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Monster, Vol. 1: The Perfect Edition Paperback – July 15, 2014
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From School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up—Soviet-era spy mystery meets medical drama in this manga about a young doctor struggling to navigate the world of professional politics and murder. Dr. Tenma is the third son in a family of doctors, who left Japan years ago to work under his idol in a hospital in Dusseldorf, Germany. His brilliance in surgery is matched only by his kindness to his patients, and his sense of obligation to everyone who comes through the door. He's on the fast track to promotion and power, until he refuses the hospital director's order to leave the victim of a brutal crime on the table and go help the mayor instead. Suddenly he goes from the cusp of a bright future to a grunt. His fiancée leaves him, his promotion is given away, and his patients are removed from his care. But when the men who took everything from Tenma wind up suddenly dead, he's set down a path that will change his life forever. This volume will please manga fans who crave history and humans over fantasy and fighting. The art is well done; characters are clearly defined from each other, with exaggerated features (noses, eyebrows, hair) that look perfectly in place in a 1980s flashback. Younger readers should be warned of violence (mostly off-screen), death, and murder. A good supplemental purchase for anime clubs.—Clair Segal, Horace Mann School, New York City
About the Author
Naoki Urasawa's career as a manga artist spans more than twenty years and has firmly established him as one of the true manga masters of Japan. Born in Tokyo in 1960, Urasawa debuted with BETA! in 1983 and hasn't stopped his impressive output since. Well-versed in a variety of genres, Urasawa's oeuvre encompasses a multitude of different subjects, such as a romantic comedy (Yawara! A Fashionable Judo Girl), a suspenseful human drama about a former mercenary (Pineapple ARMY; story by Kazuya Kudo), a captivating psychological suspense story (Monster), a sci-fi adventure manga (20th Century Boys), and a modern reinterpretation of the work of the God of Manga, Osamu Tezuka (Pluto: Urasawa x Tezuka; co-authored with Takashi Nagasaki, supervised by Macoto Tezka, and with the cooperation of Tezuka Productions). Many of his books have spawned popular animated and live-action TV programs and films, and 2008 saw the theatrical release of the first of three live-action Japanese films based on 20th Century Boys. No stranger to accolades and awards, Urasawa received the 2011 Eisner Award for Best U.S. Edition of International Material—Asia, and is a three-time recipient of the prestigious Shogakukan Manga Award, a two-time recipient of the Osamu Tezuka Cultural Prize, and also received the Kodansha Manga Award. Urasawa has also become involved in the world of academia, and in 2008 accepted a guest teaching post at Nagoya Zokei University, where he teaches courses in, of course, manga.
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Top Customer Reviews
This volume covers the first 16 chapters, ending with "One Soldier and One Girl." The quality of the manga is excellent. It has the same paper quality and size as Pluto, which was also created by Naoki Urasawa. This means that the pages feel nice and durable, and the pictures/text are big and crisp. Best of all, it has colored pages at the beginning and end of the book! Also note that this volume is twice as thick and a little bigger than the original volumes, yet still very easy to handle.
Definitely check this out if you are a fan of Monster, even if you have the original volumes. Personally, I prefer the new cover art, size, and paper quality of this volume. Just amazing overall.
I don't think I could have picked a better entry to manga.
The story managed to grip me within the first few pages with its dark themes, and even darker characters. The pace of this volume is great. It slowly builds up tension and hits you up over the head with shocking, memorable moments. The book had me caring for characters in a short amount of time, something few books or shows are capable of doing.The imagery and art is incredible. There really isn't anything to complain about. The quality of the book itself is excellent. The addition of colored pages were nice also. I can't wait to see the continuation of this series.
Monster has long been out of print, so fans gladly welcome these new omnibus volumes. VIZ Media is doing much the same thing here as it did with Death Note Black Edition: releasing a well-liked series in a slightly better format, 2-in-1 volumes with bigger art and even a few color pages. This is a great chance for fans to reacquaint themselves with the series and also for newcomers looking to discover it for the first time.
My only wish is that Monster had received the VIZBIG treatment instead. Series released as VIZBIG Editions are printed on heavy white paper even more crisp than what we are getting with Monster this time around. Not only that, they tend to come as 3-in-1 volumes and retail for $17.99 as compared to Monster's $19.99. Also unsavory is the fact that Death Note Black Edition (which, as I noted above, is comparable to this series' edition in terms of size and paper quality) retails for $14.99, while we have to pay more for Monster. Am I the only one who finds this distasteful?
For those reasons, I do not consider it Monster's Perfect Edition but its Almost Perfect Edition. There is not much else they could have done, yet there was more I would have asked for.
The story is as involving as ever. Dr. Tenma is a promising young surgeon in Germany with a career on the rise. He’s also engaged to the daughter of the hospital director, who encourages him to think of his soon-to-improve position, because she likes the status. As part of playing the game, he’s asked to give up his research, work that might save lives, so he can ghost-write papers to make the director look better.
An early scene sums up the couple’s relationship, as Tenma tries to rationalize away his guilt at participating, unknowingly, in hospital politics, leading to the death of a poor man so a famous one could be saved, by saying, “I was following the director’s orders”. His fiancee responds, bluntly, “Some lives are worth more than others,” a chilling statement that haunts him.
That’s one reason, when ordered to leave a challenging operation on a young boy to save the life of a mayor whose funding is important to the hospital, he refuses — which ends up ruining his life. His promotion is rescinded, and his fiancee leaves him because his career has ended. However, nine years later, things have turned around for him, after the unexpected death of the director who blocked him.
He soon finds out why. The boy he saved turns out to be a serial killer. Tenma’s choice, while appearing morally preferable, has resulted in a number of other deaths. He gives up his work to search for this anonymous killer, trying to prevent more murders. He travels across Germany, looking for the now-young man and his twin sister. He wants to stop him to make up for saving the monster years ago.
Urasawa’s work is cinematic in its pacing, with excellent linework establishing the strong characters. His expressions of his characters are particularly revealing. Monster isn’t my favorite of his work — that would be Pluto, which is more tightly developed and with themes that resonate more with me. Monster is not as thoughtful, but it’s more adrenaline-paced. Still, it’s worth a read. (Review originally posted at ComicsWorthReading.com.)
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