Review of Pluto (2023)

Moving picture, 8 hours

Seen in 2023.

Some years after androids fought androids in a Middle Eastern war, things are looking up. Zeronium technology looks about to bring free energy. Bound by Asimovian laws, robots don’t lie or kill people, even as they become increasingly useful and accepted in society. One married robot, detective Gesicht of Interpol, starts looking into a series of killings.

This is an adaptation of a 2003 remake of a story line from Tezuka’s Astro Boy (1952), written by Urasawa Naoki, the maker of Monster (2004). The 2003 vintage of the remake is evident in the writing, which features a hateful Persian king similar to Saddam Hussein plotting to use impractical weapons of mass destruction to kill a pathetic US president and everyone else. There is also a lot to recognize from Monster, and of course a lot to recognize from Tezuka’s techno-optimistic children’s comics. Pluto falls into the genre of nostalgia-driven but grittier remakes of children’s entertainment, squeezing the superhero Atom (Astro Boy) into a murder mystery where both Atom and Gesicht, the initial protagonist, are seemingly killed but in fact rescued and merged into a joint superhero protagonist. The craftsmanship is generally good, but the retro robot designs are a poor match for Urasawa’s realistic human characters, and animation quality is not a selling point.

moving picture animation Japanese production fiction series