Monday, September 14, 2009
Monster, Volume 1
Set in Düsseldorf, West Germany in 1986, Monster recounts the story of the brilliant Dr. Kenzo Tenma, a Japanese surgeon. Tenma has a potentially great live ahead of him, blessed with great medical skill, a successful career, and an engagement to the beautiful daughter of the hospital director. But when he goes against his superiors' orders, his life is radically changed. What began as a seeming good deed instead unleashes an evil onto the world. These events also allow Urasawa to begin a huge series of twists that keep drawing readers in for more.
Dubbed "Japan's Master of Suspense" by VIZ Media, Naoki Urasawa weaves a compelling tale that incorporates complex characters, social issues, Cold War politics, as well as contemplations about how evil and justice operate. Urasawa has won numerous awards over his 20 year career. He has won the prestigious Shogakukan Manga Award thrice, the Osamu Tezuka Cultural Prize twice, and the Kodansha Manga Award once. Meanwhile in the US, Monster has been nominated twice for the Eisner Award. Urasawa has also entered the world of academia, in 2008 accepting a guest teaching post at Nagoya Zokei University, where he teaches courses in (what else?) manga.
Monster has received generally positive reviews. Here is one from Johanna Carlson Draper, one from Leroy Douresseaux, and one more from Robin Brenner. Originally, the series ran in Big Comic Original magazine from 1994 until 2001. It has been collected in English as an 18 volume series. The story has also been adapted into an anime, which will begin airing soon in the US on SyFy.
The official website, a hub for all these media versions, can be found here.
This was the very first manga series I read, on the recommendation from the good folks at Comicopia in Boston who told me that this was "a manga for people that don't like manga." I'm really glad I listened to Matt...