There's a monster in my pants
And It does a nasty dance
When it sees the light of day
You can here the people say
Oh no, a monster! Oh no, a monster!
Oh no, oh no, oh no a giant monster
Oh no, a giant monster!
No, the 18 tankoban manga series Monster, by uber Japanese storyteller Naoki Urasawa (who also drew and wrote the glorious Yawara and penciled the kick-ass Master Keaton), has nothing to do with the B52's classic song of the same name... I just love the song and take any opportunity I can get to sing it to whoever'll listen.
The manga Monster though is JUST AS cut-ass rugged as that song, only it's 5Xs as deep, but only twice as disturbing. Monster is as fresh and different as you can get in a world of Rurouni Kenshins, Narutos, Dragon Ballz, and Bleaches. It's an extremely well-drawn, brilliantly paced, psychological thriller that takes place 100% in Europe (mostly Germany). This is what makes it so great, but will ultimately keep its deserved fame and fortune to a minimum... It has nothing at all to do with Japan (except for the main character being a Japanese doctor... in Europe). A good portion of anime and manga fans are so small minded that they only read and watch shit that takes place in Japan because just the shape of the island nation gives them a tiny, fat boner. You shriveled sacks of digested Pocky piss me the fuck off.
Back to Monster. This is the story of a Dr. Kenzou Tenma, a brilliant brain surgeon who seems to be rising to the top of the West German hoity toity during the tail end of the iron curtain of communism in the late 1980s. Tenma's engaged to the hospital director's beautiful daughter, and his glorious future is laid out before him... But then he grows a conscience (a bad thing for anybody in power!). One night Tenma is operating on a small child who was rushed into the ER after being shot in the head, when a politician is brought in needing the doctor's famed hands to work their magic on his famous, blood clotted-brain. Tenma, sick of the backroom politics that force him to choose more distinguished patients over those brought in before them, chooses to continue working on the boy. The boy lives, the mayor dies, and Tenma's world gets flipped on its head, shat upon, and then flushed down the toilet in the blink of an eye.
At first Tenma's simply in the doghouse with the hospital director, who demotes him, and his fiancee, who drops him like a hot potato that was just up the diseased twat of a $20 whore. But soon people around the good doctor start turning up dead, and a huge (read HUGE) mystery begins to unravel having something to do with the boy whose life Tenma saved, and the boy's twin sister -- both of whom disappeared from existence soon after the boy recovered. The mysteries of who the children are, what originally happened to the boy, Johan, and his sister, Nina/Anna, and why people who seem to have nothing in common with each other start winding up dead all across Germany begin to pull Tenma in. Soon, like the A-Team and Heat Vision and Jack before him, Tenma has to go on the lam, avoiding police as he runs, in order to clear his name for a crime he didn't commit, and track down the real culprit.... Okay, maybe I should have left the "A-Team" reference out of it, since Monster has no offending "cheese" factor to it in the least. If this manga has any fault (and it does NOT) it's that it's maybe a bit TOO serious... But it's not. My point being that if people get shot at in Monster, they get hurt and possibly die. Nobody fires at the ground at their enemies, nobody ever locks Tenma up in a room filled with objects that he can make detailed weapons out of, and nobody ever winks at the camera.
Monster is a dark and almost despondent tale, which only through Tenma's incredible determination does any sort of hope even make a small appearance. Not that it's depressing though, just that the odds are constantly against the good doctor, but he always finds realistic ways around his hurdles. The absolute beauty of this tale is the elaborate and sophisticated web of characters that Urasawa populates this world with. How all these characters interact and meet each other (never by chance either, as they all meet due to one character or another's detective skills) is a sight to be seen. And pretty much EVERY character (from Tenma to the most deplorable of his enemies) is a good character -- somebody who you don't mind giving screen time to. Grimmer, the lanky, ever-smiling BAD-ASS is my favorite player in this whole thing... But Nina/Anna's also really cool... And I really liked that dickhead detective as well. Hell, ALL of the characters are my fave! See?! It's just like I told you! I was right again!
To show how great all of the characters are, there was like one entire tankoban in which Tenma doesn't even make an appearance and we simply follow some subcharacters around and learn how their lives will shortly cross the doctor's. Brilliant! BRILLIANT! Urasawa is a crazy-mad genius.
I want to talk more and more about this orgasmicly great series until my fingers fall off from tapping on the keyboard, but I feel I should stop now. The story is so large and detailed, involving a city-wide ethnic cleansing, neo-nazi's trying to reclaim the power that the party once had, and a children's storybook writer who tried to make his stories come true... but if I dive any more into it in this review I'll either spend another few weeks writing about it all or I wouldn't do it justice in the least. Just read it all when Viz eventually gets it all out, or watch the 74 episode TV series (which I'm told is a spot-on interpretation of the manga)... Honestly, I'm impressed they were able to fit everything into 74 episodes. This story is the definition of "epic". And the ending is as satisfying as they get -- especially with that last little jab in the hospital room. What was mother's true intention?
Okay, I'll shut up now.
Okay, I have a bone to pick with this character of Dr. Tenma in this Monster comic book that the Rossman made me read. Not only is his a class act and an inspiring surgeon, but he saves every goldurn person he ever operates on! I call "shenanigans" on this fellow! What's he trying to prove?! He just spends all of his time walking around Eastern Europe trying to make the rest of us look bad. So annoying!
Say for instance I came across some old lady with something gooey and wrong in her head... Would I go out of my way to sanitize her dirt-floored dwelling in order to give her an emergency lobotomy on her kitchen table with Lysoled steak knives and stuff? Nope, I'd harvest her ancient organs for a fair price on the black market. And so would you, sonny boy, and you know it!
This guy's some Mother Theresa, with a scalpel. It just makes me sick. I simply believe that the author of this series didn't do his full research on the subject. If he did he'd know that that hypocritical oath thing that they make us say is really just a big joke. It's along the same lines as saying, "I do" at your wedding... It really means "I do, until some more gorgeous woman comes along. Then I'll do her." That doctor's oath thing basically means "I will save every life I can, unless I'm tired, or the guy who needs help is a prick, or I'm hungry, or I want to have relations with his wife, or he's rich and in the delirium of his pain I made him sign over his fortune to me." It's not made to be taken seriously.
Oh man, I didn't give a shit what happened to the main doctor character in this thing, but I was totally rooting for his ex-fiancee and her quest to drink herself across Germany! I tried that myself a few years back, and didn't make it past Berlin. Seriously, she must be some major hard-core alky! My hat's off to ya, baby!