The 2nd Dimension

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Reading Journal: Monster (complete)

Manga Overview
Book Info

Overall= B+
Story = B+
Art = B+


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. (Source: ANN)

I already knew most of this story before I read it. That's because a while ago I watched the Monster anime; and since the anime and manga play out the exact same story, reading it in the manga left little to be surprised about.

So given that, this is a difficult review to write because, since I knew what to expect, there wasn't as much tension or anticipation about what would happen next. So as far as the story itself is concerned, I think you can refer back to my review of the anime to see what I thought about it.

Although, going through the story the second time does give me the opportunity to look at it with a more critical eye. For instance, this time I realized that we never learn much about what all the different organizations were trying to use Johan to achieve. We know that everyone is fascinated by him and want him to be their leader in some way, but to what end -- from either their perspective or Johan's -- I am not sure. And along those same lines, there are parts of the story that seem a little drawn out, with new characters constantly being introduced that did not seem necessary. And although the character development was top-notch, I never did get that feeling of dread that other characters (and other manga reviewers) had about Johan.

But despite that, the reason I wanted to read this story for the second time in manga for was because I wanted to see how such an intricate story and realistic setting and characters played out in manga form. It was more curiosity than anything else. And what I came to realize is just how skillfully the manga writer/artist Naoki Urasawa was able to relay the story. I mean, it really is just a lot of dialogue and very little action, but the manga never gets boring because it is told at such a brisk pace. The art is clearly drawn with equally detailed attention give to both characters and setting. The panel layout makes the action easy to follow -- something all too infrequent in a lot of manga I've read. And the dialogue is written with such efficiency and economy, that it is able to relay a lot of information in very few words while still maintaining character's personalities and intonations. Urasawa is one of the most talented manga artists/writers I've seen and I'm looking forward to reading a couple of his other works that I have sitting on my shelf right now: 20th Century Boys and Pluto.

So, in short, even through the story has some flaws I highly recommend this manga for those seeking a truly mature story. Or of course, you can watch the anime and pretty much get the same experience. And in fact I think Funimation is supposed to start releasing the anime within the next few months free online, so there you go. Although, with a length of 72 episodes, I think reading the 18 volume manga might end up saving you some time. But either way, you can't go wrong.

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