krpalmer: (kill la d'oh)
[personal profile] krpalmer
Naoki Urasawa's manga was respectable. At the time I'd started hearing that, it was also being translated into English and published in a specific order, with promises of some works that sounded particularly interesting only to follow other series. I more or less accepted that and started buying "Monster," about a Japanese neurosurgeon who just happens to be working in Germany, where he jeopardizes his career by operating on an injured boy instead of the mayor, only for that boy to reappear in his life years later as a serial killer... I was only three volumes into that series, though, when a few panels in another manga Viz was also publishing at the time were retouched in an another apparent attempt not to offend the moral, and in the second fit of pique that had gripped me over that I stopped buying all Viz titles (save, that is, for the occasional appearances of the Neon Genesis Evangelion manga).

That was it for a while. I sat out all the rest of Naoki Urasawa's Monster and his 20th Century Boys, and then, with fewer accusations of manga getting bowdlerized (at least where I bothered to look), I couldn't seem to keep up my own indignation any longer and got around to buying his "Pluto," a reinterpretation of one of Osamu Tezuka's Astro Boy (or Mighty Atom) stories. It was an interesting work (and got me reading a fair bit of the original Astro Boy manga), and when a bundle of all of 20th Century Boys went on sale I went ahead and bought it. While I did seem to remember hearing some complaints about the conclusion of that manga, the experience didn't seem to bother me; I did have some thoughts that its middle-aged characters, trying to deal with an ominous effort to bring a skewed version of their adolescent interests to life, amounted to "the sort of thing that wouldn't get an anime version," though.

It was around that time that I might have supposed at least some of the old Monster volumes had sold old, and I wouldn't have the chance to close that old circle. However, I then heard reports of the manga being republished in larger, thicker, more prestigious volumes. I had my chance, but did find myself remembering a comment noticed from someone whose general opinions I'd often agreed with that had seemed to amount to a negative reaction to Monster's conclusion. The thought I was setting myself up for something unpleasant did scratch at my mind even as I bought one volume after another and piled them up unread. Then, with the whole series sitting in a stack, I took a metaphorical breath and started reading.

On my first, brief and unfortunate time around, I had just about got to the part that might be called "a manga 'The Fugitive'"; one strength of the manga did seem its large number of characters developed in passing to shape a precarious balance between the worst and better parts of humanity. I did get to thinking that as reasons began to appear for the dark core of the story, I could imagine some objecting on their own "responsibility over causes" principles; I wasn't as inclined to that. Even so, I was counting down the volumes and chapters, brooding on the darker parts of the story, and beginning to imagine more than one worst-case scenario...

On reaching the last chapter of all, though, I realised none of those scenarios had come to pass. It didn't seem an "unrealistically happy ending" either, although there was just a breath of "open-ended ambiguity," perhaps. I suppose anyone has the right to have a negative reaction to any fictional conclusion, but in this case I was quite all right with what I'd got to after so long.
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