Monster 12

October 15, 2009

Naoki Urasawa – Viz – 2007 – 18 volumes

Since I have failed completely at actually talking about horror manga, how about a thriller?  I still need to finish this series, and October is a fine time to do it.

Unfortunately, it’s hard going back to Monster after reading 20th Century Boys.  That is the superior work, and… Monster is sort of a complicated and slow read after that.  There’s lots of stuff going on, and at this point, I’m not sure how much of it is relevant.  In this volume in particular, there’s appearances by a lot of characters that must have been from the first couple volumes.  In context, their relationship to Tenma is clear, but it bothers me that there’s bits of story I’m forgetting.  I can remember all the important things, and having that character chart in the front of the volume helped immensely since I could reply all the various plotlines as I read the names and little descriptions.  But it’s still hard to keep straight who’s who and who knows what, and how much some characters know is very important.

There is a LOT going on.  How much of it will come directly to bear on the Johan/Tenma face-off?  That’s the part I care most about, and I’m still very interested in the mind games Johan plays and in Lunge’s chase.  But Dr. Reichwein?  Shuwald?  I’m not all that interested in those characters any more, though they’ll probably stick around since Schuwald has a direct connection through his lover to Johan and Anna’s mother and Reichwein is probably useful, in his way.  They both are coming in handy during the current plot development, but again, I’m not all that interested in what they’re currently bringing to the table, even if it is directly related.  I suspect Grimmer is another character that will soon fade into the background, reappearing every once in awhile with something important to say.  I like Grimmer, but he’s just another piece.

The best part in this volume was at the beginning, when the little boys that played with Grimmer try tracking down Johan.  The chapter where they give chase is called “Detective Boys,” and the direct reference to Detective Conan made my night.  But when the little boy was caught by Johan, lectured, and then set loose in some sort of Reeperbahn-type area… that is what I like about Monster.  Johan being absolutely heart-stopping sinister and ruthless, but in a very hands-off way.  It’s terrifying.  He’s one of the best villains I’ve ever seen.  And that’s why Monster is still worth reading, even if I am recently enamoured with 20th Century Boys.

Again, too, I’m also a big fan of Lunge.  I know he could probably be considered a background character at this point, especially since his job has pretty much just been done for him, but the way he is methodically collecting his information and keeping pace with Tenma, and how he is probably still barking up the wrong tree… it’s interesting to me.  It’ll be fun when Tenma and Lunge go head to head again.

7 Responses to “Monster 12”

  1. […] Todoke: From Me To You (Manga Life) Melinda Beasi on vol. 6 of Legend (Manga Bookshelf) Connie on vol. 12 of Monster (Slightly Biased Manga) Matthew J. Brady on vol. 1 of Moysasimon (Warren Peace Sings the Blues) […]

  2. Anonymous Says:

    While not everyone will have a direct role to play in the end, I think you are underestimating the number of relevant characters.

  3. Sara K. Says:

    I agree that 20th Century Boys is superior, and I did stop reading this almost exactly mid-way and feel little compulsion to resume. However … I can’t help but see some common themes between 20th Century Boys and Monster. In particular, it is hard for me not to notice the parallels between Kenji and Tenma, between Friend and Johan, and between Kanna and Johan’s sister.

  4. Connie Says:

    Anonymous: That’s true, and I kind of hesitated to say that about the characters since it’s very clear that they all play their very specific and important roles in the story. I think my problem is mostly that there are too many, and they keep reappearing and affecting the plot. I don’t really mind so much, since it makes the storyline a lot more interesting, but it does make it hard to read sometimes, and it’s hard to accept when yet another important character is introduced. But maybe I’m just being a lot harder on Monster than I should be. The characters are given pretty detailed backgrounds and specific roles, which may make me attach more significance to them than I normally would.

    Sara K.: The Kenji and Tenma link is one I noticed while I was reading 20th Century Boys, and it made me cringe a little bit. Especially when Kenji became a fugitive from the law with a small band of supporters. I wish the situations weren’t so similar, though 20th Century Boys seems to be headed in a completely different direction at the moment, which hopefully solves that problem. I haven’t picked up on a link between Kanna and Anna yet since I’ve only seen Kanna as an adult for a few chapters. I disagree with similarities between Johan and Friend though, at least at the point where I’m at in 20th Century Boys. Mostly because Johan seems much more malicious and horrible than Friend, even though the latter is a leader of a cult that has no problems with mass murder, brainwashing, and world domination, but their methods are also different. Their intentions seem different at this point too, though it is hard to ignore the fact that both turned out to be linked to the main characters through their pasts, then come back in the present specifically to harass them. In the Friend’s case, he doesn’t seem to be targeting Kenji specifically, aside from using the plans from Kenji’s childhood to stage some sort of apocalypse, but it’s still sort of the same situation.

  5. Sara K. Says:

    There are some major differences between Johan and Friend. I agree with all the differences you pointed out except for one, which I think I disagree on because I am further in the story.

    There are also a lot of differences between Kanna and Anna … but there is enough there for me to have had Anna’s face flash through my mind a few times during the movies. The main point is that, though they are on the side of good, they have a stronger connection to the evil than the other heroes, which they angst over, and sometimes … well, I’ll stop talking.

  6. Connie Says:

    It’s been hinted that Kanna may have some sort of special power or ability, or may even be Friend’s daughter, so I’m curious as to how that will be revealed, especially now that she’s an adult and seems to have survived the apocalypse and is probably completely unaware of anything she may be capable of.

    I had forgotten they hinted at the connection between Kanna and Friend, but that does make her a bit more Anna-like.

  7. Sara K. Says:

    Just being Kiriko’s daughter makes Kanna closer to the menace than the other heroes. Well, Kenji is Kiriko’s brother, but you know why he doesn’t count.

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