Arriving after several years of development, Pluto is the anime adaptation of Naoki Urasawa’s well-regarded manga series featuring a more mature take on a story arc of the famous Osamu Tezuka series, Tetsuwan Atom (or Astro Boy for Western audiences), set in a future setting where the German robot detective, Gesicht, is attempting to solve a recent string of robot and human murders that lead him to some shocking developments when it’s discovered a robot is behind the murders, despite robots supposedly being programmed not to kill humans, and the murders connected to a larger conspiracy at hand.
In going with a more mature focus on elements of Tetsuwan Atom’s story, Pluto opts to go for a more believable design of its characters and scenery. Lacking the exaggerated bodily proportions and designs of Tezuka’s manga series, Pluto opts to make characters have more realistic details with their designs and make the designs of some of the robots look more menacing compared to older designs from prior Tetsuwan Atom adaptations. Similar to Urasawa’s last animated adaptation Monster, this gives characters and scenery a rather detailed look compared to many titles released for this year. In addition, the larger scale of the capabilities of some of the robots lend the series some impressively animated sequences and battle scenes that are nicely animated and among the more visually pleasing titles I’ve seen for 2023.
It’s a little tricky for me to dabble into Pluto’s story without spoiling things heavily, so I will try my best to be careful what I cover in this review. But essentially, the two major components of Pluto that the series focuses on are its mystery surrounding the human and robot murders, as well as exploring the complications surrounding sentience within robots. For the mystery element, Pluto takes its time to slowly uncover more about the causes surrounding the murders, those involved with them, and the mysterious conspiracy behind them. While Gesicht is seemingly the main character of this series, Pluto actually splits focus between other characters who get involved in the mystery as they learn of more elements to it and questioning their very nature. Unlike the original Tetsuwan Atom story arc, Pluto takes its time to flesh out a number of the characters involved with the situation to give them more purpose and allow the audience to develop a connection to them. This also adds a tragic element to Pluto as those who have read or seen older adaptations of Tetsuwan Atom know the inevitability of the fates of some characters that the series explores.
Exploring the complications of robot sentience also come into play with exploring Pluto’s mystery and some of the issues facing its characters. Like humans, more advanced artificial intelligence (AI) in robots within Pluto can demonstrate emotions and behave in ways that can be either positive or negative depending on their mindset, developments, and actions. This adds to the psychological focus of the series as several of the robotic characters have advanced enough AIs to be able to discern and emulate human emotions and nature, this affecting them with a number of story elements vital to different components of the mystery surrounding the robot and human murders occurring throughout Pluto. This rich amount of psychological focus is a unique focus on AI compared to other similar titles that get in the habit of romanticizing AI to varying degrees, whereas robot AI in Pluto is capable of being just as flawed as humans depending on their developments.
In short, Pluto’s more mature take on Tetsuwan Atom lends it a good amount of mystery and psychological insight in regards of the development of robot characters and their advanced AI discerning human emotions. It retains elements of Naoki Urasawa’s manga series with its more realistic artwork, fair number of suspenseful scenes, and psychological focus with the mindsets of characters affected by the title’s events. The unique viewing medium of the series as an 8-episode ONA with each episode running close to or over an hour a pop means quite a bit of story is packed into each episode and its slow pacing may not be everyone’s cup of tea. But if you enjoyed the psychological suspense and mystery of Urasawa’s previous well-regarded hit anime adaptation, Monster, in spite of its lengthy 74-episode run, you should get similar enjoyment out of seeing Pluto.
Last updated Sunday, November 19 2023. Created Sunday, November 19 2023.
|Official Japanese Series Web Site