto") on which this manga is based. Urasawa, however, is an unabashed Tezuka fan, to the point where the protagonist of his first megahit, Monster, is (one suspects) named after Atom's creator, Dr. Tenma. Pluto is an authorized retelling of that episode of Tetsuwan Atomu, begun in 2003 to coincide with the date of Atom's birth in-manga.

For those who don't know, Tetsuwan Atom | Astro Boy is the world's greatest robot, created by the world's greatest robot engineer after the death of Prof. Tenma's biological son Hibio. It being the 1960s, and Tezuka being a relentlessly saccharine storyteller, at least until the late 1960s, in Tetsuwan Atomu all of these developments are treated as being completely hunky-dory. In Urasawa's retelling, however, the beating heart of twisted love and grief and hatred that powers the story is sliced open and laid bare, and Pluto is an incomparably stronger manga for it.

The bare bones of the story are the same in both versions: one by one, the world's seven strongest robots are being murdered, for reasons that are revealed to have something to do with the fall of the dictator of a certain West Asian country that Urasawa calls Persia. Whereas Tezuka's protagonist is Atom, however, Urasawa's protagonist is the German Interpol inspector robot Gesicht, a crucial change that allows Urasawa to tell a far more complex story, though his Atom is much older and much less naïve and childish than Tezuka's too, for all that he looks like a human kid from the outside.

Can a robot feel hatred? )

That said, Urasawa is a modern master of the medium, and I have to recommend this series extraordinarily highly, just like all his others.
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starlady: (ultraviolet)
Urasawa Naoki with Tezuka Osamu. Pluto. 8 vols. Tokyo: Shogakkan, 2003-09.

I am not a particular follower of the God of Manga, for reasons that became clear to me all over again after I read the episode of Tetsuwan Atomu ("Chijô ni Saidai Robotto") on which this manga is based. Urasawa, however, is an unabashed Tezuka fan, to the point where the protagonist of his first megahit, Monster, is (one suspects) named after Atom's creator, Dr. Tenma. Pluto is an authorized retelling of that episode of Tetsuwan Atomu, begun in 2003 to coincide with the date of Atom's birth in-manga.

For those who don't know, Tetsuwan Atom | Astro Boy is the world's greatest robot, created by the world's greatest robot engineer after the death of Prof. Tenma's biological son Hibio. It being the 1960s, and Tezuka being a relentlessly saccharine storyteller, at least until the late 1960s, in Tetsuwan Atomu all of these developments are treated as being completely hunky-dory. In Urasawa's retelling, however, the beating heart of twisted love and grief and hatred that powers the story is sliced open and laid bare, and Pluto is an incomparably stronger manga for it.

The bare bones of the story are the same in both versions: one by one, the world's seven strongest robots are being murdered, for reasons that are revealed to have something to do with the fall of the dictator of a certain West Asian country that Urasawa calls Persia. Whereas Tezuka's protagonist is Atom, however, Urasawa's protagonist is the German Interpol inspector robot Gesicht, a crucial change that allows Urasawa to tell a far more complex story, though his Atom is much older and much less naïve and childish than Tezuka's too, for all that he looks like a human kid from the outside.

Can a robot feel hatred? )

That said, Urasawa is a modern master of the medium, and I have to recommend this series extraordinarily highly, just like all his others.
starlady: (impending)
Urasawa Naoki. 20th Century Boys. 22 vols. Tokyo: Shogakkan, 2000-07. [Also available in English translation.]

It is my great good fortune that my public library has the first twelve volumes of this manga in Japanese, because holy crap is it good.

The premise is brilliant, brilliant, brilliant: What would you do if, well into your rather boring life, you were suddenly reminded of the games you and your friends used to play when you were children, games in which the world was brought to the brink of disaster? And what would you do if those games suddenly started becoming true? In 20th Century Boys that's just what happens; a group of loosely connected old school friends gradually realize after the murder of one of their own that another of their old friends, who calls himself 'Friend' and has started a cult, is turning their old games into a very dangerous reality.

The main character is Kenji, the scion of an liquor store family who turned the shop into a convenience store and who's been saddled with his sister's kid to raise; his other school comrades gradually come into focus over the course of the manga; they're a nice cross-section of fairly ordinary middle-class lives in the Tokyo suburbs, which might as well be Anytown, Japan, but the characters aren't stock types, to Urasawa's credit.

I really, really can't say enough about Urasawa, and how awesome he is--right from the beginning the sense of pacing in this manga is phenomenal, and phenomenally sure, and the dialogue is frequently funny to boot. His art style is a bit jarring after reading lots of CLAMP and shoujo, but it's very dramatic, and well-suited to the subject matter. He has two other manga, Monster and Pluto, available in English, and I've heard they're just as good.

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