Naoki Urasawa is a commonly heard name within fan-circles, and more so amongst those who have an interest in manga that's yet to be translated. Its not surprising either, considering he has received various awards through the years (including the prestigious Tezuka Osamu Cultural Award). What is surprising however is the fact that it is only now, years after their initial releases, that Viz are publishing the two most commonly heard-of titles by Urasawa - Monster and 20th Century Boys.
Monster was released before 20th Century Boys, but despite the early entry into Urasawa's works, it's still considered one of the grand masterpieces of the manga world. It follows the tale of Dr. Kenzo Tenma, an honest, hard-working doctor forced to make a decision - save the Mayor or a young child. Both are critical, and both need his urgent attention. His eventual decision not only ruins his career but it also comes back to haunt him years later when a brutal killer is on the loose, his victioms seemingly random with no motive attached. Although it may not sound too original, its seriously engrossing stuff. It may start off a little confusing (lots of big long medical words) but after a little it really hits home. By the time you close the book you're already dying for volume 2!
Artistically it is good, clean and easy to follow, however it is hardly ground-breaking. It is also worth mentioning the fantastic cover, presented in stark red, white and black.
This truly is a gripping, engrossing and fantastic piece of work, and there's very little to complain about besides the often confusing jargon, which is hardly a major fault (and nonsensical jargon never hurt House or Star Trek after all!). This is an essential purchase for anyone looking for a mature, serious and involving manga!