Season 17: Pluto by Naoki Urasawa & Takashi Nagasaki
A manga? On an indie comics podcast?
Don’t worry, we haven’t gone insane (yet.) This is great sci-fi, great detective/mystery, and great story-telling so we’re game! For this series, we cover Pluto by Naoki Urasawa and Takashi Nagasaki based on the original Astro Boy manga. Since Alex and Mike aren’t experts, they partnered with the Tankobon podcast for this 4-episode series. The podcast covers two volumes at a time. You can purchase all eight volumes in beautiful paperback or read for free at plutomanga.com. The spoiler-free synopsis is:
Pluto follows the Europol robot detective Gesicht in his attempts to solve the case of a string of robot and human deaths around the world where all the victims have objects shoved into or positioned by their heads, imitating horns. The case becomes more puzzling when evidence suggests a robot is responsible for the murders, which would make it the first time a robot has killed a human in eight years. All seven of the great robots of the world, the most scientifically advanced which have the potential to become weapons of mass destruction, seem to be the killer’s targets, and the murdered humans are connected to preserving the International Robot Laws which grant robots equal rights. – Wikipedia
Pluto Volumes 1 & 2 with Tankobon Podcast
“He kept waving his hand until I could no longer see him. It filled my hard with emotion. My robot heart.”
Welcome to the Storied Arcs/Tankobon manga crossover event! This week, Mike, Alex, and Cole from the Tankobon Podcast dive right into Pluto Volumes 1 and 2 (Chapters 1-15) by Naoki Urasawa. The guys talk about the origins of Pluto, its ties to the classic manga Astro Boy, why it was was picked as the subject of this crossover, and rundokwn their personal experience with manga (Cole- a lot; Mike- a little; Alex- actively none). From there, they start breaking down the larger themes and ideas presented in the book and take a look at some of the influences the story draws from, from other manga to classic science fiction stories to real-world events.
In a change of roles from the usual, Alex is now the one who hasn’t read ahead in the series, so as per usual, nothing in our discussion will spoil beyond the volumes we have covered up to that point. Go read Pluto Volumes 3 and 4 (chapters 16-31), whether you pick up a physical copy or go to plutocomic.com and read for free, and join us back here next Tuesday for our continued crossover discussion with Tankobon Podcast!
Pluto Volumes 3 & 4 with Tankobon Podcast
“A.I.? An A.I. is not created. It is raised. Terrible sadness, frustration… these are what nurture and A.I.”
Welcome back to the Storied Arcs/Tankobon Podcast crossover, where Mike, Alex, and special guest Cole are jumping right into the next volumes of Naoki Urasawa’s Astro Boy-inspired manga, Pluto Volumes 3 and 4 (chapters 16-31). The guys discuss the widening of the story, both in character and in scope, and take a look at how Urasawa is able to stay true to elements from the original Astro Boy story while deepening and expanding on it. They also touch on how specific American history and culture is viewed in Japan, and how that can translate (or not) when referenced and alluded to in manga or anime.
As mentioned last week, Alex is not reading ahead so he can’t (intentionally) spoil anything during our episode discussions (he’s pretty sure Atom’s coming back, though). The great manga crossover with Tankobon Podcast continues next Tuesday so grab Pluto Volumes 5 and 6 (chapters 32-47) where you can or read them for free at plutocomic.com and we’ll see you next week!
Pluto Volumes 5 & 6 with Tankobon Podcast
“If the stronger man wins, someone even stronger will just take him out. That’s all there is to it.”
The Storied Arcs/Tankobon Podcast crossover continues! In this penultimate episode, Mike, Alex, and Cole examine Pluto Volumes 5 and 6 (chapters 32-47) and discuss how Naoki Urasawa is able to masterfully juggle a murder mystery detective story-turned-global conspiracy with deeply compelling and interesting characters. Urasawa simultaneously widens the story lens while narrowing in on specific characters in these volumes, and it all feels seamless. The guys dive deep into how the bigger story beats and the smaller character ones all feed into the overall ideas and questions at the heart of Pluto- what does it mean to be human? Is humanity something you have or something you are? Is they anything creepier than a Teddy bear sitting alone in a dark room, speaking into the void?
It was hard for Alex this week to not read ahead and finish the series, but he resisted so if you’re reading along with our release schedule, there are no spoilers here for how the story wraps up. But we can’t to get there, so find Pluto Volumes 7 and 8 (chapters 48-65) in shop or at plutocomic.com and join us back here next Tuesday as we wrap up our manga crossover with Tankobon Podcast!
Pluto Volumes 7 & 8 with Tankobon Podcast
“No matter where we hide, we die. But, even if they know they will die… even if they know they will die no matter what they do, they do not abandon hope. That’s what it means to be a human.”
At last, we have arrived at the epic conclusion of Naoki Urasawa’s Pluto and of the Storied Arcs/Tankobon Podcast crossover event! Mike, Alex, and Cole are here one last time to dive deep into Pluto Volumes 7 and 8 (chapters 48-65) and discuss how it all wraps up. Endings are hard (as has been discussed on this show before) but the guys all agree that Pluto pretty much nails it. It wraps up its narrative and gives closure to its characters, but leaves the world open for continued thought and consideration. In the end, what does it mean to be the Greatest Robot on Earth? That’s what we get into.
And with that, the first ever Storied Arcs crossover series comes to an end! We can’t thank Cole and Tankobon Podcast enough for joining us on this trip and bringing his more-experienced manga palate to our discussions. You can find Tankobon on Instagram or anywhere else using their LinkTree. Big thanks to everyone for listening and if you have any ideas for another possible manga crossover for us to cover, hit us up and let us know!