Status: Finished Airing
Aired: Apr 7, 2004 to Sep 28, 2005
Duration: 24 min. per episode
Rating: R+ - Mild NudityL represents licensing company
Score: 8.751 (scored by 61702 users)
1 indicates a weighted score. Please note that 'Not yet aired' titles are excluded.
2 based on the top anime page. Please note that 'Not yet aired' and 'R18+' titles are excluded.
The writing in Monster is exceptional. The pace is a slow burn that smartly captivates the viewer with moments of shock, awe, and depravity, which are masterfully combined with well executed moments of anticipation and proper denouement. Once the show has established the setting and many of the players, the series begins a thrilling, rollercoaster of action, suspense and character development. Viewer will rarely feel as though they have missed an important piece of information, and will instead find themselves riveted to the screen as the overarching mystery unfurls.
Dialogue is not wasted in frivolity for Monster. The anxious atmosphere is enhanced with carefully crafted lines that provide insight into characters' personalities and cast shadows of suspicion. The intelligent interconnectedness of all the characters, especially towards the climax of the show, speaks volumes about the care given to crafting living individuals in appropriate circumstances.
The art both augments tone and adds layers of character to the series. The dynamic use of light and shadow often creates red-herrings, skewing the faces of particular characters into unforgiving masks. Character designs stand out for their realism and attention to facial structure, especially regarding emotions. Variety in body type distinguishes characters, allowing viewers to immediately recognize someone from their visage, or even their silhouette, without hesitation. Characters who are old look old, with age lines harrowed into sagging skin. There are distinct differences given to dissimilar nationalities, so much so that the viewer can easily determine whether a character is of Asian, Slavic, or Middle-Eastern decent.
The background art is a feat in and of itself. There is a wonderful variety spreading from pastoral vineyards to dilapidated cities. German towns and districts such as Düsseldorf, Bavaria, and Hamburg are executed to a near photorealistic quality that extends into the Czech Republic and France.
Everyone in the voice acting crew does well. They suit their characters perfectly and never falter, even in the more dramatic scenes. Sasaki, Isobe, and Kiuchi (Johan, Lunge, and Tenma respectively), give outstanding performances that express the complexity of the emotions, personalities, and experiences of their characters.
The sound effects used throughout the series serve to add an additional layer of realism. As a testament to Monster's focus on being accurate even in minute details, each gunshot correctly reflects the weapon which was used to fire it.
The OP gives you a hint of what to expect and the ED, "For the Love of Life" by David Sylvian, is one of the spookiest ending themes in anime. The soundtrack should also be commended for its spectacular use of subtlety. It truly fits the idea of "background music," often setting the tone of the scene with a simple phrase. Additionally, whilst the series has a relatively limited tracklist, the music never feels repetitive.
Perhaps Monster's greatest strength lies in the depth of its characters, with the main cast representing some of the strongest leads in the genre, whilst those in the supporting roles are often defined far better than the regular cast in many other series. The show manages to bring its characters to life with extraordinary clarity, and although viewers will be “dazzled” by the quality of the lead roles, they may often find themselves growing attached to the minor characters over the course of the series.
The centrepiece of the series is the complex relationship between the Tenma and Johann. Tenma’s emotional, physical, and psychological transitions lead the audience through a complex maze of issues regarding personal and social morality. This is remarkably achieved without losing Tenma’s basic humanity or resorting to didacticism, and contrasts sharply with Johan’s manipulations and calculations which strike a cold, appallingly realistic note with the audience.
The supporting ensemble does a great job of adding intensity and gravity to the relationship between Tenma and Johan. They are all well crafted and executed, and often have their own demons and battles that remind the audience of what precisely lies in the balance between good and evil. Discovering why these people are the way they are and how they relate to each other is half the journey as a viewer.
From its brilliant characters with outstanding development, to its well-paced story and realistic setting, Monster will leave you on the edge of your seat. Finding a show like this is a real treat, and whilst 74 episodes may seem daunting, it is utterly worthwhile in light of the great journey taken. The show’s dramatic storyline and intrigue filled atmosphere will keep you guessing, thinking, and feeling. The complex issues and relationships addressed throughout mark this as one of the most unique anime to appear in many years, and the questions it asks should be confronted by everyone at least once.
Monster is a true rarity in anime. The quality of its story, cast and production have earned it widespread acclaim, even garnering it plaudits from the “hate what’s popular” clique. It is both entertaining and enlightening, and the sheer depth of the series has led to it being widely regarded as a modern classic of anime.
This review is the final result of a review team composed of members from the "Critics and Connoisseurs" club. The team original members were:
Lowell - Writer
Calla - Writer
Sai_notts - Writer
Revisions were done by:
noteDhero - Writer/Editor
naikou - Writer/Editor
Editing was done by:
Here are their individual scorings for the show:
Category - noteDhero, naikou
Story - 10, 10
Art - 9, 9
Sound - 9, 9
Character - 10, 10
Enjoyment - 10, 10
Overall - 10, 10
In the club wide poll held for Monster it received an average overall rating of 9.16
Those who have seen Monster can attest collectively (whether they liked it or not) to how incredibly uncomfortable and unconventional this show is. The topic of evil is proactively exploited through revealing the extent of human depravity in conjunction with exploring matters like child abuse, mass murder, collective brainwashing, human experimentation, the value of life, and so much more. These are some themes that most people make a conscious effort to keep as far away from as possible, yet Monster sits those rights next to the viewer, maybe even introduces them. It’s a slow descent into a world consumed by violence, angst, murder, and retribution. Yet for every larger “evil”, there is always a counterbalance, a small ray of love and redemption. Thus, Monster reinvents the classic dichotomy of good and evil and does so masterfully.
It doesn’t take very long for this show to become an addiction, a classic, a novelty, that one can’t help but indulge in completely and it’s clear why.
Monster takes the viewer into a world where the line between good and evil is rapidly dissipating; subsequently creating a dark yet realistic environment that is inexplicably terrifying. The story centralizes around a brilliant neurosurgeon Kenzo Tenma, who practices in a distinguished hospital in Germany. He lives a perfect life, with his ideal fiancé and top-notch position. His utopian world abruptly comes to an end when he makes the decision to save a young boy, Johann Liebert. The story from this point starts to slowly unravel and spans into a riveting 74-episode long journey, in which, Tenma aims to correct the mistake that he made by seemingly saving the young Liebert and in the process exposing a shocking reality that will change the course of his life and those he encounters.
*74-episodes?* Yes, and by God, every single episode was worth it. Fillers are almost non-existent in this show. The real point to marvel at is the way this anime bitch-slaps the viewer with its unparalleled twists and turns.
The structure and pacing of this show is incredible. Much of the show is divided into various character arcs (many that Tenma encounters on his journey), who at first seem unrelated to the overarching plot, but every character and their allocated story plays a role into solving the mystery of the “Monster”. That is precisely what makes this show ingenious. The story-telling and plot are perfect not just structurally but also substantially. Monster is filled with philosophical concepts that pick at the viewer’s brain consistently and these very uncomfortable notions are the fundamental blocks of the show.
The pacing is skillfully crafted and although slow, it captures the audience with its invigorating interactions and development. There are instances in the show that display rare moments of hope, altruism, and dare I say “humanism” to balance out the overbearing debauchery and utter hopelessness. Therefore, the extensive span of this show is well justified because of the intricacy of this story, that would not have been nearly as compelling if it was shortened. In essence, DO NOT LET “74” EPS TURN YOU OFF, because at the end of episode 74, you will climax, for hours.
The animation compliments the story beautifully. An important component that attributes to the success of any story is the setting. With its accurate and picturesque illustrations, the setting not only enhances the overall anime, but brings the viewer into the story as well. Tenma’s journey takes him on a wild goose chase, landing him in the most obscure of places, but the animation displays each and every place remarkably.
It is obvious, the time that was spent in creating the physical attributes of each specific character. They are all designed realistically and are quite personable. Therefore, this isn’t the anime to go to for bug-eyed, “watermelon-chested” and disproportional characters. The characters are simple, real, and sympathetic, in the sense that the viewer could step into their shoes. As their individual story progresses, the character evolve visually as well. The characters are blessed with this physical realism that is subtle yet evoking.
The accompanying music and dialogue were nearly flawless in Monster. First, the music was not overbearing, instead it fine-tuned the mood and heightened the senses of the viewer. The OP stays consistently the same throughout the anime and for good reason. It is so goddamn creepy yet alluring, that it’s the perfect opening for this masterpiece (same with the ending song). The music throughout the anime is just as fitting. There isn’t an extensive soundtrack for Monster, just relevant music that fits every situation ideally. Second, the creepy atmosphere is ubiquitous in this show and nothing helps that factor more than the music and dialogue.
Dialogue was a personal favorite in this anime. This is simply because the dialogue was so well-written and nothing was ever “out-of-character”. From the colloquial interactions to some of the most enlightening statements, the dialogue had a mix of everything, but it was never over-the-top. The voices of the respective characters couldn't have been any more appropriate (subbed version). Everyone played their part magnificently and after watching the show, it was apparent just how apt the voice actors were especially in regards to the main cast.
Whether one loved a character or hated a character, it can be safely asserted that the characters of Monster are undeniably some of the best and unforgettable. Granted that the two main characters of the series, Tenma and Johann are crafted and developed meticulously well, one must recognize the range of supporting characters that were superb as well. Often times, one will end up admiring them more so, partly because of the effort put into molding all of the characters and making them wholesome, both main and supporting. There are no instances of incomplete characterization.
Tenma’s journey manifests vicariously through Johann; both characters are crucial to one another, for they essentially give each other meaning. Their characters are absolutely vital and the anime does not fall short in delivering that. Tenma and Johann can be considered a dichotomous pair: Every move they make, every sentence they say, every facial expression they make, progresses their character just a little closer to that dichotomy. The overarching themes are personified through these characters and the viewer really gets to immerse themselves in the decisions that these two make. Tenma’s and Johann’s development as characters cannot be simply deconstructed. However, they can be considered almost existential by nature due to the explicitly absurd experiences and the importance that “existence rather than essence” plays in defining their characters. There is no doubt that the amount of hours and work that went through in creating these two characters, they truly transcend the customary.
The supporting cast is just as essential because they are the means that help this anime arrive at a successful end. The supporting characters really make one realize that this anime isn’t about the end, rather everything that leads to it. Simply, it’s about the means to the end instead of the end itself. That’s the imperative role that each and every supporting role plays in this anime. None of these characters are half-assed, but constructed carefully and logically, and help not only propel the main characters closer to the truth, but the viewers themselves. The best part of this anime is the familiarity it brings to its viewers in terms of character(s). No one can feel indifferent or nonchalant towards the characters in this anime because of the way each individual’s story and feelings are depicted. The main characters, although some change in major ways throughout the show, remain loyal to their core disposition. The character construction and development in Monster is awe-inspiring and commendable.
Even with masterpieces I personally find flawless, there are some issues that I can address for the sake of reviewing:
1. The abrupt halt in some arcs: Sometimes when a sub-arc within Monster came to an end, it would conclude at a point that would be absolutely frustrating and wouldn’t pick up again. This was only a problem because it left some questions unanswered (not really pertaining to the bigger picture), but it felt a bit incomplete in terms of that specific story.
2. Convoluted explanations: Perhaps this was just a contrived adaptation “problem” (maybe it was better executed in the manga), and I use “problem” very loosely. However, at certain crucial points, where certain mysteries are being revealed, there tended to be an intentional veil always hovering over it as to keep the viewer confused. Then a little later, things would get resolved, and the resolution would seem a bit far-fetched. Although, this is something that played in favor for this anime for the most part, it got irritating at times.
Overall Enjoyment 10/10
Monster is truly a show that reinvents the normative standards for a “masterpiece”. It is the quintessential mystery. With its superb plot –driven, character-driven story, it enraptures the viewers from the beginning and leaves them insatiable at the end of every episode, while completely satisfying them by the finale. One cannot hope for anything more than the kind of adaption this anime brings to life.
That being said, this anime isn't for everyone nor would I recommend it as a must-watch to just anyone. Monster resurrects a horrifying world that is so realistic but feels so surreal to the viewer. It deals with a world that no one would want to deal with and shows experiences that no one would want to experience. Yet, it engages the viewer completely. Therefore, if you crave an original mystery, a thought-provoking story, an unconventional tale that will shake your very core, then I suggest, you get acquainted with “Monster”.
But Monster lives up to every word of the praise it gets.
The story of Monster begins fairly simply. A skilled Neurosurgeon named Kenzo Tenma is due to perform an operation on a patient, but is called away to operate on a popular singer instead. The singer's life is saved, but his original patient dies. Dr. Tenma is, soon after, called away from another operation due to the mayor needing his services, but this time, he declines, and instead operates on the patient he was originally supposed to save. The operation is a success, but this time, the mayor instead dies. For his insolence, Tenma is to be demoted and replaced... but at the last second, everyone standing in his way is mysteriously killed.
Years later, Tenma's career is back on track, and he is enjoying a successful life doing what he does best. But one day, a string of bizarre serial murders winds up leading to one of Tenma's patients. Amidst the investigation surrounding him, the patient disappears... Tenma follows, only to see his patient murdered before his eyes, by the orchestrator of the serial killings... Johan Liebert, the boy whose life he chose to save those years ago.
What follows is 70+ episodes of Tenma's frantic search to find the boy he saved, and fix his mistake. Along the way, we meet some of the most unique and interesting, yet believably human characters in the history of anime, matched with amazing, compelling subplots, with all of these both answering mysteries regarding, and yet at the same time, furthering the question: Who is Johan Liebert, and what is he trying to do?
While the 70 episode runtime can be daunting, Monster is a worthy investment of time. While it is driven by compelling mysteries that make you want to watch more, Monster is just as much about enjoying the journey as it is reaching the destination. To hold the viewer's attention for 74 episodes is a feat in of itself, but Monster goes beyond that... it's a show that, once you start watching, you'll never want to stop. Monster is in the master class of suspense. It keeps a constant stream of new twists and developments that, while plentiful, never feel contrived. The characters are both strong and numerous, but while there are countless cast members, unlike many shows where there are large amounts of characters that are completely useless and contribute nothing to the plot, every character in Monster brings something to the mix. Not only that, but they are rarely left open-ended, as Urasawa makes sure to bring back characters from previous arcs, using each one to their fullest extent.
The brilliance of Monster also extends past the plot to the production. While Naoki Urasawa's art style is better suited to pen and paper than it is to animation, it doesn't take long to get used to, and the detail is quite noticeable. The genius in Urasawa's distinctive style is in the way he draws faces. The cartoony, yet detailed features have a strange level of warmth to them, but they can also be used to create truly intimidating expressions, ranging from death glares to blank, glassy-eyed gazes. The directing is also top-notch, cutting no corners to create a perfect adaptation to the manga.
Also of note is the soundtrack. Every song on it is a fantastic piece of music, beautifully married to the scene it accompanies. Many pieces are subtle, yet brilliant... The Seeds of Time, for example, rather than going for full-on, orchestral bombastics, eases in with quiet, yet tension-ridden power that gradually rises, making for several of the most stunning scenes in the entire series. The opening and ending themes are also very strong... the opening theme, Grain, would have to be, as it is the opening for the entire course of the 74 episode series. The ending themes, For The Love of Life and Make It Home, are strange, ethereal, haunting songs, and match the "Monster With No Name" theme of the series that is used in the ending credits perfectly.
As for the voice acting, both languages have a very strong cast. In terms of acting quality, the Japanese is the better of the two, if not by a wide margin, featuring several great performances, the highlight of which is Nozomu Sasaki's dead-on, creepy take on Johan. However, while the acting is slightly inferior in the dub, the casting is considerably better. Richard Epcar is perfect for the role of Detective Lunge, and Patrick Seitz' deep tones and off-kilter performance are a great match for the eerily poker-faced Wolfgang Grimmer. The only actor who seems off in the dub is Keith Silverstein's work as Johan, which feels rather unnatural, and overshadowed by his superior Japanese counterpart. Overall, I would recommend the dub, but it's hard to go wrong with either language.
Now, as much as I hate to say it, Monster isn't quite perfect. It's probably as close as you're likely to find, but it does have one problem. Whilst not so much a fault as a double-edged sword, Urasawa's storytelling technique of switching off to another location whenever the plot starts to get tired can be somewhat problematic. Don't get me wrong... as a storytelling technique, it's a very good one. It helps to keep the viewer's interest and stop the plot from getting stale, and also features prominently in Urasawa's later works, 20th Century Boys and Pluto. The problem is that on some occasions, it gets overused. While Monster is nowhere near as big an offender for this as 20th Century Boys is, it goes off on new plot threads that, while enjoyable, don't really lend anything to the plot. While they often develop into full-fledged and brilliant story arcs, they sometimes end up going nowhere, and in a series where the viewer is dying to find out more, this can be somewhat distracting.
However, any complaints against this series are completely and utterly silenced by the ending. The final six episodes are probably the best in the entire series. The remaining cast members are all given a triumphant finale, as the tension reaches its absolute peak, and it is thoroughly clear that this is what the entire series was leading to. With the exception of one small Deus ex Machina that I shall not name due to spoilers, everything about it is a flawlessly executed conclusion.
Monster probably isn't something that beginners to anime would enjoy. If you enjoy the medium for the abundant exaggeration, then this probably isn't up your alley. This is more of a classic, cat and mouse detective series than anything you regularly see in anime, and if that sounds like your sort of thing then Monster is an absolute must-watch.
Final Words: Exemplary in every single aspect, from the story, to the characters, to the writing, to the directing.
English Dub: 9/10
For Fans Of: Pluto, Gankutsuou. read more
Anyhow, curiosity and boredom got the better of me one day and I plopped it into my dvd drive to check it out. The story was promising: A brilliant neurosurgeon with everything to gain, loses it all for doing the right thing. I was entranced by the complexity of the story and the moral debate presented by it: are lives equal? It was interesting, but I began to lose interest as my life got busy. This probably (based on my experience) isn't a series you'll want to watch in one go, especially if your new to this type of mystery / thriller genre in anime. It's a good series I recommend for watching a few episodes here and there in the beginning, and eventually, you'll fall for it. It'll work its magic and you'll be lost in the unravelling plot of Dr.Tenma and his journey.
Story: Monster is focused on telling a story, a story that presents many, many themes to its viewers, insights into the world and the way people work. It takes a good look at the human condition, particularly on the subject of the Monster that every individual carries within. It strongly portrays through Tenma and other characters, human nature to be consumed by hate and resorting to succumbing our savage brutalities, or inner Monsters, only to end up committing horrific acts that we can't take back, acts and emotions that often consume us. It presents to us, the need for identity, and the need for love, trust and equality. These themes are all woven together into a complex story that kept me on the edge of my seat as I progressed through the series, and unlike most long series, Monster didn't get too repetitive. It managed to continue strong through its 74 episodes and finally hand us an ending that - will disappoint some and make others love the series even more. Another thing I would like to take note of, was the children's stories found in the anime, the stories written by the character Franz Bonaparta. I don't know if they are real or not, but they geniusly (is that a word?) complimented the story. They were masterpieces in themselves, and conveyed moods of unease through the almost disturbing feel of the way the such dark and mature themes were represented in children's books for the use of brainwashing. Its things like this that makes Monster great. Its plot is deep, complex, interesting and to some, a masterpiece.
Characters: The characters were developed very, very well, and this is one of Monster's strongest points. A change occurs in every character you'll see in this anime, every major character overcomes some sort of trial in their lives and adapts. I could give examples, but like I said, I would be listing every character, from Eva who starts off as a selfish, idiotic *#$%@ to someone a little more proper by the end of the series, and Nina and Dieter who overcome their dark pasts. Tenma's change throughout the series is also quite interesting; its difficult to say whether or not he really changed. We know for certain that he stayed true to his morals and managed to suppress the monster within, but he does have difficulty with accepting his decision at the beginning of the series, and goes so far as to call it his sin. He goes from a happy individual into a depressing one, bent on tracking down Johan and attempting to kill him as his single goal in life. Johan too, was an interesting character, with a troubled and complicated past, it was difficult to judge him as a villain. It's this complexity that's found in every main character of Monster that makes this series such a success; the characters are real, and they change.
Art / Animation: I found the art quite unique; it was one of the things that drew my attention to this anime. The faces aren't your typical anime faces with the huge eyes and characters with multicoloured eyes. Instead, the characters are quite realistically drawn, which adds to the seriousness of this anime. They also did a good job with the backgrounds, the cities and scenery generally looked very good. In terms of animation, it wasn't something I can really comment on, there are few scenes involving rapid action, explosions and the like, and most of the time the characters are simply walking and talking. But the animation is quite nicely done in the few gun fights seen in the anime, and I never really came across choppy panning or anything really badly animated. The art and animations is consistently well done throughout the anime.
Sound: I really enjoyed the first opening; it set the mood for this anime beautifully. The endings aren't really songs you would like to listen to, but they fit the anime well, the lyrics represented major themes and the storyline of Monster. BG music wasn't too notable at times, but they had a few tracks that complimented the mood very well. Voice acting was also done very well, a lot of the crying sounded very realistic, and the voices matched the characters well, especially Johan's kind of quiet but calm, smooth and charismatic voice.
Overall: I don't think Monster is a series for everyone, but for those who try it, don't toss it away if the first few episodes failed to please you. The pacing may seem somewhat slow at times, but I can truly say that this anime isn't overrated as I first thought. It's a realistic series with an excellent plot, complimented by its unique art and soundtracks. There is a Monster within us all. I urge you to learn about it - before you are consumed by it. (Lame I know I was trying to think of a witty way to end this long review =p) read more
Theres so many things that can be said about this show. Especially the overall plot, story setting, and theme. Theres so many things that can be taken or understood differently based on the viewer its pointless to point out here but, I'll first start out by saying...
I hate this show
With that being said, I'm sure all of you are all saying in unison "But you rated it a 9!" For all those saying that, I commend you Cpt. Obvious. Please allow me to explain myself.
As I have previously stated, so many situations can be taken different ways... Is the victim at fault? or are the criminals the victim? What are their motives? Do they have no choice? How does the 'monster' play into it? These are all vague examples to various issues the viewer is faced with. And how you take it will pretty much consider your outlook on most episodes. Such aforementioned situations pretty much start off the bat from episode 1. Thats what makes this show so intriguing to watch. They even manage to illicit specific emotions from the viewer almost at will, which amazed the hell out of me. The plot twists story arcs leave just enough for you to want to keep watching more. That is, untill they start doing the same thing over and over. The show will eventually evolves around the following equation: investigation --> discovery --> death --> revenge --> investigation.
Now if you're a big fan of crime dramas, this wont bother you one bit. But I must admit it started getting annoying me so much that i started hating it, but like any good book i just couldn't put it down. The overall situation my be annoying but its all the little details that keep you at the edge of your seat every time. But there is another issue that I hated about this show, the main character Dr. Kenzo Tenma.
Now I don't have a problem following his journey to the end of the series, but I do have a problem on how they constructed this character. I mean how can a prodigy brain surgeon turn into a crime detective into an action hero into a prolific priest all in one show? After watching all 74 episodes, I just can't fathom that this doctor can manage to find all these connections and happenstance meetings with friends so easily and quickly. And don't get me started on his pacifist action skills (yes thats an oxymoron) which waste a good portion of the show.
But despite having a pacifist main character, there is a gracious amount of blood and violence. Another reason why I couldn't put this show down. The violence on screen accompanied by amazing sound effects was a big draw to this show especially early on in the series. The gory details can sometimes even give you goosebumps. But since the setting of the whole series is dark, you'll be faced with A LOT of dark animations. As in, you probably haven't seen so many dark colors in one anime in your life. There are some sunny settings but that gets quickly overshadowed a lot by dark tones and death. One thing that caught my eye is how they managed to draw so many mid-90's model vehicles into one show. The realistic details even surprised me. But another draw back thats a hit or miss with this show is how the characters look.
It's pretty interesting on how Naoki Urasawa views how westerners should look like in anime. One big thing you'll notice are their eyes and their overall "realistic" features like a nose, eye depth, wrinkles, stray hairs, and even the shape of the bone structure behind the eyebrows. It can be hard on the eyes after being used to the general look of anime. But you'll realize that it also adds depth and realism and almost a live action crime drama feel to it. So don't be trying to look for a cute little Tsukasa or Kamgami to pop around the corner because there isn't any. As a matter of fact, quite the opposite can be said. There are some characters so ugly you just want to punch them for being so ugly,
Another snag of the show is how hard it was for me to actually have 'feelings' for these characters. Not only do all of them do stupid things sometimes but you don't know how long these people are going to last considering they'll introduce over a 100 characters. With such elaborate stories, it's sometimes hard to see who will live and who dies. But I'll be damned to admit that without these ugly characters, this story would not work at all. Needless to say the title, "Monster" is very fitting for this show. Not only in an external sense, but internal as well. Watch to see why so many people get hooked.
To me, the whole experience, made me hate myself for watching the whole show. Kind of like going to a brothel, you know they're whores but they're clean and entertaining but it still makes you feel dirty and thats why you keep coming back for more. There are people enjoy things they hate... Thats called an addiction ^_^ Monster is one hell of an addiction.
Story: 10 (Best plot twists in the industry)
Art: 8 (dark themes ...dark settings ...just plain dark)
Sound: 10 (essential for film noir)
Character: 7 (100 characters, no substance in about 80 of em [est])
Enjoyment: 10 (I said I hate it, I didn't say I didn't enjoy it. )
Overall: 44/50 = 8.8 = ~9.0 (Power word: REVENGE) read more
Set in Germany, the story is about a very promising surgeon Dr. Tenma who ends up being betrayed, just for doing what he believed was right. However what he thought that he did was right ended up coming back to him later, for the better and worse. In the first couple episodes the series keeps on alternating from slowly developing its story to going into a time skip. However the story soon finds itself as it develops at a steady pace. At this point though you wouldn’t know where the story is heading or what to expect next, so you’re just forced sit tight and experience whatever the story gives.
The characters are what make this story. With numerous anime series out there revolving around kids and young adolescence; it is refreshing to see one that revolves around a variety of characters from adults to children. Dr. Tenma is very interesting himself as he is realistically portrayed, in the way that he acts and interacts and what’s more is that he goes through major developments throughout the story. Also a lot of the other characters are portrayed incredibly well, including the ones that only appear for 1 or 2 episodes.
Monster truly deserves credit for its animation because at the time it initially aired, it would be one of the best looking dramas. Superb environments with German aesthetics, plus everything has completely fluid movements and the characters even have Naoki Urasawa’s design. The music also suits the eerily, dramatic, atmosphere of this series well and if it wasn’t for the numerous silent moments I would have thought the music was perfect.
Overall Monster isn’t just an anime series; it is something to be experienced, for its intriguing and suspenseful premise. The way, in which the mood can quickly change, from slow paced character building to sheer horror, using various devices is an amazing feat in itself. Some people who watch this may not be able to get into it, due to the lack of excitement but for those who are patient will certainly enjoy this anime for its dark theme and compelling story.
^_^ read more
Oh Boy. Monster is really something else. People are thrown off when they hear that this anime has 74 episodes. Quite a few people say that that it's too slow, but to those I say: "Go watch childish anime, and when you grow up, watch Monster"
Well then, to begin. This anime has an insanely high production value. It should also be said Monster has no filler episodes(they are all connected). The story follows a brain surgeon called Doctor Kenzo Tenma. The very first few episodes set the plot. But as simple as it may look when you start watching it, you will think: "this is gonna last 74 episodes?". The story is WAY deeper then it seams. The anime is very, how should I say...gray(I'll be using this term a lot). It really shows the grayness of humanity at it's worst, but also gives a message of hope. This anime is so well made, that it looks so real, as if wasn't an anime at all. The anime and manga are like a best selling novel. The anime is filled with much emotion and characters. And the best part is that all of the character's stories are connected one way or the other. As the anime went on further it became even more gray then before. The final 2 episodes are culmination of everything. Things don't end up as you thought it ever would. Overall, the story never went the way you thought it would. The interesting part is that the ED for the anime that changes from time to time, has quite a lot to do with the story which I didn't believe. The end of this great anime is really gray too, and the final scene chilled me to the bone.
Well, you might find it to be old school, but the style of drawing actually adds to the mood of the anime. Because this is the most reality-based anime I've ever seen, the style of drawing is made to resemble real life characters. A very good thing about this is that because it is so detailed, the expressions and emotions are well developed and shown. Animation is quite fluid. Who would have ever thought that an animation of someone putting a finger on his head could be so epic.
The soundtrack for this anime is nothing short of amazing. When hope is needed, the music gives hope. When there is no hope, the music takes away all hope. When there is absolute despair, the music will show you true despair. Character theme songs are so fitting that, only by listening to the song you can tell everything about the character. The FX sounds are great and add to the thrill and shock to an already OMG scene.
Most notable songs are "Angel Hand", "Seeds of time", "For the love of life" and "Cannot Hear". "Cannot Hear" is one of the characters theme songs and every time I hear the song I feel so down. It's like all the sins and sorrow of mankind put into one song. As for "For the love of life", it really has a deeper message to it.
Now this is where it is really amazing. I'm not gonna go naming characters, I want to keep this spoiler free. The anime never stops bringing in new characters. You might think that these are filler episodes, but all the characters are connected one way or the other. All the characters are very well developed. You will come to love even the most irrelevant characters. It is amazing how they showed his transformation over time. Because of the drawing style and the gray nature of the anime all the character seem as if they were people in real life. Honestly, I wouldn't compare this to other anime, because it's above anime, it really is something else. Trust me when I say, the supporting cast is so great that if the main character wasn't in 30 episodes, you wouldn't mind. The cast is so great that most characters can have their own spin-offs. The voice acting is also superb.
What can I say. For all the 74 episodes I never skipped the OP. This got me so hooked that I didn't eat until like 4-5 in the morning. I was marathoning this because I got so hooked. I enjoyed every single moment of this anime. I was never bored. The final arc is the climax you deserve as a viewer. Tho it is a very gray anime showing the grayness of humanity it really is great to watch because there is no bullshit. It shows us humans for what we really are. I mean, I watched 19 episodes in a row once, that's how much I was hooked.
I leave this review with these final words: dochi?! dochi?! read more
First, on to the good stuff. This has a premise where a man is punished for doing the right thing. It starts off excellently, following his torment and the bizarre chain of consequences following his decision. The art is in a striking style that seems perfectly wed to the story at the beginning. From these first episodes, I had the feeling that this show was going to be a masterpiece.
However, this show slowly collapsed in to its own cage. What was interesting became repetitive, the novelty of the art style wore off, predictable patterns began emerging, and pet peeves that wouldn't make a difference in a 26 episode season became more and more grating.
I almost don't want to reveal what predictable things become annoying, because maybe the reader wouldn't have noticed it before I said anything. An example, we have a standoff. Two important characters, high suspense, one character pulls the trigger. GUNSHOT sound, cuts away to outside of building, leaving what happens a mystery. Hey, it's suspense! Another one; a character is talking, he will say "blah blah blah, *pause* no, *pause* blah blah blah". Why? Its all in the tension, Mr. Smith, no, Mr. Revealed! I know all about you know! It's an effective enough line that if one character had it, as a sort of signature line, it would have been amazing. However, when everyone has the same distinctive signature line, it gets rather silly. A fun little game to play with this anime is to try saying "iie" ("no") in unison with the character. Another quirky thing that many characters do verbally is repeat a word over and over again, as a sort of dramatic buildup. Often, this will lead up to a scream. I commented to my friends that the dialogue seemed like it came from a comic book, and they couldn't help but agree. Here's another one: as a character is having a flashback, about to remember something important, something will always cut off the memory (unitl the end of course, when all the beans are spilled). Maybe an interruption, or else maybe she won't want to continue remembering. What we end up with are a gadzillion flashbacks. As another reviewer put it, these are "shameless efforts to create nail-biters”.
Some details in this anime also just don't make sense. Like, nobody even alters their appearance (except Johan). Dr. Tenma is wanted, his face has been all over the news, and he just walks around in broad daylight and is surprised when he is caught. I mean, really? In many cases, he's behaving quite suspiciously too, just begging for attention to be drawn to him. An amusing example of a detail that didn't make sense was when a character walked into a room, she was perfectly composed. She pulls out a gun, and *suddenly* she is completely out of breath, as if she had just run a marathon. Yes, I know pulling a gun on someone is exciting, but it was completely ridiculous. A detail that more amused me than bothered me was the way they used guns in this show. A detective walks into a room, points a gun randomly in one direction, suddenly swerves to point randomly in another direction, and then suddenly swerves once again to point randomly at the camera, before putting the gun down and looking around. If a bad guy was actually where the camera was at, he would have shot the detective as soon as he walked in, but hey, pointing the gun in random directions is exciting!
A lot of reviewers will place this anime on a pedestal and claim that it is a mature anime, as if somehow those of us who didn't love it are childish. Don't fall for that nonsense, you'll see it in reviewers whenever an anime tries to be deep. It isn't really all that deep. It's a good show still, I enjoyed it myself for all that I've been bashing it, 6 is still above 5, which represents average. read more
The story is pretty interesting at first, and were this an anime that ended itself in 24-26 episodes, it would have been just fine. However, the story NEVER evolves after this despite going on for an entire fifty episodes more. I will say that the overarching theme of the orphanage is delightful, but other than that, nothing redeems any of the last 40 episodes. The ending is so terrible. I cannot stress this enough.
The characters are definitely the worst part of this anime. If you read 'it is an anime about a doctor it cannot possibly be interesting,' then you are sort of correct. Not to 'spoil' anything, but this storyline gets repeated ENDLESSLY: 1) Dr. Tenma is acting very solemn and some awful music will play to indicate just how psychologically tormented he is. 2) Tenma will get thrust into some situation in which someone else is dealing with their psychological issues. 3) Tenma will save their lives (usually a criminal), because he is the super best damn doctor in history. 4) Tenma will be pulled out of his dredge of despair slightly, having learned anew that there is some hope to be had after all..but then 5) He will remember that it is his and only his job to commit murder and lapse back into his solemn, oh so poignant solitude of desolate sobriety. His wife is the most annoyed I have been by a woman since Milly in an anime. Her entire role is to be a shrew who grapples with her hatred and love for Tenma and complains a lot. I mean A LOT. Except for Grimmer, every other 'good' character pretty much is a weak character who is 'strong in spirit' or whatever and despite their weakness show how powerful they can be despite being powerless! It is absolute tripe.
The art is pretty typically mediocre. I say this from the stance of judging anime against other anime, and this one is a lot worse than you can find in other animes. Good art is not a reason to watch this anime. It is not terrible either though.
This is not the worst anime ever, it is not something I hate, it is just something that I would advise not watching when you can watch three seasons of other better animes instead. read more
"Monster" tells the tale of a Japanese doctor named Kenzou Tenma, who starts off in the series as the young and talented star neurosurgeon at a highly reputable hospital in Germany. His working environment is a highly political one, and one day he has to make a decision between saving a boy with a bullet wound in the head, and a major benefactor of the hospital who was rushed there in an emergency just as Dr. Tenma was about to operate on the boy. Little did Dr. Tenma know that the choice he make would have such extraordinary consequences. Soon, mysterious deaths starts to occur around Dr. Tenma... and the prime suspect is him. Having found out that these events aren't completely unrelated to him, he starts tracking an elusive figure who he believes to be the one responsible for the deaths. His investigations take him across Europe, uncovering countless mysteries and dark secrets along the way, all the while being pursued by the police. The strength of the story and the plot development of this gripping series are nothing short of phenomenal, and easily surpasses any anime that I've watched previously. Usually, something this long would get dull and/or repetitive, but "Monster" not only successfully avoids this, it miraculously manages to pace itself far better than most 26 episode series. I found myself on the edge of my seat with eyes glued to the screen for the duration of its 74 episodes. There are a huge number of plot twists - every episode seems to end with on a cliff-hanger, and it's fiendishly difficult to find good places to stop watching and do overrated sensible activities such as eat. And maybe sleep.
First and foremost, "Monster" is a suspenseful, psychological thriller... and it more than delivers as one with its overwhelmingly powerful and dark atmosphere. What struck me immediately while watching it is its great use of sound. If I just listen to the "Monster" soundtrack by itself, I'd most likely find it to be rather unfulfilling. However, within the context of the anime it's nothing short of amazing. And I'm not just talking about the music alone - the use of sound is not limited to the background music, and "Monster" successfully demonstrates this by putting to good use an astonishingly wide array of ambient sounds. A lot of it can be more accurately described as noise rather than music, and the unsettling atmosphere created through the skillful use of these noises, combined with sheer ruthlessness with which "Monster" frequently kills off its characters, ended up inducing a kind of paranoia in me while I was watching it. I found myself jumping at every background sound and every change in the tone of the music, and nervously chewing my nails whenever a character is left alone, wondering whether that character would be the next one to meet an unfortunate end.
The artwork also suits the gloomy atmosphere. Instead of the typical, huge-eyed kawai type character designs that you often find in anime, "Monster" strives for a much more realistic visual style. A lot of people have said they don't like it, but I personally love it. With the exception of some slightly off walking motions, the animation is really good. Just like with the sound, small details are manipulated with a deft touch that can nevertheless bring about significant tonal changes. A great example is the facial features of one of the characters Eva Heinemann, who comes across in the beginning as one of the bitchiest characters you're ever likely to meet. But with the simple unarching of her eyebrows, Eva's face can suddenly soften and the usual trace of bitchiness across her features just melts away. These kind of subtle touches and great attention to detail are used to brilliant effect within the anime. What's more, everything about "Monster" clicks together, and preciously little screen time is wasted. Even the ending credits is utilised to tell an intensely creepy, macabre fairy tale. It isn't just any fairy tale - as the story progress, you'll come to realise that it's a fairy tale that not only plays a significant role in the plot, it also reflects some of the underlying themes that underpins the main story. If you skip all the ending credits, you'll be missing out on some details that, though not quite crucial, certainly serve their purpose in making the series a richer viewing experience.
"Monster" isn't all about the presentation and the production values though - it's a series backed up by solid substance and it provides more than enough material to mentally chew on after watching an episode. It easily lives up to its its title. The monstrosities that can be witnessed (a lot of which are committed on innocent children) in the anime come across as both shocking and horrifying. Thinking back on it, it's kind of ironic that what initially kicked off the chain of events in the series is a choice made on the moral grounds that doctors should treat all lives as equals. In fact, there are many strong underlying moral themes in "Monster", and it thoughtfully explores many questions such as whether someone deserves forgiveness, however much atrocity he has committed. Parallels can be drawn between the paths taken by "Trigun" and "Monster", but the latter presents a far more convincing case than the former. In both cases I don't fully agree with the answers provided, but in "Trigun" I find myself siding with the villain as the hero (Vash) came off as more stupidly naive than anything else, whereas in "Monster", the hero (Dr. Tenma) cuts a much more mature, saintly figure. One of the things that makes Dr. Tenma's case more convincing is that, even though he might seem too much of a perfect goody goody, he doesn't start off this way - he is initially introduced as a snivelling coward, a pawn in the political games played at his hospital. His moral stance evolves along with the strength of his character as he perseveres through the harsh trials that's thrown at him in the duration of the series, and this makes it difficult argue against the views he eventually settles on and the decisions he eventually makes because you know that he did not reach them lightly.
A lot of intelligent anime can often come off as a little cold and aloof, just look at "Boogiepop Phantom", an anime that is similar to "Monster" insofar as it's also very dark, very clever and has a lot of substance to go with its ostentatious presentation. But unlike these kind of anime, "Monster" is by no means souless, and this is because the characters. Dr. Tenma may be a fantastic character, but he is actually made to look rather ordinary by the the rest of a very stella cast. It should be noted that the size of the cast of "Monster" is rather large. Now in most cases, large casts tends to spell trouble, and any anime that attempts to cram in a lot of characters usually end up with an extremely dull selection that are underdeveloped and forgettable. But "Monster" is not just any anime. Despite having so many characters, it's hard to recall a single bad character in the entire series, and in fact most of them are nothing short of fascinating. Who can forget the likes of that detective with an alcohol problem, or the constantly smiling Wolfgang Grimmer? A lot of these characters only appear for a short while, but it's more than enough for them to make a big impact. As for the re-occurring ones, virtually all of them undergo superb character development. One such character is Eva Heinemann. She stands out for having one of the most dynamically developed personalities, and also for changing from a character I loathed to a character I came to like very much. The main villain too, is one of the most charismatic, sophisticated and terrifying villain ever to grace the medium. Instead of scaring people outright with brute force, he induces a psychological fear by getting into people's minds, psyching out their darkest secrets and manipulating them using soft power. And this makes him far more compelling than your average mass produced brawn-over-brains "final boss" style villain, who usually comes fully equipped with a single digit IQ, some basic, primitive cunning, and the ability to manically laugh for an hour or so.
Despite the quirky and distinctive traits that a lot of the characters have (for instance Runge with his constantly typing hands), most of them come across as genuine, real people caught up in crazy situations. Virtually all the characters are much more than what meets the eye, and many of them are burdened by dark pasts that they are trying to put behind them. The characters are fleshed out through their backstories and, as the plot often takes turns to unfold through their different perspectives, it's really easy to connect to and sympathise with these troubled characters. "Monster" is a series with plenty of heart and warmth because it makes you care about its characters for all their very human flaws: it makes you smile with them through the good times, tighten up nervously when they are in danger, and it makes you want to weep in frustration and anguish when they are killed off, often just as you're growing fond of them.
Admittedly, I'm not too keen on the ending of the series, and I still have a few lingering questions about certain plot points, especially ones concerning the villain, and the almost supernatural way he seems to be able to always get what he wants. But aside from these very minor complaints, I honestly can't find any aspect of "Monster" that isn't outstanding. With its masterfully told plot, unforgettable characters, paranoia-inducing dark atmosphere and profound depth, "Monster" is a colossal masterpiece in *every* sense of the word.
Full list of the review series can be found on this page, 3rd post from bottom:
Isn’t it funny how most see the tree and miss the forest? Monster is a show quite uncommon to the medium yet has its own faults which eventually disappoint the more experienced viewers as well as the ones who expected TOO much from it.
Monster is one of the most famous psychological thrillers ever made into anime, and for many it is the best as well. It is the story of a surgeon, hunting all over the world a genius mastermind that has the charisma to manipulate peoples’ dark desires to his own liking, turning them to ruthless serial killers if he so wishes it. The hunt is a long one (well, it is a 74 episode show) and every place they pass by, corpses fill the streets.
To be honest, the greatest attraction of the anime is the grim atmosphere, a result of the menacing aura Johan, the main villain, emanates all around him. He practically IS the story as everything moves according to his plan. Not that this ingredient alone was enough for the entire recipe to work. The combination of great production values, the rather realistic depiction of the setting, the constant mystery of what are Johan’s intensions, the huge number of characters, as well as the dementia many show from time to time, all that were very successfully done elements that contributed into making Monster the… monster of anime it is today.
On the other hand, the more experienced eye (that is me) is not so easily tricked with simple magician tricks, and trust me when I say that the show is full of those. Most of these elements work on a mostly superficial level and it is the simple fact that THERE HASN’T BEEN ANYTHING REMOTELY LIKE IT BEFORE OR AFTER that mostly made Monster so successful. Before I analyze further what I mean, I will admit that it is indeed a one of a kind anime and thus there is no other directly comparable series to it in anime form (there are some in manga though). So whatever I say here on does not place Monster bellow some other similar anime (a thing I usually end up doing since I love comparisons) as Monster is alone in its specific category. Although some would rush to place Death Note or Ergo Proxy in the same package, the truth is those anime are heavy on magic or sci-fi, whereas Monster is to the most part pure psychological thriller (although as I will describe later, Johan’s powers are supernatural and thus the show does have a twist of low fantasy as well).
And now I will start my rather overcritical analysis of the show, starting with the production values. They are indeed very good.
- The characters are drawn rather realistic and the humor is almost absent, a thing that allows the thriller to work better without being ridiculed by puns and slapstick (as it happens in most other anime).
- The animators did their research in an attempt to depict the setting of the series as realistically as possible. Many areas are almost identical to their corresponding ones in Germany of our reality, and they are drawn with a high amount of color palette and details to feel more real as well. And as expected, most signs and messages are indeed written in German or other corresponding language, instead of just conveniently being Japanese or English or whatever.
- The use of light and form is another thing that was done great, as the animators managed to use darkness effectively to boost the scary scenes, as well as exploiting the concept of child innocence as means to make the gore aspect even more vivid. Where most shows depict villains as ugly and stupid, Johan and many of the ones he affects look and act externally as normal and kind people. Yet deep inside they hide a really violent and menacing nature, so the viewer is unable to just know what to expect of them just by looking at their faces. Combining this with shading their faces when the truth comes up and you have yourself a splendid work. Something similar is done with the fairy tale in the story, which has some cute drawings that hide a very gory story.
- Something similar can be said about the music as well. There are no annoying voices in the entire show, and most speak in a mostly sophisticated / educated / non-lame-shonen way. It really helps to feel like these guys are smart enough for you to care about them. They are also NOT defined immediately by the tone of their voice, so just because someone sounds gentle does not mean he really is as such in character, and just because another is grumpy does not mean he is a villain.
- The music score also consists of some really exceptional pieces that really make you feel you are watching something scary. No jpop or death metal, cheap means to yell at the viewer what to expect. They are slow and almost sad, hinting that something is amiss. Just because they “hint” is enough to deem them exceptional; one not paying attention would think they are just low toned boring music pieces.
- If there is a slight glitch that I noticed is the culture differences between Japanese and German. I have heard native Germans complaining about how the characters don’t sound right when speaking in the main language of the series or don’t have a German body language. That is kinda minor but it is a way to know it is NOT done by Germans.
Moving to the story. Although the core concept is very interesting, I found the execution and the duration of the story to have their faults.
- The concept is great, as it delves into the dark region of the mind and shows how everybody has a monster hiding inside him, ready to come out if the proper conditions are met. In fact, the entire mystery is about people trying to exploit that aspect as means to manipulate the will of others for their personal agenda. Thus many social experiments in the series are in fact inhuman acts of bending free will and trashing the defenses of the mind in order to create charismatic leaders which control nations with their charisma alone. It is far more interesting than in most series where characters behave as if they were born good or evil; over here it can go either way based on how you treat them or how you manipulate their way of thinking. It also has nothing to do with how strong or fast you are; it is the guy with the strongest mind defenses and offences that wins and everything is performed usually cryptic or initially out of screen so you don’t have a clear picture.
- Pacing on the other hand felt unnecessarily slow and the duration was far longer than it should be in my opinion. The entire story could be told easily in 50 episodes. And if we were to take out all the minor secondary events that felt like making pointless circles, to even 26 episodes. This can work both ways of course; many claim that the slow pace and the multiple side stories allowed for better immersion to the setting and the characters. Some can grow impatient with this and some may be eating their nails out of frustration of what will follow (which counts as a plus). Since I am a rather cynical person, I belong to the former category and thus many parts felt boring or unnecessary and I would gladly prefer a shorter version. Most of the sidetracking was nothing but slight variations of the core theme and only ended up making Johan to look like some sort of Hudini, appearing, doing his stuff and disappearing like he is the Invisible Man.
- The ending is quite disappointing. After the huge build up for so many dozens of episodes, THAT happens and you are left facepelming with how rushed and unexciting it was. The chances of having very bad last impressions are very high as the finale is plain unworthy of the hype you may have created in your mind.
And now the cast.
- To be honest, this is a one man show. You don’t have Johan, you don’t have Monster. Everything happens because he feels like letting them happen as such and for that reason despite the huge number of characters, they are all passive, minor and forgettable before him.
- Although most are affecting minor sides of the overall story, especially those who know Johan and provide insight to his character, overall they are all peons in his hands. That felt as if the characters have no control over their actions and it is the plot that drives them and not the other way around. Although the series attempts to point out how most people are indeed peons for the charismatic leaders, and that since Johan is a character himself, the entire plot is logical and convincing. Sure, externally that works indeed. They are still far too minor to the whole plot, a thing that feels bad in its own way.
- Plus, we are never EXACTLY shown how Johan was brainwashing his victims into trusting him and becoming serial killers or getting murdered from his poison candies all the time. All that happen out of screen and we are only hinted HOW he did it. Well, although that externally makes him far more cool and mysterious, in practice it is as if he is using MAGIC to do it if we are not SHOWN how exactly it is done. Like, what dialogue did he exchange with them and how he tapped into the things they were afraid or mad at. That is where the low fantasy of the show lies, as I mentioned earlier and probably the part where most fail to realize how Monster is NOT a completely realistic anime. In fact, throughout the series Johan keeps doing anything he likes and always walks away calmly, as if everybody couldn’t see him at all or are too afraid to shoot him. To be honest, it grows tiresome after the tenth time, a thing that wouldn’t feel as such if all those sidetracks weren’t present.
- As a stand alone character, Johan is indeed cool and interesting. Unlike most arch-villains who just want to rule the world or become Gods, his true intentions are nothing close to that. Plus, we are not told what they are until the story is close to its finale. Also, he never brainlessly explains his plans with a boasting monologue, as most arch-villains do; that is left to be discovered bit by bit through investigation of his past and by talking to various people who were affected by him. Also, he actually DOES have a masterplan, unlike some other arch-villains who only say they have but in reality not even the scriptwriter has a clue to what they want (such as Aizen and his Just as Planned BS). Too bad he is the only great one in the whole series.
I won’t deny Monster a full score in value. It is historically speaking a very important title, very famous to boot, part of the top 5 of thousands of people, and down to it uncommon and memorable even if you didn’t like it much.
Yet on the enjoyment factor, I was personally not thrilled with the… thriller. It lasted way too much and felt to the most part like they were going on circles. I also didn’t like how there was only ONE great character amongst a hundred others and to the most part only because we were not shown how or why he does his thing. Plus the finale is very disappointing.
Monster is an interesting show but not exactly the most entertaining one. If you want more, the same mangaka also made “20th Century Boys”. There is also another good psychological thriller manga named Dragon Head. read more
Monster is all about atmosphere and how it reaches to the viewer. Note, i did not read the source material, the manga, so i can't comment how better it is compared to it, but let's just say it is very good. Honestly, before watching Monster, i had a completly different expectation. I thought it would rely on difficult choises and their outcomes, like how the main character, Kenzo Tenma, would sacrifice one thing for another and that eventually would make him a ''Monster''. That is not the case, although the first episodes kinda show that, but let's not spoil. So the premise is simple, Kenzo Tenma is a surgeon, a very skilled one, who wants to become the head physician of a hospital. He soon enters a dilemma where he either needs to save a rich man which will ensure his future or sacrifice everything, but save a poor kid that was shot right in the head. Kenzo makes a crucial decision and saves the kid, from where the rise of a Monster begins.
Now here is the main flaw with Monster's story. When i first read the description, i saw that it has 74 episodes. Now, don't get me wrong, i can easily watch a 100 episode series, if it is not boring. Monster doesn't deserve to be called boring and it actually isn't. It's just that it has a lot of fillers that don't add anything new and are more of the same. For example, the first 10 episodes are outstanding. They focus on the main character and actually move the story. After that, the series chooses to introduce a bunch of characters and for the majority of episodes, it focuses on them rather on the main character, Kenzo Tenma. This just stagnates the further story development for atleast 5 episodes, then it gets back to Tenma, then again centers for another 5 episodes to someone else and so on. If it would only center around Kenzo Tenma and his road, not only this would create more questions and make the series more interesting, it would also be like 30 episodes long.
But even with it's flaw, i still can't give Monster a lower score than 10, because there are almost no similarities. Monster is a rare type of anime and if not perfect, it still manages to keep your attention.
This is monster. The greatest cocktease of all time.
Don't get me wrong, it is a great show. I enjoyed it. It would have to be reasonably good for me to make it through 74 episodes of it while generally enjoying myself, but it never quite lived up the hype it received before I watched it.
Monster is a mystery/drama show. Early on, the show sets up a number of compelling mysteries and questions. The kind that generally keep you watching a show until you discover the answers. Unfortunately, Monster takes these mysteries, then continues to tease you and tease you, usually, by the time the answers are revealed, I was kind of apathetic towards those questions. The plot revelations never had the impact they could have because of how long they take to reveal them. There are dozens of almost laughable occurences where a character is about to recall an old memory, or where someone is about to "tell all", when they suddenly get cut off right at the good part, or decide they don't want to talk anymore. It becomes laughably predictable. If it wasn't for all the stalling to reveal answers, I think I would have liked this show a lot more.
Another example of almost amusing attempts to create faux tension comes in the action scenes. Throughout the show, a character will point a gun at another character. It looks like death will finally catch up with one of the character's in these standoffs. Finally GUNSHOT, from there, the show almost always cuts to outside the building. You hear the gunshot, but you don't see what happens. This literally happens at least 10 times over the course of the show, probably more. Their desperate attempts to have you "wondering what happened next" become almost sad. In the final ten episodes of the show, when the action really picks up, it becomes completely expected, and loses any effect it may have had. Monster's shameless efforts to create nail-biters is one of the main pitfalls of the show, as it becomes quite blatant and annoying near the end.
I may be coming across as hating the show, but it's more frustration to be honest. I feel like Monster could have been a 10/10 show for me, but the above aspects really ruined it for me. Despite these flaws, I still managed to enjoy the show quite a bit.
The best part about Monster is the characters. Over the course of 74 episodes, the show introduces you to a lot of characters, and does its best to develop them all as much as they can. I can quite vivdly remember some characters that only had face time in a few episodes. I felt like most of the characters were pretty realistic, which was a nice touch. Even the most badass characters in the show aren't over the top badasses. They are the kind of badasses you could actually picture existing in real-life which is a great touch. One of the main characters of the show, Dr. Tenma, quickly become one of my favorites, and I envision him being on my top 10 for a long time to come. There is one character that gets a little annoying and over-dramatic by the end of the show (Nina Fortner), but other than that, I can safely say I liked every character in the show for the most part.
Also, when Monster decides to actually reveal things about the past, they were really interesting and often shocking. In the last ten episodes or so, Monster really goes all out to show you everything about each character's past, and it's no coincidence that these ten episodes are the best of the show.
Monster also has surprisingly intense action scenes, when they aren't using cheap techniques to build drama and suspense. Perhaps it's because of how attached you get to a lot of characters in the show, but I found myself practically wanting to cheer when the good guys won, which is pretty rare for me with TV shows. I was definitely on the edge of my seat during a lot of fist and gun fights, the only time I wasn't was when the dreaded GUNSHOT, CUT TO DIFFERENT SCENE happens. '
The art is mostly eye-pleasing. I liked the character designs, although, I felt like a lot of characters looked WAY too much alike, but this was a minor flaw. The action scenes are also quite crisp, and there is some pretty beautiful scenery at several points. The music was also generally perfect for any scenes it was used for. For as dark as Monster can be, a few of the happy/peaceful tracks really stood out for me, and I would probably be willing to listen to them outside the show, which isn't something I would usually say about a show's soundtrack.
By the time Monster gets into the late 60's, it truly goes into a new level. These episodes are truly "masterpiece" level, so it's unfortunate that the show languished around the "good" level for so long. Basically, it's like after casually dating the girl you met at that party for months, you FINALLY end up getting some. You're extremely glad you got some, but damn, couldn't it have happened sooner? read more
Monster was recently recommended to me by a friend who was rather frustrated that there wasn't enough of a fanbase for such a great anime. It wasn't my usual type of anime, since I'm not a big mystery/detective fan and I doubted I would like it at first... Another note I would like to mention is that the anime and manga of Monster are very close and true to each other.
The story is incredibly intriguing. Avoiding being redundant and giving a plot synopsis, I'll say this: Every story development pulls the watcher further in, without resorting to real "cliff hangers". The first few episodes, though very important, felt somewhat dry, however once those are over and the real plot begins to move, the intensity of each episode builds.
The art of the Monster anime is very unlike the art in the manga. The manga harkens heavily back to the Astro-boy days of manga. The anime is somewhat modernized, but somewhat more realistic than a lot of anime currently. I found the art to be very endearing and used well to enhance the atmosphere of the anime.
The sound got a somewhat lower rating not because it's *bad*. The music and voices are well done, but simply unexceptional. Mostly the music, though good, quickly passes from memory. The opening and closing themes are incredibly generic. Luckily, the voice actors used were incredibly talented.
The characters are really what make Monster so great. Their interactions and personal motivations are so incredibly *human*. Each has their own set of faults and strong points. The only reason I did not give the characters section a 10 was because after becoming attached to a character, the character might disappear for a few episodes simply due to the fact the cast is so large and each has such depth.
Monster is by no means perfect, but it is an incredibly well-thought out anime that kept me eager for the next episode. The faults, in this case, can be overlooked. I enjoyed this anime enough to give it a 10.
NOTE ABOUT THIS REVIEW: Also, if you find this review unhelpful in anyway, send me a private message saying why (please) so that I can improve it for future readers! :D read more
Despite its daunting length, an exceedingly high standard of quality is consistently maintained in all 74 episodes. And because the writer does not get sidetracked with filler episodes or arcs, a single, coherent storyline runs through. This gives the impression of watching a an excellent graphic novel. Though the story itself is impossibly intricate, a web of intrigue and conflicting motives to tantalize the viewer, Monster manages to conclude dramatically, memorably and without the use of such cheap and overused plot devices as deus ex machina.
Urasawa Naoki clearly left nothing to chance or improvisation in the creation of Monster. His meticulously conceived and astoundingly immersive plot is certainly the result of countless hours of historical, geographical and cultural research. Monster is set against the backdrop of a Germany reeling from its internal division by the Berlin Wall, all the while struggling to cope with the conflicting ideals of democracy and authoritarianism within the same country. This dichotomy between the East and West German governments, along with the long-term consequences for the citizens on each side of the Wall are subtly referenced throughout the plot. Realism on this level is something that no author can fake. The actual plot idea behind Monster is one we have all heard before. A doctor is under suspicion for murder and flees the authorities to find the villain and clear his name. But with Monster, it is not so much the originality of the plot, as it is the masterful storytelling which puts Monster in a category of its own.
Urasawa's style is one of sublime efficiency - not a single scene is wasted and every piece of information revealed to the audience is ultimately significant. A single glance, a dark shadow, the sound of a footstep - these are the precise and parsimonious tools Urasawa uses to tell the story of Monster. His narration is immersive and gripping, but never once does it feels heavy-handed. The flow from scene to scene always feels completely natural, and deftfully avoids any appearance that the writer is forcing the plot in order to create drama or suspense.
If anything, it is just the opposite: the main story is advanced through the exposition of tangential subplots. As a result, the hero is constantly hot on the trail of the antagonist, but only ever able to gain information from indirect witnesses, friends of friends, people only remotely related to the search at hand. Consequently, the antagonist's screen time is so rare that each appearance might even be considered a cameo. And yet, Urasawa's villain is easily the best characterised and most memorable in all the anime I have seen to date. I stand in awe of Monster, for this is storytelling at its finest.
The visual quality in Monster is both superb and unique. Through the creative use of cinematic techniques, Monster is made to feel very much like a movie, because the "camera" viewpoint is often used to focus in on significant moments or details or even facial expressions. In this fashion, the audience's attention is skillfully drawn towards such ominous things as shadows, dark corners and footsteps in order to intensify the atmosphere.
The artwork in Monster carries strong influences from film noir. Even from the first few episodes, the use of darker hues and greyed out tones give the anime a bleak and foreboding feeling. As the story progresses, the anime becomes a showcase for the animator's sublime mastery over the use of shadow and lighting.
Detail levels are quite decent, although exterior scenery is rare, given the dark nature of the story. The few scenic moments I do remember in the anime were well-drawn. I know the following will seem odd for a mystery and suspense thriller, but the food shown in Monster is extremely appetizing; I distinctly recall feeling hungry several times while watching the characters eat. Prior to viewing Monster, I had never craved German food, but I must admit that the anime actually convinced me to seek out a place where I could eat some the things I saw.
Obviously, in a suspense/thriller anime, you would not expect to find highly memorable or catchy tunes. This is the case with Monster, the anime relying more heavily on silence, foreboding sounds, and the occasional eerie music to set the mood. And since sustaining mood is of paramount importance in this genre, the sound selection was appropriate and well-considered. The audio track always complemented the scenes of the anime, and never detracted from the tension of the moment.
Despite being 74 episodes long, Monster had only one opening and two ending themes. From a vocal standpoint, both singers featured in the ending music are quite mediocre. However, the suitability of these two pieces for the overall atmosphere of Monster is ideal. Both pieces are only very lightly orchestrated, with contrasting emphasis on echo and proximity of voice to the microphone, resulting in an altogether unsettling and haunting feeling which is completely appropriate for the series.
It is the voice acting, though, which gives Monster its unforgettable immersiveness. The seiyuu cast succeeds brilliantly in adding to the overall atmosphere. Though the anime involves a wide spectrum of emotion, the seiyuu convincingly convey each emotion to perfection. Sasaki Nozomu in particular deserves special commendation for so vividly bringing to life the role of the main antagonist. It is no easy task to credibly portray the voice of a person who commits brutal murder without a trace of emotion, and yet possesses the gentle charm and seductive charisma to beguile and manipulate countless others.
Urasawa Naoki's indirect storytelling style has a very apparent benefit: it allows him to richly develop the entire cast of characters, including those with secondary roles. I would be hard-pressed to name a single character in Monster with whom I did not feel intimately acquainted and whose motivations I did not understand by the end of the series. Considering that each episode almost certainly introduces at least one new character, it is mind-blowing that Urasawa manages to achieve this level of familiarity among the audience with all of his numerous and colourful characters.
Urasawa pushes the envelope with the characterisation of his main cast and manages to completely blur the lines between fictional character and real person. He recognises that people do not only change as a result of momentous plot events - sometimes, people also gradually change over time. The timeline of Monster spans over forty years, so this slow self-evolution of the characters' motivations, aspirations and values provides a much deeper level of authenticity that I would love to see in other anime.
I also admire the fact that Monster's characters are shown to have a life outside their role within plot. This is a dimension which adds a great deal to the believability of the characters. Often it takes no more than only the subtlest of details, like a family picture in the background, or a quick "in-passing" reference during dialogue, but such are the minutiae which distinguish excellence from mediocrity.
Monster possesses a polish shared by too few other anime. It is truly a finished product, completed and produced with pride. As a viewer, I distinctly felt that every scene was contemplated with care, every detail meticulously reviewed. One would be hard-pressed to find an inconsistency in the story, let alone an unexplained or forgotten plotline. Monster is a lengthy 74-episode anime with no fillers. This alone should speak volumes as to the quality of this anime.
For the lack of a better place to mention this, the ending sequence is well worth the time to watch, in detail, after every episode. The graphical content for the outro is almost never identical, though often the changes from episode to episode are almost imperceptible. Yet, those who have the patience to sort through these small differences are richly rewarded with an additional dose of ingenious foreshadowing and symbolism.
Without a doubt, because of its all-around excellence, and its superb attention to quality and detail, Monster has become the definitive benchmark by which I have judged all other anime. To all lovers of quality anime, if you have yet to see Monster, then you are most assuredly missing out on one of the very best.
The show spans 74 episodes, meaning you see those problems ALOT, especially during the slow part of the show which is basically the entire 40 episodes in the middle of the show in which they keep mentioning like one memory, but will never reveal it, or dig any deeper into it, because if they tried, there was always something or somebody to cut them off in the most irritating way. In the mean time instead, we have useless main characters yell at each other not to shoot, be hypocritical, and apparently teach some profound meaning of life, while trying to kill someone, while also being introduced to a massive amount of side characters who you'll probably never remember but some how, they all connect. Literally, like every single one of them all in completely different locations, know each other in some unknown profound way.
And that's the biggest problem with Monster, it's characters. People claim that they are all just so realistic, yet they make the most idiotic choices that gets them no where. Really though, why on earth Tenma was walking around without changing his appearance or even his name even though he was wanted every where for serial murders blows my mind. Besides dealing with that, we have to constantly listen to Nina and Tenma lecture each other and others about not killing people while they're chasing down someone TO KILL THEM. I got so sick of stare downs between Tenma and some random person in which you hear a shot, only for it to be from someone who's not Tenma's, instead he's still sitting there, in the same pose, with the same face saying he's going to shoot.Then the side characters they created. Each one appeared at the perfect time with the perfect piece of information that someone needed to advance the plot of the story *cough cough Lotte much*. With all that though, there were some really good characters... I hated Runge, but loved him at the same time. His stubbornness made my body cringe, but he's still amazing. Then there's all the other billions of characters in this show, that you'll rarely see all better than Tenma.
The story is great with multiple shocking twist and turns that will leave you guessing and have you wondering whats really going on, so on that side, the show succeeded, except that the ending sucks due to the fact it only creating more questions, and not even answering some of the main ones they forced us to think about.
The sound is ordinary, it didn't make much an impact on me since I literally just finished the show and I don't even remember any of the background sounds, or music, only the ending and that's only because of the picture book drawings.
The art fitted the series, very mature like. Personally I didn't like it, but it grows on you as you watch the show and since you have to sit through 74 episodes, it'll grow on you too.
I liked the show, but I was extremely annoyed most of the time I watched it due to Tenma alone, let alone all the other characters that actually annoyed me as well, and the idiot choices they made, and the moronic plot devices, and some very predictable scenes.
Even though I mass criticized this show, I still think it's a good show that should be watched if you have the time and are into the type of genre, especially if you have a lot of patience. read more
Adapted from a manga by Naoki Urasawa, who has been called a ‘living genius’ and has given us a taste of many other great manga, which includes 20th Century Boys, and Pluto. Monster was directed by Kojima Masayuku, and produced by Madhouse Studios, has given birth to this incredible 'Monster' in the Japanese media.
Monster takes place in Germany, which rather gives it a unique feels to it, and portrays the setting as realistic and believable. Like a monster, this series begins very quietly. Dr Kenzo Tenma is a genius surgeon working in post-Cold War Germany who has a bright future ahead of him. Firstly, our main character faces his morals regarding the value of a human life, and decides to save an orphaned boy believing that his decision was correct as a doctor. However, his path not only leads to the damage of his prospects, but unleashes a chain of events so horrific that it might have come from the depths of his worst nightmare. This destroys his bright future, and brings him into a completely different world of complexity and despair. This is what triggers the remarkable story of Monster.
The plot brings together different elements to create a breathtaking and realistic story with amazing suspense and horror. As a result, the series is very engaging to watch. The story resolves mostly around Johan, and his past. The plot remains a steady pace throughout, every episode delivers us with an interesting new twist to the story; not even a still minute is wasted, as every scene contributes to the story, thus keeping the audience at the edge of their seat throughout the whole series. The development of the story is brilliantly done, as it allows one to get attached to the characters. Every episode introduces something different and new to build up the plot with its characters, thus giving it spark of brilliance. What’s interesting about the plot is that it asks very insightful and interesting questions of absolute evil, disbelief, the value of humans, and human nature itself. It is this questions which makes the audience curious into finding the answers, therefore showing the intelligence of the series.
It is the characters which truly make this show shine at its brightest. The character development throughout this anime is simply fantastic. Even the characters that appeared for few episodes are given enough background and developments, which make this series absolutely fascinating. The characters portray different sides of humanity, and complexity which one would rarely see in other anime. They are each given different personality, and each goes through their own hardship in such a way which completely absorbs the audience into observation of this character; even the minors, which gives this anime top-notch drama. Furthermore, what is most impressive about the characters is that they are portrayed as 'human' which makes the characters seem ‘alive’ and gives them sense of realism. They are not your archetypes which are seen in most anime, thus making Monster very unique and realistic.
Blending nicely with the series, the music was wonderful and enhanced the anime brilliantly. The music carefully sets the tone, and its intensity does a perfect job at setting the atmosphere in every scene. It becomes crystal clear to the audience that every music was chosen with great care and purpose to keep the audience at the edge of their seat with its suspense. As far as the voice actors goes, they did an outstanding job in grand fashion, which deserves more than that of respect, as they carries out their role perfectly.
As well as the music, the animation production does not let down this anime. The art-style is unique, as the characters are designed in detail, which reflects the depth of the character's appearance. This series demonstrates such a high elegant skill of production by Madhouse, which is not commonly seen in other series. Furthermore, what is most impressive about the animation is the fact that it improves over time, which further shows the uniqueness of Monster. What truly stands out of the production value is the use of astonishing artistic techniques; we also see the beautiful recreation of the German city, which truly shows the capability of Madhouse. Just like the music, the animation production is done very smoothly, and blends with the series, keeping it balanced with its beauty and complexity.
Again, nothing is perfect. As mentioned before, this series has very little flaws, which most may not notice, or is very easily overlooked. But, some of the sublime details of the plot are poorly explained and left out. However, the reason why one would overlook these little flaws is because it does not have much of a impact in the plot, as the details that are left out is deliberate, so the audience can roam in their imagination to seek for the answer. Thus, the little flaws Monster has cannot really be counted as flaws, as it had a purpose and reason to leave the audience hungry for more answers.
There are probably many great anime series out there, but the stunning adaption by Madhouse and Masayuki Kojima of Monster is one the very best. Thus, making the most intelligent and complex anime, as it brings together it's ingredients of its intense drama, memorable characters, well-constructed and twisted plot, excellent pacing, and outstanding production values, therefore turning it simply into an extraordinary masterpiece, which cannot be missed out. read more
Every some episodes, it will become utterly boring. Yea, I swore this anime was testing me and trying to make me drop it. Each time, I squeezed in some more episodes to reach a satisfying event for such a beautifully done thriller. There are multiple stories, all in the same mystery. It will eventually tie up neatly and very slowly. Following it is not a problem. It is 74 episodes and that may discourage you for such a psychological thriller, but let me inform you. 74 episodes is the perfect number for a story this complex, incredible depth, involving many events, many stories, and much questions surrounding evil, life, and growing up to be who you are. This is one of the better plots I seen, one where it will keep you guessing, and keep you on the edge of your seat, yet not always... A heavy flaw is the pacing, as Monster's downfall is in a sluggish pacing. This is due to the episode count reacting with the lack of suspense in areas. Yet where there is suspense, it is masterfully done. Starting off very mysterious, all the way to the end. And it gets its message off to you in a professional fashion. When it comes to puzzling together a story, Monster does it very well.
The art added to its atmosphere. The way the characters looked, seemed very realistic. The background, the city, all added to its mystery theme. I would not have any other animation for such a story. The tone, is set very well throughout Monster, displaying the dark story. Expressions on the characters faces show enough detail to be very rewarding. I love how each characters expression hints their own motives. It is a very pleasing animation. No complaints, as I am a sucker for mature ambience.
The opening is something I never skip, I would never for Monster. The ending theme, oh my what a creepy song. The voice acting, sounds right (Japanese) I never have to argue about that. And the sound effects and music in the story fits the events appropriately. Adding effect to the ambience and suspense as a whole.
What I believe drives a plot forward is the characters. Monster heavily relies on the addition of new characters to push the story along and keep everything thrilling and intense. In doing so, the anime introduces a new story that typically starts off boring. The main cast, the episodic characters, the arc characters, all have a role to the main story. Introducing many layers of characters, each with a purpose in the story, a story themselves, and a conflict. When you thought this episodic character was a simple throw away in this filler episode, you were wrong! This is character development for the main cast, using episodic characters. No fillers as far I seen, as everything had a meaning and a place. The arc characters are typically used to develop a side story that will soon tie up to the main story. Which is brilliant and a very strong point in this anime since it does it flawlessly. Overall, I would have to say that there are no arc or episodic characters, since it all connects neatly as a complete and rare story. The characters closely resemble those of a real human, how they act, their intentions, their hunger for something, their greed. Most of all, they show fear and horror. And I have to say, the main cast is very well developed throughout the series as a result of these additions to the plot. Note, the character depth in Monster is probably one of the greatest. As time continues, people change. Monster is not shy in this category.
I personally enjoyed this series a lot. I found it to be very meaningful in conveying the messages around life. It is a very thrilling series, Dr. Tenma is one of the most memorable characters for me. I loved the mystery, I loved the conflicting views, I loved the cliff hangers! Do not let the addition of new characters discourage you, since each character will be interesting and each character will be nearly if not fully developed in the span of an episode. Do not let the length kill your taste, as it surely will be an obstacle. This anime has one of the greatest conclusions that I have seen. Beginning to end, it is a mystery and a philosophical superpower. This has my full recommendation.
This is one of my all time favorite works of fiction. Monster has no parallel. It is what you call the ideal mystery and suspense. The quintessential anime, in its finest. There are minor flaws concerning length and drag, but if you marathon this beauty, you will receive one of the greatest mystery anime produced.
All Lives Are Equal.
9/10 Masterful and Genre Defining.
I. Was. Hooked.
Forgive the pun… but you must know this: Monster is one monster of a story. It will have you sitting and pondering and digesting every little piece of the story in order to piece everything together and make sense of it all. It’s frustrating in a way. Some people don't get it because they don't put in the time to.You have to analyze it and look at it at different angles to get it. But in the end, it is so worth it. Monster has so many layers and nuances and themes and twists and arcs that you can’t really sum it up in a review. I’ll try to give you the gist (spoiler free fear not). Basic premise: Doctor saves a kid…BUT oops. This kid is a monster (pretty much a living, breathing, embodiment of all things monstrous and evil). Doctor says to himself “oh shoot. I let this monster live when I could have let him die. I need to make this right” *Sets off on epic journey to fix things*. And that’s just the tippy tippity top of the iceberg. The story progresses from there, the characters develop and morph , the mystery builds, and the twists reveal little by little the true nature and origins of the “monster” that is the central piece of this series. But despite my best efforts, I can't even think up the words to adequately describe how great of a story Monster is. It is so well written. So well developed. So original. So DEEP. I can’t remember the last time I’ve witnessed writing this good.
The art of Monster is really good and reflects the kind of eerie unsettling tone of the series. It’s quite muted and VERY realistic in its portrayal of settings and in its character designs. This is one of the only series I’ve seen that has characters that actually look like REAL PEOPLE!!! The detail of the art is absolutely breathtaking. The backgrounds of the settings are so realistic and so accurately portrayed. The animation itself is pretty consistently good too. The animators definitely could have slacked more on such a long series. Overall, the art is top notch.
The music of this series, like the art, goes well with the tone. Although this was probably the only area of the anime that didn't absolutely blow my mind, it wasn't half bad. I really liked the OP. It got stuck in my head a lot but it was awesome and edgy :D the ED was so dissettling and disturbing and crazy...it really added to the series. The VAs did an incredible job. Goodness. I wish they had anime Oscars. The voices fit the characters perfectly...it's creepy...especially Johan *shivers*. So yeah. Though my mind wasn't blown, I was not disappointed with sound at all.
Monster is intricately woven with a relatively large cast of characters to carry out the complex series of events. But each character has a role. A purpose. A distinct personality. You see every supporting character develop and change as the story progresses. And the character development of the leads…Dr. Tenma, Nina, Eva and even the third person perspective we’re given of the development of Johan are all spectacular. SO THOROUGH. These characters are so complex and fleshed out… they seem real. We see their strengths, their flaws, their beliefs all play out. Every character is multi dimensional….we’re given views of each little facet of their personalities as the story goes on. Ah. Monster is a rare example of characterization done perfectly.
In the end, all I can really say is "..........w..o..w"
It will remain to this day the best damn anime I have ever seen.
When speaking to anime sceptics, I tend to point out that it's only here in the west that animation (animatedness?) is considered the defining quality of animated films/series. In Japan, it's film first and animation second. Sometimes, though, it can be difficult to illustrate this point; even the most gritty historical epics, such as Bakumatsu, contain elements of magic, psychic powers or the supernatural. From now on, I need not fear - Monster is the perfect example. Set in present day Germany (well, the mid 1990s, but close enough), focusing entirely on drama, tension, plot and psychology, Monster features little in the way of anime staples. It is free of fan service, there are no big eyes or disproportionately large heads in sight, and everything that occurs is actually possible (like most film and TV drama, the events of the series are improbable but possible). In fact, Monster actually takes more care with realism than most 'real' TV: when the neurosurgeon, Dr Tenma, starts using a gun, his ability to do so is actually explained - in this case, by means of him having spent five months taking marksmanship lessons from a retired mercenary. The same happens with other characters too. Everything is justified, explained and accounted for.
On top of the attention to detail and effort to maintain realism, Monster is laden with carefully nurtured tension. The various protagonists all make so many mistakes and struggle so hard to achieve anything that the threat of failure is tangible in each pivotal scene. Additionally, there is so much misdirection and layering in the plot of the series that the viewer never really has a handle on the truth - and every time something is resolved, it just reveals another layer of horror and mystery beneath. All of this dramatic goodness is rounded off by good acting. To the best of my knowledge, Monster has yet to be dubbed into English, so I watched it subtitled, and I usually don't have any opinion on Japanese voice actors unless one has a particularly annoying voice (Merle in Escaflowne is a prime example). I simply - and inevitably - don't pick up the same nuances of tone and expression in Japanese as I do in English. In this case, though, some of the performances actually struck me as exceptionally good - which, presumably, means that if I understood the language they'd be superb.
I have only three criticisms of Monster. The first is the very complexity that makes it a compelling watch across 74 episodes; at times, the convoluted plot can be difficult to follow, and more than once I found myself in the position of knowing I've seen a particular character before, but being unable to remember where or why. This is, I suspect, an inevitable side effect of having a complex plot, as is my second complaint: the pacing. On the whole, the pacing is perfectly appropriate, but it's hardly fast. A story of this type requires a slow, careful pace, so I can't complain - but it does result in the series being more difficult to watch than others of similar length. My third and final criticism is of the main character, Dr Tenma. It troubled me only infrequently, so it's a minor gripe, but Tenma is something of a Mary Sue (or whatever the male version is...Gary Stu, I think). Though he often makes mistakes - indeed, the whole premise of the series is based on Tenma's atonement for a grave error - he is nonetheless one of those characters who improve the lives of everyone they come into contact with, by imparting some grain of personal philosophy or restoring a cynic's faith in humanity. In general, the plot was sufficiently dark, and Tenma's suffering sufficiently intense, that this element of his character went unnoticed, but it did catch my attention at times, particularly around the mid-point of the series.
In all, then, Monster is one of the best anime there is, in my opinion. It's dark, gritty, complex, compelling and occasionally disturbing - all the things sceptics don't associate with anime. This maturity and realism is reflected in the artwork, and continues to the very last moment of the very last episode, without even once succumbing to anime's tendency to incorporate magic or psychic powers. read more