Tag Archives: horror manga

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.