If you’re an anime and manga fan, even if you don’t know his name, you’ve likely at least heard of the works of Naoki Urasawa. It’s impossible not to, with numerous seminal titles under his belt like the psychological thriller Monster, and the mysterious sci-fi 20th Century Boys. While several of his series have received anime adaptations, arguably the most important of all, Pluto, remained as a manga for the longest time. But after many years, the iconic series has taken animated form thanks to Netflix, and it might just be the most important anime of the year. In other words, you really shouldn’t skip it.
You’ll probably need some added context to understand why Pluto feels so important, and interesting, as a manga. The murder mystery comic is actually based on Osamu Tezuka’s Astro Boy, of all things, an incredibly popular series in Japan you unfortunately probably remember as getting a very mediocre Western CGI film. As Polygon’s Joshua Rivera quite rightly points out, Astro Boy is something of a Mickey Mouse figure in Japan, and we all know Disney’s favourite mouse isn’t a particularly serious figure.
Which obviously makes Pluto a bit of an oddity; a thoroughly welcome one, as I love nothing more than taking established worlds and putting a fresh spin on them (ironically, with the parallel of Mickey Mouse in mind, I am a Kingdom Hearts fan, so this shouldn’t be a huge surprise). So not only does Pluto have a titan of manga like Urasawa at the helm, but a whole legacy of comic work that many will be intimately familiar with.