Friday, December 4, 2009


Overall Rating: A+
Summary: A psychological/horror/detective seinen series created by Naoki Urasawa, which follows Dr. Kenzo Tenma. An incredibly skilled brain surgeon from Japan, Tenma seems to have it all. He is working at the Eisler Memorial Hospital in Düsseldorf, is up for a promotion, and is engaged to the director of the hospital's daughter, Eva. Unfortunately, the Director, Heinemann, consistently gives priority to high-profile patients at the cost of the lives of less important people. Tenma becomes increasingly unhappy with this arrangement, believing that his role should be to help those in the most need.

He gets his chance to stand up to his future father-in-law when twins Johan and Anna come to the hospital. Johan is suffering from a gunshot wound to the head, and Anna is clearly in shock only talking about "killing". Their parents are dead, and Tenma decides to operate on Johan even after the mayor of Düsseldorf is brougt in and he is ordered to work on him instead. Tenma saves the child, but the politician dies despite the efforts of other doctors. As a result, Tenma loses everything. He is no longer favored by Heinemann and Eva leaves him.

He confesses his frustration to the young boy, Johan, and soon thereafter, everyone in his way dies of poisoning. Johan and his sister have vanished, and Tenma is the primary suspect. Thus the 18 volume story of how a humanitarian act can cause a rash of serial murders, and Doctor Tenma's journey to find the killer begins.

I became a fan of Naoki Urasawa when I started reading "20th Century Boys", and have enjoyed his take on Osamu Tezuka's "Astro Boy", "Pluto". Now, I'm addicted to "Monster". I'm only three volumes in, but I can't wait to read more. I highly recommend this one.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Nabari No Ou

Overall Rating: B+
Summary: An action/comedy/drama/supernatural shōnen series (or superdramactedy for short), based on the manga written and illustrated by Yuhki Kamatani. The story follows Miharu Rokujou, an introverted kid with a devilish side, but who otherwise seems pretty normal. Out of the blue, his classmate Koichi Aizawa approaches him to join a Nindō club, which Miharu refuses.

However, the situation changes when Miharu is attacked by ninjas and is defended by Koichi. During the fight, Koichi defends Miharu and explains to him that there is a secret ninja world called Nabari, and that he is destined to be king. Miharu has the secret art Shinra Bansho written in his blood, and as a result he cannot return to his normal life.

Miharu learns that Koichi is a part of the Nabari world, as is one of his teachers (and advisor for the Nindō club), Tobari Durandal Kumohira. The other ninja of Nabari will stop at nothing to learn the Shinra Bansho, and so in order to survive Miharu must learn to use the power himself or get it out of him. Unfortunately, Miharu doesn't want to become a ninja and getting the Shinra Bansho out of him could kill him.

The set-up may sound kind of crazy (and it is at times), but this show plays the different elements of superdramactedy (yes, I made that word up, so what?) off each other well. The plot is interesting and the characters work well together. Throw in a dash of comedy to lighten things up a little and some good old fashioned ninja action and magic, and you have a winning combination.