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"In the city of my birth, I had a dream..."
Monster Vol. 1 by Urasawa Naoki 
11th-Jan-2007 07:31 pm
Recommended by mirichan. Those in contact with her can tell her I'm lovin' it. ^_^

Urasawa, Naoki. Monster. Vol. 1. Trans. Satch Watanabe and Agnes Yoshida. San Francisco: VIZ Media, 2006.
          Summary: Japanese neurosurgeon Dr. Kenzo Tenma is a rising star in his German hospital. However, convinced that saving lives is more important than medical politics, he saves a boy's life while the Berlin mayor dies, thus dooming himself forever to the bottom of the hospital food chain. In a shocking twist, however, all of the people standing in his way in the hospital hierarchy are poisoned to death and Tenma becomes the Chief of Surgery.
          Nine years later, Tenma's married to his work and as much of a brilliant surgeon as ever. Then one day he's called upon to save the life of a petty criminal who, it turns out, is being controlled by someone far more sinister--the boy he thought he was sacrificing everything to save has turned into a monster!
          Comments: When's the last time you read a manga that didn't read like a manga? No. Really. I'm serious. 'Cause that was the first coherent(?) thought I had about Monster. Though on the surface, just flipping through the pages, you'll see nothing remarkable about this innocuous-looking seinen manga, delving in deeper and reading it page-by-page is more like experiencing a vintage American noir thriller in novel or film form. All of the archetypes are in place: The femme fatale, the tough-as-nails investigator, the calculating, super-evil villain. The only tragedy is that you have to be accustomed to the manga medium to even consider picking Urasawa's masterpiece in the first place!
          Still, what a delight. The first volume has a novel's leisurely, non-episodic pacing, providing an extended prologue to account for what comes after and then showing the good doctor enjoying his good life before it all crumbles around his ears. Even though I've known the basic plot outline and premise of this novel for years, I was STILL surprised by the revelation of Tenma's antagonist and the subtle way its layers peeled back one by one. The book ends on a logical and excruciating cliffhanger--I can't wait to find out what happens next!
          Notes: ~B6 paperback, first American edition, 1st printing; first published in Japan in 1995
          Rating: 8.5/10 - If volume one is any indication, this series is one for the ages. A plain and simple must-read for all--even those who don't normally read comic books.
12th-Jan-2007 01:59 am (UTC)
*surfacing from under my rock to comment on your thumbs-up for Monster*

I agree whole heartedly on your assessment of this series. All the English releases so far have had my eyes riveted to the pages as I pedal away on the stationary bike at the gym ~ to the point when the time is up and the tension on the wheel stops I almost fall off. It's just good old fashioned story telling ~ regardless of format.

12th-Jan-2007 02:39 am (UTC)

Urasawa is so good it hurts. His current manga, Pluto, is totally mind-blowing if you're familiar with Tezuka's Astro Boy manga.
12th-Jan-2007 01:45 pm (UTC)
Urasawa is so good it hurts.

Yes. He's a master of the storyteller's art, just pure genius.
12th-Jan-2007 01:45 pm (UTC)
Monster is one of the best manga titles ever. Period. Bar none....except Urasawa's more recent title, 20th Century Boys (And I haven't read any of Pluto yet). But while 20th Century Boys takes about five volumes to really dig the hook in deep, Monster catches you from the first.

I hope the anime gets picked up ASAP, and runs on TV somewhere like IFC. It's exactly the sort of title that could appeal to a mainstream audience if played right. Or could bomb horribly, sadly, if handled wrong.
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