Review: MW


Title: MW
Author: Tezuka Osamu
Volume: 3 (completed)
Publisher: Kodansha/Shogakukan (jpn) / Vertical (eng)
Year: 1976

O Lord! May you judge my soul!

Yuuki Michio and Garai Iwao are two survivors of an incident in a small, unknown southern Japanese island. The incident was caused by a secret chemical weapon called “MW” – a deadly, poisonous gas – of which the Japanese government intends to keep quiet about. Fifteen years later, Yuuki Michio is a model white-collar employee in Kanto Bank, while Garai Iwao is now “Father Garai”, a Catholic priest. However, the MW gas has turned Yuuki into a cold, unfeeling monster that goes for a killing spree during his spare time. Meanwhile, Garai could only watch from the side as, like everyone, he has been entranced by Yuuki’s charm – in and out of bed. Would Garai stay quiet or would he eventually take matters on his own hand?

This is actually my first manga by Tezuka-sensei. As an avid manga reader, I’ve heard of him, but somehow I always tied him to Astro Boy. So, God of manga, maybe, but more like shonen manga. I stumbled upon this manga in some local library and decided to give it a try. Now I’m glad I did! Why?

First, MW has an AWESOME PLOT. To be honest, at first I was surprised because I didn’t know Tezuka-sensei did a dark story like this. The beginning reminds me of American Psycho, but as the story progresses, we can see that it’s not as simple as “bored white-collar worker out at night doing a killing spree” but much, much more complex. With a bit of science fiction and conspiracy thrown in, the story becomes more political as it goes. I really like that Tezuka-sensei is able to build a strong foundation for the story. Like, the MW gas doesn’t come out of nowhere, but was originally intended to be used in Vietnam War. When I think about it again, the general plot isn’t anything I haven’t known before, but the writing is very good. I really enjoyed the twist and turn of the story while kept wondering how it would end.

Second – holy cannoli – I didn’t know Tezuka-sensei ever did BL! I wasn’t expecting to find BL when I picked this book. The BL is not the focus in MW, but it blends nicely with the plot. Well, the fact that Yuuki has sex with any man/woman under 60 years old also helps. Character-wise, the bond between Yuuki and Garai is plausible. The relationship between the two is the most complex one in this manga. They are not exactly friends, nor lovers, nor enemies, nor even frenemies. There’s just this “bond” between them. Something that – in several occasion – can make Yuuki appears more human as well as make Garai not as righteous as he seems.

Third, I had to prevent myself from really calling the police because, hell, I got annoyed by how Yuuki always seemed to get what he wanted. Coming from me, that is good. Last time I felt like this was when I read zankoku na kami ga shihai suru (Reign of a Cruel God). Seriously I was considering to call some Child Protection Agency when reading that. And people know how awesome zankoku na kami ga shihai suru is.

Fourth, the characters in MW are very well-written. The fact that Yuuki has lost all conscience serves as a good reasoning why he did all those crimes, including his ultimate motive. Father Garai is depicted very well as someone who has been mentally and morally tortured for keeping quiet all these years. One reviewer mentioned that technically Garai could be held responsible for Yuuki’s slutty behavior (as the result of him forcing himself on Yuuki fifteen years ago), but he may be not. Knowing Yuuki, he is the kind of person who will use any means – including sex – to get what he wants. But whyyyy, whyyyy Garai has to be *censored because of spoiler* and whyyy Yuuki has to *censored because of spoiler*. I really like the prosecutor, Meguro, although he is there mostly as deus-ex-machina. Yeah, I know, in the end someone other than Garai has to suspect Yuuki and THANK GOD he’s alive until the end.

A minor complaint about the art. Don’t get me wrong, I think Tezuka-sensei has done a great job in the storytelling department. His tidy paneling and clean artwork makes it easy to read. I never felt confused or anything while reading action sequence. However, I couldn’t help but feel that Tezuka-sensei’s style clashes with the story type. It wasn’t a constant itch, but it’s just that sometimes I wish I could read this story in a more gothic style.

I could go on forever about MW, but to cut things short, this is a highly recommended manga, especially for those who like dark, twisted storyline. The story and characterization absorbed me so much that most of the time I didn’t even care about the boyish art. *but, but, I want to see a bishie Yuuki Michio… oh shut up!* Clearly, this is not a manga that represents Tezuka-sensei’s work in general because clearly this is not Astro Boy, but once again Tezuka-sensei has proved he could do it. Salute, sensei!

note: copied and edited form my Goodreads review of this manga.


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