Dr. Kenzo Tenma, a Japanese neurosurgeon living in Germany, is wanted by the police for a series of murders he didn’t commit. The real culprit, Johan, is a young man whose life Tenma once saved in the hospital. Now Tenma is tracking down Johan, not only to prove his own innocence, but to stop the serial killer once and for all.
However, this is more than your average story about a killer. It seems that Johan was raised to become a monster. Slowly but surely his mysterious past is unlocked. Johan’s twin sister, Nina, is also on the hunt for him, believing it’s her destiny to kill him. She tried before and failed. Eva, Tenma’s ex-fiancée, is attempting to help the police capture Tenma, whom she believes killed her own father. Other people either try to aid Tenma or capture him, with Detective Lunge relentlessly on the doctor’s heals. Detective Lunge will even overlook real evidence in an unrelated murder so that he can tie Tenma to it and arrest the doctor.
Monster is a very complex, complicated series. There’s a lot going on here. Secondary and even minor characters are given back stories. This gives them more emotional pull, though it also means more to keep track of. Sometimes little mini stories seem to appear—like when Tenma rides with a British couple in Germany to visit their son. These little stories all fit into the bigger picture. It’s also interwoven with German history, and Urasawa takes great pains to show realistic imagery of German cities and countryside.
The art is fantastic. People are detailed and expressive, and Urasawa goes above and beyond in filling in background images. From lush rooms to German castles, he shows us what it looks like. He’s also excellent at his pacing, both in art and storyline. He uses his panels expertly so that it’s almost like a camera changing positions in a movie to give us the best feel. Some parts of the story are very intense, so that it’s as if you can’t read fast enough to learn what will happen next. All the information and details in Monster can be overwhelming at times, but it’s well worth it. There is also an anime version, which has aired in America on SyFy and will probably get even more potential readers interested in picking up the manga.
Reviewed by Danica Davidson on July 9, 2012
Monster, Volume 7