Pluto

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Listen, Professor Ochanomizu... you don't understand anything about artificial intelligence. Frustration and failure... seething hatred... Emotions so powerful they lead one to want to kill... That's what fosters true artificial intelligence...
Perfection is in the mind that makes mistakes... And that, Professor, is what will give birth to the greatest robot on Earth...

Professor Tenma

A manga by Naoki Urasawa, the man behind Monster and 20th Century Boys. The story is an Ultimate Universe re-imagining of an old Astro Boy story arc.

In a world where humans and sentient robots co-exist, someone or something is targeting the seven most advanced robots, killing them off one by one. Even more disturbingly, the same killer seems to be murdering humans as well. Only a supremely powerful robot could be killing the other robots--but all robots are hardwired to be unable to kill humans, with one very important exception.

German robot detective Gesicht, who is so advanced as to be nearly indistinguishable from a normal human, investigates the killings in an effort to learn the secret link between the advanced robots and humans being murdered. This is an especially urgent matter for Gesicht, since he's one of the scheduled murder victims...

No relation to the former planet, nor the cartoon bloodhound, nor the Roman god of the Underworld. Okay, maybe that last one.

Universal picked up the rights to make a CGI/Live Action movie in 2010, but no news surfaced since.

Also, this manga is not expendable.

Tropes used in Pluto include:
  • Abusive Parents: Tenma sold Atom. Is that abusive enough for you?
  • Adaptation Distillation: While it mostly focuses on expanding a single story arc, it also incorporates elements from the greater Astro Boy mythos at large. For instance, Atom's death and return were taken from the tail-end of the Blue Knight saga and the idea of Darius trying to legitimize his dictatorship by claiming descent from an ancient ruler from antiquity comes from the Cleopatra's Heart storyline.
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: Averted for the most part. Even human-killer Brau 1589 has no malfunctions in his programming (that is, there's nothing inherently wrong with him - he's pretty obviously insane, but that's not due to the way he was built). Several characters openly wonder if that willingness and ability to kill is, rather, the self-perfection of A.I. Dr. Tenma even proclaims that an A.I. willing to lie to itself is the pinnacle of A.I., the true emulation of human nature.
  • Amnesiac Dissonance: Gesicht.
  • Anyone Can Die: Bordering on Kill'Em All.
    • To give you an idea on just how far this trope goes: Gesicht, the main character, dies two volumes before the end. Though if you've seen the original 'Greatest Robot on Earth' story anywhere else you could pretty much see that coming.
  • Arc Words: "500 zeus a body."
  • Arm Cannon: Gesicht has two: a pistol built into his left hand that shoots knockout gas, and his right arm which fires a missile.
    • The champion in this regard is North #2. He has four arm cannons: two that look like gatling guns and two that look like energy cannons.
  • Ascended Extra: Gesicht didn't last seven pages back in the original story, now he's the hero.
  • Badass Bystander: Hogan the bodyguard is a large, beefy robot assigned to protect Epsilon (he notes the irony - if not for the weather, Epsilon could protect a whole continent on his own). Normally he wouldn't fall under this trope, but he protects Wassily from the collateral damage caused by Epsilon and Pluto when they finally fight.
  • Become a Real Boy: Many robots try to act as human as possible, wearing clothing and even eating food; in Atom's case, he even goes to the bathroom (although not for the reason you'd expect) despite it not being necessary.
    • At the other end, Heracles is a notable exception, being well aware and perfectly comfortable with his not being human.
  • Big Damn Villains: Brau 1589. It says a lot when a barely functioning robot somehow escapes a high-security prison and pretty much crawls to the rescue of the President of Thracia while having a giant spear stuck in him.
  • Big No When Tenma reveals to Abullah that he was the "perfect robot" he created.
  • Blade Below the Shoulder: North #2 has two of these.
  • Bodyguarding a Badass: Epsilon, one of the most powerful robots in the world if not actually the most powerful, is guarded by a somewhat generic security robot. Said robot even remarks on the irony of it.
  • Break the Cutie: Atom comes awfully close a few times.
  • Brick Joke: Gesicht's conversation with little Ali the first time they met. The second time they meet, Ali kills Gesicht.

Ali:Will I see you again?
Gesicht:Yes, I'm sure you will.

  • Calling Card: Pluto's mark is leaving something in the shape of horns by or on the victim. It's a method of identification until he does it to Brando (using his arms as the horns and his memory chip as the head), where it has more of a "bragging" feel to it.
  • Can Not Tell a Lie: Invoked as part of the Three Laws of Robotics , but ultimately averted in several ways. The more advanced an A.I., the more capable it is of emulating humanity, including lying. Most importantly, Goji lying to himself that he was Abullah, and therefore human. This, according to Dr. Tenma, marks him as the Greatest A.I. ever.
  • Chekhov's Boomerang: Zeronium Cluster Cannons.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Atom and his sister are frequently misidentified as human, even by other robots. This ability becomes an important plot point later.
  • Comic Book Fantasy Casting: Dr. Tenma is Leonard Bernstein. Mr. Mustachio is Wilford "Diabeetus" Brimley (in his second role in a NaokiUrasawa production).
  • Composite Character: Abullah/Goji is actually a combination of three different Astro Boy characters. The original Abullah/Goji from the classic Strongest Robot On Earth story; a one-shot character from another classic manga story entitled The Blast Furnace Mystery, a robot whose creator had raised him to believe he was really Human; and Shadow, an original character from the 2003 series who was created by Dr. Tenma and replaced Abullah and the Sultan in that version in order to fit it better with the series' Myth Arc.
  • Consulting a Convicted Killer: Gesicht is tracking a serial killer who might be a robot, and consults Brau 1589, previously believed to be the only robot who ever killed a human.
  • Continuity Nod: All over the place; "Pluto" is basically Urasawa's tribute to Osamu Tezuka.
  • Cool Old Guy: Prof. Ochanomizu. As the Science Minister, he tells ministers more powerful than him (in theory) to shove it. As a man of science, he works throughout the night to try and save a dying robot dog. And as a lover of peace, he would rather die than allow Atom to fight an unnecessary battle.
  • Creepy Child: Atom falls into this occasionally - he seems to like being a normal kid, but doesn't hesitate to shed that persona when things get serious. Wassily too, although he's suffering from some form of PTSD.
  • Curb Stomp Battle: Atom vs. Pluto: If you can even call it that...
  • Cute Bruiser: Atom. When he grabs and stops Pluto's tentacle dead before it can skewer him, rips it out, then forces himself out of Pluto's fist to twist his arm off, I'd say he qualifies. Uran is also at least as powerful as a human adult, but never has to show off.
  • Darker and Edgier: Of Astro Boy.
  • Death by Flashback: Several of the robots have flashbacks before getting killed, but specially Gesicht.
  • Decoy Protagonist
  • Do Androids Dream?: AI units have a subconscious and in some cases the ability to dream, with the additional benefit of being able to save them to memory. This proves to be a major plot point later on.
    • Beyond that, Gesicht seems to have incorporated a transmission from Atom into a dream at one point, such that it's basically a prophetic dream until he figures out what happened.
  • Doomed by Canon: Everyone that is not Atom.
  • Dub Name Change: Of a sense. Gesicht was named the much more generic and stereotypical German name Gerhardt in the original Tezuka stories.
  • Eagle Land: The United States of Thracia.
  • The Empath: Uran.
  • The End of the World as We Know It
  • Even Evil Has Standards: The anti-robot Ku Klux Klan stand-ins were horrified when one of their members killed a robot child. Also, Brau 1589 does not take kindly to an Omnicidal Maniac.
    • The first one might be a subversion. While the robot KKK were horrified, they had no problem using the consequences (the enraged robot father breaking the laws of robotics to kill the man in vengeance) to their advantage.
  • Expy: Several characters look a lot like characters from some other Urasawa series.
    • Granted, several of those Urasawa characters were Expies of Tezuka's Star System, so they're really just coming full circle.
    • Speaking of "full circle", Pluto's version of Professor Tenma is strongly reminiscent of Gendo Ikari -- who isn't entirely unlike the original version of Tenma from Astro Boy. (He's actually drawn off of Leonard Bernstein in his younger days, of all people.)
    • And though it's never said out loud, Brau 1589 bears considerable resemblance to Hannibal Lector in personality, though he takes design cues from the (original) Blue Knight "Blue Bon".
  • Fantastic Nuke: Epsilon's Photon Energy, which seems to be something like solar-powered intense radiation.
    • Not to mention the Anti-Proton bombs that Urasawa is so fond of.
  • Fantastic Racism: To the point there's even an anti-robot version of the KKK.
  • Foregone Conclusion: This is a Perspective Flip of Tezuka's "World's Strongest Robot" arc, meaning that anyone who's read that knows that Gesicht is screwed. For that matter you'd know that Atom doesn't stay dead.
  • Girlish Pigtails: Uran.
  • Government Conspiracy: The Bora Investigation was part of a setup to establish the United States of Thracia as the world's main superpower.
    • Not to mention the cover-up the European Union pulled when it turned out Gesicht wasn't "Three Laws"-Compliant.
  • Hair of Gold: Epsilon.
  • Hannibal Lecture: Brau 1589, although not in the usual way[1]; Gesicht eventually exchanges memories with him (to get a killer's perspective on the weird crap that's been happening) and this has a negative effect later on, but he's otherwise cooperative. (Aside from this, he emits powerful magnetic waves that will kill unprotected 'normal' robots within a certain range - 4 have already died this way before the manga starts.)
  • Hero-Killer: The eponymous villain.
  • Heroic BSOD: Gesicht has one moments before his death.
  • Hope Spot: Admit it. When he survived his bout with Pluto, you really thought Gesicht was going to survive.
    • Not just Gesicht, but Epsilon as well.
  • I Am Not a Gun: Pick a powerful robot. Heracles was the most comfortable with the war as a fighter, and even he laments that "That war was no fight" - the others don't handle nearly as well, and deal(t) with it in various ways. (Moreover, given how inclusive society has become, they have no trouble fitting into civilian life, possibly excepting North #2.)
  • "I Know You're in There Somewhere" Fight: Gesicht, Epsilon, and Atom in their respective fights against Pluto AKA Sahad.
  • Implacable Man: Pluto.
  • Instant Death Bullet: Averted with Gesicht; it takes him a while to realize he's been shot with a Cluster Cannon.
  • Ironic Echo: Montblanc didn't like the idea of a statue of him littering the Alps, and while the pedestal was built, the statue apparently wasn't. Heracles didn't like the idea of a statue of him littering the Greek sea-line (and distracting from the old ruins nearby), but his statue got built and placed anyway.
  • Just a Machine: The child robot that Gesicht rescues, in particular. Otherwise averted, although Ridiculously Human bodies are only that without a mind in it.
  • Lawyer-Friendly Cameo: There's a blink-and-you'll-miss-it one for Black Jack in the arc about North #2.
  • Locard's Theory: The fact that no trace evidence can be found at any of the murder scenes leads the investigators to conclude that the Serial Killer they're looking for is a robot.
  • Master Computer: Dr. Roosevelt.
  • Meaningful Name: Professor Roosevelt is named after Theodore Roosevelt, the originator of the teddy bear.
    • "Gesicht" is both German and Dutch for "face".
    • Brau 1589 gets his name from the original "Blue Bon". "Brau" is similar-sounding to "Blue", whereas 1589 is the year when the House of Bourbon took over in France - in other words, one hell of a historical Shout-Out.
      • In fact, Brau is probably a mistranslation. It's probably supposed to be Blau, German for blue.
  • Mouthy Kid: Uran.
  • Mythology Gag: Several. The various jabs about the doggy cop cars, Kimba the White Lion's brief cameo & more. The most brilliant one, though comes from the North #2 mini-arc. Paul Duncan mentions his life was saved by a famous Japanese doctor. But since the doctor's name & face are never shown, we're left wondering whether he's the famous Japanese doctor created by the original author, or the author of the remake. Although the latter would have probably saved the kid without remuneration.
    • It's almost certainly Black Jack, as what we can see of him has him wearing his characteristic long black coat.
    • In many panels Atom sports a kind of double cowlick, referencing his trope making Anime Hair.
  • Norse Mythology: Brau 1589's character design seems to be based off of Odin, particularly the story where Odin sacrificed himself to himself.
  • Off with His Head: Epsilon.
  • Out, Damned Spot!: Happens to a robot that served with Heracles.
  • Pacifist: Epsilon refused to be drafted due to this, although he readily admits to some cowardice. (The irony being that he's easily the most destructive of the strongest robots.)
  • Papa Wolf: Gesicht's rage at his "son's" death is so great that he breaks one of the Three Laws of Robotics to get his revenge.
  • Person of Mass Destruction: Montblanc, North #2, Brando, Heracles, Gesicht, Atom, and especially Epsilon.
  • Perspective Flip: Essentially this is the original Astro Boy story from the POV of a (previously) minor character.
  • Post Cyber Punk
  • Posthumous Character: Montblanc and the real Dr. Abullah.
  • Power Born of Madness: This is what happens when a robot is filled with rage and hatred, apparently.
  • Powered Armor: Brando and Heracles both use these when fighting in the war and the ring (they're wrestlers during the day), though they have to detach their heads from their general-use bodies.
  • Power of Hate: According to Tenma, the only thing that separates humans and humanoid machines is that humans have the capacity to hate others. A machine that possesses this quality is no longer considered merely a machine.
  • The Power of the Sun: Epsilon, as long as he has time to (re)charge in sunlight.
  • Red Herring: The fact that scanners identify the figure in the dead policebot's memory files as human. Abullah believes himself to be human so hard that he acts it convincingly enough to fool modern equipment, even when performing obviously inhuman feats like vaulting between two skyscrapers.
  • Replacement Goldfish: Atom was originally created by Dr. Tenma as a replacement for his son Tobio.
  • Restraining Bolt: All robots are equipped with a device that dampens emotional responses as one of the failsafes to ensure that they stay "Three Laws"-Compliant. Advanced robots can overwhelm the block with a sufficiently strong emotion -- say, Unstoppable Rage.
  • Retirony: Gesicht attempts to retire or get vacation time only pages before he dies.
  • Ridiculously-Human Robots: Almost all of them, except Montblanc and North #2. Gesicht has trouble telling that Atom is a robot at times.
  • Robotic Reveal: Abullah is in fact the robot Goji, who Dr. Tenma created.
  • Robot War: The 39th Central Asian Conflict 4 years ago.
  • Sealed Evil in a Teddy Bear: Dr. Roosevelt.
  • Seiun Award: In 2010.
  • Senseless Sacrifice: Brando tried a Heroic Sacrifice by fighting against Pluto, so Gesicht can use live footage from Brando's eye camera to find Pluto's weakness. But then Brando's life flashes before his eyes, ruining the Pluto footage and rendering it useless.
  • Shell Shocked Senior: Several of the robots that participated in the 39th Central Asian Conflict, but especially North #2.
  • Shout-Out: Arguably, the first appearance of Pluto in Chapter 1 (see here) is a reference to Munch's painting, The Scream.
    • Accepting that, one gets a second Shout-Out. Tezuka enjoyed referencing famous works of art in his work, and doing so could be considered a Tezuka reference in itself.
    • While Prof. Ochanomizu looks about what you'd expect him to in Urasawa's style, he's apparently based on Tezuka.
  • Taking You with Me: Brau killing Professor Roosevelt with the spear he had been impaled with. Brau had previously declared that removing the spear from his body would kill him.
  • Teach Him Anger: In a double example, Tenma does this to to both Goji and Atom to awaken them. It works, but in completely different ways, and not quite in the way everyone expected. Goji, overwhelmed by the hatred Abullah carried with him at his death, awakened and proceeded to convince himself that he was Abullah, and therefore human. Atom instead learns the folly relying on anger and hatred to win, and in fact realized the futility of those emotions instead.
  • There Can Be Only One: This trope is inherent in the phrase "World's Strongest Robot" but in practice it's more of a Dwindling Party situation - there's really no force on Earth that can stop Pluto and Bora once the "Strongest Robots" are dead.
  • "Three Laws"-Compliant: At least the First Law is supposed to be hardwired in all AI units. The only cases of a robot breaking it were Brau 1589 and Gesicht.
  • Ultimate Universe: Frequently compared favorably to Marvel's Ultimate books. Interestingly, this version mixes elements of both the original 1960s version and the 2003 anime.
  • Unobtanium: The Zeronium Alloy that Gesicht is made from, as well as the ultra-heavy Zeronium weapons. They can tear through almost anything, and it takes a special type of particle gun to destroy it.
  • We Can Rebuild Him: Part of Abullah's back story. A fraudulent part.
  • We Hardly Knew Ye: Montblanc. (The story takes pains to flesh him out in flashbacks, and it's clear he was a very good guy.)
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: Explored very thoroughly.
  • Xanatos Roulette: At the end of the series it is revealed that the Dr. Roosevelt (the robot teddy) had Thracia invade Persia, causing Abullah to lose his family, and thus create Pluto to attack Thracia and the world's five most advanced robots. Doing so would insure Thracia's dominance in the world once its disadvantage in robotics was made moot -- and activate a very large bomb that would kill most of humanity and establish robots as the dominant species on the planet. He gets very close: however, Atom is repaired and enhanced with the emotions from Gesicht's memory chip, and manages to not only beat Pluto, but then convince him to stop the bomb. Roosevelt also doesn't count on Brau escaping and coming to kill him personally.
  1. We only ever see him interviewed by robots, and the traditional Lecture doesn't quite work on them