So for Christmas I decided to treat myself a to a complete reading of Naoki Urasawa’s Monster, an 18 volume manga series translated and published in English by Viz. I’d read the first five volumes as they were coming out, but unfortunately got sidetracked as the series progressed. Since I had a free day, deliberately clear of any obligations, I decided I’d give it a go.
So, honestly? It’s just an exceptionally well-done comic. There’s no way to look at this and not recognize the incredibly high level of craft, the sheer ability put into this series. The character development, the labrynthine plot, and just how compelling it is as a story! There wasn’t one point while reading that dragged for me, where I wasn’t propelled into the next chapter, the next book. And the art! It’s understated, probably doesn’t give the best impression on the ‘flip-test’, but it’s pretty clear that Urasawa and his legion of assistants can draw pretty much anything; any expression, any angle, any background character, and dozens of unique faces and body-types and even body language. He has a wonderful gift for caricature too, character faces that could seem cartoony (or in some cases grotesque…) work very well within the context of the story. The series is in almost every respect fantastically accomplished.
The thing that bugged me, is bugging me, is the ending. It’s why I am blogging at 5:10am instead of, you know, being asleep for when I have to get up for work in 3 hours. :(
I’m having a hard time reconciling the decisions of some of the characters, and am… unclear… on how some of it played out. I’ve got theories on some of it, and my theories are leading me to be more disappointed than not. I think part of the problem is that enough of the “plot” was resolved, but a lot of it was left open-ended as well, giving us instead the emotional resolution we needed. But in a page-turner thriller graphic novel series, I’m not… entirely… ready to just accept the emotional resolution and forget the rest.
I don’t really want to read it again at this point, as I am tired, but I kind of hope I get to wake up tomorrow and there’ll be lots of discussion in the comments section here. I know there was lots of discussion when this series wrapped up in Japan (and in scans), and lots of… heated… commentary arose out of it, but honestly I tried to stay away knowing that I’d read it all one day for myself.
Anyway, your thoughts would be welcome, dear readership, if you’ve read it yourselves. Maybe I’ll try and coax some of my buddies out for a beer after work tomorrow (today…) and we can try and figure it out.
Until then, feel free to let loose in the comments section!