Is this the skill of a genuine genius that we are observing?
“Pluto” is an anime series that is based on the manga of the same name by Naoki Urasawa. The manga itself is inspired by Osamu Tezuka’s “Astro Boy”, specifically the story arc “The Greatest Robot on Earth”. The series presents a complex and suspenseful murder mystery, reminiscent of another acclaimed anime, “Monster”.
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The show has a unique format, with 8 episodes ranging from 56-71 minutes instead of the traditional 24 episodes of 20 minutes each. It follows Europol’s robot detective, Gesicht, as he investigates a series of murders involving both robots and humans. The victims all have objects placed in or near their heads, resembling horns. As the story progresses, it is revealed that the killer is targeting the world’s seven most powerful robots, including Gesicht and Atom from “Astro Boy”. The case becomes even more complex when evidence suggests that a robot may be responsible for the murders, which would be the first time in eight years that a robot has killed a human. Gesicht’s involvement in a previous case involving a robot killing a human adds to the mystery.
In the matter of International Laws governing robots, the Bora Inquiry Commission, which had previously examined the potential for Iran to create robots capable of mass destruction, becomes a crucial topic alongside the seven robots mentioned earlier – Abula, Bona, and Pluto. As Gesicht uncovers more answers, these concepts take on even greater significance.
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The main draw of the series is undoubtedly the captivating plot, which seamlessly blends elements of a crime thriller with thought-provoking discussions on sociopolitical, philosophical, and historical topics. Additionally, the show does not shy away from incorporating action scenes into its narrative. One of the major recurring themes is the exploration of AI and what defines humanity, as well as the potential consequences of artificially created beings in society, both socially and politically. The themes of parenthood, crime, punishment, revenge, and grief also play a significant role in the story. Furthermore, the parallels drawn between the events in the show and the relationship between Iran and the US government, particularly regarding Iran’s alleged possession of nuclear weapons, adds an intriguing layer to the series.
The characters in this story are noteworthy, as they are thoroughly analyzed despite their abundance. Gesicht, a robot with a desire for a child and a wife, is a commendable protagonist, along with Atom and Epsilon who become more prominent towards the end. Professors Tenma and Abdullah also add intrigue to the plot, while the presence of Pluto and Bora adds to the mystery and crime element. The character design by Shigeru Fujita is impressive, with each character having unique features, although some may argue that the European characters have exaggerated noses. The battle robots are especially impressive, whether in their human forms or their massive exoskeletons.
Kawaguchi’s skillful withholding of information until the very end adds to the intrigue and mystery of the story. However, some may argue that the inclusion of certain characters is unnecessary and the main plotline can feel drawn out. Despite this minor flaw, the story as a whole is still excellent.
The animation and visuals in general are superb. The use of vibrant colors creates an interesting contrast with the subject matter, and the inclusion of noir-inspired scenes adds variety to the overall aesthetic. The backgrounds are intricately detailed, particularly in urban settings, and the animation by Studio M2 is top-notch, both in regular scenes and action sequences. The climax of the audiovisual aspect is reached towards the end, with a grand-scale battle that showcases the excellent technical work put into the anime.
“Pluto” is a truly masterful anime, one of those that are chiefly directed to a more mature audience due to its narrative intricacy, and definitely among the best titles of the year.