[Review] – MONSTER
Author: Urasawa Naoki
Mangaka: Urasawa Naoki
Category: Drama, Mystery, Psychological, Seinen
Monster weaves the riveting story of brilliant Dr. Kenzo Tenma, a famous surgeon with a promising career at a leading hospital. Tenma risks his reputation and promising career to save the life of a critically wounded young boy. Unbeknownst to him, this child is destined for a terrible fate. A string of strange and mysterious murders begin to occur soon afterward, ones that professionally benefit Dr. Tenma, and he emerges as the primary suspect. Conspiracies, serial murders, and a scathing depiction of the underbelly of hospital politics are all masterfully woven together in this compelling manga thriller.
I dilly-dallied for a while before starting reading this because of its hugeee volume. About 150 chapters for a not so typical manga ( Naruto, One Piece, Bleach with hundreds of chapters) is rather long. However, Monster is totally worth the length believe me!
The whole manga follows Dr Tenma’s journey on searching for the monster that he saved. It is ironic how once he decided to change his coward and obedient way of living, it led to horrendous results which cause tragedies including a lot of blood and tears. He searched for the monster but was seen as an infamous criminal by the whole country. Not until parts and parts of the docile crowd that knows nothing but to read the news and listen to everything officers say actually meet Tenma in person did they start to change their views on him, giving Tenma the recognition and love that he fully deserved. The plot, the development and main character Dr Tenma’s appearance and aura reminds me a lot of the manga Dr Black Jack in certain ways. (how from one main story minor ones branching out but they are still closely related to the whole point of the manga, and also the way the stories are expanded by his trips from places to places, as well as his righteousness throughout the manga)
A story based in Germany and expanding all across the region from Berlin is not something I often read in a Japanese manga, or maybe that’s just because I do not read that many historical mangas haha. Still, it is undeniably one of the interesting feats of Monster that may trigger your curiosity as to wonder how the author can tell a story happening in another country other than Japan.
The issues addressed in Monster had a multi-layered nature. Through the monster hunt, the doctor gets to see the darkness that covered the whole country, and the evil forces with their crazy ideas on worshipping and raising their perfect leader to rule the world viciously. When their wrongdoings gives fruit, it was the most poisonous fruit ever – Johan. We saw Johan and we kept on contemplating on what made him become who he is, his drive, and then ponder on the way to stop all this misery, for himself, for Dr Tenma and for this whole world’s peace. We thought that Tenma is alone in fighting the monster because of his deep sense of responsibility as well as he was indeed the only one who was capable of stopping all this chaos. But emotionally he was not alone, because the journey could not keep on continuing if he did not have great companions, temporary or not. By helping the people on his trip it was also considered a way for him to pay back what he had done by reviving a monster – saving lives.
The story is heavy, and the introduction of many side characters might get you confused ( also because they look pretty much alike) but the core of the story revolving around Tenma and Johan will be attractive and intense enough to keep you reading. I particularly love the occult fairy tales that was repeated and appeared several times throughout the second half of the manga. The story of monsters who had no names was especially haunting. Monster was also made into anime but I don’t think the anime can actually develop all the essence captured in this unique manga and some of my friends who have watched the version also agreed. Soooo, anyone who is looking for an interesting and not so typical manga should definitely try Monster. It will not disappoint you at all.