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Manga / 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 reimagining of the classic Astro Boy story arc "The Greatest Robot on Earth" (which can be found in Astro Boy book three, in case you want to check it out before reading the remake). Takashi Nagasaki is credited as a co-author, while Macoto Tezuka (Osamu Tezuka's son) supervised the story.

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 (German word for 'face'), 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...


In 2010, Universal picked up the rights to make a CGI/live-action movie. 2017 saw an announcement for an eight-episode Animated Adaptation.

No relation to the former planet, nor the cartoon bloodhound, nor the Sailor Senshi, nor the Roman god of the Underworld. Also, this manga is not expendable.

This manga provides examples of:

  • Abusive Parents: Tenma sold Atom. Is that abusive enough for you?
    • Dr Abullah. He perverts his son Sahad, a gentle robot who only wants to fill his homeland with flowers and live peacefully, into a horrible weapon for his own vengeance due to his overwhelming hatred.
  • Achievements in Ignorance: The American meteorological robot Arnold discovers a crack on the roof in a building he happens to be in; he doesn't have to dig in that much further until he discovers by serendipity that there is a great seismological increase in the United States of Thracia, correctly speculating that there could be a nuclear device under the surface. He is quickly dismissed by Dr. Roosevelt and the Thracian President as a potential Spanner in the Works. Because he is known to be an eccentric robot, Arnold is effectively the least influential individual possible to have discovered the truth.
  • 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.
    • Police Inspector Tawashi is nowhere as antagonizing towards Atom as he is in the original manga, though he is still very resentful of robots in general. Still, there are factions of humans that do have a vitriolic hatred of robots.
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: Deconstructed. The story proposes that it has to be a crapshoot or else it's not a true A.I. (working off the logic that, since Humans Are Flawed, then for a robot to be considered of equal sentience to a human, it must be capable of the same mistakes). It's therefore the robots who display the most unpredictability that the manga considers the closest to true sentience. No robot has ever been programmed with the ability to lie, for example, yet the most advanced ones are able to do so anyway, with the robot that the story dubs the first ever "perfect A.I." being capable of lying even to itself.
  • Alternate History: The story takes place on our Earth, with most countries and cities being the same, but certain places are different. Like the Middle East has become the Republic of Persia, and the United States of America are instead the United States of Thracia, stemming from a country that today is Bulgaria, Greece, and Turkey.
  • 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:
  • Arm Cannon:
    • Gesicht's left hand can transform into two different non-lethal weapons: one that shoots knockout gas, and a version that can shoot a "stun" beam. His right arm, however, transforms into an incredibly dangerous Cluster Cannon complete with Zeronium Missiles.
    • 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.
  • As Long as It Sounds Foreign: Gesicht is an actual German word. It just wouldn't be used as a name since it literally means "face". Interestingly, in the original story, Gesicht had the name "Gerhardt", which is an actual name.
  • Authority in Name Only: The President of the United States of Thracia.
  • 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 finally bring down Roosevelt and the president of Thracia while having a giant spear stuck in him.
  • Big "NO!" When Tenma reveals to Abullah that he was the "perfect A.I" 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.
  • Break the Haughty: Happens to the President of Thracia, who ordered the invasion of Persia under the pretence that they were creating robots of mass destruction (actually so he could expand his empire), only for a Persian scientist to begin creating them in retaliation - and now said robots are vengeance-crazed and about to crack Thracia's continental plate. The once Smug Snake is reduced to a cowering wreck hiding in a bunker ...and then Brau-1589 shows up.
  • 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.
  • Call-Back: Near the beginning of the story, a police officer robot is killed by a junky. When Gesicht asks his (also robotic) wife if she would like to have her memories of him erased to ease the pain, she begs him not to erase her memories of her husband. Later on when Gesicht is killed, his creator Hoffman asks Gesicht's wife if she wants part of her memory erased to ease the pain. She tells him the exact same thing.
  • 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.
  • Cannot 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 a truly perfect A.I.
    • The four other instances of an advanced A.I. lying are Brando, lying to his family and to his assistant, before going off to battle Pluto, Abullah, lying to Gesicht in the latter's inquiry, which causes Gesicht to incorrectly identify Abullah as human, Uran, lying about the nature of the robot she found, and Atom, lying to Helena about the gap in her and Gesicht's memories. In the last case, the person being lied to knows it immediately, but acknowledges it as a small kindness.
  • 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 Creator/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 Japanese Science Minister, he tells several people 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. 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, it's clear he qualifies]]. Uran is also at least as powerful as a human adult, but never has to show it off.
  • Darker and Edgier: A downplayed version of Astro Boy. Urasawa doesn't change the basic plot at all, resulting in most of the same major robots dying as did in the original. ie all of them. What made the story darker was the fact that each robot was developed, rather than simply being a collection of powers to be destroyed by Pluto.
  • Death by Flashback: Several of the robots have flashbacks before getting killed, but specially Gesicht.
  • Death Seeker: If his battle with Epsilon is any indication, Pluto wants to die.
  • Decon-Recon Switch: The story begins as a Darker and Edgier retelling of a famous Astro Boy arc, with more realistic art style and world. The story shifting away from a traditional version of The Hero in Astro and towards a Noir Detective like Gesicht also means it gets to explore the seedier sides of the world and asks more complex questions about robotic intelligence and memory. As the story reaches it's conclusion, Astro retakes his position as the protagonist and begins fighting Pluto not out of revenge, but to end the Cycle of Revenge and stop Pluto from destroying himself (and the world).
  • Decoy Protagonist: Ultimately this trope is played with. While Gesicht does die two volumes before the Finale, his investigation is instrumental in discovering the identity of Pluto. Not only that, his final thoughts were of hatred, but not because of it per se, but a reflection of how hatred begets nothing, stopping Atom from killing Pluto. To top that off, his and Helena's flashback to their child provides the coda for the manga's ending.
  • Do Androids Dream?: A.I. 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: Every super-robot that is not Atom.
  • The Dreaded: Brau 1589 and Bora.
  • Dwindling Party: The seven super robots are the only ones who stand a chance against Pluto. Too bad they all get picked off throughout the story.
  • Dub Name Change: Of a sense. Gesicht was named the much more generic and stereotypical German name Gerhardt in the original Tezuka stories. Or at least the English translation; we're not sure about the Japanese original.
    • Notably averted for Atom. This is the only English version of Astro Boy where Astro Boy's name is left as Atom instead of being changed to Astro Boy. The reason for this lack of name change is probably to maintain the more serious tone of the series.
  • The Empath: Uran.
  • End of the World as We Know It
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Even the anti-robot Ku Klux Klan stand-ins are horrified when one of their members turns out to be a sadistic serial killer who targets robot children. 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 vengence) 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.)
    • Though it's never said out loud, Brau 1589 bears considerable resemblance to Hannibal Lecter 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.
  • Fantasy Conflict Counterpart: It's only seen through flashback, but the war between Thracia and Persia is heavily based on the Iraq War (with robots). The United States of Thracia accuses the Middle East nation of Persia of making Robots of Mass Destruction, but before other countries can complete their investigation into whether it's true, Thracia sends troops in and starts a horrific, wasteful war that devastates the country. This is all just a ploy to make Thracia the world's main superpower.
  • Foregone Conclusion: This is a Perspective Flip of Tezuka's "World's Strongest Robot" arc, so anyone who's read the original knows that Gesicht is screwed. For that matter, you'll know that Atom doesn't stay dead.
  • Gambit 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 seven 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. However, Atom is repaired and enhanced with the emotions from Gesicht's memory chip, and not only defeats Pluto, but convinces him to stop the bomb. Roosevelt also doesn't count on Brau escaping and coming to kill him personally.
  • Girlish Pigtails: Uran.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: The way Gesicht's kid was killed was never shown. Neither was Gesicht's killing of the murderer shown explicitly.
  • Government Conspiracy:
    • The Bora Investigation was part of a setup to establish the United States of Thracia as the world's main superpower by playing other nations against each other.
    • There's also the cover-up the European Union pulled when it turned out Gesicht wasn't Three Laws-Compliant.
  • Grew Beyond Their Programming: Robots are hard coded to be unable to kill human beings. Only one robot, Brau-1589, has ever been able to commit human murder. Only it turns out there are two more who have committed murder. Goji, who was able to convince himself he was a human, and thus mentally able to avoid the restrictions of being a robot, and Gesicht, whose fury at the death of his son overrode any programming that would stop him from killing.
  • Hannibal Lecture: Essentially Brau-1589's purpose, being an Expy of the trope namer, although not in the usual way;note  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 things 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 Are 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 sealine (and distracting from the old ruins nearby), but his statue got built and placed anyway.
    • After a robot policeman is killed in duty, Gesicht offers to erase his wife's memories to ease her suffering. She refuses, because she would rather keep him in her memories, and grieves in her own fashion. After Gesicht's son is brutally murdered, and he kills the murderer in his fury, both Gesicht and his wife Helena's memories of the child (and killing the murderer) are erased, which results in Gesicht never quite getting over it, living with an inexplicable hatred inside him, and suffering horrible nightmares.
  • 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.
  • Mauve Shirt: One generic police robot is given a name "yujiro". He is killed just a couple pages later.
  • 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.
    • Ochanomizu is Japanese for ‘tea water’.
  • Mouthy Kid: Uran.
  • Mythology Gag: Several.
    • The various jabs about the doggy cop cars.
    • Kimba the White Lion's brief cameo.
    • In the North #2 mini-arc, Paul Duncan mentions his life was saved by a famous Japanese doctor. 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.
    • Epsilon doesn't only look similar to Johan Liebert, but is also often surrounded by children. This is particularly notable since the two characters have polar opposite world views.
  • Multinational Team: Each of the 7 greatest robots come from a different country. Gesicht from Germany, Atom from Japan, Mont Blanc from Switzerland, North #2 from Scotland, Brando from Turkey, Hercules from Greece, and Epsilon from Australia. Pluto and Bora are Persian.
  • Not Quite the Right Thing: The very reason Dr. Tenma sold Atom. Atom is the splitting image of Tenma's son Tobio, but he is not Tobio. Incapable of replicating the nuances of the late boy, and only serving to fuel his grief and frustration, Tenma opted to get rid of Atom.
  • Nothing Is Scarier:
    • It takes several volumes before we get a full view of Pluto, which makes his appearances that much more terrifying. Notably when he does appear he stops becoming the elemental monster he was in all his previous appearances - see Villain Decay.
    • In universe example: When the authorities opened up Brau-1589 to examine the glitch in his "Three Laws" compliance, what did they find? What corrupted him to the point that he could even kill a human? ...Nothing. There was nothing wrong with his programming and nothing there that could explain why any other robot couldn't do the same thing. This is the reason that he's kept in isolation instead of just being destroyed, the authorities are still trying to find an error that could have caused this because they're simply too frightened of the implications that there wasn't one. They're too scared of what he represents to even kill him.
  • Obi-Wan Moment: Gesicht has one moments before his death, stating that hatred can beget nothing, which is important in Astro's decision to not kill Pluto.
  • Off with His Head!: Epsilon.
  • Oh, Crap!: The president of Thracia, see Break the Haughty.
  • One Degree of Separation: Pretty much all the main characters have some kind of connection to the 39th Central Asian Conflict. This is a plot point.
  • Our Hero Is Dead: Of course Atom isn't going to be gone for good. Gesicht, on the other hand...
  • 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. Oh, and Pluto and Bora of course.
  • Perspective Flip: Essentially this is the original Astro Boy story from the POV of a (previously) minor character.
  • Pet the Dog: Tenma encourages Helena to cry after Gesicht's death. He also cries with when he finally admits that Atom's dead, seeing that it affected him as well.
  • Post-Cyberpunk
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Redemption Equals Death: Pluto, fighting off Bora who is about to lay waste to the entire world with a supervolcano. The supervolcano eventually does erupt, but Pluto freezes the lava.
  • 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. He tells others (and himself) that his limbs are artificial since he lost his real ones in the war. The reality is that his whole body is a robot imitating the real Abullah.
    • Early in the story it's revealed that Brando and Heracles both have human-like bodies outside their robot ones. When Uran meets a vagrant-like robot, a reader familiar with the original story will assume that this is Pluto's human-like body. It turns out the body belonged to another robot - Pluto was just using the empty body for a joyride. (It's eventually revealed he did have a human-like body though.)
  • Replacement Goldfish: Atom was originally created by Dr. Tenma as a replacement for his son Tobio. However, Atom differed from Tobio in many ways (Atom enjoyed doing his homework, cleaning his room, always aims to please Tenma, while Tobio hated doing those things and was more rebellious), causing Tenma to abandon him.
  • 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.
    • Many robots, such as Brando and Heracles, use a Ridiculously Human body in their free time in addition to a more "robotic" body for their main jobs, finding that easier to fit in with society. (Which should tell you something about Montblanc and North #2.)
  • Robotic Reveal: Abullah is in fact the robot Goji, who Dr. Tenma created.
    • A small one, as by this point we already know who Atom is, but we have a flashback where Dr. Tenma is apparently eating with his still living son while asking him questions about whether he did his homework or cleaned his room, which the boy says he happily did. Then Tenma revealed that his real son hated doing all of those things, revealing that this was actually early in Atom's life.
  • Robot War: The 39th Central Asian Conflict 4 years ago.
  • Sealed Evil in a Teddy Bear: Dr. Roosevelt.
  • 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.
  • Shapeshifter Swan Song:
    • A rather unique inversion. The reason the ultimate A.I. robot failed to come to life to begin with was because it was shifting through so many personalities and faces that the hardware just couldn't keep up.
    • Later played straight when said ultimate A.I. is confronted by the truth about itself, whereupon its face morphs into Gesicht's, Brando's, Hercules', and Epsilon's before reverting to a featureless, lifeless base form.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: 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.
    • Blau One Five Eight Nine's obvious similarity to Hannibal Lecter, of course. Interestingly, the very first storyline of the recent Hannibal TV series also features a serial killer who uses antlers as a calling card, though this may just be a coincidence.note 
      • In another amusing parallel, Will Graham's bizarre "Stag Man" hallucination looks very similar to Pluto himself, minus being a giant robot.
  • Spanner in the Works: Atom, Pluto and Brau to Dr. Roosevelt.
  • Stealth Pun: Dr. Roosevelt, the Greater-Scope Villain of the story, is a supercomputer whose avatar that it communicates through is a teddy bear. So he's Teddy Roosevelt.
  • 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.
  • Tailor-Made Prison / Oubliette: Brau 1589, the first known robot killer, was considered so dangerous they didn't even bother to haul his mostly-destroyed body to a prison. No, what they did was they built the prison around where he lay, with huge warning signs, checkpoints and cement barriers. The electrified spear impaling him is also the only thing keeping him alive, but no human dares come close enough to remove it, and Brau emits highly-disruptive magnetism that kills most ordinary robots that come near.
  • Tears from a Stone: Most advanced A.I.s are capable of crying, but only in order to better simulate human behavior. When they cry for themselves and mean it, you know it's important.
  • 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: 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.
  • These Are Things Man Was Not Meant to Know: Invoked. It's on this reasoning that Tenma strongly advises Abdullah not to uncover the face of the comatose 'perfect AI' robot he had created, which was at that time rapidly morphing through the faces of six billion people.
  • Three Laws-Compliant: At least the First Law is supposed to be hardwired in all A.I. units. The only cases of a robot breaking it were Brau 1589, Gesicht and Abullah/Goji/Shadow, though the last may not technically count, since he apparently believed himself to be human. Roosevelt doesn't seem to obey them either, but then he was created specifically to mastermind Thracia's corruption, so he may have been illegally built without them.
  • Tomato in the Mirror: The real Abullah is dead. The one running around is the perfect A.I. he built, convinced that it is him.
  • Two Aliases, One Character: Three, actually. Goji, Bora, and the Dr. Abullah seen in most of the story all turn out to be the same character.
  • Two Dun It: While the robot murders were carried out by Pluto, the human murders appear to be the work of Goji/Abullah.
  • Ultimate Universe: Frequently compared favourably 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.
  • Villainous Breakdown: When Abullah is confronted with the truth about himself, he pretty much explodes with denial until he (or, rather, his current body) just overloads and collapses.
  • Villain Decay: Justified, intentional example. For most of the story, Pluto is an elemental beast of destruction, the monster that hides in darkness. Once he's finally fully seen though, he helps out a child and then begs for help himself, wishing to die. In other words, the monster in darkness turns out to be something human after all. Pluto's role as an elemental monster is then replaced by Bora.
  • Weapon Tombstone: Half of Pluto's horn stands at the end of the series, while Atom reminiscences about the robots that have gone before him.
  • 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 Is This Feeling?: Robots who feel love, grief, or utter hatred for the first time will indubitably utter this phrase.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: Explored very thoroughly.
  • Worf Had the Flu: Epsilon might very well be the strongest character in the setting, stronger even than the one who is killing the other robots, considering that during their first encounter, Epsilon easily defeats Pluto, but lets him go since he has no personal quarrel with him. During their second encounter, they fight at night, which puts Epsilon at a disadvantage since he is powered by the sun, and then he is distracted by his adoptive son being in danger and focuses on protecting him rather than himself, which allows Pluto to kill him.


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