|Pluto Volume 5 Written & Produced by|
Naoki Urasawa & Takashi Nagasaki
Illustrated by Naoki Urasawa
Translated by Jared Cook & Frederick Schodt
Based on Astro Boy: The Greatest Robot on Earth
Created, Written & Illustrated by Osamu Tezuka
Shogakukan 2007/Viz Signature 2009
It is the role of hatred in the human experience that drives this volume. Professor Tenma created an Artificial Intelligence so advanced that it could only be woken by the introduction of a violent emotion to tip the balance. It may be hatred that is the key to robot evolution, hatred the key to what being human is. It is Adolph Haas' hatred of robots and of Gesicht for his role in his brother's death that has put Haas' own life and his family's life in danger. Epsilon is a pacifist who is trying to break the cycle of hate that began in the War in Persia - by refusing to fight, then by raising war orphans. Darius XIV hates the United States and the United Nations and the Bora Survey Group for their roles in turning his country to ash.
Hercules is not driven by hate, but he must fight the legacy of hate represented in Pluto, in the spirits of all those who died in the War. He has no choice but to confront Pluto, and he knows that he will likely be killed. But he goes forward anyway. If he cannot beat Pluto, he can definitely harm him and broadcast the results of the battle out to Epsilon, forced by his moral code to watch and to not interfere. These broadcasts during various characters' battles with Pluto are like telepathic transmissions of minds flashing through the end of their lives, the thoughts and emotions and memories that unintentionally come to the fore when confronted with inevitable mortality. Each time it happens is no less moving than the last and is a window into the characters' very soul. The battle that comes is the most violent and vividly presented yet, finally getting a clear picture of what Pluto is really capable of.
Naoki Urasawa and Takashi Nagasaki's scripting continues to leave you breathless, as does Urasawa's astonishing art. From a robot compulsively washing its hands, unable to clean the metaphorical blood on them, to a quiet dinner packed with subtext, the quiet moments of pain and loss and grief which fill the book are seismic.
And amongst all the pain and sadness there is hope, bleeding in around the edges. But things are darkest before the dawn and under gathering storm clouds, we are still far from sunlight.