Hello, and welcome to the first manga review of my series I Read It So You Don’t Have To. In this segment, I’m going to review Shonen Jump titles that are fully available on Manga Plus, where you can read official releases for free. I aim to cover whatever fits this criterion in their library, whether I enjoyed it or not. I might compare the titles to well-known series, but it’s to give the reader a taste rather than pitting them against each other. The reviews will contain light spoilers. Hope you can come across a title you might enjoy.
Title: Monster #8
Genre: Action, Comedy, Horror, Sci-Fi
Author & Artist: Matsumoto Naoya
Release Year: 2020
Status: Ongoing, currently has 24 chapters. Updates every Thursday.
Have you ever thought about what happens to the monsters after our cool protagonists turn them into minced meat and walk into the sunset, all cool and unbothered? People in this manga seem like they are not concerned about it as long as they are safe, because how else could you explain Monster Sweeping Team’s unpopularity?
Monsters in various sizes attack people regularly and it’s the Japanese Defense Force’s job to keep them safe. They wear these immensely cool battlesuits and use state of the art weaponry, and naturally bask under the praise and admiration of the citizens. Meanwhile, cleaning the mess they leave behind is up to the Monster Sweeper Inc. It is a dirty job in every meaning; tiring, unrewarding in terms of money and recognition, take too long to finish, with large sizes taking up to a week to fully clean, and you might be appointed to clean up the intestines. They reek and makes it hard to stomach food afterward, it seems.
Enter Kafka Hibino, a 32-year-old member of the Sweepers. He and his 5 years younger childhood friend Mina Ashiro are one of the many who suffered from a monster attack. Losing their homes and school, they vow to join the defense force and fight side by side. Mina becomes the famous commander of the Third Unit, but no matter what Hibino does he can’t seem to pass the examination to join the force. One day when he’s laying on a hospital bed together with the newcomer Ichikawa due to an injury, a small, floating monster appears before Hibino and enters his body, turning him into a monster as well. Well, his name and the famous novel that comes to mind already kind of gives it away.
Some of the monsters have numbers assigned to them by the defense force, and Hibino’s number is eight. After his metamorphosis and Ichikawa being the only person knowing this secret, Hibino tries to use his incredible monster strength for the good of humans and try not to get obliterated by the force at the same time.
What works in Monster #8?
- A lot of things! First of all, it’s not every day we have a shounen protagonist whose age is over 20 and that was interesting. As of now, there aren’t many emphases or plot points related to his age, apart from that this is the last year he can take the examination due to age restriction. I do hope, however, there will be more to explore later on.
- The detail! The art style is very clean with tremendous detail, very expressive, and both the monster and battlesuit/weaponry designs are astounding! The movements during fight scenes are very easy to follow and quite imaginative. Personally, it blew my mind.
- Related to designs. I can’t stress enough how happy it made me, the battlesuits are genderless and non-sexualizing. They are composed of a black skin-tight suit and bone-like structures on the shoulders and down the spine, and everyone is wearing the same suit.
- The comedy! This manga is so funny that I kept laughing out loud. Thankfully, I read at the comfort of my home so I don’t get judging looks. Looking at my recommendations or Top 5 choices, it’s pretty clear that I love the comedy genre, and while the premise I described above might make it seem like the manga is based on a tragic background, that’s so not the case. Monster #8 has a balanced ratio of comedy and drama and it blends exceptionally well.
What doesn’t work in Monster #8?
- It’s maybe early to comment on the plot progression, considering I don’t know how long the series will continue. However, I felt like things have progressed a bit too fast. It could also be intentional, so I have no idea.
- I also felt like Monster Sweepers were left behind a little too fast. The idea of a cleaning service was quite fun and its members were more laid back and varied than the defense force. Again, this may or may not change in the future.
- This series not being picked up by a good studio like MAPPA doesn’t work for me!!!! Monster #8 would definitely turn out amazing animated!
To sum it up, this series contains some classic tropes from shounen manga: the hard worker protagonist, the obligatory tsundere loli who’s a genius, the classic Japanese beauty with the stoic face, the young and the rich, looking down on the protagonist but appreciating their worth later on, using monsters to make tools to fight monsters; it’s all there. However, for reasons that I mentioned above, the story is gripping, fun, and manages to pull off an engaging narrative with the tropes at hand. I heartily recommend Monster #8 for people in search of a new shounen title to invest their time in.
What did you think of the premise? Don’t you think peeing from your nipples a bit inconvenient? Would you be up to The Metamorphosis type of experience? Let me know in the comments! For the next post, I’ll be reviewing Moon Land by Yamagishi Sai.
A little heads up; the release schedule for Monster #8 goes like 3 weeks of updates and on 4th week, only colored illustrations are released. I can’t even get mad when they are a sight to admire.