Sunday, April 26, 2009

Pluto volume 2

Now this is more like it. Now that the general worldbuilding and atmosphere are firmly established, Urasawa is free to start progressing the plot, and I'm finally believing the hype.

In the first volume the robots' habits of getting married, eating meals, etc was just sort of retro and quirky, but now I realize there's also been an almost total absence of actual human beings doing those things. Astro Boy is depicted here as an adorable little kid, but in the actual logic of the story, what are we comparing him to? This and a couple other things give me a glimmer of that peculiarly Japanese idea that a careful imitation can be more meaningful than the real thing (like men playing women in kabuki, or the entire existence of bunraku... is there a word for that?), which is especially interesting in a story driven by a nation of united states declaring war on a Middle Eastern country over an apparently nonexistent weapons stockpile. And Phil K. Dick smiles down from heaven.

On a less heady note, I also appreciate the occasional visual joke like Astro's signature hairdo being reduced to suggestively tousled hair, and, of course, Dr. Roosevelt. Actually, I'm quite impressed by how naturally Urasawa changed Astro's schtick from superhero to boy detective.

So, highly recommended, and I hope volume 3 will be as big an improvement on this as it was to the first.

1 comment:

  1. "Dr. Roosevelt."

    Haha, yes. That's great.

    There's still the usual annoyances that come with Urasawa -- such as his shrouding mysteries with typical "darkened" (for a lack of a better phrase, as my brain's failing me) panel compositions, and the repetitive nature of flashbacks that don't become clear until later -- but Pluto is definitely his most consistent work I've read. I'd like to say best, as well, but I haven't read Yawara, and the first two arcs in 20th Century Boys still show him at his peak as a thriller writer.