Astro Boy, the pioneering manga created by Osamu Tezuka, has been captivating fans for over 60 years. Naoki Urasawa, inspired by Tezuka’s work, created Pluto in the early 2000s. A reimagining of Astro Boy’s story arc “The Greatest Robot on Earth,” Pluto takes on the form of a murder mystery. The new anime adaptation by Netflix breathes fresh life into Urasawa’s masterful execution while exploring familiar themes in science fiction.
Breaking Down Barriers
Many stories about artificial intelligence emphasize the virtuous traits that separate humans from robots, such as the ability to understand love or form emotional connections. In Pluto, these barriers have already been broken. Robots in this world can successfully emulate positive emotions, even getting married. In this universe, humans and robots are separated by their flaws. While humans are capable of committing murder due to extreme emotions, robots are assumed to act with cold rationality.
The Divide Between Humans and Robots
The divide between humans and robots in Pluto is embodied by the two main characters, Gesicht and Atom. Gesicht is a robot detective with the ability to analyze crime scenes instantly. Atom, on the other hand, is a child-sized robot with more human-like traits such as distractibility and curiosity. Together, they challenge each other’s perspectives and show the potential of what robots can achieve. Their contrasting appearances serve as a visual representation of how much adults can learn from children.
Legal Recognition and Internal Struggles
Pluto centers on the internal struggles of robots like Gesicht and Atom, who are full citizens deserving of legal recognition. Prejudice against robots is portrayed as an extremist view, and both humans and robots dismiss the emotions expressed by robots, considering them flaws rather than features. This allows the series to explore the dehumanization of social groups and challenge societal assumptions.
The Central Asia War and Remorse
Pluto delves into the 39th Central Asia War, a conflict that serves as a metaphor for the Iraq War. Gesicht and other powerful robots are haunted by the guilt of slaughtering innocent enemy robot citizens. Urasawa skillfully contrasts characters describing robots as heartless with the robots’ genuine remorse.
Juxtaposing Atrocities and Present-Day Actions
Pluto’s most impactful scenes juxtapose the atrocities committed by robots with their present-day activities. One example is North No. 2, a gentle robot veteran who, in a flashback, is shown mercilessly mowing down enemy robots. This dissonance forces the audience to confront the complexity and contradictions within the characters.
The Best Way to Watch Pluto
The English dub of Pluto is exceptional, with each voice perfectly suited to its respective role. It surpasses the original and avoids common Netflix dub issues. Watching the show in English is highly recommended for an immersive experience.
The Mystery That Isn’t
While Pluto starts as a murder mystery, it quickly becomes apparent that the killer’s identity is not the main focus. The identity is revealed as an extension of a character rather than a shocking twist, making the episodes spent unraveling the mystery feel wasted.