Monster Volume 1 Review: Doctors And Murder Mysteries

I’ve never read any manga from the murder mystery genre, but it would seem like there’s a market for that. Viz Media recently released the first volume of such a series known as Monster. While I say it’s the first volume, it certainly doesn’t look like that at a glance. Monster Volume 1 looks more like a compilation of two or three regular volumes of manga. Consisting of 422 pages, the first volume provides a lot of content for readers at a much higher price.

Monster is the story of a highly talented surgeon by the name of Dr. Kenzo Tenma. Dr. Tenma lives in Germany and works at a fairly prestigious hospital with a great deal of promise in his career. However, that goes south when Dr. Tenma defies a direct order and chooses to operate on a dying child rather than operate on the Mayor. Although Dr. Tenma did what he believed to be the right thing, it costs him any hope of advancing his career. Unfortunately, his decision also brought about the creation of a killer that can only be described as an entity of pure evil. The rest of the volume details Dr. Tenma’s career as he discovers the truth and seeks out answers to unravel the mystery behind a series of bizarre murders.

Monster explores a lot of concepts, particularly the medical care industry and the inner workings of it. Unfortunately, a lot of that’s depicted in a very negative light at the beginning. The people running the hospital don’t care much for the patients beyond who is worth saving, who has money to pay for treatment, and who can be considered an ‘acceptable loss.’ I can’t help but wonder if some of the story may contain personal views of the author. On the other hand, Dr. Tenma is exactly the kind of doctor that people would want to take care of them when their lives are at risk. So in a sense, the first part of Monster is essentially Dr. Tenma going against the political nature of the business aspect of a hospital and then dealing with the consequences.

While it did feel long and a little dragged out at times, Monster has a story that really pulled me in. It kept me hooked all the way through the end of the volume, where it naturally ends with a cliffhanger in order to encourage the reader to buy the next volume. I could never predict what would happen next, and I cared about what happened to the characters. Monster found a way to combine a medical drama and mystery with a healthy side of thriller, and it works out really well.

The art style for Monster is really unique. It feels like a combination of a more classical older manga and anime art style that has a great deal of influence from old American comics from several decades ago. The result is clear and crisp illustrations that make it easy to understand what is going on while providing a lot of lifelike detail. The same can’t be said for the first couple of pages that were colored, unfortunately. They mostly only added various shades of orange to the image, making it look old and not particularly life-like. There is a part later on in the volume that uses color as well, but there is more color choice and much more detail. I’m not sure why this wasn’t the case for the first set of illustrations, but I feel that there should have been more color at the beginning.

Overall, Monster is a great series. It may have a few flaws here and there, and the first volume may be a little on the long side, but Monster provides a story that will keep mystery and thriller fans entertained from start to finish. It might be more expensive than a typical volume of manga, but Monster makes up for the higher price through a suspenseful story and a quality presentation that will make it stand out among this year’s batch of manga. If you are into manga, especially of the mystery/thriller variety, then I recommend picking up Monster Volume 1.