Despite being the most successful and popular manga artist in history, Osamu Tezuka's massive body of work has always had a shaky past when it comes to American interpretations. While early 60s imports of the original Astro Boy and Kimba the White Lion were successful, recent history has been less kind, as botched 'remakes' (see Lion King) and studio-killing CG versions betrayed their source material in ways that never helped Tezuka's ground-breaking originals find their proper place in American pop-culture.
But with all sorts of crazy Japanese manga reaching wider audiences than ever before, it was only a matter of time before one of the most daring and original stories found its way stateside. I'm talking about Naoki Urasawa (Yawara: A Fashionable Judo Girl) and his epic recast of Tezuka's most popular Astro Boy storyline, Pluto. If you're any sort of fan of classic or modern manga/anime, the idea of seeing Urasawa's version get the big-budget cinematic treatment should send shivers of joy down your spine. Better start shivering, because it looks like it's happening...
Keep reading for more info on the potential of seeing 'the greatest robot story' ever written on the big-screen after the jump!
Deadline is reporting that Urasawa's massively popular manga, which was originally published in Japan between 2003 - 2009, will be remade as a live-action/CG hybrid for Universal Pictures. As a fanatical Osamu Tezuka fan this is incredibly good news, as I just recently finished reading Urasawa's fantastic re-telling of Tezuka's original 1965 storyline "The Greatest Robot on Earth,"widley considered the most popular story in Tezuka's most popular series.
Pluto: Urasawa x Tezuka followed Europol robot detective Gesicht, who's tasked with trying to figure out the source behind the deaths of the world's most popular robots, many who happen to be veterans of the great robot war. Things only get more interesting when all signs point to the culprit being a super-powered robot, and the mystery deepens when Gesicht seeks the cryptic advice from the only robot ever convicted of killing a human being. The lines between what it means to be human and robot blur as each murder brings about an epic conclusion that threatens the fate of all humanity - and even planet Earth.
Urasawa's story reinterprets Tezuka's 1965 original story as a series murder mystery, with reimagined characters and plotlines that not only invoke the original story, but many of Tezuka's most popular characters (including Black Jack, Robito, and many others). The project received the full blessing of Tezuka's family and was even supervised by his son, Makoto Tezuka. It's a powerful story told by a true master of the craft, and should be required reading for anyone who considers themselves a fan of illustrated narrative.
Let's hope that Pluto fares better than last year's horrendous Astro Boy CG remake from Imagi Studios (2007's TMNT), which nearly killed the studio and probably turned a generation of potential Astro fans off. Unlike that turd, however, it seems that Pluto would be in considerably more capable hands of Illumination Entertainment's Chris Meledandri and Universal Pictures, who already scored a massive hit this summer with Dispicable Me. The pairing look to follow that up next year with the bizarre-sounding Hop, another live-action/CG mix that has Russel Brand (Get Him To TAs a fanatical Osamu Tezuka fan this is incredibly good news, as I just recently finished reading Urasawa's fantastic re-telling of Tezuka's original "The Greatest Robot on Earth"he Greek) as the Easter Bunny. They also have quite the slate of animated features already coming down the line, including an adaptation of Dr. Seuss' The Lorax, the Ricky Gervais-created Flanimals, and even the anticipated Tim Burton-directed stop-motion version of The Addams Family.
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