by Naoki Urasawa; adaptation by Agnes Yoshida
published by Viz; $9.99 US
This final volume of the series continues the same high quality established by the first book.
Some have expressed concern over the ending, but I don’t see why. The character art of Dr. Tenma over this series reminded me of Angel‘s Wesley — a quiet, bookish man with a terrific life path laid out for himself who finds himself, only because he seeks to do what’s right, transformed into a kind of taciturn vigilante. The friends he makes along the way try to save him, but ultimately, he has to make his own decision of what he’s willing to do and sacrifice.
The series kept me engrossed throughout — I read the whole thing in a weekend, just because I kept needing to know what happened next. The art is clear, easy-to-read, and cinematic in its staging. The characters (except the Johan of the title) seem like real people, which makes the outcome even more heart-breaking in some ways.
I think I’ll take away longest the philosophy of the nameless reporter:
Humans are supposed to think that food is delicious. They’re supposed to look forward to a picnic on their day off. They’re supposed to enjoy a good beer after a hard day’s work.
It’s a fine summation of the physical pleasures of living, that meaning comes from the small enjoyments. It’s also a welcome counterpart to the bigger, life-and-death struggles of the plot, keeping this ethical debate enjoyable.
I’d recommend this series to almost any reader interested in manga that combines action, suspense, thoughtful character development, and excellently crafted art.