monster_vol_04.jpgrating-4.5Monster, by Naoki Urasawa, is the chilling tale of Dr. Kenzo Tenma's search for Johan, a boy whose life he saved, who turns into a cold blooded serial killer. The story starts as Dr. Tenma, who is head of Neurosurgery at Eisler Memorial Hospital in Dusseldorf, Germany, makes a choice to save a dying child instead of a government official. Hospital politics cause him to lose his position and his girlfriend, who happens to be the daughter of the Chief of Surgery. After some suspicious deaths, the hospital chairman promotes him to Chief of Surgery. After 9 years, he becomes the prime suspect in a serial killer case, and eventually flees from the law to pursue Johan, who has revealed himself to Dr. Tenma as the killer.
I'm reviewing Volume 4 of Monster becuase that's where I'm currently at in my reading. It picks up the story with Dr. Tenma still in pursuit of Johan. In this volume, he has met up with Johan's twin sister Anna (or is it Nina? She has a few names...) again, who is also out to find Johan. They both mean to kill him when they see him, so there's no conflict of interest. Most of Johan's past was revealed in Volume 3, so this volume concentrates more on the hunt for Johan. There are many subplots going on here. Dr. Tenma's ex-girlfriend is out to ruin him (even more), and is working with the BKA to try and capture him. There are German extremists trying to exterminate the Turks who have moved into their town by any means possible. There is also another group looking for Johan, but they want him to be their leader. It's amazing the amount of things going on in this series.
The story flows really well, with the different plots twisting and merging into one solid story. There's also the irony of how Dr. Tenma and Anna, in the midst of hunting down a cold blooded killer, are trying to save a segment of the town they're in from extermination. The characters are constantly having to make choices concerning pursuing Johan or saving lives. It's an amazing piece of writing.
The artwork, like Oldboy, is not your typical anime/manga style. It works for the story, since if it looked like Princess Ressurection, you couldn't really take it seriously. Like I've said before, my personal preference is for more of a typical anime/manga look, but this is well done, and fits the story.
This is probably one of the better mangas I read on a regular basis. I would highly recomend it to anyone who wants to read a thriller.

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