Monster – Perfect Edition Vol. 1 by Naoki Urasawa (a J!-ENT Manga Review)
July 16, 2014 by Dennis Amith
Urasawa Naoki may be known for “20th Century Boys” but “Monster” is the series that led to Urasawa receiving critical acclaim. The writing is top-notch and also Urasawa’s artwork is magnificent! Highly recommended!
Image courtesy of © 2008 Naoki Urasawa/Studio Nuts. All Rights Reserved.
MANGA TITLE: Monster – Perfect Edition Vol. 1
STORY AND ART BY: Story by Naoki Urasawa (浦沢 直樹)
FIRST PUBLISHED IN JAPAN: Shogakukan
PUBLISHED IN USA BY: VIZ Signature
RATED: OT for Older Teen
RELEASE DATE: June 17, 2014
In Naoki Urasawa’s MONSTER, Johan is a cold and calculating killer with a mysterious past, and brilliant Dr. Kenzo Tenma is the only one who can stop him! Conspiracy and serial murder open the door to a compelling, intricately woven plot in this masterwork of suspense. In the first volume of the new PERFECT EDITION, everyone faces uncertainty at some point in their lives. Even a brilliant surgeon like Kenzo Tenma is no exception. But there’s no way he could have known that his decision to stop chasing professional success and instead concentrate on his oath to save peoples’ lives would result in the birth of an abomination. The questions of good and evil now take on a terrifyingly real dimension. Years later, in Germany during the tumultuous post-reunification period, middle-aged childless couples are being killed one after another. The serial killer’s identity is known. The reasons why he kills are not. Dr. Tenma sets out on a journey to find the killer’s twin sister, who may hold some clues to solving the enigma of the “Monster.”
In 1994, mangaka Naoki Urasawa (known for his works “Pineapple Army”, “Master Keaton”, “Yawara” and later for “Pluto” and “20th Century Boys”) began the series “Monster” which would be featured in Shogakukan’s “Big Comic Original” from 1994 through 2001 (later reprinted in 18 tankobon volumes). The series has won several awards including the “Excellence Prize” at the 1997 Japan Media Arts Festival and the “Shogakukan Manga Award” in 2001.
And in 2004, the manga series received an anime adaptation courtesy of Madhouse Studios (“The Girl Who Leapt Through Time”, “Summer Wars”, “Death Note”, etc.) and was 74-episodes long and lasted until Sept. 2005.
And with a release in the U.S. years ago, the perfect edition featuring a new translation, re-mastered pages, and a generous amount of full-color content will be released in July 2014.
Future volumes will be released four times a year in North America, the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand for a total of nine volumes covering the entire series.
The story of “Monster” is about a talented neurosurgeon from Japan named Kenzou Tenma. Dr. Tenma works at the Eisler Memorial Hospital in Dusseldorf, Germany and he was given that chance to work in the country by Director Heinemann. Kenzou happens to be engaged to Heinemann’s daughter Eva and with Tenma doing so well at the hospital, he has a chance to become the department director which makes Eva happy.
But Dr. Tenma is shocked when one emergency patient who came in to the hospital, a patient he would have worked on, until he was called in by the Director to work on a more important patient. We learn that the Director Heinemann values Dr. Tenma’s work but the priority is the hospital and its business. So, saving those that are beneficial to the hospital comes first. This shocks Dr. Tenma because he looks at all patients and values them all the same, he wants to help them.
One day while working, two young twins are rushed into the hospital. Their parents have been murdered and the girl is in shock, while the boy has a bullet lodged into his head. Dr. Tenma is prepared to work on the boy but immediately, the director gives him an order to not work on him but on the mayor. Dr. Tenma is angered by this and talks to the director and learns that the Mayor is very helpful to the hospital and its the hospital’s best interest to have him alive, so Dr. Tenma is the best surgeon and he must do it. But Dr. Tenma doesn’t.
Tenma let’s other doctors work on the mayor while he works on the child, disobeying the director’s orders. Afterwards, he manages to save the boy but the mayor dies and there are repercussions. Tenma is no longer considered for director of the department and Eva dumps him for the man who does become director. For Dr. Tenma, he doesn’t understand why these band things are happening and all he wanted to do is save lives and while sitting next to the boy he saved (who is sleeping), out of anger, Dr. Tenma screams that he wishes they were dead.
The following day, the director is found dead by his daughter. As well as a few others. And the twins that were rushed into the hospital, have disappeared.
Fast forward nine years later and Dr. Tenma is the director of the hospital, investigators are working hard on a case as more people are being found dead. For Inspector Runge, he suspects Dr. Tenma maybe involved. As for Dr. Tenma, he has no idea what’s going on until he meets a patient who reveals to him that he and his partners have killed people but they were instructed to and now the person who has hired them is out to kill them. Dr. Tenma is shocked and confused and then he learns the truth.
The boy he saved nine years ago, Johan Liebert is not only the mastermind of the deaths that are happening around the area. Johan is a cold, intelligent, methodica, manipulative individual and is responsible for so many deaths.
This includes the deaths of Tenma’s director and colleagues. Johan tells Tenma that he made his wish come true on the day he was complaining about his colleagues and said “they were better off dead”, he made it happen. Shocked about his reunion with the boy, now a man, Tenma realizes that the boy who inspired him as a doctor has turned out to be a monster.
Now Dr. Tenma leaves his job and his life in order to find this monster and also to find out what has happened to his twin sister Anna. Anna is now living with the name Nina Fortner, a teenage college student living with her step-parents and has forgotten everything about her past including her brother. Thinking that she has been living this normal life but for some reason, has memories of something dark from her past which she can’t yet figure out and is seeing a psychiatrist to help her understand what is going on in her head.
Dr. Tenma now knows that she may be in danger and must do what he can to find her and try to stop Johan.
Monster” is a fantastic anime series that is thrilling, suspenseful and very addicting!
Naoki Urasawa has literally become one my top mangaka’s in Japan. His stories and his character designs are so captivating, thrilling and he literally knows how to capture your attention through the storyline’s pacing and makes you want even more after its done.
The character Tenma is a good-hearted individual and his top priority as a doctor is saving lives. So, it’s very interesting to see his character being put through so much and having to harbor this guilt that the decision to save a boy’s life has ended with so many people being killed. The boy that he saved was and is a monster and now with so much weight on his shoulders, Tenma feels he must kill the monster he helped revive.
What Urasawa is exceptional at is developing his characters (definitely give his other manga series such as “Master Keaton”, “20th Century Boys” and “Pluto” a chance) and in this case, although the series focuses on Dr. Tenma, we get to see these other characters coming to play in the storyline. May it be the twins Johan and Anna, Inspector Runge, the boy Dieter or his ex-fiance Eva, he knows when to utilize the other characters so well that you wonder how these characters will fare in the end. Will they survive? Will they die?
I can’t wait for the second installment of “Monster – Perfect Edition”. Urasawa Naoki may be known for “20th Century Boys” but “Monster” is the series that led to Urasawa receiving critical acclaim. The writing is top-notch and also Urasawa’s artwork is magnificent!
And with the release of “Monster – Perfect Edition”, hopefully no one contemplates paying the high price of the out-of-stock graphic novels. Because you will no doubt save money by purchasing these thicker graphic novels of “Monster – Perfect Edition”
Urasawa Naoki’s “Monster – Perfect Edition” vol. 1 is highly recommended!
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