January 26, 2014

Pluto, Volume 1

Pluto is a manga written and drawn by Naoki Urasawa from 2003 to 2009. It's based on one of Osamu Tezuka's original Astro Boy stories, The Greatest Robot on Earth.

Understandably, it was a long process to gain the ability and trust to use the Astro Boy (Mighty Atom in Japan) property. Tezuka and Astro are both cultural icons, and Tezuka's work holds a special place in the nation's heart. Macoto Tezuka (Osamu's son) supervised the creation of Pluto. In addition, Tezuka Productions also monitored and provided their official support.

Even though it's based on an Astro Boy story, Astro is not the main character. It instead follows Inspector Gesicht (a robot), as he attempts to solve a series of murders being committed across the globe.

Act 1: Mont Blanc

The first robot murder Gesicht checks out is Mont Blanc, a sightseeing guide and eco-conservationist in Switzerland. Mont Blanc was cherished by humans and robots alike across the globe, and his extremely violent death hits hard.

Gesicht's second investigation is of the murder of Bernard Lanke, a passionate activist. Lanke had supported (and been a key member of) several causes over the years. The only connection between his and Mont Blanc's death is the jamming of long objects in the sides of their heads, depicting horns.

Authorities are confused, because Mont Blanc was an extremely strong, able, and advanced robot. Only another robot could have torn him apart so easily. But Lanke was a human. According to the Robot Law (which all robots must instinctively follow), no robot may harm or kill a human. Only one case of a robot-killing human had ever been reported, nearly a decade before.

An urgent call suddenly comes in about a man who broke through one of the police checkpoints. Gesicht locates the suspect, who had injured the checkpoint human police officer and destroyed the robot one. He apprehends the killer, then visits the wife of the destroyed robot officer to tell her the news.

Act 2: Gesicht

Gesicht then gets a regular diagnostic by a Professor Hoffman, who informs him that nothing is out of the ordinary in Gesicht's system. Hoffman also expresses interest in learning more about the dreams Gesicht is having, stating he's always found it fascinating that a robot can have dreams as well as a subconscious. He tells Gesicht that's he should take a vacation since he's so stressed out about the case he's working on. He suggests Japan.

On the way out of the lab, Gesicht stops a waste collector who is scrapping the remains of the robot officer. He takes the memory chip to the wife he met earlier. She inserts her husband's memory chip, and puts the act of the murder on a monitor. Gesicht is shocked to see a figure in the distance on the footage. The figure is making a massive leap between buildings, but it isn't a robot.

Act 3: Brau 1589

Gesicht visits the facility that has been holding the murderous robot, Brau 1589, to try and determine how and why a robot could kill a human. Brau tells him that the humans inspected every single aspect of his A.I., but found no defects, so how he was able to kill a human is still a mystery eight years later.

Gesicht shows Brau photos from both murder sites. Brau discusses the historical use of horns and death in many cultures. They touch on the fact that the Roman god of death was named Pluto. Brau reveals that he and Gesicht both know that six more murders will take place. The cream of the crop, the most advanced robots ever created are all in danger, and Gesicht is one of them. These robots also share the distinction of being able to be turned into weapons of mass destruction.

Act 4: North No. 2 (Part 1)

The story shifts dramatically to events going on in another part of the world. A giant castle in Scotland is inhabited only by Paul Duncan, a blind musical genius. His new butler, North No. 2, arrives and informs Duncan he's up-to-date on everything the job entails. North wears a large cape to conceal all of his body save his head and arms. He stands around an impressive ten feet tall.

Duncan seems to be an angry man, prone to tantrums and physical violence. He expresses an immediate dislike to North, especially since North informs him he used to be a military robot. North asks Duncan why he composes only on an acoustic piano instead of the vast array of mechanical instruments available. Duncan responds that they're just a bunch of machines that only make fake music. They can't capture the real thing.

North continuously angers Duncan by attempting to play his piano. North says he just wants to learn to play, and he never wants to go back to fighting on the battlefield ever again.

Act 5: North No. 2 (Part 2)

North hears Duncan humming the melody he just can't seem to compose in his sleep. When he asks Duncan about it, Duncan tells him the story of why he's so angry. When he was a child, his mother abandoned him to go live with a rich landowner and sent him to a boarding school in England. He was a sickly boy, and was bullied to no end. At one point, he got so sick that all the doctors thought he would die. However, a black market doctor said he could cure him, but he would lose his sight. Duncan agreed. Later, he learned that his mother had died, and that the wealthy man had never even taken her as his wife, only a mistress. Duncan takes a cynical pride in knowing that he's unfathomably wealthy from his composing career.

Act 6: North No. 2 (Part 3)

Duncan tells North that he wants him out of the castle by the next day. North indeed is gone the next morning. Certain projects that Duncan had lined up are cancelled by the patrons, much to his dismay. He continues to be unable to compose the song he's been working on for such a long time. Right before taking an axe to his piano, North No. 2 suddenly appears and shouts at him to stop.

North tells him that he traveled to Bohemia to find out the truth about Duncan's mother. He reveals the only reason his mother went with the rich man was to pay for Duncan's experimental treatment. She loved him very much, and was right by his side, too ashamed to admit what she had done. North also tells Duncan that he's forgetting a very important memory. He and his mother used to hold hands, watching the sun set. She would always sing a certain melody. It turns out to be the melody Duncan can't figure out in his composition.

Duncan breaks down, finally truly realizing his mother's actions. His character changes considerably for the better. Time passes, and he and North play the piano together.

One day, though, North senses a weather disturbance in the distance. It is very similar to the one that preceded Mont Blanc's demise. He also senses something threatening heading their way. He tells Duncan not to worry, and that he'll be back shortly. He rips off his cape, revealing a massive bunch of weaponry, and flies into the sky. Duncan is unable to see what is happening, but he hears massive explosions. All of a sudden, his mother's melody echoes through the entire sky. It's followed by an explosion, then silence. Duncan asks North to hurry back, because it's time for their piano lesson...

Act 7: Brando

Jump back to Gesicht. He's watching an intense robot wrestling match, of which the wrestler Brando is victorious. He visits Brando after the match, who is revealed to be built like a human (much like Gesicht). He invites Gesicht back to his house for dinner.

Brando lives in a crummier part of town, but says he's got more important things to spend money on than a big mansion. At that point, his five children burst through the door. Gesicht joins Brando, his wife, and their kids for a human-style meal. It's pretty chaotic.

After dinner, all the kids go to sleep, and Brando and Gesicht talk about the recent murders. It's revealed that Brando and Mont Blanc fought together during the war. Gesicht tells Brando that they're both murder targets, and to contact him if he hears anything.

Gesicht then finally makes his way to Japan, where some kids accidentally kick a soccer ball into his path. He muses how children are great, then sees a young boy pick up a snail off of the ground and place it into a nearby garden. He inquires if the boy is named Atom, which the boy confirms...


I thought it was great. I can completely see the Tezuka influence, especially in the North No. 2 arc. That sense of building emotion and tear-jerking endings permeates the writing. It just has a different atmosphere since it takes place in a more modern, "realistic" setting.

The art is very good. The locations have a lot of detail, and hit that "futuristic from a 1960's perspective" perfectly. The robot designs get this aspect too. It's such a cool fusion between Tezuka's original Astro Boy ideas Urasawa's re-imaginings. Every time I see a character I recognize I just smile, because their character type and personality is the same, but they're less cartoonish I guess. The emotion that Urasawa captures is very impressive.

The characters also seem very real and easy to connect with. Their personalities are well-defined and interesting, and it keeps the story fresh.

The sudden shift in location for the North arc wasn't unexpected. Lots of the Astro Boy stories suddenly take place in another location. And even though the North arc is present to solidify some major plot points, just as much effort is put into the storytelling. I thought as a standalone thing it was probably the strongest Act in this volume.

The mystery is definitely built up. I'm looking forward to the unearthing of the unanswered questions and all the connections between characters and histories. On to Volume 2!

January 24, 2014

Drew: The Man Behind the Poster


Drew: The Man Behind the Poster is an in-depth look at Drew Struzan's career and life. His work is timeless, and has impacted more people than almost any other modern artist. So many people are familiar with his work, despite not knowing his name. Here's a few to get you started:

The documentary follows Drew's beginnings as a starving artist to his slow but sure crawl to being one of the most beloved artists in the world. I can't recommend this film enough.

What really makes it work is Drew's willingness to be interviewed. I was afraid that this film would turn into a simple montage of people saying, "Oh, man, I love that poster!" Thankfully, that stuff takes a far backseat to Drew himself talking about his life, experiences, and lessons learned.

Yes, there are interviews from famous actors and others in the film industry, but they're people that genuinely care about Drew and his paintings. They have a lot of insight and sincere love for Drew's work, and it really comes through. There's no needless filler.

Drew seems like a very private, truthful, and direct kind of guy. He's very trusting (to a fault), and just loves his work. It doesn't matter what subject he's painting, or if he's being paid. He'd do it regardless. His passion for the art is inspiring. Hell, after watching, I wanted to go learn how to paint.

His wife Dylan also provides a lot of insight on their lives and struggles to be in a non-threatening situation life-wise. They're both so candid about everything, it's almost impossible to stop watching. Drew discusses a lot of the stories behind the posters, and the ins and outs of his career.

It's also great to see this in HD, because they show a lot of spectacular close-ups of Drew's work. It's something that can't be replicated through a computer monitor. It really shows the intricate details, color, and textures of the work, and makes the paintings just spring to life.

The last parts of the documentary talk about how most movie posters were shifted from actual artists to computer enthusiasts who could whip something up in Photoshop over a weekend. It's really disheartening to hear not only Drew, but other brilliant movie poster artists tell how they've been cast aside, merely to cut costs.

And it's true. Movie posters, which are normally one of the first things you see (and are supposed to get you to want to see the movie), look so boring and flavorless. Everything looks like everything else. It's just another thing that's fallen to the Hollywood crap of "if you do something once, do it a billion times. Even though it never worked in the first place, keep on doing it, because doing something new requires effort. Don't give people any other option, so they'll be forced into accepting it."

Drew is also shown going to Comic-Con in San Diego in 2010, and the overwhelming response he received (including an Inkpot Award). He is truly speechless, astounded that people came from so far "just to see little old me."

The fact that Drew is still alive also makes the documentary work very well. Too often a project is started after a notable figure has died, because it took their death to get people interested. The creators can't ask questions, because obviously they'd get no answer. Everything has to be constructed from archival material, which is too bad, because these people sat for years unaware that myriads of people still adore their work.

Bottom line? Watch it. Watch it now. It's streaming on Netflix and Amazon. Or you could just go buy it. You won't be disappointed, and to really see how much Drew accomplished over the years is incredible.

The credits make such an impact too. In order to show the posters Drew painted over the years, the filmmakers have to show copyright info and such. The absolutely gargantuan list of work, listed one after another, is mind-boggling. I was completely blown away.

If you decide not to watch the documentary, your loss. But you at least owe it to yourself to check out his website. All the movie stuff is under the Illustrated Works. The art for art's sake is under Studio Works. He also has not one, but two books available. Both are filled with artwork and insights. Truly a master of the art.

Man! If only I had $200,000!

Astro Boy, Book 2

His Highness Deadcross
Serialized between September and December 1960

The story opens with Tezuka musing on violence in manga and how there are far worse things actually happening than robots beating up other robots, citing real world events as examples.

Astro and family are visited by a sentient pair of trousers, who asks Astro to travel to Gravia (a foreign nation) with him. Before they leave, though, the trousers says they need to disguise themselves, so they do. Kind of.

Mr. Mustachio happens to walk by the pair, and notices the footprints they leave behind. He notes that they are from a foreign model robot, and decides to investigate (he has private eye instincts).

Astro and the trousers board a plane to Gravia without incident. But when they land, a bomb goes off and they're forced to rush to a waiting car. Mustachio attempts to follow, but is taken hostage by a mysterious deformed man.

It turns out the deformed man is a robot named #17. He serves a masked man known only as "Deadcross." Mustachio demands to know why he's been captured, to which Deadcross replies he'll need him for his plans. He also reveals that he knows Mustachio is Astro's teacher.

Meanwhile, the trousers reveal that Astro is going to assist the newly elected President of Gravia. Gravia is unique in that its President is a robot (the first one to take such a position). Upon arriving to the President's mansion, however, they find it being attacked by gigantic insect-type robots. Astro defeats them, and the two enter.

It's revealed that the trousers are the lower section of the Minister of State (aptly named Haf Wey). Astro meets with the President, who insists Astro call him by his name, Rag. Rag needs Astro's help due to the constant attacks. Astro agrees to help out.

Meanwhile, Deadcross reveals Mustachio's part in his plan. He wants Mustachio to convince Astro to return to Japan. Mustachio refuses, and is put into a large, sealed box full of balls. Deadcross reveals they are made of polyester, and when made wet, will expand and crush Mustachio.

After Mustachio is half crushed, Deadcross announces that his society will mercilessly crush all those who side with the robots.

Back at the mansion, Rag informs Astro that after winning the election, Rag wanted all the world to know that robots were no longer slaves. Not all humans share this mentality, though. Deadcross being the main threat.

Astro has the idea to fix one of the insect robots in order for it to lead him back to Deadcross' base. He succeeds, and he and Rag travel to a remote island fortress. They encounter Deadcross and attempt to stop him, but it's revealed that the entire base was a false construction. Deadcross' real location remains a mystery. Rag finds a note commanding him to resign at his planned speech tomorrow, or else.

At Rag's speech ceremony, he decides instead to uphold his values, and encourages all robots to do the same. He also reveals the existence of the Deadcross Society. The deformed #17, who is watching from a hidden alley, takes action along with his cohort, Dr. Brumble.

Astro spots #17, but before he can stop him, Dr. Brumble activates a giant robot hidden in a construction site. Astro manages to defeat the fiend, but in the commotion, Rag is kidnapped.

Astro and Haf Wey follow the kidnappers to the real Deadcross island stronghold. Astro is shocked to see Mr. Mustachio tied to a cross via wires. Deadcross states that if Astro doesn't return to Japan, he'll send current through the wires and kill Mustachio.

Astro appears to walk away, but uses his rear cannons to break the connection and save Mustachio. Before he can react, though, Deadcross releases giant robot birds to attack. Astro manages to throw Mustachio in the car before running out of power and smashing on the ground.

The birds bring Astro's body into the base, where Deadcross is electrocuting Rag. He then removes Rag's electronic brain and replaces it with a slave one. He then takes off his helmet to hide the original electronic brain, but we don't see who he really is.

Mustachio has recovered somewhat, so he and Haf Wey sneak into the base. Mustachio finds Deadcross' diary. It reveals that Deadcross built Rag in order to help him win the presidency. He has Rag study up and fill his head with knowledge. Eventually, Rag starts having thoughts and questions of independence, and doesn't agree with the whole robot slavery thing.

Rag ends up running for President himself and wins. Deadcross is devastated, and it shows why he wants to destroy Rag. Mustachio finds out Deadcross' master plan of ordering Rag to resign as President in his television broadcast to the nation the next day.

He also finds Astro's lifeless body in the middle of a pool (preventing robots from swimming to reach it). Luckily, Mustachio isn't a robot, and retrieves Astro's body. Haf Wey mentions a scientist named Dr. Brumble who could help them.

Back at his lab, Dr. Brumble is planning sabotage when Professor Ochanomizu shows up out of the blue, stating he needs to be the star sometimes so his fans won't be disappointed. He estimates he can fix Astro in an hour or so, well in time for Rag's broadcast.

Dr. Brumble is worried, and activates Igar, another giant insect robot. Mustachio manages to reactivate Astro, who destroys Igar. Dr. Brumble has one more trick up his sleeve, and activates his odd Domino robots.

Astro manages to turn them on Dr. Brumble, and the group heads to stop Rag from resigning in his broadcast. The entire nation of robots has turned out for the ceremony with parades and fireworks.

Astro manages to infiltrate the President's mansion and find Rag, but he can't re-create Rag's original electronic brain. He instead switches heads with Rag and takes his place.

Deadcross is watching the broadcast in a different room, and is outraged that "Rag" again gives an uplifting speech about robot independence. Deadcross' men attack, but are easily defeated by the disguised Astro.

Ochanomizu demands Rag's original brain from Deadcross, stating he should be proud that he built such a fine and advanced robot. Deadcross tries to escape and fails. He then jumps off the roof in an attempted suicide.

Astro catches him, and Deadcross finally gives up. He tells them the brain is in his helmet. Upon removing it, however, they discover that Deadcross is the splitting image of Rag. He wore the mask after losing the election to avoid the shame he felt.

The story ends with Rag finally able to start leading the nation in an era of human and robot peace.

The Third Magician
Serialized between October 1961 and January 1962

Tezuka starts to set up where inspiration from this story came from, but is interrupted by the main characters. They want to know why Tezuka's drawing style is inconsistent across the span of time. It's a fun little way for Tezuka to address his own style changes and inconsistencies.

Kino, the famous magician, is in Japan and performing a show that Astro and friends happen to be attending. Tomao, one of Astro's friends, gets called down to participate in a trick. Kino turns him into a pig, then pork chops, then a tortoise. Before he can continue, Astro runs down and asks Kino not to be too hard on Tamao.

Kino just laughs and explains how the trick really works (using diagrams and everything), and that Tamao was safe and unchanged all along. After demonstrating this "old-style magic," Kino showcases what he calls "space-age magic tricks." This includes having a mass of (harmless) nuclear bombs shoot out of his hat, levitating people in the audience, and turning balloons into dancing aliens.

As he's wowing the crowd, a shadowed figure self-monologues displeasure, and that he'll meet Kino later that night. Meanwhile, Kino is preparing his final trick. Kino will transport himself through a two-foot thick steel wall. To make it more interesting, however, he'll do it before being smashed by a giant steamroller barreling his way.

He succeeds and amazes the crowd. After the show, everyone wants autographs, but Kino is already on his way. He states that he prefers to be alone before heading home. It begins to rain, but Kino utters a few words and causes the rain to fall around instead of on him.

The storm is so bad that Kino is forced to seek shelter at a large, old-fashioned house. Upon making it inside, the storm abruptly stops. As Kino ponders these events, a portrait on the wall suddenly speaks to Kino, informing him that it was he who caused the storm. The figure in the portrait performs some magic of his own to appear, and says his name is Noh Uno. He reveals he knows that Kino isn't really a magician, but a robot!

He asks Kino to teach him his trick to get through walls, so that he can make tons of money. Kino refuses, but Noh Uno doesn't let him leave the house. Eventually, Kino is tricked into falling into a giant metal web. As electrical current is frying Kino, there's a knock at the front door.

Noh Uno goes to investigate, and it's none other than Astro and friends, seeking an autograph from Kino. Noh Uno denies anyone by the name of Kino is in the house and slams the door, but Astro amplifies his hearing and hears that Kino isn't only in the house, but calling for help.

They burst through the front door, only to find themselves somehow outside still. Astro discovers it's merely three-dimensional projections of a forest shown on huge screens, and tears them down. Later, his friends start unexpectedly melting into the floor. Astro saves them, and discovers the floor is made of a special material that melts when warmed, and someone's been messing with the room temperature.

The kids are angry now, so they start to run up the stairs. Naturally, the stairs turn into a ramp, causing them to fall back down. Astro, though, manages to fly up to the top, before encountering a robotic snake with the voice of Noh Uno. He tells Astro that he's rebuilding Kino to be a master thief. Astro eventually locates Kino's robotic innards being rebuilt. He knows he can't save him now, or Noh Uno will destroy him, so he places a synchronometer in Kino's suit pocket so he can track him later.

A few days later, Kino writes in the newspaper that he'll steal one hundred works of art, and no one will be able to stop him, no matter how well guarded they are. The police prepare security, while Astro and Mr. Mustachio visit and state they know who is really responsible. Astro leads the police inspector to the house in the forest, but amazingly, it appears to be nothing more than a park bathroom. The angry inspector tells Astro to stop wasting his time, and they don't need his help to stop Kino.

The days tick by, and eventually the date of the robbery arrives. The police enact their plan to replace all the paintings in the museum with fakes, so even if Kino does succeed, he'll only take forgeries. At exactly midnight, as ten thousand watch on TV, the lights go out at the museum. When they're turned back on, every painting has a large "FAKE" sticker plastered on it. The inspector receives a call that all the paintings at the station have been set on fire.

Kino appears and reveals that the paintings at the station are fake as well, and he has the real ones. As Kino makes his escape, he's spotted by Astro. A struggle ensues before Noh Uno pops out of Kino's hat and uses his magic to defeat Astro.

Later, the police chief is talking to the inspector about how robots aren't really useful anymore. He thinks "there's too many idiotic robots." He wants to change the Robot Law in order to force all existing and future robots to have more primitive brains. That way, they'll be like the older robots everyone used to have, and be used only for serving humans.

Astro overhears, and confronts the inspector. While they're arguing, Professor Ochanomizu arrives and informs them that the synchronometer in Kino's pocket has activated. They all pile into a car and go after him. They are tricked again, though, when it's revealed to be just a scarecrow. The inspector is furious, and even more in favor of rebuilding all robots.

Later, Astro is alone, thinking about what Kino's actions have caused. He hears a commotion down in the street and checks it out. It turns out robots are demanding the Robot Law remain the same, and are hell-bent on defending their rights. Astro attempts to disperse the crowd, stating violence doesn't solve anything, it only makes things worse. He can't convince them, though, and they start fighting with the police.

Out of the corner of his eye, Astro spots Kino, and rushes towards him. He's ready to take him down when Kino shouts that he's not the thief. He reveals that Noh Uno merely created an exact copy of Kino, and that's the robot that's the art thief. Astro agrees to help the original Kino find the copy, as well as Noh Uno.

Kino and Astro are spotted by the police, and a chase ensues. Up against a wall (literally), Kino decides to tell Astro his trick for getting through walls, which is actually just science at work. Kino spreads a thick fog in the alley, then explains to Astro what an afterimage is. He and Astro simply fly out of the alley, while the afterimages of their forms seem to vanish. To the police, it appears they've disappeared through the wall. It's kind of a stretch.

Kino says that Noh Uno would need a huge place to store all those paintings. Astro knows of a nearby cave that would be perfect, so they head out that way. They take a guided tour of the cave and note that it probably is where the paintings are stored. They eventually find a hidden passage that leads to all the stolen paintings.

The tour guide reveals himself to really be Noh Uno, and introduces Kino's doppelganger. Noh Uno says that the only difference in his version of Kino is that he doesn't have as much brainpower, so he won't think twice about performing evil deeds. Before Astro and Kino can react, Noh Uno traps them in another giant web. Only this time, there's a giant robot spider. Astro says he'll take the spider, and Kino can take his double.

Astro destroys the spider, but Kino still needs help. It turns out to really be the copy, and he tricks Astro into thinking he's the genuine article. He pulls his vanishing trick, but Astro knows how it actually works now, so is able to follow.

Just as Astro is about to destroy the copy, the real Kino stops him. He knows that only reason the copy is evil is because of his brain. He wants to fix it and make him a real robot. Astro agrees. Meanwhile, Noh Uno is searching for the copy Kino, but is tricked by the real one. Kino ends up trapping Noh Uno inside his hat.

Later, Kino (who is still seen as a criminal by the public) announces he'll be putting on another magic show. As Kino appears, the police open fire. Kino, battered and bruised, states he doesn't have long to continue operating anyway, and begs for a chance to explain himself. He pulls Noh Uno out of his hat.

Noh Uno attempts to escape, but is stopped by Astro. Kino introduces his copy to the crowd. Ochanomizu managed to perfect his brain, so he'll be the "real" Kino from now on. As he's giving his explanation, the original Kino falls to the ground. Astro tries to help him, but Kino says that his time is up. But Astro shouldn't worry, because Kino the magician is immortal.

The police take Noh Uno away, and the inspector tells Astro he'll have the chief talk to Parliament about the Robot Law, asking them not to change it. A happy ending for all.

White Planet
Published January 1963

The White Planet is a racing robot car, and the opening has a bunch of thugs demolishing the White Planet. Its racer, Koichi, catches the thugs in the act, but they beat the crap out of him.

Koichi is found battered and bruised by his sister, Mitsuko. He laments the loss of the car, stating it was his best friend ever since he was a baby. Turns out there's a race the following week, but there's no way he can fix it by then.

His sister suggests contacting Professor Ochanomizu, saying maybe he could fix it. She's more concerned about Koichi anyway. Koichi is enraged that she doesn't understand what the car means to him (in a shockingly violent way), and we're shown a bunch of flashbacks to his connection to White Planet.

Koichi takes White Planet to Ochanomizu, who says he can fix it, but he'll need an advanced electronic brain. Unfortunately, they're currently out. But then he gets an idea. He calls Astro in and gives him the rundown, asking to borrow Astro's brain.

The operation appears to be successful. Koichi takes the car to the "equator race," which goes around the equator of the entire planet. It goes over all types of terrain (e.g. mountains, oceans, etc.), and careful attention has been paid to not build any structures on the racecourse.

The race begins, and White Planet is doing great. The thugs from earlier are pretty angry, though, and make plans to stop the car. They plant a timed mine right where White Planet will pass. Right before it goes off, Astro zips down from the sky and takes it out. He also knocks out the thugs.

Koichi is understandably baffled. Astro reveals that it's not his brain in the car, but Mitsuko's. Turns out his sister was a robot, built by their late father, all along. Koichi, now knowing his sister has been reborn as White Planet, continues the race with a reinvigorated resolve. Naturally, he is triumphant.


Again, I'm very impressed with the storytelling. They go on for quite a while, but don't get bland or repetitive. It's very well thought-out, with twists and turns all the way through. Tezuka doesn't try to dumb down the writing just because it's for children. That's a big part of what makes it work so well, and why they have such a feeling of timelessness.

The drawing is good too, with some good perspective shots, but it still pretty much panel by panel. White Planet stands out as being the best out of these three stories in terms of drawing. Looking forward to Book 3.