oyceter: man*ga [mahng' guh] n. Japanese comics. synonym: CRACK (manga is crack)
[personal profile] oyceter
Wow! An Urasawa series that ends before it hits the double digits!

Of course, it's been so long since I've read vol. 6 that I'm a little hazy on how well this connects with prior revelations.

I knew Gesicht was probably not going to be resurrected, given the original, but Urasawa did a really good job balancing taking out the main character of a series two volumes before it ends with the improbability that bringing him back to life would make.

I rolled my eyes a bit when we got to Eden National Park and the Native people direly muttering, although I did like that Urasawa points out how they are basically being put on display.

And though Epsilon probably is my least favorite of the world's greatest robots (I still like North 2 the most), I loved the final image of his cut off hands protecting the robot and the little boy.

I wish there had been more for Uran to do in the end besides cling to Prof. Ochanomizu, though I'm glad we got that flashback to her talking with Sahad and his painting of the flowers. And yeah, it would have been a change from the original, but so is a lot of the series! I forget, though, does Pluto end up saving Atom in the original from a world-destroying bomb? I vaguely recollect that there was no world-destroying bomb and that Pluto let Atom win over him, but I may be completely off the mark.

And while I find the portrayal of Persia in the series to be sketchy, I cackled a bit at the portrayal of the United States of Thracia because I am mean like that.

I am guessing that the memory of the adopted robot boy is what got mindwiped from Gesicht and Helena? I find it very interesting that almost all the portrayals of parenthood in the series are fathers and sons, many male creators with children, trying to recreate children, trying to figuratively give birth to themselves by programming themselves into robots, trying to make robot children because they can't or don't want to have biological children. It isn't just Ochanomizu and Abullah and Tenma, but also Epsilon and Hercules and Gesicht.

Finally, I was a little afraid that Urasawa would make Gesicht's hatred corrupt Atom, much as I spent basically all of Monster being afraid that Tenma would fall from his pedestal, and I am so glad that Atom stays Atom in the end.

Overall, I still have some issues with the way Urasawa deals with the portrayal of Middle Eastern characters, as well as with the metaphor of individual and institutional prejudice against robots equaling racism. I found the original volume of Astro Boy that this is based on to be relatively uninteresting and focused on the tournament-style fighting that can be so frequently found in shounen, but Urasawa does an excellent job of looking at more of the underlying issues without ever changing the essential character of Atom. And although he doesn't up the number of female characters by much, I like his Uran so much more! But really, the main surprise for me was how much I loved Gesicht, a fairly one-off character from the original. Urasawa similarly adds depth to all the robots in the original, but Gesicht in particular walks that line between man and monster that Urasawa so likes to examine in the series of his that I've read.

The eight-volume length also allows me to keep track of the plot better, and to my surprise, Urasawa actually manages to pull together most of his loose ends. That said, while I think this may be a better-constructed and more grown up series than 20th Century Boys, I miss the latter's rush of adrenaline and idtastic ideas.

Best fanfic comic evah!

Date: 2010-11-14 10:00 pm (UTC)
octopedingenue: Fakir from "Princess Tutu" looking woobieful (turkish for woobie)
From: [personal profile] octopedingenue
I was blindsided by Gesicht's death, since I still haven't read the original Astro Boy "Greatest Robot on Earth." I was expecting him maybe to die, but not THEN! Helena's delayed reaction to his death in particular hit me hard. A little bit of me hasn't entirely forgiven Atom for surviving.

The excision of Gesicht and Helena's memory of their son hit my personal horror/fascination storykink of individual memories as tangible data that can be removed, overwritten, or duplicated in another person, potentially ceaselessly; a subtly nasty distinction from a straight mindwipe and the thing I love in stuff like Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle and The Adoration of Jenna Fox.

Date: 2010-11-15 09:49 am (UTC)
cyphomandra: fluffy snowy mountains (painting) (snowcone)
From: [personal profile] cyphomandra
I started reading this not realising what it was based on (poorly labelled folders and personal ignorance!), and so bonded deeply to Gesicht as being a wonderful robot detective and the apparent lead. Ouch (I do now have actual hard copies with more useful notes, but I haven't read the original Astro Boy - worth it or not?) I loved Atom and Uran, though (although yes, i did want Uran to do something more), and I was amused by all the weird Alexander the Great references.

The children thing is interesting, particularly when in some ways it seems to be about denying growing up - the robot children can't, and the robots who adopt human children don't really address the issue of ageing.

I am halfway through 20th Century Boys, which I am reading as the Viz editions come out, and it's definitely my favourite of his so far - Monster wobbled too much towards the ending, and like you I prefer the over-the-top aspects of 20thCB to Pluto's more minor key.

Date: 2010-11-15 10:56 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
May I ask what you found problematic about Urasawa's portrayal of Persia?

Additionally, I'm confused with your remark on individual and institutional prejudice against robots being depicted as equivalent to racism. Did you just think the use of a KKK-like organization too blunt with the comparison/metaphor? Out of place? Because I can't see why the comparison wouldn't hold up, unless the robots were lacking in any form of sentience which clearly isn't the case in Pluto.

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