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Ontology on the gone!

The Journal of the Lincoln Heights Literary Society
Miscellanea and Ephemeron

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06/11/2006 Archived Entry: "Manga Review: Monster"

Monster (Vol 1.)
by Naoki Urasawa
Publisher: VIZ

Review by Kathryn Ramage

This first volume of Naoki Urasawa's graphic suspense novel sets up the storyline, which begins in Dusseldorf, West Germany, in 1986. Life is pretty good for the brilliant young surgeon, Dr. Kenzo Tenma; he's at the start of what promises to be a successful career at Eisler Memorial Hospital, and he's engaged to the lovely daughter of the hospital's director. Everything's looking up... until Dr. Tenma is called to perform surgery on an opera singer while a Turkish immigrant, who came into the hospital first, is shifted off to the care of a less skilled surgeon; the former surgery is a success, but the latter patient dies. After being confronted by the dead man's family--and haunted by his fiancee's callous remark, "All lives aren't created equal"--Dr. Tenma is wracked with guilt. So, when a similar situation arises and he must choose between operating on a little boy with a gunshot wound to the head versus the city's mayor, he refuses to be called away, and saves the child's life.

Because of his choice, his career is ruined, his fiancee ditches him, and he finds himself confiding his frustrations to the comatose boy. The boy's twin sister is also in the hospital, shocked into a catatonic state by witnessing the assault that injured her brother and killed both their parents. One night, both twins disappear from the hospital, and the hospital director and everyone who opposed Dr. Tenma are also mysteriously murdered. Dr. Tenma is made chief of surgery

Nine years later, in 1995, Dr. Tenma's successful career is back on track and these earlier incidents nearly forgotten. Then another series of similar murder occurs, committed by "a monster," and the doctor learns to his horror that his good intentions have led straight to Hell.

This introductory volume sets up a tense and compelling story. The astute reader can guess just where it's going from the first chapters; the revelation of who the "monster" is doesn't come as a complete surprise, but that doesn't take anything away from the suspense leading up to that point. I have no idea where the story will go beyond this first volume, but it's a powerful beginning.

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