Tag Archives: horror manga

Book Review: Monster: The Perfect Edition, Vol 9 by Naoki Urasawa

Monster: The Perfect Edition, Vol 9

Author: Naoki Urasawa

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: July 19, 2016

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Manga/Horror/482 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

Nina comes face to face with Johan, and yet she can’t bring herself to kill her twin. When Tenma finds her, she is about to shoot herself, blaming herself for what happened. The memories that Johan spoke of are hers, not his. Everything is her fault. Tenma stops her from pulling the trigger. Suddenly she realizes what Johan intends to do – he plans to kill himself but also to eliminate everyone who has any memory of him!

Detective Lunge arrives in the quiet town of Ruhenheim and begins to investigate, ending up in a small book store. Herr Grimmer also arrives in Ruhenheim. He hears what he thinks is a gunshot. Is that possible? Grimmer and Lunge run into each other, and Grimmer tells the detective that a terrible massacre is about to take place here.

After speaking with Nina, whom he has taken to the hospital, Tenma seeks out the son of Franz Bonaparta. He’s figured out what Bonaparta’s real name is and, with the son’s help, he learns how to find him.

And now it’s begun. All roads seem to lead to Ruhenheim, and everyone is gathering there, while the town finds itself in the throes of some terrible madness. People are scared, because people are dying but they don’t know why. Will Johan achieve his insane desire to kill himself and take everyone who ever knew him with him?

It’s been one wild ride but this story has finally reached an end. So many twists and turns. Such an incredible mind this Urasawa possesses! He’s kept us guessing about what’s going on all this time, and now it’s done. The final volume of Monster does not disappoint. And though most everything is explained, I still have questions. Even so, I do like the ending.  I am sorry to say good-bye to Tenma and Nina and Dieter. Even Detective Junge. Thank you for taking me along on such a wonderful journey. I must find the anime and watch that now.

Book Review: Monster: The Perfect Edition, Vol 8 by Naoki Urasawa

Monster: The Perfect Edition, Vol 8   

Author: Naoki Urasawa

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: April 19, 2016

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Manga/Horror/432 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

Tenma has been asking questions about Eva’s bodyguard, trying to learn her whereabouts. The man roughs him up and refuses to tell him, but he lets Eva know he’s seen her ex. Tenma persists, returning the next night, with a gun. He tells the bodyguard he knows the Baby hired him, and he wants to know why. Martin explains that all she does is go to parties, and all she did for the Baby was point out a blond man with a pretty face. Of course, Tenma knows who that is.

Martin rushes back to the hotel. His instructions are to kill Eva, but he can’t bring himself to do that, so he asks her to run away with him. She says has no interest in that, so he gives her the address of Tenma’s hotel, trusting the doctor will keep her safe. When the men come for her, she isn’t there, and now he has to face the music. Martin is shot but lives, and manages to reach Tenma’s hotel, only to discover that Eva never arrived. Martin tells Tenma that the experiments at Red Rose Mansion are still going on, and now the devil has an apprentice in the form of Peter Capek. Tenma finds Eva at the train station and tells her what has happened.

Nina is trying to jog her memory by returning over and over to the Three Frogs. She tells Dieter he needs to go back to Munich, back to school, but he refuses and insists on accompanying her. She remembers being taken to the Red Rose Mansion, and something terrible happened, but what?

We’re finally at the beginning of the end. Everything is becoming clearer, and more and more people are becoming aware of what is going on. But can they stop it? Can they catch the devil before his final grand plan is set in motion? How is Franz Bonaparta at the center of everything? What exactly happened at 511 Kinderheim? And why?

One more volume to go, can’t wait!

Book Review: Monster: The Perfect Edition, Vol 7 by Naoki Urasawa

Monster: The Perfect Edition, Vol 7   

Author: Naoki Urasawa

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: January 19, 2016

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Manga/Horror/416 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

As the news spreads that the serial killer long sought by the police, Kenzo Tenma, has been taken into custody, certain people listen with disbelief. Detective Suk is determined to go to Prague to speak with Tenma before he is extradited back to Germany, but runs into two other detectives, who inform him that his name has been cleared thanks to a journalist named Grimmer. Meanwhile, Detective Lunge, who is supposedly on vacation, is also in Prague, following various leads. He learns certain things which point away from Tenma’s guilt. Will he believe them? Or is he too obsessed with the idea that Johan is Tenma’s alter ego?

In the jail, Tenma is called upon to treat a fellow prisoner, due to the doctor being otherwise occupied. The prisoner knows who Tenma is and asks if he wants to escape with him, but Tenma declines. An attorney, son of an accused spy, is enlisted to aid in Tenma’s defense at the request of a number of people, including a group of his former patients who all believe in his innocence. He goes to see Tenma, who tells him everything, and decides to take his case.

After his own meeting with the attorney, Dr. Reichwein goes back to Eva and tells her she needs to cooperate with the lawyer in order to help Tenma. But she isn’t interested in helping him. She wants to see him suffer for the rest of his life for breaking up with her. She blames him for the way her life turned out, rather than blaming herself. Tenma receives a surprise visitor – Roberto, the assassin he shot the night of the fire. Roberto tells him he might kill Eva. Now Tenma has no choice but to escape in order to save her.

There is so much going on in this volume. The tension is rising, and it feels like we are close to the end, to the truth. So many burning questions. Will Eva change her mind and testify for Tenma, now that she realizes she actually saw Johan that night? How are we supposed to tell the difference between Johan and Nina, when he looks just like her when he’s in disguise? The secrets of the Rose Red Mansion are coming out.  The story with Eva and the detective was pretty interesting, I’ll have to admit, although I can’t stand the woman. Will Tenma’s escape lead to anything? What will Nina do? Guess we have to wait for the next volume to find out.

Book Review: Monster, Perfect Edition Vol 6 by Naoki Urasawa

Monster: The Perfect Edition, Vol 6

Author: Naoki Urasawa

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: October 20, 2015

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Manga/Horror/406 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

Tenma arrives in Prague and locates what was once an old pub whose sign contains three frogs and tries to learn about a woman who once lived there, years before. Did she have twins, by any chance? Nina talks to Detective Suk who was investigating Grimmer and reveals that Grimmer gave him the key to a safe deposit box.The key was given to him by the doctor who once ran 511 Kinderheim. She warns him to tell no one about the key. But is she who she appears to be?

Suk goes to meet Grimmer, unaware that his own department is trailing him, hoping to get a lead on their suspect. Together they go to the bank and open the safe deposit box to find a report and a cassette tape. On the tape is the voice of a young boy who is being asked questions, such as his name. He says his name is Johan, and he speaks about Anna and a monster with no name. Afterward, Suk is approached by members of the Secret Police, who accuse him of having something to do with the poisoning of the three policemen. Although he protests his innocence, things don’t look good when they find a package of the same whiskey bonbons the men were poisoned with! When Grimmer arrives, he finds Suk standing in a room with two dead detectives! What is going on here? And where are the tape and the report?

Tenma learns about what has happened, and goes to visit Suk’s mother in the hospital to see if she has heard from him. Unfortunately, she has memory lapses and thinks he is Suk, so that doesn’t help. But she does remember a secret hideout Jan played in as a boy, and reminds her “son” of where it is. Can Suk and Grimmer be there? When Tenma finds Grimmer, he learns about his background as a spy, and how he was once at 511 Kinderheim himself!

Now Suk is missing and not in the hospital he should be in. Tenma and Grimmer find themselves invited to dinner by the man who knows where he is, Colonel Lanke. He only wants the tape and the report in exchange for Suk’s whereabouts. It turns out he has a personal reason to destroy those behind the notorious orphanage.

Nina and Dieter are also in Prague and when they find the pub with the three toads, the place is strangely familiar to Nina. What she doesn’t understand is why people there seem to recognize her, and why do they call her Anna?

A lot of backstory here, history coming to light, as the threads in this incredible tapestry of a story become more and more tightly woven, a picture emerging. So Grimmer was at Kinderheim too? Interesting. His history explained much about him. It’s amazing he turned out as well as he did. Except for the part about the Amazing Steiner. But maybe that isn’t what it seems either. Johan must be getting nervous if he’s dressing up like his sister to fool people. Detective Lunge is still on the case, but he is so obsessed with being right about Tenma that he dismisses any other evidence as wrong, especially if it points to Johan being a real person who isn’t in Tenma’s mind. Then the unthinkable happens, and Tenma is captured. How will he get out of this? And yuck, his alcoholic ex is back in the picture. Hopefully not for long.

Another great volume, looking forward to the next one!

Book Review: Monster, Perfect Edition Vol 5 by Naoki Urasawa

Monster: The Perfect Edition, Vol 5   

Author: Naoki Urasawa

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: July 21, 2015

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Manga/Horror/410 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer:  Julie Lynn Hayes

 

Tenma is hiding on top of a bookcase, rifle in hand, waiting for the moment when he can kill Johan, and end the life he never should have saved all those years ago. Dr. Reichwein has gone to see Herr Schuman, to warn him about Johan, fearful of what Tenma might do. But Schuman insists on going to the ceremony at the library anyway. Once they arrive, he tells Karl he has forgotten something and sends him home to retrieve it. Dr. Reichwein suddenly realizes where Tenma is and rushes out, but he can’t shake Dieter. And the persistent Detective Lunge, who still believes Tenma and Johan are the same person, heads to the library as well to talk to Herr Schuman.

Nina is shocked to learn that Lotte knows Johan and realizes she is a dead ringer for him. And what is this book that scared Johan so?  A Czech picture book about a monster with no name? Meanwhile Tenma has Johan in his sights. All he has to do is squeeze. So why can’t he? And who is this strange woman who has just set the library on fire?

Tenma receives a message, brought to him in the park on behalf of Herr Schuman by his son Karl. He says the mother of the twins is alive and living in Prague. A journalist named Grimmer is seeking information on the East German Kinderheim. He runs into Tenma on a train, and they become traveling companions. But when the authorities stop the train, he reveals his knowledge of Tenma’s identity and tells him to run. Afterward, Grimmer finds the former director of Kinderheim and learns, to his horror, that he has a number of young boys in his home. What is he doing, recreating experiments of the past? Can Grimmer stop him?

The more we know, the more I want to know, as these plots become more and more entwined.  I didn’t think Tenma would be able to shoot Johan, and yet I feel he has to die somehow. I think Nina can do it. Unless of course, there is more to her than meets the eye. I’m not even sure of that anymore.

Did Kinderheim create a monster, or was Johan always that? If he was, what about Nina? Grimmer’s alto ego is pretty amazing, I have to say. And Lunge is so delusional, I can’t wait to see his face when he learns the truth about Johan – that he is a real and horrible person who is not Tenma.

Another great volume of Monster, can’t wait for the next one!

Book Review: Monster, Perfect Edition, Vol 4 by Naoki Urasawa

Monster: The Perfect Edition, Vol 4   

Author: Naoki Urasawa

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: April 21, 2015

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Manga/Horror/438 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

A PI named Richard, who was thrown off the police force for shooting a kid, is in therapy to deal with that, as well as the addiction to alcohol that almost killed him and cost him his wife and his daughter. Even now, his daughter won’t see him, although he’s on a better footing with his ex. Richard asks his therapist, Dr. Reichwein, to look at a photo and see if he can tell anything about the man in the picture. Turns out, things are starting to work out for him and his daughter has agreed to see him the next day. When that doesn’t happen, though, he contemplates turning back to drink.

Neuman, who still hasn’t revealed his true identity to the billionaire Schuwald, has introduced Johan to him, and Johan has become indispensable. Neuman’s foster parents reveal that they wish to adopt him. Without giving them an answer, he calls his employer and says he is leaving his employ, but the old man wants him to read to him one last time. Richard, the PI, tries to report to Schuwald what he has learned, but the man is no longer interested and insists the matter is settled.

Dr. Reichwein remembers a former student of his who has done very well, Dr. Gillen. He’s recently read an interview Gillen did with a serial killer named Jürgens who claimed a “friend” ordered him to commit the murders. He also asks him about a former classmate of his who did well, a doctor named Tenma.

As Richard continues to investigate the people who surround Herr Schuwald, he is starting to uncover a disturbing pattern… plus he finds himself the object of some near-misses that could have hurt or killed him. He ends up at the home of Johan’s current adoptive parents, the Lieberts.

When Dr. Reichwein  receives some devastating news, as he tries to figure out what happened and he is almost killed! He chases down his would-be killer and confronts him, demanding to know who is paying him to do this. Later, his life is saved by Dr. Tenma, and meanwhile Dr. Gillen is visited by BKA Inspector Lunge. Nina Fortner is hot on Johan’s trail, while Johan is teaching children a terrible game, and Tenma lies in wait to rid the world of a monster…

Not as much of Tenma or Nina in this volume, but the other characters and their stories are definitely riveting. The PI who is trying to redeem himself for his daughter’s sake, the therapist who has ties with two former students, including Tenma, and who is determined to unravel the mystery he’s begun to see. The obsessed Lunge, whom I suspect no longer cares if Tenma is innocent or guilty, he’s just going to bring him down no matter what. I can’t help but compare the so-called “friend” of Jürgens, who forced him to kill, with the sinister Friend of Urasawa’s Twentieth Century Boys. Both Johan and Friend are definitely evil men. I really hope Tenma doesn’t go through with his plans.

Another great volume, can’t wait for the next one.

Book Review: Monster, Perfect Edition, Vol 3 by Naoki Urusawa

Monster: The Perfect Edition, Vol 3     

Author: Naoki Urasawa

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: January 20, 2015

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Manga/Horror/434 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

An old classmate of Tenma’s interviews and analyzes serial killers in order to get into their heads and mindset. The last thing he expects is to receive a visit from the wanted Tenma. Tenma needs his help. He shows him the handwritten notes left by Johan, and tells the story of the boy who became a monster. The classmate, Rudi, is skeptical due to his perception of Tenma when they were in school together, but takes the tape of his story to a serial killer, Peter Jürgens, to get his opinion.

Jürgens urges Rudi to go to the scene of his last murder. Not sure what he will find, Rudi goes down into the basement, where the killer was found to be hiding. There he finds evidence to support what Peter had said, that he’d been told to kill his last victim by a so-called friend.

Rudi and Tenma agree to meet to discuss the notes, but Tenma is unaware that he has been sold out to the police. Will Rudi turn him in? Or will what he  has seen persuade him that Tenma is not a serial killer? If Frau Kempf, the victim, was childless, whose pictures are these in the basement? Pictures of a faceless little boy…

While hitchhiking, Tenma and Dieter are picked up by an older couple who speak no German. The wife asks Tenma’s help in translation. Unfortunately, the car runs out of gas, so Tenma volunteers to go for some, taking Dieter with him. The husband, who was once a detective, seems to look at Tenma rather oddly, as if he’s suspicious of him for some reason.

A well-to family with a child live in a beautiful home, enjoying their life, but there is something odd about the house next door. The husband gets weird being-watched vibes from one of the windows.

So much going on here! Tenma is determined to find and kill Johan before he can hurt anyone else. The former BKA agent, Lunge, is still hot on Tenma’s trail, convinced that Johan doesn’t exist except as an alter personality of Tenma. When he finds evidence that someone else killed a couple that Tenma is accused of having killed, he wants nothing to do with it because it doesn’t suit his agenda. Nina is determined to find her brother as well and continually puts herself in harm’s way in order to get to the truth. She knows that sooner or later they will bring her to Johan, since her brother seems to want to see her too. And why does Jürgens remind me of Ed Kemper?

And let’s not forget Tenma’s ex, Eva Heineman, who blames him for all her troubles. Can she sink any lower? Raging alcoholic floozy, she alternates between wanting Tenma back and wanting to see him in prison for life. She is a loose cannon who could prove dangerous in the long run.

The volume ends with the Thursday’s Boy story, which is fascinating itself, and we finally get a bigger glimpse of Johan. Nothing negative to say about this series, love it to death. Such intricate plotting, coupled with great characterization, and wonderful artwork. Who could ask for more? Looking forward to the next volume.

 

 

Book Review: Monster Perfect Edition, Vol 2 by Naoki Urasawa

Monster: The Perfect Edition, Vol 2

Author: Naoki Urasawa

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: October 21, 2014

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Manga/Horrorl/402 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

A burglar named Heckel breaks into the home of the late councilman, intending to loot it, when he runs into Tenma. At the sound of sirens, however, they both make a hasty exit, Tenma following the burglar, to his dismay. When he learns that Tenma is a doctor, Heckel has a brilliant idea of how they can make easy money. Tenma isn’t interested until he finds out Heckel saw the councilman’s murderer, and makes him tell where he is. It turns out that the guy isn’t Johan, but Johan has left a message for Tenma. How did he know Tenma would be there?

With Heckel’s help, Tenma is kidnapped and led to a wounded man and ordered to help him. But the conditions are so primitive, Tenma doesn’t believe he can do it safely. Tenma has a decision to make. Afterward, he goes to East Germany and visits the home of the late Lieberts in the company of a real estate agent as he attempts to glean information about the current owner. The realtor has none to give but points him to a neighbor who does remember the Lieberts and the twins they adopted. This was news to Tenma. The orphanage was located at 511 Kinderheim, but it’s abandoned and very spooky now. A nearby woman guides Tenma to a man who once worked in the welfare ministry, who is fostering a little boy. Tenma bonds with the boy and promises to bring him a soccer ball. Things get ugly fast and Tenma turns to the system for help.

Tenma takes the child, Dieter, with him and gives him directions on how to find the good orphanage. But Dieter refuses to go and insists on following Tenma, so he has little choice but to look after him. He runs across a drunken man who has injured himself and takes him to the doctor’s house but the doctor is away so Tenma treats him himself and leaves. When the doctor returns, he is furious and tracks Tenma down. When the police arrive, he covers up for Tenma and tells the officer to have his mother come in soon, because she’s ill. Concerned about her, he takes Tenma to the woman’s house and Tenma talks her into letting them in. But she soon collapses and Tenma has no choice but to operate, or she’ll die. Will her son, the policeman, see it that way, or will he just see a man who is wanted for murder?

Detective Lunge is obsessed with finding a connection between a murdered prostitute and the late councilman. He is so obsessed that he neglects his wife and daughter. Tenma’s ex calls on him, demanding to know when he will arrest Tenma. And when he informs her that it wasn’t Tenma, it was Johan, she tells Lunge that Johan is just one of Tenma’s personalities!

Tenma runs into an ex-cop, one of the men who killed Herr Maurer and the journalist, who finally admits the truth about the murders, and about the Baby. Apparently Nina Fortner/Anna Liebert has been looking for Johan, and the Baby intends to use her as bait, for his own reasons. Meanwhile Heckel and Dieter uncover a plot that could potentially kill a lot of people.

There is nothing boring about this volume of Monster. Edge-of-your-seat action all the way through. Nina wants to finish the job she started years ago, and Tenma wants to right the wrong he committed by saving the monster’s life as a child.  Maybe he sees Dieter as a form of redemption, which is why he can’t just leave him. Also, I think he realizes that Dieter is wise beyond his years and has seen much that he should never have seen.

This book has some memorable characters, a great plot, and the artwork is awesome! Some of the people remind me of those in Twentieth Century Boys, but is that surprising? Same artist. I look forward to reading the next volume.

Book Review: Monster: Perfect Edition, Vol 1 by Naoki Urasawa

Monster: The Perfect Edition, Vol 1   

Author: Naoki Urasawa

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: July 15, 2014

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Manga/Horror/426 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

Tenma is a doctor whose life seems perfect. The Japanese doctor came to Germany to learn from a brilliant German hospital director, and he has become engaged to the man’s daughter, Eva. But this life is a façade, as he begins to learn. His fiancé is selfish and narcissistic, and her father only cares about the hospital making money rather than saving lives. In fact, the director has no compunction about taking credit for Dr. Tenma’s work, and his daughter tells Tenma that it is her father’s right to do so.

Dr. Tenma performs a grueling operation on a famous opera singer, although a Turkish laborer arrived before him and also needed Dr. Tenma’s attention. But the doctor was told to operate on the singer and the doctor who performed the operation on the laborer failed to save him. The grieving widow spots Tenma and wails that if he had operated, she would still have her husband and her child would have a father. Tenma’s fiancé’s Eva’s response to Tenma’s self-doubts is “Some lives are worth more than others.”

It’s1986, and Germany is still divided. An East German trade adviser defects to the west, and he, his wife, and two children settle in Dusseldorf. One night the police are called to their house to find a horrific scene. Both parents are dead, the son has been shot, and the daughter in shock. The boy is rushed to the hospital and Dr. Tenma is called in. As he is about to go into surgery, he receives word that the mayor is ill and needs Tenma to perform his surgery. He’s ordered to do so by the director. But, remembering how he abandoned the Turkish laborer who then died, Tenma decides to save the boy and tells them another doctor can save the mayor as it’s a simple procedure. He saves the boy but the mayor dies.

Tenma, who was once on a fast track to success, is now ostracized by all and told he will never amount to anything. The police are impatient to question the young girl who was the only witness to the tragedy, as her brother is still in a coma. They persuade the hospital to allow the girl to be brought to the brother’s room in the hope she can help bring him around, against Dr. Tenma’s medical advice, but this doesn’t seem to matter anymore. And that does not end well when the director and two of his flunkies are found murdered, and the children disappear from the hospital. Dr. Tenma has no choice but to step up and take charge in the midst of chaos.

Fast forward nine years. Someone is targeting and killing middle-aged childless couples, but why? Inspector Lunge of the BKA is assigned to the case. He ends up following a clue to Dusseldorf, where Tenma is now head of surgery and his former fiancé has become a whining, demanding drunk with three failed marriages behind her. One of Tenma’s colleagues urges him to get back in the game and at least date, but Tenma isn’t really interested in anything but saving people. He saves the man who Lunge is interested in, and the man tells Tenma about a monster who makes him do things. When the man goes missing from the hospital, Tenma has an idea where he is and finds him, along with the so-called monster, who he is horrified to learn is someone whose life he saved nine years before.

Tenma realizes that he is responsible in some measure for what the monster has done. Plus he needs to save the sister from her brother, and begins to search for her. In the meantime, a young woman named Nina, unaware that she is adopted, and knowing nothing of her past, has been receiving strange messages from someone, as well as flowers. His latest email says he wants to meet her on her 20th birthday at a particular location. Meanwhile, Lunge has become convinced that Tenma is the murderer and will stop at nothing to prove it.

I’ve been meaning to read this series for some time. It’s by the same author who brought us Twentieth Century Boys, which I am still reading, and love. Monster is amazing. It has an extremely interesting story line you don’t often see in manga involving a serial killer. The hero, Dr. Tenma, is not only personable and cute, but he has standards and principles, which all doctors should have. Believing  he is responsible for unleashing the monster on the world by saving his life, he wants to do something to correct that mistake. At this point, I’m not sure if he plans to talk him out of killing or if he is capable of taking the next step and ending the monster’s life. We shall see.

I didn’t like Eva, his fiancé, from the beginning, and my dislike of her is only growing, as well as for the persistent, obstinate, and single-minded Lunge, who wants to solve his case one way or another.  You have to feel for the sister who has everything dumped on her when she has been so happily clueless and she is forced to relive the horrible memory of what actually happened the night her parents were murdered.

This is a great first volume, looking forward to more of the same.