Monster Vol. #09 (Mania.com)
Review Date: Wednesday, August 15, 2007
Release Date: Saturday, June 30, 2007
Translated by:Satch Watanabe
Adapted by:Agnes Yoshida
What They Say
"Once upon a time, in a land far away, there lived a nameless monster. He was dying to have a name. So the monster made up his mind to set out on a journey to look for one."
-Emile Scherbe, A Nameless Monster
When a curious children's book causes a disturbing reaction in Johan, it may provide an ideal opportunity for Tenma to fire a well-aimed sniper shot. Could this odd book created by an obscure Czech writer also be the key to unlocking more about Johan's enigmatic past?
Unable to locate Johan, Nina decides to leave Munich, but just as she is about to depart, Lotte confronts her with the fateful Czechoslovakian picture book. The story within the book stirs up old memories in Nina's mind. When Lotte gives her Johan's whereabouts, Nina rushes off to settle things with her twin once and for all.
She hurries to Schuwald's book donation ceremony, and with that, the paths of Nina, Tenma, Lunge, even Dieter and Reichwein, all converge at the University Library. All of them are getting so close to Johan. But is the noose really tightening around his neck, or are they just playing into his hands?
Going into Volume 9, Urasawa has the reader anticipating a number of climactic confrontations. As it turns out, some of those confrontations do take place -- but not the way you might expect. And once it's over, instead of reaching any sort of resolution, our characters wind up with a deeper mystery on their hands as Tenma delves further into Johan's enigmatic past and long-forgotten memories begin to surface in Nina's mind. The trigger to Nina's memories is, of course, the unusual children's book that caused such a violent reaction in Johan, and we finally get to see the strange contents of this book (Viz Media prints the panels depicting the picture book in sienna ink) in its entirety. Incidentally, the illustrations of the picture book are used in the Monster anime's closing credits. I thought the illustrations were wierd when I first saw them at the end of the TV episodes (the bizarre closing songs didn't help), and seeing them in the context of Scherbe's story just makes them more disturbing, especially considering the parallels that can be drawn between Johan and the picture book's main character.
Despite a bit of aggravation that more questions arise than are answered, I really enjoyed the excitement of these chapters. You know that a story's really got you in its grip when you start yelling out loud at the characters. (In my case, it went something like, "Shoot! Hurry up and shoot him! No, no, no! Shoot him already! Shoot him now!") I think it's a mark of Urasawa's genius as a storyteller that he can get a reader so involved in the story. It can be a bit exhausting at times, but definitely thrilling. Overall, I've only one complaint (and it's a minor one), which is that the images of the fire scenes can get a little confusing as differentiating between fire, smoke, and speed lines becomes difficult with the black-and-white art.
Mania Grade: A+
Art Rating: A-
Packaging Rating: B
Text/Translatin Rating: B-
Age Rating: 16 & Up
Released By: Viz Media
Orientation: Right to Left