Special Edition Podcast

Booksplode #38 – Pluto: Urasawa x Tezuka, Vol. 1

Show Notes

Thanks to our awesome Patrons, we’re proud to present another Booksplode!

This month, Josh Flanagan and Conor Kilpatrick take a look at…

Pluto: Urasawa x Tezuka, Vol. 1 by Naoki Urasawa and Takashi Nagasaki!

What’s a Booksplode? It’s a bi-monthly special edition show in which we take a look at a single graphic novel or collected edition, something we really just don’t have time to do on the regular show.

Running Time: 00:25:05

“Robot Factory”
Jimmy Eat World


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  1. Did you make this episode for me? I love Pluto. Gesicht is pronounced Ge-zisht. Thanks for being you.

  2. Great discussion and refreshing to see a very different kind of comic discussed.

    I got into Japanese comics really big probably 15 years ago and what I found nice about it is it kept my comic reading habit alive when I got burnt out of super hero comics since often they focus in on very different genres of stories and the craft itself has evolve on a parallel path and gives me very different things to appreciate when scanning the pages. It’s kinda nice sometimes to just pick up a Shonen Jump martial arts or sports themed anime and follow it since it’s very unlike anything put out by the big two here in the west. It’s kinda like eating popcorn. Sometimes it payed off with very meaty material (like Hunter X Hunter for me).

    If you were gonna do another series Monster is an obvious next candidate. I also really liked Osamu Tezuka’s Hi No Tori (Phoenix) series.

    My understanding is Tezuka was influenced by Walt Disney and early American cartoonists and since he was the Jack Kirby of his industry he in turn influenced alot of the artists that came after him. Reading the artist interviews in some of the magazines I’ve followed over the years I have seen other manga creators talk about American comic book influences. Nobuhiro Watsuki (a now controversial figure) creator of Rorouni Kenshin has for example sited that he actively follows X-Men comics and has pulled inspiration from them.

    • Osamu Tezuka did cite Carl Barks work on Walt Disney comics as a big influence on him. Tezuka immersed himself in Disney movies and comics. He claimed to have seen Bambi 80 times. The influences go back and forth between East and West.

  3. Did you say Naoki Urasawa was dead, at the end of the podcast? He actually is serializing a new series at the moment. 🙂

    I would say Connor had it right in that “comics are comics” which is how I look at it. I like good comics it doesn’t matter where they come from. Cultural touchstones might be different, but I’d be one to say you can actually learn about other cultures by reading their stories and that’s just an added benefit for me.

    About influence, I would say there was some back and forth early on between comics creators and “mangaka” (as the disney/Tezuka above, or Frank Miller/ Koseki Gojima) but now, I would imagine a lot of comics were not available only just the really popular stuff. But these days its an international world, and I think a lot of comics folk read all sorts of comics, and as someone who probably reads an even amount of american and Japanese comics, the lines seem to get more and more blurred as we go forward.

  4. I don’t think its an out of line comment to say that if Urasawa isn’t our best living cartoonist working in comics he’s definitely in the top 3 or 5.

  5. Thanks for this pick, Josh & Conor! I had Pluto vol. 1 in my nightstand bookstack for YEARS waiting to read, and discovering this Booksplode was coming is what finally motivated me to dive into it. And I loved it 🙂

    As for the ending, I wasn’t familiar with Astro Boy so I was confused like Conor, but in more of a “what did that mean?/ I need to read on to find out!” type of confusion than an anticlimax. I then read the backmatter interviews and creator blurbs in this edition and somewhere in there it’s explained that the little “boy” Atom is a callback to the Astro Boy character. I can sense how seismic that must’ve been for readers well-versed in the source material.

    I also dig the naming convention of this manga series. _Pluto: Urasawa x Tezuka_ is like “Watchman: Lindelof does Moore.”

  6. Finally got around to listening to this one and adding another voice to the choir of recommending this series to those who may be still considering.

    And for posterity’s sake (and based on my faulty memory..).

    Despite Japan having early word and picture creations that many consider comics, without the two key components of panel progression and utilization of page turns, most readers today would not find them comparable. Manga/comics as recognizable today in Japan entered post WWII inspired by the influx of US comic books.

    As I recall, few if any manga titles made it back to the US, until the direct market and the 80s black and white boom. Viz was first with titles like Crying Freeman then First comics had Lone Wolf and Cub and Eclipse with Appleseed and eventually Marvel with their Epic line publishing Akira (and yes Conor those were flipped and read left to right)

    I was a very early teen working at a comic shop back then and manga was yet another amazing expansion to comics potential. The art in those books was really exciting to those who loved the art form. Rob Liefeld on his podcast cited those mid 80’s Manga imports as an influence on his art.

    So by 1987 onward the influence back and forth between American comic artists and their Japanese Mangaka counterparts had been pretty much continuous.

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