Off the Shelf: Ayako

MJ and I have deviated from our typical Off the Shelf routine to bring you a column devoted entirely to Osamu Tezuka’s Ayako. We both agree that the work is problematic in some respects but is nevertheless masterful.

You can find that column here.

Review copy provided by the publisher.

Adolf 5: 1945 and All That Remains by Osamu Tezuka: B+

From the back cover:
As American B-29s mercilessly bombard the city of Kobe, childhood friends Adolf Kaufmann and Adolf Kamil are finally reunited. But their love for the same woman threatens to break the last tenuous thread of friendship between them.

While Hitler spends his final days in Berlin, far away in Japan, the fate of the documents revealing the secret of his heritage is sealed forever. Then, over a quarter of a century after D-Day, the two Adolfs cross paths again—this time in Israel—but the gulf between them has only widened with time. Will the once staunch childhood friends make peace with each other before it’s too late?

Against the backdrop of the final days of World War II, the suspenseful resolution of Adolf‘s various plots plays out. Adolf Kaufmann arrives in Japan to find that the very man he’s been sent to interrogate about treacherous documents is now married to his mother. What’s more, the Jewish girl he sent to safety in Japan is now engaged to his former best friend, Adolf Kamil. While American bombs terrorize the citizens of Kobe, Kaufmann destroys any last shred of sympathy we had for him as his convictions that Germany is always right transform into a maddened zeal to secure that which he believes he deserves, no matter what other people have to say about it.

The key word of my summary paragraph is “suspenseful,” because that’s chiefly what this volume is. There’s more emphasis on wrapping up the story than on the characters themselves and years pass in the blink of an eye, with the final scenes occurring in 1983. Increasing the scope in this way does, however, emphasize the difference between leaders and regular citizens. The terrified Japanese people had surrendered long before their government actually did, for example, while Kaufmann was unable to give up on the Nazi cause after Germany’s defeat. Those who had joined without qualm were the first to walk away, whereas he, who had struggled so hard to stifle his own beliefs and buy into the Jew-hating rhetoric, was left clinging to the Nazi ideals the most tightly. “I gave up everything for this,” he half-exults, half-laments, when he finally succeeds in locating the sought-after documents.

I do love that the documents, subject of so much pain and misery, finally come to light at a moment where they are utterly useless. So much effort has been expended on locating them and, in the end, they’re simply handed back to Toge because they’re not worth anything anymore. It was all futile and, in the end, I think Tezuka is making exactly that same point about war in general, and this war in particular.

I’d love to see Adolf reissued in a swanky new VIZ Signature format, perhaps split into two omnibus editions. It’s not hard to come by as it is, but it’s definitely an unforgettable manga that deserves to be back in print.

Adolf 4: Days of Infamy by Osamu Tezuka: A

From the back cover:
While Adolf Hitler continues to wage war on the world and the Jewish people and Japan attacks Pearl Harbor, Japanese reporter Sohei Toge finally falls in love with one of the many women who has fallen for him!

Meanwhile, Adolf Kamil, a Jew living in Japan, befriends the Communist son of a Japanese MP in an attempt to deliver the secret documents about Hitler to a famous spy who will play a major role in the defeat of the Third Reich. But Adolf Kamil’s best friend, Adolf Kaufmann, by now a confirmed Nazi, is sent to Japan with orders to destroy the precious documents at any cost!

The fourth book in Osamu Tezuka’s outstanding Adolf covers a period of several years in the early forties in which Germany declares war on the Soviet Union and the presence of a Russian spy, Ramsey, in Japan presents Toge and his fellow conspirators with an opportunity to get the papers about Hitler’s Jewish blood into international hands. Most of the volume deals with arranging for the documents to be transferred to Ramsey, though love is in the air, too, as several couples discover feelings for each other. I assume this is Tezuka’s way of saying that even when times are grim, the human heart cannot be extinguished.

While he only appears in the last couple of chapters, the emotional crux of this series for me remains unfortunate Adolf Kaufmann, now a Lieutenant in Hitler’s service. In her forward to this volume, editor Annette Roman describes him as “impressionable,” which is precisely the perfect word for him. He does horrible things out of a real, though misguided, sense of devotion for Hitler, and when he realizes that the Führer has become mentally unstable, it’s a real blow to him. When he dares mention his concerns to another Nazi, the response he gets is basically, “Yeah, we know.”

Another comment Roman makes is that while Adolf can be enjoyed as a simple thriller set against the backdrop of World War II, Tezuka uses this plot to examine every “evil humans are capable of.” That’s especially true with Kaufmann’s plight. Even though he oversees terrible, terrible atrocities, we’ve seen him grow up and we know about his desperate need to prove himself worthy. His acts are evil, but it’s hard to believe that the person is the same. The other Nazis, on the other hand, perpetrate the same cruelties Kaufmann does, but without the idealization of a charismatic leader and deep personal insecurity as an excuse. Is Kaufmann really better than they are? Not ultimately, but he has been humanized by his struggle while they have not.

More turmoil is definitely in store for Kaufmann in the upcoming final volume. Unable to trust Hitler’s judgment, he refuses to obey an order to kill a renowned general pegged by the Führer as having been involved in an assassination attempt against him. For this insubordination, Kaufmann is shipped off to Poland in disgrace. It’s there that he reconnects with Lampe (of the Gestapo), who reiterates an offer he’d made before: go to Japan and destroy the documents and anyone who has knowledge of them. The volume ends on a marvelous cliffhanger as we know what Kaufmann’s mother has been up to in his absence, and how this will tie in with the task he’s been ordered to perform.

One does feel a little guilty anticipating the excitement and drama of the pending conclusion, but it’s a testament to Tezuka’s craft that he’s able to shine a light on inhumanity while simultaneously entertaining his audience.

Adolf 3: The Half-Aryan by Osamu Tezuka: A

From the back cover:
Now that the documents revealing Hitler’s secret have apparently been destroyed, it seems Japanese reporter Sohei Toge’s ordeal is over. But it turns out the Gestapo, not to mention the Japanese police, are still after him! Miss Ogi, his murdered brother’s dedicated school teacher, may be Sohei’s only hope! What does she know about the fate of those priceless documents?

Meanwhile, young Adolf Kaufmann has been brainwashed by the Hitler Youth, who send him to Lithuania to help the SS hunt down Jews. There he falls in love with a young Jewish woman—and he’s willing to risk everything to spare her from deportation to a Nazi death camp…

Then, in a terrible twist of fate, Adolf is ordered to execute Isaac Kamil! How can he kill the father of his best friend? But what will happen to him if he refuses?

We begin with the immediate fallout from the conclusion of volume two, in which a shootout between Toge and his foes transpired and the all-important documents were apparently lost in the sea. A couple of chapters are devoted to wrapping this up, but as the subtitle suggests, this volume actually spends the majority of its time with Adolf Kaufmann, the half-Japanese boy in training to join the Hitler Youth, whose life sucks a whole lot just now.

Even though Kaufmann has excelled in school, he still feels insecure about his place due to his heritage, an impression reinforced by special loyalty tests only non-pure students are required to perform. He gets in a few fights with a classmate over this point and when the father of his Jewish childhood friend Adolf Kamil—who, though extremely unfortunate events, comes to Europe to rescue some refugees and ends up in a labor camp—recognizes him and seeks his help, Kaufmann denies the acquaintance. Later, he meets a lovely Jewish girl and forcibly arranges her escape, sending her back to Japan to stay with Adolf Kamil, who finally makes his reapparance in this volume and ends up in possession of the documents, which weren’t destroyed after all.

I really admire how Kaufmann’s inner conflict is portrayed here. Even though he carries out some truly horrible orders, he manages to remain a sympathetic character because he is struggling so much with the persuasive power of a charismatic leader and his own inate beliefs. It’s much easier for him to hate Jews when they’re a nameless, faceless group, and one can see how even some small exposure to Hitler—as a reward for his “bravery” (really desperate self-preservation) in capturing an Asian spy, Kaufmann begins to train as Hitler’s aide—ratchets up his fervor, but when he’s one-on-one with a person, it’s no longer so easy to tow the party line. His desire to belong is understandable, as is his panic when connections to his past threaten to expose his own doubts. In these situations, he instinctively reacts to squash the threat, even when the consequences are awful.

In his introduction to this volume, Matt Thorn writes that a common theme in Tezuka’s work is criticism of the “human tendency to be contemptuous and fearful of difference.” One can really see that on display here, as Kaufmann’s turmoil shows that it’s easy to villify a group before you have attempted to know them. And once you have, then it’s hard to sustain the hate. I’m not generally one to employ lofty quotations, but this one by Longfellow is one of my favorites, and it applies: “If we could read the secret history of our enemies we should find in each man’s life sorrow and suffering enough to disarm all hostility.”

If I had one complaint about this volume of Adolf it’s that I can’t really care much about the fate of the documents. The human stories are far more interesting, and even the brief tale of the pub owner who nurses an injured Toge and falls in love with him over the course of a single day makes more of an impact with me than the possibility that Hitler’s shameful lineage might be exposed.

Adolf certainly doesn’t qualify as a fun read, but it is definitely a powerful one. Before this series, the only Tezuka I had read was Dororo. While Dororo is definitely good, it’s this later, more sophisticated tale that has really gotten me excited to read more of his works.

Adolf 2: An Exile in Japan by Osamu Tezuka: A

From the back cover:
Japanese reporter Sohei Toge returns to his homeland, where he finally learns the secret that led to his brother’s brutal murder at the hands of the Gestapo. But now the Japanese secret police are on his tail, and the SS officer who tortured him in Germany has followed him to Japan to hush him up—permanently!

As fate would have it, Yukie Kaufmann, the Japanese widow of a high-ranking German Nazi, is Sohei’s only hope for survival. Meanwhile, Yukie’s son, Adolf, is being brainwashed by his teachers at an elite German school for the Hitler Youth. Why are they trying to make him hate Jews, including his best friend, Adolf Kamil!?

As the second volume of Tezuka’s masterful Adolf begins, two years have passed since the death of reporter Sohei Toge’s brother, Isao. Isao was in possession of documents that he believed would bring down Hitler, and Toge is trying to fulfill his promise to ensure that it happens.

Toge finally succeeds in locating the documents in the beginning of the volume, but his life rapidly deteriorates from there as Nazis, secret police, and foreign agents converge on him to try to claim the papers for themselves. He’s tortured, watched day and night, fired from his job, ousted from his residence, and ends up a destitute day laborer who experiences periodic visits from one especially determined investigator named Akabane.

All of this is quite riveting, but the accumulation of bad luck as hardship after hardship is heaped upon Toge makes for a painful read. When he’s mistakenly arrested for arson after losing the documents, his spirits are finally broken and he doesn’t even care if he’s charged and sent away. Of course, no rest waits for Toge, and after a brief interval in jail, he returns to a life of running, train-hopping, deserted islands, and shootouts, though with a kindly police detective on his side.

Most of this volume focuses on Toge, whose action-heavy story reads like a thriller and can be enjoyed extensively on that level. More disturbing and subtle are the glimpses we get of Adolf Kaufmann, whom we last saw as he was being unwillingly shipped off to the Adolf Hitler Schule to learn to be a good Nazi. While Adolf is doing exceptionally well academically, his tolerant attitude toward Jews doesn’t sit well with the school administrators. His top grades entitle him to receive an award from Hitler himself, and after a brief time in that charismatic man’s company, he comes out a changed boy, writing to his mother of his desire to shed blood for Germany, and beginning to parrot the rhetoric he’s read and heard about the inferiority of other races.

It was inevitable that Kaufmann’s innocence would be corrupted in this way, and there’s really nothing else he could do in such circumstances, but his transformation is, to me, a greater tragedy than the death of Isao or all of the misfortunes Toge endures. With his depiction of Kaufmann, Tezuka seems to have some sympathy for the regular citizens who were swept up in Nazi fervor, not unlike Americans who oppose the war but still support the troops who are waging it. We typically think of Nazis as the personification of evil, but the real truth is not so black-and-white.

My one regret with this volume is that it does not further the story of Adolf Kamil, the Jew living with his family in Kobe, at all. We know little of him, compared to Toge and Kaufmann, so perhaps he is not meant to be a star in his own right, but rather to represent a constant about which Kaufmann’s feelings will radically change through his experience in the Hitler Youth. The volume’s introduction does mention the racism he experiences as a non-Asian living in Japan, however, so perhaps there will be more to come later on.

I would not hesitate to call Adolf a manga classic. Like the best classics, it’s not only required reading, it’s also absorbing and unforgettable.

Adolf 1: A Tale of the Twentieth Century by Osamu Tezuka: A

adolf1From the back cover:
On the eve of World War II, the destinies of three men named “Adolf”—including the infamous dictator of Germany’s Third Reich—became inexorably intertwined…

I had already requested Adolf via interlibrary loan when Connie posted her excellent review of the series at Manga Recon. You can see what she has to say about it here.

In this later work, serialized between 1983 and 1985, Tezuka masterfully intertwines the stories of three men (though two are technically boys) named Adolf. The story begins in the summer of 1936, when Japanese journalist Sohei Toge is in Berlin covering the Olympics. His brother, Isao, is enrolled at the university there and when a suspenseful competition keeps Sohei from making it to a prearranged meeting with his brother, he arrives a couple of hours late to find his Isao’s body in a tree with what seems to be plaster dust under his nails, a clue that reminds Toge of the murder of a geisha he reported on back in Japan. Some policemen promptly show up and carry the body off, but when Toge makes his own way to the precinct they claimed to be from, nobody knows anything about the incident.

Thus begins Toge’s quest to find out what happened, aided by some initials Isao left behind on a scrap of paper, anonymous phone calls, and a woman named Rita who claims she was in love with Isao until he became obsessed with some radical groups on campus. In a riveting sequence, Toge is captured by Nazis just as he locates his brother’s body in a shallow grave and is tortured because, it is revealed later, Isao didn’t have what they were looking for and they believe he managed to pass it on to his brother. Toge’s story comes to a pause in 1936 after he brutally beats and, it is implied, rapes Rita after discovering her true allegiances. Probably we are supposed to excuse this because of all of his anger, fear, and frustration, but it (and the aftermath) is really quite horrible.

Next, the setting shifts to Japan where we encounter two boys named Adolf living in the city of Kobe. Adolf Kaufmann is the son of a German father and Japanese mother. His dad is a staunch Nazi supporter and forbids his son from befriending Adolf Kamil, a Jewish boy whose family runs a bakery. Kauffman can’t understand why it isn’t okay to play with Adolf, since he’s German too, and some poignant moments ensue when people attempt to essentially destroy his innocence with their views of Jews as an inferior race. Kamil’s parents aren’t keen on his friendship with Kaufmann, either. The boys’ story intertwines with that of Toge because Kaufmann’s dad is involved both with the murder of the geisha as well as the search for the information Isao was supposedly in possession of, and when, in 1938, the boys stumble upon this revolutionary bit of information, the fallout isn’t pleasant and ultimately results in Kaufmann being reluctantly shipped off to Germany to attend a school for Hitler youth.

As Connie attested in her review, Adolf is quite amazing. Tezuka’s storytelling is supremely skilled, combining passages of narration with an economical and cinematic visual flow that sweeps one along quite effortlessly. There are no awkward moments, nothing unnecessary, and though one might wish for a little more time spent on, say, the anguish of Adolf Kaufmann’s mother as her world falls apart, the fact remains that she is but a small part of this epic tale. In this grim world, only the children are truly innocent, but one wonders how long that will last; although the boys plan to reunite and remain friends, Kaufmann will undoubtedly be changed by his experiences in Germany while the security of Kamil’s parents in Kobe might be in peril.

By reading only the first volume, I feel I’ve just barely scratched the surface on what will surely develop to be an incredible series. Some awful things occur here, and some awful things are set in motion, and yet reading Adolf ultimately is a pleasurable experience simply because it is so very well done. Rest assured that, even before I finished this volume, my ILL request for volume two was submitted.

Pluto: Urasawa x Tezuka 2 by Naoki Urasawa and Osamu Tezuka: A

Robots and humans continue to die in this second volume of Urasawa’s re-imagining of Osamu Tezuka’s classic Astro Boy story, “The Greatest Robot on Earth.” Gesicht travels to Japan where he meets with Atom, another of the seven strongest robots allegedly being targeted. After accessing Gesicht’s memory chip, Atom is able to assist the Japanese police as they work a similar case and discovers the common factor between the human victims. Meanwhile, Gesicht continues to warn other robots on the list while questioning mysterious gaps in his own memory.

While volume one did a good job of setting up the plot and the world, volume two really gets the ball rolling. There’s action and plot twists aplenty, as well as answers to questions that only serve to beget more questions. I certainly can’t complain when a story proceeds to go somewhere, but I still missed the “robot interest” stories that made the first volume so stellar. There were a few touching moments scattered throughout, but mostly the focus was on plot advancement.

Urasawa’s art is uniformly excellent, as usual. I’m a big fan of the futuristic city scenes, but perhaps my favorite thing in this volume is actually Atom’s hair. No matter which way he turned, Tezuka’s incarnation of Astro Boy always had two triangles of hair poking up. Atom’s case is far subtler, more like tufts really, but it’s definitely there. I love attention to detail like that.

Review copy provided by the publisher. Review originally published at Manga Recon.

Pluto: Urasawa x Tezuka 1 by Naoki Urasawa and Osamu Tezuka: A+

In the Astro Boy story “The Greatest Robot on Earth,” available in the third volume of Dark Horse’s edition of the Astro Boy manga, a power-hungry sultan creates a robot named Pluto and gives him instructions to destroy seven other powerful robots that could challenge Pluto’s claim to the title of King of the Robots. Pluto dutifully carries out his orders but bears no personal animosity for his opponents. The story is notable because Pluto and the other robots are highly sympathetic characters, though some are more fleshed out than others.

In this reimagining of “The Greatest Robot on Earth,” Naoki Urasawa is, in many ways, adhering closely to the original story, though he adds new layers and provides additional background for some of the robots that get less attention in Tezuka’s version. Where the original presents the story from the perspective of Astro Boy and addresses the question of what attributes really make a robot great, Urasawa’s approach is more like a sci-fi mystery novel. His protagonist is Gesicht (Gerhardt in the original), a highly-advanced robot detective with sensors that allow him to make Holmesian pronouncements about crime scene details. He’s investigating two cases with striking similarities: the killing of a much-beloved robot named Mont Blanc and the murder of a human involved with a movement to preserve the existing robot laws. The evidence seems to indicate a robot culprit is responsible for both deaths, even though robots are forbidden to harm humans, so Gesicht pays a visit to the last robot known to have violated this prohibition. It’s there that he first hears the name Pluto and learns that he himself might be a target.

The result of Urasawa’s story tweaks is nothing short of amazing. I am by no means a fast reader, but with an almost cinematic feel for scene and pace, the pages of Pluto just fly by. This isn’t a story that gets bogged down by its own weight. Even when Urasawa takes the time to flesh out a character—as in the touching tale of North No. 2, a robot formerly used in war who gradually becomes indispensable to a crotchety composer—the momentum doesn’t suffer. Urasawa extends this humanizing treatment to robots with more machine-like visages, as well. There’s one memorable sequence where, as the wife of a police bot receives news of her husband’s death, Urasawa devotes three panels to a close-up of her face, acknowledging the presence of the grief that she is facially incapable of expressing.

Urasawa’s seemingly limitless arsenal of character designs is on full display in Pluto, though the percentage of people with huge noses is still higher than normally occurs in nature. Like Monster, Pluto is set in Germany, so it’s a bit like coming home to see the Düsseldorf tag on a scene. It’s a futuristic Düsseldorf, though, with multi-tiered highway systems and seamlessly integrated bits of swanky new gadgetry.

The packaging itself is quite nice, with an innovative spine design, larger trim size, satin finish, French flaps, and color pages. And though Viz isn’t responsible for the title font and the way the “U” looks just like Pluto’s horns from the original story, it’s still really cool.

While it’s not necessary to have read “The Greatest Robot on Earth” to enjoy and understand Pluto, I still recommend doing so. It makes Urasawa’s achievement all the more impressive to see what he started from and, without it, you might miss out on some of the impact of various scenes. Seriously, I got geekbumps at least twice.

Pluto is still ongoing in Japan with six volumes released so far. In English, it’s licensed by Viz.

Review copy provided by the publisher. Review originally published at Manga Recon.

Astro Boy 3 by Osamu Tezuka: A-

From the back cover:
A timeless comics and animation classic, Osamu Tezuka’s Astro Boy is still going strong half a century after its creation, winning over readers of all ages with its combination of action, wit, and humanity. In the novel-length “The Greatest Robot on Earth,” a wealthy sultan creates a giant robot to become the ruler of all other robots on Earth. But in order for that to happen, he must defeat the seven most powerful robots in the world, including Astro Boy, who must have his horsepower raised from 100,000 to 1,000,000 to face the challenge! And Astro’s sister, Uran, also flies in to lend a helping hand! Plus, in “Mad Machine,” a scientist invents a device that causes other machines to go berserk, and Astro Boy must save the day!

Well, I can certainly see why someone would want to create a series elaborating on “The Greatest Robot on Earth.” There’s a lot going on and some surprisingly sympathetic robots. In his introduction, Tezuka says that he created this story during a period (1964-1965) when he was really enjoying his work. I think it shows, since even though there are still robot battles and dastardly caped villains, the potential to say something about the plight of robots isn’t squandered as it has been in other stories.

Once upon a time, there was a sultan who was ousted from power and exiled from his land. Still ambitious, he hired a roboticist to create a robot, Pluto, that would defeat other powerful robots and declare itself king of the robots, allowing the sultan to get his vicarious power fix. Pluto polishes off his first opponent in short order, but by the time he’s met the second, his personality is starting to come through. “I have no hatred of you but my master has ordered me to destroy you and I must obey him,” he says, before engaging in one of the cooler robot battles in the series so far.

Pluto also encounters Astro’s sister Uran when she tries to trick him by impersonating Astro, and actually strikes up a friendship with her, inquiring about how she’s doing and even allowing her to plaster his chest with some of her favorite stickers (my very favorite panel in this volume). His opponents are pretty sympathetic, too. The one that sticks out in my mind is Epsilon, who worked with and was beloved by children. Even when he was defeated, there’s a neat panel of his hands still clutching a kid who’d wandered too near the duel.

Throughout the story, Doctor Ochanomizu keeps telling Astro that the truly great robot is not the one with the most horsepower but rather the one who helps people. Pluto’s attempts to achieve greatness through fighting will never succeed, but when Astro boy finally convinces him to help avert a volcanic explosion, at that point, Pluto really has achieved greatness. It’s kind of deep, actually. Pluto’s whole character arc is surpisingly touching.

To say that I’m really looking forward to seeing what Naoki Urasawa does with this concept would be a profound understatement.

Astro Boy 2 by Osamu Tezuka: B

Book description:
As Mickey Mouse is to American animation, so to anime and manga is Astro Boy, the quintessential creation of Osama Tezuka, one of the world’s revered giants of comics and animation. In this volume, Astro Boy comes to the aid of Gravia’s robot president to prevent his overthrow at the hands of a secret anti-robot society; a robot magician is cloned as a setup to start a movement against intelligent robots, and only Astro Boy can expose the conspiracy; and Astro Boy defends a powerful robot racecar from an evil gang in the globe-spanning Equator Race! Astro Boy is an all-ages delight, as fresh, exciting, and innovative today as when it was created forty years ago. Everything is Go, Astro Boy!

The three stories in this volume, “His Highness Deadcross,” “The Third Magician,” and “White Planet,” were originally published in 1960, 1961, and 1963. I should mention here that the stories in the 23-volume collection upon which Dark Horse modeled their release are not presented in chonological order. Rather, Tezuka and the Japanese publisher decided on the best order, and then Tezuka wrote little introductory bits to put each story in context. These sometimes also include digs at Americans and how they reacted adversely to violence in the Astro Boy cartoon but were totally fine with “going over to southeast Asia and killing people.”

The premise of “His Highness Deadcross” sounds good: a robot has been elected president, thanks to a large turnout from robot voters, and some humans aren’t too happy about this. In reality, though, it’s kind of boring. I like the ideas it raises, like robots with voting rights and the ability to create more robots without human assistance, but most of the focus is on the campy villain and his attempts to force the president to resign. Seriously, this guy wears a cape, a plumed helmet, and has dialogue like, “It’s curtains for you.”

The other two stories are pretty good, though. In “The Third Magician,” a famous robot magician is cloned and then the clone is used as an art thief. He makes a public announcement about how at such and such a time, he will arrive and steal his target. I’ve certainly seen that done in other series, so now I wonder if Tezuka is responsible for the phantom thief genre, too! In “White Planet,” a boy’s beloved robocar is saved by the electronic brain of the robot who he thought was his sister. The boy spends no time mourning her loss or freaking out that she was a robot, but then again, he evidently enjoyed smacking her around, so he’s kind of a git anyway.

Astro Boy continues to be a quick read, and I like it well enough that at the present moment I’m inclined to keep going with it past the point that’ll prepare me to understand Pluto.