Monster 18 by Naoki Urasawa: A

After eighteen action-packed volumes of murders, secret organizations, suppressed memories, and the most exciting book donation ceremony known to man, Naoki Urasawa’s Monster has come to a close. With its multitudes of well-developed characters, unique setting, expressive art, and interwoven plot threads, the tale of Dr. Kenzo Tenma, a gifted surgeon who is out to stop a murderer whose life he saved in the operating room, has been a rich and rewarding reading experience. It can be hard to have faith that such an ambitious undertaking will hold together, however, and I wouldn’t blame anyone who had put off reading it until they’d heard whether all of the lingering questions had been satisfactorily answered in the end.

Well, the answer to that question is “mostly.” Throughout the course of the series, various people have played a part in the creation of the monster that is Johan. Unfortunately, anyone expecting the final volume to provide a conclusive explanation for exactly how he turned out the way he did will be disappointed. Some additional insights are revealed, though, which at least will give readers a basis upon which to come to their own conclusions.

On the positive side, several of my other questions were unambiguously addressed. On the whole, I found the conclusion of the series to be a satisfying one. In a volume full of important scenes, my favorite moments were those between Tenma and his pursuer, Inspector Lunge, who’s quite the fascinating character. The penultimate chapter also catches up with a few characters who haven’t been seen in a while; I can’t think of anyone whose fate was left to dangle.

While Monster is not without flaws, they are far outnumbered by its virtues. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this series to anyone.

Review originally published at Manga Recon.

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