The World is My Burrito Podcast

E20 - PLUTO/The Greatest Robot on Earth

November 22, 2023 Kory Torjussen Episode 20
E20 - PLUTO/The Greatest Robot on Earth
The World is My Burrito Podcast
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Leave a little verbal snacky

Come with me and you'll be in a world of pure artificial imagination. Listen to me babble as I try to provide opinions on the robots and AI in PLUTO, Urasawa's take of the classic Tezuka tale: The Greatest Robot on Earth


What is UP all you robo-bros and photon-powered floozies and welcome to The World is my Burrito, AKA TWIMB, a podcast where I take months to release content because I am terrible at scheduling and great at re-writing everything from the bottom up.

As always I am your host, Kory T. comin’ atcha from Tampa FL on this fine November 21st, 2023 . This is episode number 20 which will primarily focus on the Urasawa/Tezuka crossover manga PLUTO, but will also touch on the original Astro Boy story by Osamu Tezuka titled The Greatest Robot on Earth. I will not actually cover the new Astro Boy anime on Netflix. 

Now, this will be very different because of the subject matter. Nothing bad, just a lot of thinky stuff. When this episode began I wrote it was about the content I was holding in my hands. But the more I wrote, the more I needed to express what was on my mind. It’s kinda like what I did in Ghost of Tsushima but hopefully better

Hot Take

Off the top and spoiler-free I will say PLUTO is absolutely a recommendation. I love how this tale is dissected, and how every facet, especially the individual characters, ramp up. Urasawa seems well-versed in film and it shows, with the time jumps and flashbacks and doing a great job of encapsulating some parts of this story, giving them their own time to shine, without ever removing you from the story. Almost everything is relevant in the moment or will be soon, with the seemingly irrelevant ones revealing themselves at pivotal points or giving you something more to think about if you so desire.

Personal History

This may come as a surprise to you but I was not familiar with any of Urusawa’s work prior to reading this. And this is still the only thing I’ve read. However, I have read Tezuka’s The Greatest Robot on Earth in 2019 then again in prep for this episode. It’s readily available in Volume 1 of the Astro Boy omnibus.

I read this once to get into it then a second time to take notes and gotta say, the second read had me hooked just as hard if not harder than the first.

Book and anime Info

TGROE or Chijō saidai no robotto (地上最大のロボット) released in Shōnen magazine (not to be confused with Shōnen Jump) beginning in either March or June 1964 - January 1965. Like, which one is it people? Why am I finding conflicting information? The entire story spans some 178 pages. By the magazine title this is for the shōnen or 12-18 year old demographic. 

PLUTO: Published by Shogakukan in their Big Comic Original (ビッグコミックオリジナル), spanning 8 volumes released between September 5, 2003 – April 4, 2009. Aimed at the seinen or 18+ demographic. 

地上最大のロボット the anime has been made and remade a multitude of times in various eras of astro Boy’s life. There’s the original from 1963, again in the 1980s, and finally in the 2003 anime.

Of course most recently is Urasawa’s PLUTO anime, released October 26th of 2023 with a total of 8 episodes.

This is partially why I don’t want to cover the anime. In my heart of hearts I know that covering one will lead me to searching for and covering them all. And this is a unique episode.

Creator/Character History


Whether or not you’ve listened to any of my previous Tezuka episodes, I’ll give you a brief rundown. Tezuka has a lot of content involving racial and social inequality, using robots as “the other”. He studied for years to be a doctor and even got his degree, but his manga and love for animation inevitably overtook that plan. I’d give you a list but it’s everything. He did everything. He did everything always until he died is not an entirely inaccurate statement. Yeah yeah, some day I’ll get around to my magnum opus that will be about his life and career.

Now, this next bit of info is a real kicker but requires a warning: there are no hard articles. They’re stated in the Astro Boy omnibus forward and PLUTO afterward.

In the 1960s Tezuka made several troubling comments during interviews. One, that Astro Boy was never supposed to get this big and that quote “he has become a monster” unquote. Another, that he quote “Felt trapped by the need to satisfy his young fans’ desires for battling robots” unquote. One final comment being in-manga when Dr. Tenma calls Atom “a total failure”, which could be exemplary of Tezuka’s own feelings.

He could never have guessed that this would still be his most popular Mighty Atom story to date.

Artist: Naoki Urasawa

Next up we have Naoki Urasawa: born in 1960. He’s a monumental Mangaka with such titles under his belt as 20th Century Boys, Monster, Master Keaton, Yawara!, Happy! and currently Asadora.

He is also a musician.

At 4-5 years old his grandparents bought him the Mighty Atom titles The Greatest Robot on Earth and The Artificial Sun. (book 1 interview) Young Urasawa felt that the prior was the saddest story he’d ever read for many years, leaving a great impact.

He started drawing at a very young age and imitated artists like Tezuka and another prominent managaka Shinji Nagashima, before focusing more on Katsuhiro Otomo in 1979. His personal work MONSTER cemented his personal artistic style.

This was conceived under the auspices of Macoto Tezka, son of Osamu Tezuka. 

The creative team is certainly not complete with our final guy being plot collaborator and close partner of Urasawa: Takashi Nagasaki who has worked with Urasawa on many projects. 

Book Creation History

For the book history lemme pull things back then slingshot you right into the future. In the 1950s, Tezuka picked April 7th, 2003 as his two-dimensional child’s birthday.

Fast forward to the infant 2000s. Urasawa thinks that someone should take up the mantle of recreating a Mighty Atom tale but initially doesn’t think it’s the job for him. Eventually he reached the conclusion, “Hey, maybe I should be the guy to do this”, but didn’t immediately seek to make it happen.

However, in 2002 while Urasawa has been building up ideas for this potential tale and the courage to propose it, someone reached out to Macoto Tezuka in advance saying he should consider Urasawa for a new Atom series. 

You see, in the very near future, it would be Atom’s previously listed day of birth. Not just a birthday, but the birthday of the most influential character who provided a positive outlook in post-war Japan.

 And Japan was celebrating by releasing a brand new Mighty Atom animated series. The 2003 Robodex exhibition was also celebrating this momentous occasion by creating an area at the center of the show named “Atom Dream Factory”. Our life size hero was lying on a table, surrounded by industrial robots. Every 30 minutes the robots would re-enact the moment of his birth, then Atom would sit upright and raise his arm. There’s a super cute photo of Macoto shaking hands with Atom. Maybe I’ll remember to put it in the YouTube video.

Additionally, in the postscript of PLUTO Volume 2, Macoto mentions some kind of My Atom Exhibition where fan art was displayed. Side note: It sounds like this is something that happened previous to the ROBODEX exhibition but I cannot find a single bit of data on that. Anyways, Macoto observed that so many of the fan submissions were homages or tributes to Osamu and felt like nobody was making it their own.

Hop over to March 28th of 2003. Urasawa and Macoto finally meet. Urasawa is ready. Macoto is nervous. As the representative of the Tezuka name, even something as seemingly harmless as meeting with artists can be misconstrued as giving permission. And no matter what the outcome, he will have to take heat from at least some fans.

Urasawa spoke passionately about The Greatest Robot on Earth, his ideas for a new story, and showed some sketches. Apparently Astro Boy and Gerhart, Gesicht’s name in the original tale, were too visibly similar and identifiable. Macoto laid out the one condition: this needed to be Urasawa’s work, not Osamu’s. He wanted to watch Urasawa go head-on with Usamu Tezuka, godfather of manga and Japanese pop culture as we know it, and he would referee.

I hope you’re not bummed that there isn’t more history! Because there is. But we’ll get there in time.


TGROE: A sultan called Chochi Chochi Ababa the Third has built a robot named Pluto to be the king of all robots. He sends him to fight seven other powerful robots to prove that they are indeed the greatest on Earth. 

“In an ideal world where man and robots coexist, someone or something has destroyed the powerful Swiss robot Mont Blanc. Elsewhere a key figure in a robot rights group is murdered. The two incidents appear to be unrelated… except for one very conspicuous clue - the bodies of both victims have been fashioned into some sort of bizarre collage complete with makeshift horns placed by the victims’ heads. Interpol assigns robot detective Gesicht to this most strange and complex case - and he eventually discovers that he too, as one of the seven great robots of the world, is one of the targets.”

Spoiler warning

If you don’t want this mecha-burrito spoiled I recommend you put it back in your mecha-fridge for a little while longer. Read the manga. Or watch the anime. But come back when you’ve gained a little humanity or had extremely traumatic experiences.

Plot Summary

The Greatest Robot on Earth’s plot is the simpler of the two. Sultan Chochi Chochi Ababa the Third hires scientist Dr. Abullah to create the most powerful robot in the world to go around killing all the other robots because he has a Napoleon complex and literally just wants to rule all robots. After killing Mont Blanc it immediately goes to fight Astro Boy. Ochanomizu tell Astro “no”, then tells Pluto “no”, so Pluto leaves. He takes out more bots, then challenges Astro by literally calling his landline. Uran answers both the phone call and call to action so Pluto kidnaps her to entice atom to fight. Atom responds but Brando steps in and manages to incapacitate Pluto. Atom is gracious and allows Pluto to live, returning home with Uran. Ochanomizu does some detective work to find Pluto’s creator, Atom does some sneaky following, Ochanomizu gets kidnapped, Astro and Pluto fight. Pluto rather handily defeats Atom but lets him go. A life for a life. Astro reluctantly returns and asks Dr. Tenma to upgrade him to 1 million horsepower. Pluto kills more robots. Astro awakens with an unquenchable rage, hunts Pluto, does a dumb and ends up in an abyss that not even Pluto is willing to search. So Pluto goes to the final robot, Epsilon, for help. They save an unconscious astro then split. 

Back at the sultan’s castle, the mysterious Dr. Goji appears with the staypuft marshmallow robot named BORA and challenges the Sultan to a duel while Pluto is busy in Australia killing Epsilon.

The sultan sends a snail mail letter to Astro challenging him once again to fight Pluto atop Mt. Aso, an active volcano in Japan. Astro accepts but their fight is interrupted by Goji and Bora. Goji reveals himself as Abullah who made BORA with the sultan’s funding specifically to fight PLUTO. Astro and Pluto fight until Mt. Aso begins erupting. Astro and Pluto team up to throw rocks in the opening to stop it then double team up against Bora. Astro keeps taking breaks to save people while Pluto is getting his shit torn apart, Pluto is defeated and explodes, taking BORA with him. 

Dr. Abullah reveals that he himself is actually the sultan’s previous butler who got a degree in robotic engineering and the story ends. Oh my god. It is a ride.

I avoided a world history section because it gives away a lot of important details. If you’re a US citizen and a millennial or older, you’ll know where this is going. Even so, I’m still not gonna give you the entire plot because holy shit.

4 years ago, the United States of Thracia wanted to prove their mettle to the world by accusing Persia’s King Darius XIV of working with an elusive scientist to create an army of robots of mass destruction. Thracia used this accusation to garner the support of the United Nations, who dispatched a group of scientists -going by the mysterious acronym BORA- to verify. Before any real discovery could be made, the massacre of a nation began. Persia was brought down to ashes with the help of 5 of the greatest robots the world had to offer. 1 additional robot was brought in for cleanup detail and 1 more as the personification of world peace.

Fast forward to today. The world’s strongest robot, Mont Blanc, has been killed and his head placed in a ritualistic fashion - with branches placed on either side to resemble horns. Shortly after, robot rights activist Bernard Lanke is murdered in Germany in a similar fashion - this time with a lamp and piece of metal for horns. Interpol agent Gesicht is sent to investigate and notices this pattern. This second incident leads to a string of international murders bouncing back and forth between the world’s strongest robots and their creators, and its most important robot rights leaders.

While on this murder express we learn about the humanity within robot AI, how the AI of some have been manipulated to achieve the desires of those in a higher power, how trauma changes people, and what happens when a perfect robot is created.

I really hope that does it justice.

Beginning and End

Before getting deep into though I want to begin at the beginning. In a world that is clearly ours, the US of A is suspiciously absent from the list of nations. The beginning of this entire tale seems to be pretty unabashedly chastising the US for our decisions in Afghanistan. I don’t know Urasawa’s intent here, but with a 2003 release this was a very easy topic to pick, especially from a country of creators who constantly use real wars as the canvas for their stories. So maybe it wasn’t calling out. It’s also worth noting the hidden weapons of mass destruction is a very Russia/North Korea kinda theme. Thracia is definitely a combo.

It’s also giving us so many catalysts. Mankind selfishly blamed mankind for unfounded war crimes as an excuse to commit war crimes then honestly got away with it for a good few years. Robot soldiers were sent to do all the dirty work. Body-count-wise, Robots were those harmed the most.

In a tale about traumatic events changing the fabric of someone’s being, all of our robots were involved in the most traumatic of events. Honestly, I think Dr. Abullah was the only human of our tale to really have to deal with the war crimes. The whole BORA team only saw the wild robot massacre.

And with what we’re getting to in a few minutes, Abullah’s thoughtless massacre of robots really stands out.

Probably the most surface level real world comparison that can be made is that, in war, every fighter is a cog in the grander machine. And historically, every man is as disposable as is required to achieve the end goal. As were the robots in this tale, no matter how much money was spent on them.

Moving on from that is the finale.

Where mankind begins robots, and mankind begets war, nature is the tool used to get the job done.

One of the powerful supervolcanoes in history is Yellowstone. Its last eruption was 1,000 times larger than Mt. St Helens. And where America does not exist in this tale, somehow Yellowstone does. This has to be intentional.

Currently, Yellowstone is what’s called a caldera. 

A caldera is a depression created after a volcano releases the majority of the contents of its magma chamber in an explosive eruption. Without any structural support below, the land around the erupting volcanic vent or vents collapses inwardly, creating the bowl-shaped caldera.

The caldera itself measures 35 by 40 miles and sits atop a magma plume 465 miles long. Scientists don’t expect it to go off any time soon, but the nature of a caldera makes it difficult to truly tell if any future explosions will be in short bursts or one very large, unhappy burst.

So in this tale of man battling machines and vice versa, featuring the most powerful weapons ever manufactured, nature is still the greatest weapon.


The most important part of this tale to me are the characters.

Tezuka has a lot of black and white characters with 1 or 2 shades of grey mixed in. But Urasawa built a massive color wheel of racial views on robots and, whether accidental or designed, views on artificial intelligence. These are my favorite details in the story which I would like to address with you.

This has been one of the most oddly difficult sections to work on because it was supposed to be an interview trading ideas, not a monologue. And with a monologue comes a need for greater details. And with time I’ve been able to think about these details day and night. So here we are….


PLUTO has two fairly identical mirrored constructs of racial opinions. The most developed of which is the human perception of robots, while the other is the robot’s perception of humans.

Before this gets too deep and to foil my own simplicity, I’d like to drive a wedge between robots and AI. In lieu of the material and that 1960s magic I will exclusively refer to robots as just that, but with the caveat that these robots also have cognitive AI. For now they will be one and the same, though there is absolutely a difference between the two. 

Stuck in a world of their own design where interacting and working with robots is unavoidable, our cast ranges from individuals who love and respect all robots as equals - like Professor Ochanomizu- to the literal robot KKK.

But that outlook is too simple. While this list of observations is meant to be something of a cruise from white to black, any type of categorization mentioned is as imperfect as the humans they represent.

Professor Ochanomizu doesn’t even see gray. He is so entranced with robots that all of the robots in this story appear the same in his eyes, regardless of generation or capabilities. From the Hasbro iDog he repairs later in the tale to Atom, their value is the same.

This isn’t without its problems. Early on in the tale they mention a dog car design. This mentality displays something of a disconnect with average human reactions to these creations. Sure, he’s at the forefront of robots and certain machines designs, catering the former to realism, but that goal is more than likely a push by the Japanese ministry of science. Or possibly to match reality with his perception.

We have more torn characters like Dr. Tenma who has the greatest understanding of what AI is yet seems to eschew it because it isn’t human. When his son Toby dies, he creates Atom. Atom is far too perfect, so he abandons him and his job, and disappears. He doesn’t hate robots but sees their mimicry as imperfection. Atom acts very much like a child but is respectful and tidy, characteristics that are not Toby. Dr. Tenma has now lost one thing twice and is staring at his third failure. This causes him to create two of the mightiest and most dangerous robots on earth. He’s the embodiment of “...Your Scientists Were So Preoccupied With Whether Or Not They Could, They Didn’t Stop To Think If They Should.”, creating things that are not only a danger to themselves and their type, but the entire human race and earth as we know it. More on him later. 

An interesting character adjustment is Superintendent Tawashi. In the OG stories he’s one helluva pendulum, always doing exactly what his job requires of him. If the story asks him to actually round up robots and send them to die, he’ll do it without question. If in the next panel he’s required to support robots, he’s all about it. But this new Tawashi only finds them burdening. He’s not hateful but at the first human murder site is introduced as being demeaning towards the robots analyzing site data. All Robots, including Atom, are just there to do a job and little else. The greatest catalogers and detectives for the police force are robots yet they hold no humanity to him. This story kinda makes me wonder what his job actually is if robots are actually doing it all…

Contrary to Tawashi, and still in the beginning of the tale, one of his own patrolmen first refers to his partner as “Robby”, then as “Patrol-Bot”. There’s an additionally fun question here: Is this a man who sees robots as equals or a man who does not recognize himself as nothing more than a soft machine? This point is never pushed further so there’s no evidence either way. Just a fun thought.

I’d say the perfect characteristic middle is actually Pluto slash Sahad. Sahad’s personal goals were a massive boon to mankind but Pluto is forced to do the most political harm to both humans and robots alike. His good actions are his own, while his evil actions are directed by a human who is actually another robot. The robot is good, and the robot is evil. Only at the finale does he decide for himself and become the tragic hero who gives the ultimate sacrifice. He is also the only character to struggle with identity. Is Pluto the mask or is Sahad the mask? Which body is truly his? And which goal is truly his?

Following that up, the perfect physical middle is Dr. Abullah slash Goji. Even sensors can’t really identify whether he’s robot or human. And, hey, neither can he! It’s like he’s ascended to the Tyrell Corporation vision of “more human than human”. Aethetics aside, Dr. Abullah’s sides see to it that everything is equally hated. Pluto is meant to destroy the world’s strongest robots, AKA the world’s strongest defenses, robots in political power, and those who were part of the GOJI investigation party. Despite his own hatred of mankind, not even the Abullah side sees how much hatred he truly contains, and the wrath that GOJI intends on releasing to the world. I guess if Abullah is Thin Buu, GOJI is Kid Buu.

We can start our descent to darkness with Adolf Haas, who only hates robots subjectively. He is the character from a shit upbringing just trying to get by. After his father lost his factory job to robots, he couldn’t get back on his feet. Inevitably he did wrong and was caught by a robot and arrested over a soccer ball, which led him to suicide almost immediately after leaving jail. Down the line his brother did wrong and was murdered by a robot, and because of that he hates robots despite everyone creating their own downfall and, once again, his entire company depending on robots. 

On the other side of Adolf’s token, society seems to have a great part in creating these monsters. Obviously this part isn’t fully developed but in our own world there haven’t always been options for those replaced by automation. Adolf’s hatred of robots isn’t entirely unfounded and when it comes down to it, he is still a victim. But for a guy directly involved with politicians he never looks around to see where his father’s problem may have originated from, and that is his fault. His brother’s crimes are never revealed but everyone hates him so it’s pretty safe to say fuck that guy.

The KKK just hate robots because they are mostly politicians who literally have nothing better to do with their lives. Hatred for the sake of hatred and going out of their way to do nothing for the benefit of mankind. But as is tradition, they hate robots so much they’ll kill as many humans as it takes to get their way.

I don’t think I would say that The President of Thracia sees robots as equals OR as tools. Teddy Roosevelt is doing all the work and the President is just kinda vibing, thinking he’s in charge of something. He is the soft machine. All of the signs are there. He has more information than we do. But he’s the only one who doesn’t see it until Teddy spells it out. But he did agree to create a world of prejudice against a whole human race AND robots. 

Teddy is an advanced AI that sees the human race as the tools. The whole plot hinges on these two robots that Tenma created yet the real problem is this mysterious AI that doesn’t exist in a conventional body, and definitely lacks wack lasers or weapons of any kind. Teddy is genuinely the most enigmatic of the bunch. It’s willing to wipe out an exact percentage of the human race, leaving some alive to be servants. But why would the robots even need servants after BORA does its job? They are made in factories, meaning they can self-replicate. Adding to the enigma is the question of Teddy’s origin. Within this tale, Tenma is the only one who can create the most powerful robots in the world, yet Teddy still exists and seems just as capable of deviative thought as Abullah, Pluto, and Atom.

I sure hope you don’t think I forgot about one of the most important characters in our entire tale. A character who holds an even greater importance than I ever could have imagined and single-handedly increased the complexity of this episode.

Well fuggedahboutit. Brau-1589 pisses me off and is getting his own episode. Or mini-sode. I’ll decide when it’s done. Don’t @ me. But I will say this: Brau’s history is actually a LOT more relevant in theme to Urasawa’s story than The Greatest Robot on Earth.

But we can talk about one of the other most important characters in this series who makes for a phenomenal segue: Robby the Robot’s wife. I think she was only in the first book and nothing hinges on her but she is important to this discussion.

Robby’s wife is a maidbot that seems to be pretty close to the lowest form of robot -like one step above the Hasbro dog- yet she displays the beginnings of what could be considered emotion. She can only relate the loss of her husband to an experience with her employers, whose son was sad for for days at the loss of a dog. This is all she has to go on but this is enough to elicit the response of wanting to hold onto his memories AND have his memories meshed with her own. She is grasping onto humanity harder than anyone. One of my favorite panels is after the memory chip is inserted she puts her hand over the heart area and says, “He’s right here”

Artificial Intelligence

Great awesome let’s get on to Artificial Intelligence and cognitive intelligence. 

What is artificial intelligence? the theory and development of computer systems able to perform tasks that normally require human intelligence, such as visual perception, speech recognition, decision-making, and translation between languages.

Notice this is a very task-oriented description. In the real world, photoshop’s healing and clone tools are AI. And they are. That doesn’t sound very fun by comparison to ChatGPT which provides a parasocial relationship, but honestly ChatGPT is just the text version of the healing brush. Nothing in there mentions mimicking or experiencing human emotion. In reality we aren’t quite there yet so this bit is reasonable.

Now, what is the approach to artificial intelligence in this tale?

Starting from the baseline, these robots are presented almost from the Asimovian guidelines, though the third rule seems to be thrown out. They aren’t allowed to harm humans and they have a job to do. That’s basically both dogs. The next step up would be Robby’s wife, who just has a job as a maid until she seems to grasp a minutiae of what emotions are.

Honestly the next step up is pretty drastic: most of the robots in this tale greatly mimic humanity. 

When speaking with Gesicht, Astro states he understood what “delicious” meant after pretending for so long. Amongst the chaos of motor skills and speech we try to instruct children how to be. You say “mmmm” when food is good and rub your tummy. You attempt to direct every form of misunderstanding, positive or negative. It is humanity, directly taught.

Then there’s heuristic learning. Atom is in school around kids the same age as his appearance. Atom understands the excitement over the flying saucer toy because the act of using it is what we call fun. But additional value is placed on it since releases are limited. This thing causes fun and is not readily available.

So from just Atom’s conversation: at what point does mimicry become emotion? 

All of the robots want to care care of each other which seems to come from their experiences on the battlefield.

Mont Blanc was a hero to children and a preserver of nature. North No. 2 wants to learn how to use his murderous body to help an old man and create art. Hercules wants revenge for Brando. Both Brando and Jupiter are taking care of human children. Astro cries and feels sorrow when he sees what Gesicht has forgotten. Gesicht wants to do right by Robby’s wife, to whom he owes absolutely nothing.

The story’s requirements for ascending beyond base level artificial intelligence to cognitive intelligence is by inducing a severe negative emotion. But are they actually being taught what hate is or is this simpler? Are these emotions the only way a robot knows how to define something that goes against programming? 

Gesicht is the only one that learns hate through personal experience. Both Dr. Abullah and Astro learn to hate after memories are physically inserted.

Gesicht even goes so far as to develop PTSD and I really do love that about his character. Particularly because that PTSD shred of a memory is directly related to the best moment of his life: the moment that taught him love. 

Robby’s death seems to be something of a trigger point for his wife, one of the most basic creations in this tale, to realize there is something beyond programming. But she does relate it to past experiences.

So, again, when does mimicry become emotion? And are those mutually exclusive? Even we as humans experience things in different ways. Sometimes it’s based on our own genetic programming and sometimes it’s based on watching others. 

My final point is the human response to AI, which is somewhat varied although most don’t see anything beyond “a robot is a robot”. AI and robots are one and the same. However, some are afraid of that mutual exclusion, as indicated by the responses to Brau and Gesicht. They programmed a thing to learn and learn it did. Some don’t care about what AI is doing, in the case of someone like the President of Thracia. Or maybe he is just an idiot who also thought “a robot is a robot” and completely ignored the outright murderous intent.

That’s all. Maybe now you better understand the difficulty of releasing this episode. It’s kind of a lot and I hope the ramblings make some sense.

To those who have read the manga, you may see things that I’ve missed. If you listened this far and haven’t actually seen or read PLUTO yet, your upcoming experience will definitely provide you with more. There’s a lot. It’s a great story. But I think I’ve covered enough.

My one final thought is: nobody in this story seems to truly understand what it means to be human. Least of all the humans.

Let’s lighten this load by moving on to…


And this will be short. Stuff is missing and that is by design at this point.

Das Gesicht is German for “face”. I don’t know the reasoning behind this but Gesicht does get a huge facelift.

Montblanc is the highest mountain in Frankish empire, fitting for this veritable mountain of a robot. His creator is Reinhardt which has a few meanings, but the name means “Brave counsel” in German.

Epsilon is Greek for 5. He was the “6th” robot killed, but as Atom revives it turns out he was the fifth. Fitting. 

Robby for hopefully Robbie the Robot from one of the greatest early sci-fi movies ever: Forgotten Planet.

The mysterious scarred doctor who saves Paul Duncan is Osamu Tezuka’s Black Jack character.

The dog-shaped patrol cars are found in Osamu’s Astro Boy works.

Uran with animals relates to Red Cat story.

Obsolete Robot Maid possibly from an episode of Phoenix titled “Future”. 

And of course the mysterious Brau-1589 is from Blue Knight


I love how “500 zeus a body” has a negative connotation through the entire story until we learn that it was actually a beautiful moment.

Hercules and Brando can remove their AI and insert it into armors. They otherwise walk around human bodies. In the OG tale, they are just the giant machines at all times.

It’s dumb but I love this almost Gundam Wing-ness to the robot creators. They all knew each other and all had one particular thing they specified in. Also, if you remember, Treize Kushrenada had a whole speech about how war became less distinguished after mankind started using bombs and missiles, which is why mobile suits were created. We evolved to the point of getting right back on the battlefield. This is somewhat similar.

Atom’s power wasn’t in horsepower but in mental capacity. I think Urasawa’s is more fitting for complexity of AI as opposed to machine power. And while many of the robots are repeatedly stated as physically powerful Pluto uses a lot of psychological attacks.

Ending is similar to Devilman Crybaby but a little less traumatic.


The beginning of the first Astro Boy omnibus and end of PLUTO books include interviews with their respective creators.

Express UK Yellowstone

MSN Yellowstone


I listened to a lot of John Coltrain in the writing of this episode, but shouts outs to Andre 3000’s album New Blue Sun and Italian metal band Messa’s album Belfry.

Shameless Plugs

If you subscribe to PodAss’ patreon you can hear me chat about Hideaki Anno’s Shin Godzilla with Erik, Zack, and Stephen.

You can also find me on Neatcast episode 134 and keep your eyes open for my appearance on their 12 rants of Christmas.

Hot Take (spoiler-free)
Personal History
Book and anime info
Creator/Character history
Book Creation
Spoiler Warning
Plot Summary
Real World Observation
Robots and Race
Robots and A.I.
The Rest