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Gogo Monster


Gogo Monster

written and illustrated by Taiyo Matsumoto

Yuki Tachibana is an outcast at Asahi Elementary School. He sits alone, drawing on his desk and occasionally shouting out weird exclamations. If he talks to the other children, it is only to warn them about the “others,” beings kept in check only by the power of Super Star, the boss of the other side. Yuki’s only friend is the school’s caretaker, Ganz, though he sometimes talks to IQ, an older student who is academically gifted but interacts with people only through the box he wears over his head. When Makoto Suzuki’s school is shut down for mysterious reasons, he is sent to Asahi Elementary and placed in the desk next to Yuki. Despite the other students’ warnings about Yuki’s strange behavior, Makoto befriends the boy and soon finds himself wondering how much of Yuki’s tales are true.

Taiyo Matsumoto offers a tale that is part fantasy, part horror and part mind-trip. On the one hand, it can be read as an exploration into the thought process of a child with autism or a similar disorder, a child who does not see or react to the world the way the rest of humanity does. But on the other hand, Yuki Tachibana might be right and Super Star may be the only thing keeping the beings of the other side from riling the children of Asahi Elementary School to rebel against their teachers, do poorly in class, and be mean to one another. However, it may be that GoGo Monster is neither of those things, or both at the same time.

Matsumoto doesn’t offer an easy read. His plot twists and turns. The dialogue is spare and often consists just of overheard comments that are not necessarily relevant. The characters are mostly inscrutable. And frankly, that is much of the fun of reading GoGo Monster. It is a story to dive into, allowing it to wash over you, and then, later, after it has swirled around in your brain for a time, to dive into again.

The art is as off-kilter as the plot, keeping you searching the panels for hidden details and meanings that may or may not be there, not allowing you to turn the page immediately. Matsumoto’s style is rough, purposefully sloppy. Some characters are realistically portrayed, while others have a messy, cartoonish quality. The drawings within the panels do not always correspond with the dialogue going on at the same time, forcing readers to look deeper for the connection and the meaning. As Yuki is drawn further into the world he sees, the images are terrifyingly subtle. The monsters are never obvious, which heightens the sense of a young boy caught by unimaginable and unseen forces. There is also a lot of beauty in the United States edition of GoGo Monster because of VIZ’s high-quality printing job. The book is hardcover, with the story starting right on the end pages of the front cover. Bright, colorful monsters cover the outside of the book, even overlapping onto the edges of the pages, which are tipped in red and burgundy. A slipcase completes the package.

Readers looking for an artistic read, one that requires that the brain be fully engaged, will find much to appreciate here, as long as they don’t mind taking their time. Other than the typical comments on poop and sex that fourth-grade boys make, there is little to keep this out of the hands of readers old enough to appreciate the strange story. It’s not for every reader, but devoted comics fans should not pass this one by.

Reviewed by Snow Wildsmith on October 18, 2011

Gogo Monster
written and illustrated by Taiyo Matsumoto

  • Publication Date: December 8, 2009
  • Genres: Manga
  • Hardcover: 464 pages
  • Publisher: VIZ Media LLC
  • ISBN-10: 1421532093
  • ISBN-13: 9781421532097