Dr Kenzo Tenma is a genius surgeon working in post-Cold War Germany who has a bright future ahead of him. He is admired by his colleagues, loved by his patients, and due to marry his boss' daughter, the beautiful Eva Heinemann. One day, when two patients in desperate need of emergency surgery are wheeled into his hospital, Tenma faces a terrible choice of saving the orphaned boy who came first or the mayor of Düsseldorf, whose recovery would raise the hospital's profile and boost his own career. Against the demands of his superior, Tenma does what he believes is right and saves the child. However, his decision not only damages his prospects, but unleashes a chain of events so horrific that it might have come from the depths of his worst nightmares. Laden with guilt, Tenma begins a journey across Germany in search of a formidable young man who will challenge his morals, his love for life, and his very sanity.
Naoki Urasawa's Monster is a series that is widely know in anime and manga communities, and thus probably doesn't really need an introduction. After all, it is one of the highest rated manga on this site (while the anime right now is in 128th place, the manga places 3rd in A-P's ratings). But what is it about? Story Put very, very simply: Monster is about a fight of good versus evil. Of course, that doesn't really help much, since 98.7% of stories are about that kind of fight. But still, it tells the story of Doctor Kenzo Tenma, a brain surgeon in post-Cold War Germany, in his pursuit of Johan. It all starts when Dr. Tenma decides to choose his principles over his career, by saving a litte boy instead of a VIP - because the boy came in first, and Tenma thinks of all lives as equal so the boy gets to go first. Of course, defying authority like that comes at a price: Tenma's career is ruined, and he loses his fiancée too. All he's left with is the knowledge that he did the right thing. Until he learns that maybe what he did wasn't so right after all... It's very interesting to see the chain reaction caused by a kinda "ordinary" decision - the deaths of tons of people, and the misery of an equal amount of others. And thus starts Tenma's venture, trying to stop the madness he caused. The story is always high on tension, and the "side stories" - which all tie in into the main plot - always deliver something fresh: new characters, information, a storyline that's interesting on it's own, and some more development for established characters. Which brings me to one of the greatest things about this manga: the characters. While the cast is huge, almost every character gets fleshed out in one way or another. They're all important to the plot, and feel very much alive - which makes it really hard to see bad things happen to them. Special shout-outs should go to Inspector Lunge - always an intriguing and mysterious guy - , Eva Heinemann - for not being just another nagging ex-fiancée - , and even more so to Johan. Johan is after all the Monster, the titular character, for a reason. (Or at least that's how interpret it) Representing everything that could make a human "evil" is a hard task, but Johan fulfills it wonderfully and he is definitely one of the most memorable manga-characters I know. The characters drive the story further, until we get to a climax that gave me the chills. Everything got wrapped up neatly, which left me satisfied like a rich person who just went to some high-class restaurant. After the content, I should probably also briefly talk about the presentation, aka the artwork. While not spectacular for the most part, it was consistently "good" to "very good", with some pages that were just great - mostly for nice scenery or depictions of scenes with heavy impact on the characters. The art worked nicely to create the atmosphere, and even out of context there are some pages that could be used as wallpapers. Overall Do you like thrillers, good stories and great characters? Then just go read this already!
Monster (モンスター Monsutā) sometimes referred to as "Naoki Urasawa's Monster" is a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Naoki Urasawa. It was published by Shogakukan in their Big Comic Original magazine between 1994 and 2001, with the chapters collected and reprinted into 18 tankōbon volumes. Plot: 10/10 When a Doctor makes the highly controversial decision to save a boy's life over the mayor's, it leads to the loss of almost everything he holds dear. His fiance, his career, his social standing. The only thing he keeps is his own feeling of self worth, knowing that he did the right thing in saving the boy, who came in first. Yet even that is threatened when he begins to learn that nothing is as it originally appeared. A trail of bloodshed pointing to the seemingly innocent child leaves him questioning even his beliefs. Whether, in the end, all lives are ever truly equal. As you can see from the synopsis above, Monster has a original, intriquing plot that sucks you straight in from the first chapter and never let's you go. However, mind you, this isn't some Shonen shluck (as much as I love those too), Monster never tries to capture the viewer with explosions or fanservice. Instead, it captures the viewer with the story's high tension, as well as emotional moments. Some people say that the series beggins to drabble after Vol. 9. I personally think that the serie's is fresh and crisp from first page to the last. And speaking of the last page, several people say to have found the ending dissapointing, however I think that the ending gave the perfect emotional ending I was hoping for. It really shines off the more complex moral's of the story. Johan really isn't important, or evil, he's just an ordinary person who was push over due to certian events. The series true message is that a monster just as evil, or even moreso, than Johan's hides within us all, and with the right push, we could become just as bad as him. However, we still have a choice to make in the choice. Art: 8/10 The art wasn't very special or even that memorable but it didn't really need to be. It served the story and served it well. The entire point of a manga is to tell a story, and the art did just that. It never hindered the story, or confused the reader, but it never amazed them either. It just did what is was meant to do. You can't really fault something for doing what it was meant to do, so I guess that gives it a 8/10. Characters: 10/10 This I am sure deserved this grade. Monster brings a wide variety of characters that each are important to the story in their own way. No matter the screen time, none of the characters are two-dimensional. There is a chapter that introdduces two new characters that never appear again in the series. One of them is a Lawyer and the other is a Seceretary (readers of the series will know who I'm talking about.) Both of these characters are fully developed and go through the changes. Sure, they couldn't be the main character, but they are still relatable. The main character, Tenma, is slightly a weak link, as I said early in the plot section how it show that all the characters could become monsters, well unlike the other characters this concept is barely explored in Tenma's character. In fact, I can only think of one instance where this is happens. Tenma's strongest feature is his interactions with other characters. The story decides to take much more focus on how other character's change through there interactions with Tenma, then it focuses on how Tenma channges through his interactions with others. Overall: 9.25/10 Monster is a great manga, if not the best, definitely one of them. Yes, it has flaws but everything does. This is definitely a must-read.
The moral of the story is that everyone is capable of suicide and murder. The aura of the story is unraveling a conspiracy. It builds up tension and maintains a high level of suspense and intrigue throughout, though that does lead to some problems. First of all, even though it's exciting, when you step back and look at it, the plot feels a bit pointless. Why should I care about Johan's past? Why are such convoluted methods being used for what is essentially a very simplistic goal? Possibly related to this, I found myself a bit reluctant to begin each reading session. Though once I did begin reading, I would always quickly find myself hooked and not wanting to put it down. And I've read it at least three times at this point and have still found it generally enthralling. Though each time I've read it, I've always found the final confrontation in Ruhenheim to suck. It's not that it's necessarily bad per se, though it does feel like it's just recycling previous ideas and it exentuates the high-intensity/low-purpose problem I referred to earlier. However, with how much the suspense has been built up over the course of the manga, I'm not sure if there's any way the story could've ended that wouldn't have felt anticlimactic. I also feel like I noticed at least one plothole during their constant weaving and retelling of past events (compare chs. 142 and 159): why did Bonaparta bring the child out to witness the scene, or if he didn't, who did? There are many great characters. Tenma is a righteous and moral brain surgeon who has been framed for several murders by Johan. Johan, or Michael, or Franz, or Erich is a beautiful and charismatic young boy is able to connect with people on the deepest level and manipulate them into doing what fe wants. For example, fe is able to recognize serial killers and convince them to kill for fem. Lunge is a BKA detective who has perfect recall of past encounters and doesn't believe that Johan exists, partially because Johan has been systematically destroying all connections to feir past. Grimmer is a wanderer with a large backpack and a buddha smile who has lost all of feir emotions after going through Kinderheim 511. Those four are my favorites, but even the supporting cast often have compelling personalities and understandable motives. A major theme is identity, with past connections and names being especially important. One could argue that the message of the story is that without a strong sense of identity, a person's moral code, and emotions, and even desire to live will disappear. One of the ways that Tenma and others talk people off of the ledge is by instilling in them the idea that they have a "reason to live." As a nihilist myself, I find it incorrect for them to imply that acknowledging the meaninglessness of life will inevitably lead to suicidal thoughts, but it's still an interesting look into how brainwashing can have massive consequences. We learn of two loosely connected groups (Kinderheim 511 and the Red Rose Mansion reading seminars) that Johan had been part of which were built around brainwashing and raising kids to lead the new world. A storybook author who went by many names (though I liked Emil the most) ends up becoming a central figure in this conspiracy. Some of the chapters actually consist of just showing off this guy's storybooks, and I liked those chapters. Though I will say that it takes some suspension of disbelief to accept that these stories were effective at brainwashing. The author of this manga may enjoy taking innocuous childhood items like storybooks and turning them into the core of massive, world-altering conspiracies, because fe also did something similar with 20th Century Boys.
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