Monster 8 by Naoki Urasawa: A-

From the back cover:
Tenma is hot on Johan’s trail and he’s more determined than ever. Now in top physical condition and armed with a high-performance sniper rifle, has Tenma acquired the keen hunter’s edge necessary to bag his prey? Or will his physician’s instincts prevent him from carrying out his dreaded task?

The first and last chapters were the best in this volume, though, as ever, the whole thing was consistently good.

In the first chapter, Inspector Lunge pays a visit to Dr. Gillen, having seen the classified ad for Tenma that the latter placed (in volume seven) in the paper. Gillen analyzes Lunge some, which is great, and also shares with him the data on the various killings surrounding the elderly billionaire, Schuwald. Lunge proves once again how awesome he is by pretending to be swayed, saying he might’ve made a mistake in disbelieving Tenma’s story about Johan, and getting Gillen to tell him where Tenma is likely to be now.

Throughout the volume, Tenma has been observing Johan and plotting when and where would be the best place to shoot him. He finally decides on a ceremony for the donation of Schuwald’s book collection to the university library, and the very end of the volume is him hiding atop a stack with his sniper rifle while the library gets locked up for the night. It’s a terrific cliffhanger, and a pretty clever plot, too.

And in between, there are some entertaining chapters about the students at Munich University, an old guy in a forest, a game Johan instigated wherein children fall to their deaths from rooftops, a teen underground doctor, a prostitute’s attempt to blackmail Johan, Lunge’s efforts to understand Japanese people, and a very peculiar Czech picture book that makes Johan break out screaming and collapse. Like always, the side stories are never dull, but the picture book was obviously the most interesting development.

The passage of time issue continues to bother me. For example, Lunge refers to the events of volume five, wherein Tenma was almost nabbed by police while meeting with Dr. Gillen, as having happened in “May of last year.” Later, Lunge says that the classified ad was scheduled to run “from the 1st to the 22nd of May.” Does that mean that several weeks passed between volumes five and seven, or a year? I’m inclined to think the latter, since in volume seven, Dr. Reichwein was seen writing Dr. Gillen on 1.3.97 (March, by the European date format), but in volume six, Eva was talking about the events of volume one as having been a year ago, which seemed about right, so… I’m all confused.

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