There’s a lot to love in a story about robot and human relationships. Human existence is messy and sometimes we need a little abstraction to think about things in ways we’d be too scared to otherwise.
We got to check out the first two episodes of Pluto– an upcoming anime coming to Netflix next week. Based on a manga adapting “The Greatest Robot on Earth” story from Astro Boy, it’s really hard to describe the kind of expectations you’d have for Pluto.
What I did get out of Pluto, however, was a beautifully morose world. We’ve skipped past “Robots as allegory for slaves” into a wonderfully complicated world, where coexistence is painted as an inherently good thing- yet some people are clearly against. Pluto comes off like an anime Blade Runner- but one daring to make itself known without the neon and Syd Mead-isms.
We’re introduced to Gesicht, a detective investigating a series of ghastly murders. I’m not just trying to be poetic with my use of the word ghastly, either- the first victim is a robot both beloved and powerful, and his crime scene is a violent mess in almost complete mockery of the character. The visuals are horrifying and the in-world reaction sells it: here was one of the strongest robots on Earth, torn violently asunder with his head given two horns.
However, it’s not just robot hate crimes, either- a human is also killed in a similar manner. This opens a whole bag of worms since the entire cast are forced to expand their scope beyond “someone just doesn’t like robots”. More frighteningly, the signs all point to a robot killer- and with one victim being human, that means the laws of robotics are being broken.
It’s really where Pluto excels at hooking me in- considering I’m only tangentially aware of the Astro Boy story it’s based on, seeing it reframed as this detective thriller with existentialist themes is really impressive. If anything, it’s a testament to how beloved Astro Boy is that anyone would re-tell one of its stories and make it feel so whole like this.
Considering we’re only two episodes in, I’m really excited to see where the rest of the story goes. While I doubt too much of Pluto will be inducted into many an anime hype compilation, I do love that this story was adapted into an anime like this. I may have winced at the 50 minute episode runtime at first but once you’re deep into the story it feels well-earned. These stories are messy and complicated, and thanks to the longer runtime each one feels like it ends at a good place.
Pluto releases on October 26th, and I highly implore anyone who likes detective thrillers to check this one out. I mean, there’s even Robot Hannibal Lecter, for crying out loud.