I wasn’t sure what to think of this one. The plot summaries I’d read… I don’t know, even though they all accurately described the plot, they didn’t really prepare me for what was going to happen. It just didn’t sound like something Osamu Tezuka would write. Oh, but write it he did. I’m having trouble writing this review in a coherent manner though, because there’s… a lot of different parts to this story, and it’s hard to explain how they fit together and what the plot is.
I kind of felt like the main character was the Priest who was trying to stop Yuki, the serial killer, since he’s the one working against evil and all that. He would be the classic good guy main character. But I think Yuki was really the star of the show here: a man with no morals who wouldn’t think twice about exploiting every situation expertly with rape, murder, torture, extortion, blackmail, and whatever else was necessary, and then going into work the next day and putting a ladykiller smile on. Yuki is a total charmer by day and a disturbed, ruthless killer by night. This guy was just… absolutely amazing in his scope. There was not a single redeeming thing about him.
We get a lot of Judeo-Christian themes in MW. The priest, Garai, is of the opinion that he has been given a mission by God to purify Yuki’s soul, and Yuki is the way he is because he has been possessed by the Devil. One of the themes in this book that I favored the most was the moral situation in which Garai found himself. He was trying to save Yuki and did what he could to stop Yuki’s crimes. A Police Investigator knew that Garai knew who was committing all the crimes though, and suggests that Garai would save a lot more lives by turning Yuki in. Turning Yuki over to the police wouldn’t convince Yuki that he had done wrong though, and since this is Garai’s mission from God, he finds himself in a sticky situation that never quite resolves itself.
Because you’d need an insane backstory to explain the plot of this book and the relationship between Yuki and Garai, I’ll try to do my best to summarize it. Yuki and Garai met because Garai was in a gang that kidnapped Yuki for ransom. The two waited in a cave for a rondevous with the rest of the gang, but no one else showed up for around 24 hours. When they went down to the village to find the rest of the gang, they realized that every other living person on the island they were on had been wiped out by poison gas. Yuki unfortunately got a lungful of it, and it made him totally insane. MW (the name of the gas, incidentally) is the story of Yuki’s killing spree and his overarching plan for humanity.
Often, when Garai meets Yuki privately, Yuki seduces him and the two have sex. I’m told this is the only instance of homosexual lovers in any of his series. They really may not be “lovers” in a traditional sense though, as there seems to be no romantic love in their relationship. As a priest who is not allowed to have sex period, let alone with another man in the 1970s, these meetings are clearly a bad thing for Garai. Garai may actually be relatively straight save for Yuki (he seems to have a female love interest who is also off-limits for him), but he is the one who originally raped Yuki when they were younger, so take that as you will. Yuki is incapable of loving, or you assume so since he doesn’t care deeply about much of anything, let alone people. He is also almost always shown having sex only to manipulate a situation. He has a lot of sex. In addition to Garai, he is also shown to have at least two female lovers, one male lover, has sex with at least two other women, and he is also shown having sex with his dog.
The series isn’t actually at all about love. A big part of it is about the relationship between Garai and Yuki though, and how they tend to stand by one another. They are, as Yuki says, bound by fate. Yuki is a dangerous partner, but it is fairly clear that he will not harm Garai despite the danger he poses (Garai knows everything, and could turn Yuki over at any time). He threatens to hurt or kill Garai if Garai quits the church, but we never find out if this is true. It’s possible that Yuki does love Garai, as he treats the man better than any of his other lovers, and there’s something at the end that makes you wonder as well.
Anyway. The amazing thing about the series is that Yuki just NEVER STOPS. Whenever anything happens to this man, he winds up exploiting it in the most horrible way possible. The event doesn’t even need to be significant, and later we always find out that Yuki never puts himself in a situation that isn’t in line with his “master plan,” which reveals itself later on. One instance is that he is invited over to the home of his boss for dinner one night. He goes, and the daughter that lives there quietly tells him to meet her in her bedroom later. Yuki leaves without the rondevous, but immediately after leaving breaks into the daughter’s bedroom, has sex with her, kills her, and removes her body from the home. Later, this turns into an extremely useful and lucrative situation for Yuki.
Things like that happen ALL THE TIME. Yuki is just the worst person imaginable, and everything winds up going just as he plans it. He makes the most perfect villian I’ve ever seen. You always have to stop and marvel at stories like this, then wonder what kind of mind would come up with them.
In this entirely straightfaced story, I was surprised to see Higeoyaji in a minor role. His part is a relatively serious one, and in one of the most bizarre events I’ve ever seen in a manga, he gets his genitals eaten by a dog. I mean, that dog goes right for them. I was actually kind of sad to see him victimized here, because Higeoyaji’s usually one step ahead of any sort of dangerous situation.
MW was very good, though. I think I liked it better than Ode to Kirihito, but it’s hard to say since the stories are very much apples and oranges. Ode to Kirihito’s better at putting dog-men through the ringer, MW’s got better insane sex fiends.