Monster plays out like a macabre game of cat and mouse in a world that is frighteningly similar to real life. Uncomfortable subjects such as coercive human conditioning and the psychology of the sociopath, morality issues regarding the origin of evil and the value of human life, are horrifyingly, yet engagingly, realized. The protagonist, Dr. Tenma, struggles to fix that which is so remorsefully broken in his world. Monster is a chilling tale rooted in reality, a far cry from the superpowers and supernatural forces found in more detached fantasy series.
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.
"Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And when you look long into an abyss, the abyss also looks into you”--Nietzsche
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”.
If you've heard of Monster, then odds are you've probably heard of the incredible hype surrounding it. For a while, Monster has been the absolute critic's darling of anime, being the poster-boy for lofty intellectual types. Because of this, it can be very easy to imagine Monster as being overhyped.
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
Monster is an anime that I used to scoff at every time I saw high ratings for it. I was never really into long plot driven anime and I couldn't understand how so many people loved it, but seeing the ratings, I couldn't help but be interested. I downloaded this anime over a year ago and burned it on to 3 DVDs, never really intending to watch it. Maybe I did it because of the hype, decided that a highly acclaimed series like this was something every anime fan needed in his/her collection. Or maybe I just did it so I would have something to
watch on a rainy day. I don't even remember.
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)
Don't trust this review. Most viewers think this show is a masterpiece, thus by probability you will most likely think the same thing. I'm going to say some harsh things in this review, but even if you think my word is the gospel, you should still watch the first few episodes of the show. And remember, a 6 is not a bad score. I did not dislike this anime at all.
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.
Monster is an anime that has lofty aspirations and does not come close to fulfilling them. It starts out fairly exciting, but it turns into an endless menagerie of typical psychological anime bullshitting that pretends to be meaningful and significant, yet ultimately says patently obvious things and never imparts any meaning at all. I cannot stress strongly enough that from about episode 40 on this anime is horrendously slow (it is probably a 7-8 level for the first 24-26 episodes, which is why I kept watching, hoping it could somehow salvage itself).
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.
Note: Quick Review on bottom of this review
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)
Monster is a compelling Psychological, Mystery, Drama that is heavily driven by its thrilling story. Some who watch this may not be able to get into it but the rest will enjoy the experience.
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.
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?!
I never write reviews for anime that I watch, but given the ludicrously high weighted average score for Monster I feel obligated.
I know that most people on this site seem to love Monster, if that is the case then I would advise you not to read this review. I don't think that my exposing a series of plot holes and poor writing will assist you in anyway.
HOWEVER, if you are watching this show (as I did) under the preconception that the show must be good because it was well received then perhaps you should read this.
The first 30% of Monster is not bad. It seems
like it is setting up a journey that will teach Tenma about the truth behind the kid he saved like 10 years ago or so, who has implicated tenma as being a murderer. This is where the trouble begins.
Tenma is a disgraced doctor, it isn't that suprising as far as story development that he would chase the one who was actually responsible for the murders Tenma is blamed for commiting. I don't believe it spoils anything to say that early on the audience learns Tenma is not motivated by exhonerating himself, but he feels responsible for the murders that yohan commits, even though Tenma was not aware that the 10 year old boy he saved was a 'monster'. I hope that this point illustrates to you just how silly the underlying mentality of this show is. In essence Tenma's character is an emo guy who self loathes and forces misplaced guilt on himself for a situation that occured as a result of him being a selfless person in additiion to fulfilling his hypocratic oath as a doctor.
Tenma represents true and selfless good, whereas Yohan represents true evil. I cannot stress just how overplayed this is in Monster. Many episodes that barely advance the plot involve tenma being somewhere, someone is sick or injured (usually a criminal of some sort) and Tenma selflessley saves them. Contrasting with this are many instances where yohan does sinister things with no reason except to appear sinister. I feel that Monster had the potential for a decent story but it got lost by attempting to be deep with symbolism and imagery, which as I mentioned is terribly overplayed.
Yohan is a pointless character. He is referred to as The Devil many times throughout the show and is also likened to Hitler but with the ability to unite the world instead of Germany. The reality is that whilst Yohan may be at the heart of most of the shows murders, he rarely ciommits any himself. He is constantly referred to as amazingly intelligent, yet from the viewers perspective this is never demonstrated. At one point it is mentioned that he became exceedingly rich through a certain bank scheme, yet it is never elaborated on and doesn't effect the story. The absolute worst part of this entire show is that Yohan appears to know everything about all characters in Monster. This may sound bizarre, as I have just stated that he never displays any examples of higher intellect, but the truth is there is never a reason given as to why he knows these things. The show just shoves this nonsense down the viewers throat with the impression that "nah, he's so smart you just don't get it and therefore we don't have to explain it". At absolutely no point does Yohan display any problem solving ability, which is more indicative of intelligence to me than having ESP. This horrifically flawed logic is exhibited all through Monster. One character shows a psychiatrist a photo asking "do you think this man could have killed himself" the psychiatrist replies "how should I know, I am not a mind reader or a fortune teller", the first guy then says "yeh but just have a look and tell me what you think", *shows the psychiatrist a photo of the dead guy*, the psyciatrist responds "No, this man did not kill himself. People that have faces like this do not kill themselves". Yeah, I can see how you're not a fortune teller doc...
The method of which Yohan inspires followers to commit murder is so foolishly simple; "your favourite color is red, and yet when you were younger you preferred blue. I wonder what the reason for this could be. The truth is you hated your mother and now you will kill a person that I nominate without question". This literally accounts for all events involving Yohan in Monster. This irritating and reoccuring theme is ment to reflect Yohans charisma. Often the viewer is given the impression that Yohan shares Lelouche's Geass from Code Geass, and honestly if Yohan actually possessed this ability it would dectract from much of the stupidity of Monster. Actually, Yohan is more like the unltimate antagonist from gun x sword, where he just has this ability that you do as he says, but it is never actually discussed or even mentioned to the viewer.
By the 70th episode, I was actually skipping segments, Dr Tenma when he gets predictably sad and gloomy, some tedious manipulative device that serves the story in no way (a child spending 50% of 4 consecutive episodes being harshly bullied and being sad about being harshly bullied, where I am yelling at the tv "JUST GET ON WITH THE STORY"), Nina having the same flash back for the 500th time and then screaming in fear for 5 minutes straight, Roberto doing his annoying con man thing for no reason or objective and finally the introduction of a character who develops the story in no way who is merely employed as a device to manufacture tension (I cannot begin to tell you how many times this happens with new random characters that then dissappear and don't come back).
Monster has one of the most poorly developed endings in existence. I can't expand on this without providing spoilers, which pains me because all I want is to discuss how immature and illconceived the ending is.
THe plot of Monster runs in circles, instead of developing I would actually argue that from about episode 30 the plot regresses to episode 10 with the same face but a different name. This occurs all throughout Monster. Tenma and Nina will every 10 or so episodes say some cliche like "I need to end this now, it can only be me", they will then get an opportunity to resolve matters and then get all emotional; cry, yell and hesitate, resulting in them missing the chance to "end it all" . It gets to the point that whenever Nina / Tenma hold a gun to someone, I found myself thinking, 'oh my god, just have a cry already, put the gun down, miss your chance and then do your best to convince the viewer that you'll actually display some conviction next time'.
The amount of times that suspense is fakely manufactured with no substance cannot be understated. Someone talks about how there is a devil and then goes on to tell the same story that all the other characters who mentioned the devil previously have told, but as the viewer the show expects that you will not notice that very few new events actually occur in Monster.
"Monster" may not be the most popular of anime - unlike say, "Death Note" or "Full Metal Alchemist", there are still plenty of people who haven't seen it - but it has attained this almost mythical status as one of the anime that's come closest to being flawless. Could this really be the Holy Grail of anime? Now, being the opinionated jackass that I am, I've never shied away from obnoxiously airing my unwanted views loudly and with extreme prejudice, however controversial they may be, and a fair share of popular anime ("FLCL", "Elfen Lied" and "Clannad" to name a few) have felt the wrath
of my uncompromising rants over the years... but if you're looking for one of those ludicrously rare negative opinions on *this* anime, then I'm afraid to say that you won't be getting it from me. This is because, like virtually everyone else - the harshest of critics included - I found myself reduced to fanboyish gushing upon finishing "Monster", having been totally stupefied by the mind-blowing awesomeness of this magnificent series (see what I mean about the gushing? :P). Just like its main villain, "Monster" comes off as almost glowing with the aura of perfection - without a doubt, this epic is one of the all time greats.
"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.
Monster is a series that sets a very big standard for mystery anime. It was written by Naoki Urasawa and many praise it as the better Death note. I had the pleasure of watching this anime and here are my thoughts.
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.
Monster is a good anime with a great story, but it had way to many little problems that just piled up, eventually destroying the actual enjoyability of the show.
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.
You lock eyes with a girl at a party. Soon, you're talking. A few hours later you find yourself in her room, making out with her. You start to reach for a boob when.... "I don't want to take it any farther than this." Just when you thought you were about to get something, you get shut down, cockteased.
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?
HOW I WAS INTRODUCED TO MONSTER:
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
Monster is a true gem and a rare anime masterpiece.
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.
74 episodes long. I looked at those little words on the left hand column of MAL's page dedicated to Monster, and I said to myself "74 episodes?" *cower* "I've heard this anime is really good...bu...but...that is a lot of episodes". So it took me a few months to finally get up the motivation to actually sit down and watch the first episode of this series. And once I did, there was no turning back. Deciding that this anime was too long to be worth my time was totally futile, I had been drawn in by one of the greatest series (anime or not) ever
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.
Yesterday, after quite an industrious few days' watching, I finished Monster. It is, to keep it as simple as possible, brilliant.
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.
What happens when the world's nicest doctor accidentally saves the life of the world's most evil man? We get an amazing 70+ episode anime of course!
The story begins in 1980s West Germany with a brilliant young neurosurgeon named Kenzo Tenma. One day Kenzo is about to operate on a Turkish construction worker, but is pulled out of surgery at the last minute to operate on an opera singer instead. The opera singer survives and the Turkish construction worker dies, because everyone in this hospital besides Tenma is criminally inept. The wife of the construction worker berates Tenma for not operating on her husband,
when he arrived first at the ER. Although this isn't very realistic, it provides the series' first of many moral dillemas for our hero Tenma. A few days later a similar situation occurs with a young boy coming into the ER with a bullet wound to the head at the same time that an important mayor needs an operation. Tenma decides to follow his morals this time and operates on the boy that came in first. As a result, the mayor dies and Kenzo's career at the hospital comes to a grinding halt thanks to his scum sucking boss. Kenzo's career rebounds when all of his enemy's mysteriously die in a single night and the boy disappears. Years later Kenzo learns that he saved an absolute monster and ridden with guilt decides to hunt down this man and right this wrong. Much like my other favorite Elfen Lied, Monster's plot often contains unrealistic coincidences, cliche' devices like convenient amnesia, and other elements that make it fodder for snarky pseudo intellectuals to rip on. What makes it good is that it builds suspense in the style of a classic Hitchcock movie. It is thought provoking and emotionally rewarding. When the protagonist must make a difficult moral decision, we the audience share his suffering. It is true that it is not very realistic, but that doesn't mean it isn't good. This is the writing style of Victor Hugo, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Charles Dickens, Shakespeare, and the majority of classic literature. You can go ahead and laugh at it if you want to, but you are missing a great story.
The main character is Kenzo Tenma, who is an almost Christ like figure that must navigate an often cruel and cold world. He is relentlessly hunted by the well meaning but narrow sighted Inspector Lunge, who believes Kenzo is guilty of murder. This relation is pretty much lifted directly from Hugo's Les Misrables, but I'm not going to dock points for an anime having literary allusions that are actually well done. Tenma's nemesis is the anarcho-nihilist maniac Johan Liebert. Johan wishes to cause the maximum amount of suffering and destruction simply because he can. He has no fear of death and can't be persuaded with offers of money or power. He is not going to swear and sweat bullets if one of his plans is threatened. This guy simply doesn't give a FUCK. He is going to remind readers inevitably of Allen Moore's Joker from The Killing Joke, which was used as the basis for The Dark Knight. However, Johan's pure level of frightening evil and frequent targeting of children with his hypnotic charisma reminded me even more of literature's original anarcho-nihilist monster: Nikolay Vsevelodovich Stavrogin from Dostoevsky's The Demons. The characters in Monster are larger than life and often far from realistic. I have already explained why I don't consider that a cardinal sin of writing. These are great characters and the viewer will get to know all of them very intimately.
I actually don't have that much to say about the art. It is quite good, but not the best I have ever seen. Interestingly the art does the opposite of the writing and follows a highly realistic style. There is no moe silliness, giant sweat drops, or fountains of blood coming out of people's noses. Asian characters actually look Asian and can be told apart from the European characters. This is a lengthy anime, but the art doesn't degrade in quality as the series goes on and it didn't blow its budget halfway through the series leaving us with a complete lack of animation at the end (cough Evangelion cough). Overall an 8/10.
The Music is often haunting and does a great job of building suspense. It doesn't have many catchy themes that you will be whistling in the shower, but it gets the job done nicely.
Let me just warn you that Monster can be quite slow at times. In order to not get ahead of the original manga and not have to create a truckload of bullshit filler, Monster can sometimes move at a snail's pace. It is also very dialogue heavy and tends to lack action, that is when the Magnificent Steiner isn't there to grace us with his badassery! None of my friends made it past episode 5 of Monster, due to its very slow start. However, if you can make it past the first few episodes and have a little patience, it is quite the ride.
I absolutely adored this series despite its flaws. The manga is my favorite manga of all time, and this anime is a spectacular adaptation. Supposedly Monster is scheduled to become a live action HBO show directed by Del Toro. I am eagerly awaiting new developments on this since rumors started a few years ago. I recommend Monster from the bottom of my heart.
“If you don’t want to be betrayed anymore… then start doubting the person you want to doubt the least.”
Monster is a fierce, gripping show that grabs you by the arm and transports you through 74 episodes of mind-bending plot, engaging characters and possibly the best villain in anime history. I had to wait about a week after finishing this series before making my attempt at a review due to the sheer amount of things I wanted to say at its conclusion.
It’s quite difficult to put into words how much I enjoyed Monster’s unique storyline. Not only is it realistic, but it
keeps a steady pace for the entire 74 episodes while focusing entirely on a single story arc. It’s an incredible feat to see in an anime. Adapted from the highly revered manga by Naoki Urasawa, viewers follow the main protagonist, Dr. Kenzo Tenma, a prodigal Japanese neurosurgeon. Dr. Tenma is working abroad in post segregated Germany, engaged to the daughter of the hospital’s director and is genuinely living the “good life”. That is, until a certain patient arrives in his care. Dr. Tenma is faced with a difficult decision when he has to choose between performing an operation on the mayor or a young boy shot in the head that he was already in surgery with. With a strong sense of morality on his side, he chooses the boy and his life literally comes crashing down around him. He is stripped of his head neurosurgeon title, accused of murder on several accounts and left by his fiancée, and this is within the first five episodes!
The rest of the series follows Tenma as he is on the run, trying to track down the Monster that ruined his life. It’s a constant game of cat and mouse, filled with death and drama, and focusing strongly on character development and well paced plotlines. The writing in Monster is absolutely fantastic. It is both medically and geographically accurate, and the dialogue between the characters is top notch. There are almost no filler episodes, and each chapter is meticulously laid out to aid the viewer in solving the mystery of the “monster” for themselves. I mostly enjoyed the sequences between Tenma and the infamous BKA Inspector Lunge, as well as the interactions Tenma has with the Monster himself. The action sequences were also well orchestrated, leaving that appropriate amount of suspense when you knew the killer was right around the corner, or Tenma himself was just moments from being caught. It’s moments like that which are missing from most animes in the genre, and Monster executed them perfectly.
Social issues and corruption are prominent throughout the series as well, buffing the realism factor exponentially. There are gangs, exposed destitute orphanages, and red light districts in post-segregated Germany which showcase the disparities that still exist even today. All the side stories are interwoven into one infernal beast of a storyline. No characters are disposed for the sake of fan service, no dialogues is squandered and most of all, the feeling you get at the end of this series is pure satisfaction.
The cast of this anime is just too damn good. Plenty of characters to love, and those you love to hate. Tenma is the moral pillar inside all of us. He is an honest and logical man who is trying to right the wrongs that have occurred within his life. His decisions are always calculated, never rash, and if it comes down to saving someone’s life over his own personal gain… he will always make the right choice. His friends along the way could always sense his genuinely good character, and would stick by Tenma’s side, come what may. The “Monster” was brilliantly sinister throughout the series, and I often found myself somewhat scared when he appeared on screen. His elusiveness and charisma added to his complexity as a character and made it all the more terrifying. He will go down as perhaps the greatest villain in anime history.
The comparison of the main antagonist to Hitler is also interesting. The way that the “Monster” manipulates the minds of the individuals he befriends is frighteningly realistic. He brings them to the lowest point, lower than death, and when the suffering appears to be too much he offers them a hand in return for performing his dirty work. I can imagine people like that existing in the world today, and the fact that the government and certain masochistic individuals were attempting to recreate Hitler using experiments done on children was appalling in nature.
The rest of the supporting characters were great in their own rights. I enjoyed the background of Wolfgang Grimmer, the prior orphan turned freelance journalist, who was trying to uncover his own past while helping to unravel pieces of the overarching mystery. I quickly grew attached to his side arch and how he intertwined with Tenma. Deiter and Nina were also great aids to Tenma, as well as Dr. Reichwein and Gillen. But perhaps my favorite character of all was that of Inspector Lunge. He was a brilliant detective who grew obsessed with the cases he couldn’t solve. Even at the cost of his own family and career. The way he was so systematic in filing information into his “hard drive” screamed OCD and reminded me loosely of L from Deathnote.
For what it is, I love the animation style from the early to mid 2000’s. Monster especially made realistic looking characters, and did a great job of illustrating Germany and the Czech Republic’s land/cityscapes. None of the characters seemed dull, and even maintained a highly detailed level of animation through long dialogue sequences. The transformation of Tenma over the series is also evident in the character model; going from young and clean cut to tattered and worn. The soundtrack was suspenseful at the necessary times, and I never found it to be overused or tacky. The opening didn’t change over the course of the show, which was great. Sometimes I feel that anime openings have become less and less to do with the anime itself and more about showcasing artists that make them. The ending song was the creepiest I’ve ever seen, and fit so well with the ominous vibe the series was trying to convey. The English voice acting was extremely good, and I actually found that I liked it more than the Japanese.
There isn’t any logical way I can give anything but a 10 to this anime. Not just based on average score, but the overall effect that Monster had on me was tremendous. It is a show that I will not soon forget, and certainly one I could recommend to any suspense/thriller fan… even those who don’t enjoy anime. It has been rumored that legendary horror director Guillermo Del Toro has worked with HBO to bring us a live action iteration of this masterpiece, so I hope to continue my love for the series in the future. Monster is a hard hitting, life changing anime that will go down in history as one of my all time favorites.