Pluto is a new anime science fiction series on Netflix that has been adapted from a celebrated manga series by the same name. Written by Naoki Urusawa, the manga series itself was based on the works of Osamu Tezuka, creator of Astro Boy, with Urusawa’s version adding more depth and perspective to the events and world of Astro Boy. Pluto features a famous robot detective named Gesicht, who, as part of his Europol department, has to investigate the mysterious series of murders, in which all of the victims are renowned robots across the world. While the sheer length (a runtime of 8 hours) and even the complexity of the presentation can deter those not fond of the anime genre, Pluto does deserve a watch at the very least.
Plot Summary: What is the anime series about?
Pluto begins with a dangerous forest fire in Switzerland, as firefighters rush in to contain the situation. Although no human seems to have been hurt in the incident, the destroyed remains of a famous robot are found among the ruins. The world of Pluto is one in which humans and robots coexist in peace, for the most part, and robots have been employed in various professions that were earlier performed by humans. The destroyed robot in Switzerland, named Mont Blanc, was a very gentle and helpful machine that had been working with the Swiss Forestry Service for the last few years to restore nature. Therefore, it is all the more strange that the arrangement in which Mont Blanc’s remains are found makes it clear that he has been violently murdered by someone.
Within the next few days, another similar murder takes place in Germany, but this time the victim is a human. Despite this difference, the murdered victim does have a strong link to robots, as he happened to be an advocate for the equal rights of robots. The next murder takes place in Japan, where a professor who had similar beliefs about the equal rights of robots is killed and hanged inside a forest in a ritualistic manner. Denmark becomes the next destination, where another gentle robot named North No. 2 becomes the trusted companion and student of a legendary piano player. Following the pattern, North No. 2 is also slain in a similarly mysterious manner.
The common factor in all of these killings is the arrangement in which the remains of the victims are left, with a pair of symbolic horns placed by the side of their heads. A celebrated police detective named Gesicht is called upon to investigate these murders. As it turns out, this celebrated Europol officer is a robot himself, with a special alloy making up his body, which is also attached with powerful guns. Very soon into his investigation, Gesicht learns that the unknown perpetrator is probably after the seven most powerful and famous robots in the world, two of whom have already been killed. Along with this, a link to the Central Asian War that had taken place a few years ago is also found, and the mystery in Pluto grows thicker.
What had happened to Gesicht in the past?
As Gesicht starts his investigation into the deaths of Mont Blanc and North No. 2, he realizes that there is a pattern in the robots that are being targeted. The perpetrator wants to destroy the seven most advanced and famous robots ever created in the world, and the first two targets are part of this very group. Gesicht himself is also a member of this elusive club, as his extreme likeness to human beings and his detective skills make him one of the greatest robots in the world. The four others happen to be Brando and Hercules, both warrior robots; Epsilon, a pacifist robot who is powered by light; and Atom, a young boy robot who had worked as a peace ambassador as well. Other than Epsilon, who had very directly asked to stay away from any warfare, all six robots had been involved in the 39th Central Asian War that had taken place a few years ago. In a strange connection, some other humans linked to a specific mission during this war are also being targeted by the perpetrator.
Gesicht soon gets busy trying to convince each of the remaining robots to stay cautious of the danger that is heading their way in order to avoid their murders. It does not go according to the detective’s plans, though, as each of the other robots ultimately loses their lives. Atom fights with the gigantic tornado, in which the murderer attacks each of the victims, in order to save his younger sister Uran, and loses his life. Brando and Hercules are both brash and extremely confident of their strengths, and they both challenge the murderer in a fight one after another. Both the wrestler robots die in the process, as they are no match for the killer. Epsilon is the last of the robots to fall when he sacrifices his own life to save all his adopted children, especially Wassily.
During this entire time, officer Gesicht has some erratic bursts of memory inside his mind, which seem extremely foreign, as if they are not his original memories but have been planted in his head. But by the end of Pluto, it is revealed that the memories were really the detective’s, but they had been intentionally wiped from his mind. During the 39th Central Asian War, Gesicht had been deployed as part of the United States of Thracia army, and he had killed many robots during the conflict. The presented world and its rules do not allow robots to kill human beings, but Gesicht had committed such an act as well. After the war, when Gesicht returned to his usual life as a detective, he dealt with a case in which a kidnapper had taken a young boy hostage. Using his skills, he had arrested the kidnapper and rescued the boy, and he was rather puzzled by the father claiming that he would give everything in his life to save his child.
This was the first time that Gesicht felt the desire to be a father, despite the fact that both he and his wife Helena were robots. Only a few days later, Gesicht found an injured and dying robot child in a metal scrapyard and immediately rescued him. Adopting the child as their own, Gesicht and Helena named him Robita. The detective naturally grew very close to his son but was emotionally shattered when a robot-hating human kidnapped and killed Robita. Although the kidnapper surrendered and begged for mercy, Gesicht could not control his hatred and killed the human being in an unusual act of emotional expression. The makers of Gesicht had found out about all this and had reset this part of his memory so that the detective would not live with the hatred and bitterness and also the guilt of going against the law.
Once Gesicht finds out about the identity of the perpetrator, he considers his job to be done and intends on taking a vacation with his wife. However, the detective is killed on the streets of Amsterdam by the same perpetrator. But the memory chip of Gesicht is later inserted into Atom’s body by his creator, Professor Tenma. This reawakens the robot boy with the power of strong emotions like hatred that were present in Gesicht’s mind at the time of his death. Although Gesicht loses his life, his experiences and emotions are used to bring Atom back to life.
What was the story behind the creation of Pluto and Bora?
As the plot in Pluto progresses, the real perpetrator behind the murders of the robots and humans is found to be a super-robot named Pluto. Along with Pluto, there is also an even bigger, stronger, and more menacing robot called Bora, who is employed against the robots and humans of the world. The origin of both of these robots actually took place during the same time, and they are intricately linked to the 39th Central Asian War. This war had broken out between the kingdom of Persia and the United States of Thracia when the latter country and other Western nations started to believe that Persia was building an army of violent robots for the use of warfare. In order to confirm these doubts, a team of expert robots and scientists had been sent to Persia to carry out the Bora Fact-Finding Mission. Although they had found nothing but discarded bodies of robots, this singular clue was taken to be evidence of wrongdoing, and an attack on Persia was ordered by President Alexander of the United States of Thracia.
In reality, the erstwhile dictator of the kingdom of Persia, Darius XIV, was only trying to develop his desert state into a country of abundance. For this purpose, he had tasked the head of the Persian Ministry of Science, Professor Abullah, with creating a super-robot that could build a terrarium. Abullah had carried out his experiments on multiple robots, which led to the many discarded robots found in the country, and there was no evil plan to take over the world involved. However, President Alexander’s eagerness to launch a war led to horrific bloodshed and the loss of lives, and Abullah himself lost his family due to its effects. In fact, Professor Abullah then himself lost his life, and his memory was transferred onto a chip that was handed over to Professor Tenma. The Japanese scientist had been helping Persia with their super-robot at the time, and Tenma inserted Abullah’s memory chip into an extremely intelligent and human-like robot he had just created. This robot became Professor Abullah, who is seen throughout Pluto, and he then launched a vengeful plan against the invaders who had cost him his family.
Abullah’s closest son, Sahad, had also been killed in the war, and his characteristics were transformed into an AI being by the Persian scientist. Abullah created the gigantic super-robot Pluto and embedded his son Sahad’s AI onto the machine, using the son’s hatred and anger for the world to carry out acts of destruction. Tenma’s method of using extreme emotions to wake the robotic Professor Abullah had also led to the unintentional creation of a second personality in the man, who came to be known as Professor Goji. While Abullah gave birth to Pluto, the even more vengeful Goji created an equally dangerous super-robot, Bora. In essence, all of the evil and acts of murder that take place at present are rooted in the unnecessary intervention of the Western world into the kingdom of Persia and the subsequent war that could have very well been avoided.
In this regard, Pluto seems to be creating a parallel with the real world and conflicts in the Middle East, which can very easily be seen as a result of Western intervention. When the seven super-robots of the world are destroyed, President Alexander is seen celebrating, for he believes that the United States of Thracia can now easily take over the world without any opposition. In fact, Alexander is always guided and advised by a supercomputer of his own, who is seen as a teddy bear with complex supercomputers at its disposal. This super-robot is Dr. Roosevelt, an antagonist from the original Astro Boy and Pluto manga series, and he is as powerful as Atom but with totally evil intentions.
Did Atom save the world from destruction?
During Pluto‘s ending, Professor Abullah manages to unleash the Bora robot to carry out his final plan—the destruction of the United States of Thracia. Bora is armed with an antiproton bomb, and it is released under the earth’s surface directly under Thracia, where an inactive volcano would be triggered, leading to the destruction of the country and then also the whole world. Atom now takes on the responsibility of avoiding this disaster and saving the world. Even though Professor Tenma is of the opinion that Bora and Pluto cannot be defeated, the caretaker of Atom, Professor Ochanomizu, puts complete faith in the robot boy.
Atom has to first fight off Pluto, who tries to prevent the boy from entering the depths of the earth, where Bora is about to arrive. Atom uses all his powers and has the chance to kill Pluto, but he remembers the teachings of the other six super-robots, all of whom were convinced that hatred and animosity would only lead to more hatred and violence. Therefore, the boy now gives Pluto a chance to open up, and the soul of Sahad speaks out, asking for Atom’s help. The two become friends in a quick time, and it is this bond that ultimately comes to use.
When Atom enters the earth’s crevice and begins his fight against Bora, it is evident that the boy will get overpowered by the gigantic robot. It is now Pluto who decides to sacrifice himself and enters the fight. Pluto takes on all of Atom’s powers, ensures the boy’s safety, and then clashes against Bora, creating a deadly explosion that kills him but saves the world. During this time, the evil Dr. Roosevelt is also destroyed by Brau 1859, the imprisoned robot that had been the first robot to kill humans. This ensures that President Alexander and the nation of Thracia’s powers are totally negated. Pluto ends with a scene in which Atom remembers all the super-robots who had lost their lives in this fight to save the world, and Sahad is now also included in this list of brave warriors who had suffered through their own rage and anger but had ultimately saved the world.