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)read more
I can say I was bored, at many points. This is due to a sluggish pacing and overall length of the series. I did not find this to be the case of my experience though. It was rather the start of a subplot or side story that turned me off. Then, you have to learn about the characters in the side story and what the hell is happening and how the hell it will fit in the main story. Give it an episode or 3 and then you get a complete side story that ties in to the main story, flawlessly. Monster loves to construct related stories, and loop them together, in a slow fashion. It is a composition of themes and a strong sense of, "now what?" Over the course, you get some 'feels', action, irony, philosophy, and it is all directed to the purpose of building suspense. 74 episodes is quite the number to build up a climax. Despite it testing me countless times to drop it, the results was a complex story driven by mystery and characters.
As a massive fan of atmosphere, Monster appealed greatly. A mature tone due to the dialogue and character designs. The setting is Germany and it resembles a detective style choice of color. It's art is very well done and the feel to the events are fleshed out and easy to digest.
What I believe drives a plot forward is the characters. Monster heavily relies on the addition of new characters to push the story along and keep everything thrilling and intense. In doing so, the anime introduces a new story that typically starts off boring. The main cast, the episodic characters, the arc characters, all have a role to the main story. Introducing many layers of characters, each with a purpose in the story, a story themselves, and a conflict. When you thought this episodic character was a simple throw away in this filler episode, you were wrong! This is character development for the main cast, using episodic characters. No fillers as far I seen, as everything had a meaning and a place. The arc characters are typically used to develop a side story that will soon tie up to the main story. Which is brilliant and a very strong point in this anime since it does it flawlessly. Overall, I would have to say that there are no arc or episodic characters, since it all connects neatly as a complete and rare story. The characters closely resemble those of a real human, how they act, their intentions, their hunger for something, their greed. Most of all, they show fear and horror. And I have to say, the main cast is very well developed throughout the series as a result of these additions to the plot. Note, the character depth in Monster is probably one of the greatest. As time continues, people change. Monster is not shy in this category.
This is one of my all time favorite works of fiction, that I enjoyed thoroughly. Monster has no parallel I'd say. It is what you call the ideal mystery and suspense. There are minor issues concerning length and drag, but if you marathon this beauty, you will receive one of the greatest mystery anime produced. Overcoming the boredom of time, and rewarded with a mysterious philosophical hunt through related events.
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.
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)read more
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. read more
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.
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.read more
Oh Boy. Monster is really something else. People are thrown off when they hear that this anime has 74 episodes. Quite a few people say that that it's too slow, but to those I say: "Go watch childish anime, and when you grow up, watch Monster"
Well then, to begin. This anime has an insanely high production value. It should also be said Monster has no filler episodes(they are all connected). The story follows a brain surgeon called Doctor Kenzo Tenma. The very first few episodes set the plot. But as simple as it may look when you start watching it, you will think: "this is gonna last 74 episodes?". The story is WAY deeper then it seams. The anime is very, how should I say...gray(I'll be using this term a lot). It really shows the grayness of humanity at it's worst, but also gives a message of hope. This anime is so well made, that it looks so real, as if wasn't an anime at all. The anime and manga are like a best selling novel. The anime is filled with much emotion and characters. And the best part is that all of the character's stories are connected one way or the other. As the anime went on further it became even more gray then before. The final 2 episodes are culmination of everything. Things don't end up as you thought it ever would. Overall, the story never went the way you thought it would. The interesting part is that the ED for the anime that changes from time to time, has quite a lot to do with the story which I didn't believe. The end of this great anime is really gray too, and the final scene chilled me to the bone.
Well, you might find it to be old school, but the style of drawing actually adds to the mood of the anime. Because this is the most reality-based anime I've ever seen, the style of drawing is made to resemble real life characters. A very good thing about this is that because it is so detailed, the expressions and emotions are well developed and shown. Animation is quite fluid. Who would have ever thought that an animation of someone putting a finger on his head could be so epic.
The soundtrack for this anime is nothing short of amazing. When hope is needed, the music gives hope. When there is no hope, the music takes away all hope. When there is absolute despair, the music will show you true despair. Character theme songs are so fitting that, only by listening to the song you can tell everything about the character. The FX sounds are great and add to the thrill and shock to an already OMG scene.
Most notable songs are "Angel Hand", "Seeds of time", "For the love of life" and "Cannot Hear". "Cannot Hear" is one of the characters theme songs and every time I hear the song I feel so down. It's like all the sins and sorrow of mankind put into one song. As for "For the love of life", it really has a deeper message to it.
Now this is where it is really amazing. I'm not gonna go naming characters, I want to keep this spoiler free. The anime never stops bringing in new characters. You might think that these are filler episodes, but all the characters are connected one way or the other. All the characters are very well developed. You will come to love even the most irrelevant characters. It is amazing how they showed his transformation over time. Because of the drawing style and the gray nature of the anime all the character seem as if they were people in real life. Honestly, I wouldn't compare this to other anime, because it's above anime, it really is something else. Trust me when I say, the supporting cast is so great that if the main character wasn't in 30 episodes, you wouldn't mind. The cast is so great that most characters can have their own spin-offs. The voice acting is also superb.
What can I say. For all the 74 episodes I never skipped the OP. This got me so hooked that I didn't eat until like 4-5 in the morning. I was marathoning this because I got so hooked. I enjoyed every single moment of this anime. I was never bored. The final arc is the climax you deserve as a viewer. Tho it is a very gray anime showing the grayness of humanity it really is great to watch because there is no bullshit. It shows us humans for what we really are. I mean, I watched 19 episodes in a row once, that's how much I was hooked.
I leave this review with these final words: dochi?! dochi?!read more
Monster is not for people without patience at all, it's really slow paced and it can feel there are a lot of eps. that could seem like fillers despite having relation to the plot but Monster requires your time because it's worth it.
The story since the beginning could have gone in three different ways, the easiest one would be Tenma following orders and rescue the Major and therefore living an unhappy horrible life; The second one would be where Tenma wasn't drunk and never said the things he said in front of the kid after being drunk and angry and the kid never hearing that and killing the three characters in the hospital and therefore Tenma living a worse life than the first way; The third way, the way that happened with an horrible adventure for him which is much better than the other two options definitely (I wanted an explanation about how the kid got the candies and the muscle tranquilizer and how he was able to put it in a closed bag of candies? i speculated, but speculations are not facts); All happened because the doctors in the hospital are incompetents too, if it's not for Tenma attending all the patients, they all would die because they are really bad at the profession.
The story is predictable at least for me, it always takes the obvious way where you speculate the same will happen and it does, it's suppose to be a mistery anime make me think harder and make me think that one thing will happen and then suddenly another thing happens; I got the meaning of the ED song around ep. 25 and what it represented, well, mostly speculating what it meant but 10 eps. later is explained and i was right with even more explanation gathered in the upcoming eps; I saw coming the ending of ep. 44 since ep. 42 just for the fact that, that certain character couldn't make those kind of things like if it was nothing and for the fact that the character was accompanied by another one that wouldn't let that happen, so yeah for me again it was obvious and i was laughing my ass off when i saw the ending of ep. 44; I could go on and on like when Grimmer remembered a friend, i knew who he was talking about, i knew what Tenma was planing in ep. 53 etc. The flashbacks were the same over and over and i don't like that, i mean why would you waste minutes in a lot of eps. for the same flashbacks. The last eps. were great despite being half predictable, i didn't like the ending, the last min. was like a cliffhanger, what happens next? anyways, the story was great and the main reason it wasn't perfect it's because it was predictable to me and the last min. of the final ep. bothered me, if that wasn't shown it would be better.
[b][u]Art & Animation[/u][/b]
The animation is very good for the time but a lot of side characters have the same design and sometimes it was confusing thinking at the moment they were the same person and why they have big noses? and the art style didn't have the same quality at times.
The VA was good but some characters were emotionless like Nina, the motion of her character didn't match the voice she should use at the moment, specially one ep. in which she seems she's gonna scream but she doesn't, it was funny and bad that those eps. should show emotions but didn't have an effect. The music was ok, i think there are only a few songs, the same ones and the silence plays a part too. The OP is very good and the first ED song was great, i never lost the opportunity to hear that song everytime untill it changed to a bad one but overall the sound was very good.
The best from the anime are the characters, they are outstanding, it's what i like the most about Monster, a lot of likeable characters and despicable ones (or one) and i'm not talking about Johan but the disgusting Roberto. I won't write much about them because i can write only little without spoiling them as you know about them slowly watching the anime.
-Doc. Tenma has to struggle with not only the person he saved but with himself, what will he do to stop him, will he really finish the things off the way he says he will or his morals will clash with what he says, while he struggles to think about it he will keep saving people no matter what, a great person kind with everyone, always doing the right things even in difficult situations.
-Johan is one of the greatest villains/psychos/sociopaths manipulators in anime, he's charismatic in any way, coming off as a perfect human, a lot more is known about him in a slow pace, so i shouldn't be writing more.
-Nina Fotner is the twin sister of Johan, she was living a normal life (after what happened) untill her birthday number 20, where everything will change for her.
-Roberto is one disgusting and despicable character, and he's like terminator in a way that can be unbelievable and absurd.
-Eva Heinemann was Tenma's fiance and a total bitch, but for some reason you don't want to hate her later, even when she still is a bitch.
-Jan Suk will find himself in almost the same situation as Tenma, he is a good character.
-Inspector Lunge is one of the best characters in the anime, he might be obsessive because he thinks he's never wrong because he wants to believe his brain will never commit a mistake remembering evidence, interviews and whatnot, he's one of the most intelligent and if he started to be serious since the beginning, there wouldn't be even 30 eps. he is that fast to tie the loose ends, one of the best characters.
-Wolfgang Grimmer is another one of the greatest characters in Monster, he appears little but somehow everything he does and says will move you in some way, he has struggled a lot, he has his burden to carry and when he tries to fix it, it will make you want to cry, i resisted a lot but eventually always dropped a tear, he did that only with words, he said some powerful quotes.
And a lot more key characters like Dieter, Doc. Reichwein, Karl, Schuwald, General Wolf, Martin and there's something weird, the guy called Baby can't be considered to be a superior race, obviously for his appearence going by the standars of the nazis in real life, so i don't know how he's one of the superiors of the organizations that wants another leader like Hitler, makes no sense.
For being a predictable anime (for me) and sometimes really slow and boring at times, i had a very good enjoyment, i think i didn't gave the anime in general a perfect score because it was predictable and i didn't enjoy it that much and for what i pointed about the ending.read more
Nothing in this world is perfect. Finding an anime without any flaws is extremely rare; or rather it's pretty much impossible. Fortunately enough, there are always exceptions to every rule, and Monster is one of them. It is a anime which came very close to this 'perfection' with it's very little flaws, complex and beautiful adaption, excellent pacing, characters filled with depth and developments with a mature storyline, creating what we would call a 'masterpiece'.
Adapted from a manga by Naoki Urasawa, who has been called a ‘living genius’ and has given us a taste of many other great manga, which includes 20th Century Boys, and Pluto. Monster was directed by Kojima Masayuku, and produced by Madhouse Studios, has given birth to this incredible 'Monster' in the Japanese media.
Monster takes place in Germany, which rather gives it a unique feels to it, and portrays the setting as realistic and believable. Like a monster, this series begins very quietly. Dr Kenzo Tenma is a genius surgeon working in post-Cold War Germany who has a bright future ahead of him. Firstly, our main character faces his morals regarding the value of a human life, and decides to save an orphaned boy believing that his decision was correct as a doctor. However, his path not only leads to the damage of his prospects, but unleashes a chain of events so horrific that it might have come from the depths of his worst nightmare. This destroys his bright future, and brings him into a completely different world of complexity and despair. This is what triggers the remarkable story of Monster.
The plot brings together different elements to create a breathtaking and realistic story with amazing suspense and horror. As a result, the series is very engaging to watch. The story resolves mostly around Johan, and his past. The plot remains a steady pace throughout, every episode delivers us with an interesting new twist to the story; not even a still minute is wasted, as every scene contributes to the story, thus keeping the audience at the edge of their seat throughout the whole series. The development of the story is brilliantly done, as it allows one to get attached to the characters. Every episode introduces something different and new to build up the plot with its characters, thus giving it spark of brilliance. What’s interesting about the plot is that it asks very insightful and interesting questions of absolute evil, disbelief, the value of humans, and human nature itself. It is this questions which makes the audience curious into finding the answers, therefore showing the intelligence of the series.
It is the characters which truly make this show shine at its brightest. The character development throughout this anime is simply fantastic. Even the characters that appeared for few episodes are given enough background and developments, which make this series absolutely fascinating. The characters portray different sides of humanity, and complexity which one would rarely see in other anime. They are each given different personality, and each goes through their own hardship in such a way which completely absorbs the audience into observation of this character; even the minors, which gives this anime top-notch drama. Furthermore, what is most impressive about the characters is that they are portrayed as 'human' which makes the characters seem ‘alive’ and gives them sense of realism. They are not your archetypes which are seen in most anime, thus making Monster very unique and realistic.
Blending nicely with the series, the music was wonderful and enhanced the anime brilliantly. The music carefully sets the tone, and its intensity does a perfect job at setting the atmosphere in every scene. It becomes crystal clear to the audience that every music was chosen with great care and purpose to keep the audience at the edge of their seat with its suspense. As far as the voice actors goes, they did an outstanding job in grand fashion, which deserves more than that of respect, as they carries out their role perfectly.
As well as the music, the animation production does not let down this anime. The art-style is unique, as the characters are designed in detail, which reflects the depth of the character's appearance. This series demonstrates such a high elegant skill of production by Madhouse, which is not commonly seen in other series. Furthermore, what is most impressive about the animation is the fact that it improves over time, which further shows the uniqueness of Monster. What truly stands out of the production value is the use of astonishing artistic techniques; we also see the beautiful recreation of the German city, which truly shows the capability of Madhouse. Just like the music, the animation production is done very smoothly, and blends with the series, keeping it balanced with its beauty and complexity.
Again, nothing is perfect. As mentioned before, this series has very little flaws, which most may not notice, or is very easily overlooked. But, some of the sublime details of the plot are poorly explained and left out. However, the reason why one would overlook these little flaws is because it does not have much of a impact in the plot, as the details that are left out is deliberate, so the audience can roam in their imagination to seek for the answer. Thus, the little flaws Monster has cannot really be counted as flaws, as it had a purpose and reason to leave the audience hungry for more answers.
There are probably many great anime series out there, but the stunning adaption by Madhouse and Masayuki Kojima of Monster is one the very best. Thus, making the most intelligent and complex anime, as it brings together it's ingredients of its intense drama, memorable characters, well-constructed and twisted plot, excellent pacing, and outstanding production values, therefore turning it simply into an extraordinary masterpiece, which cannot be missed out.read more
"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. read more
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! :Dread more
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?read more
Never in a million years did I think I would enjoy a series in terms of it being about a doctor on a journey to solve a mystery, I thought for me I would of been bored within the first two episodes. How wrong I was, from the moment the first episode started and we have the religious text come up I knew I was in for something special and this became more apparent when I saw just how much was set up without having to be said. Monster is one of those series that grips you and never let's go.
The story of Monster follows Dr Tenma who is working in German for a very high regarded hospital and once he learns about the corrupt dealings he chooses to save the life of a young boy over the mayor and as soon as the mayor dies he is shunned by the people in charge, but when those people die he is flung right back to the top but is labelled the prime suspect in the murders. Years later and Dr Tenma finds out who the killer is and it's a discovery he wish he had never found out. Now Tenma must go on the run and find out more about the monster who is causing German to turn into a country of chaos and who is turning into the next Hitler.
To say more about the story of Monster would ruin it, it is a series that has to be seen to believe. At 74 episodes it may seem a bit long and a bit boring to some people but overall this series is meant to reflect a very realistic style of story telling and there are times in life where it is boring and long winded but that makes all the more exciting moments more exciting and when action happens it gives you a sense of rush that when the slow moments come in again after that rush it feels like it fits as you will need at times to take a break from all of the intense moments that happen in the story. So for me I felt that the slower moments were needed in order to keep the audience from getting an over rushed feel of emotion and it helps for the audience to let these emotions sink in.
Overall when it comes to story, this story is complex always moving, always having the right balance of exciting action but slowly and quiet moments and just allowing the audience to see the characters as characters and allow the audience to grow an attachment to them.
When it comes to characters, again never have I had more attachment to a cast of characters like the cast of Monster, what I find most exciting is that every character is used in just the right amount, not too little and not too much and there are times in the narrative where certain main characters (Tenma included) will disappear from the story but this also gives us a chance to catch up with other major players and see the role that they are playing in the mystery, this I feel is a smart move as it gives the story as sense of an ensemble world and makes the audience excited for seeing these characters again rather then overexposing them. What really makes this cast so wonderful is all there different personalities and interactions with everyone and how everything ties back into the main theme of the story of what is the monster.
Speaking of which the most amazing thing for me is that every character in the story that we see is influence by the two main characters those Being Tenma and Johan and how everything and everybody always comes back to these two characters and makes everyone connected however remote which helps make the story that much more grand and epic in own way. Even though some characters don't appear till later in the story they still come in a feel like they belong and their characters help to drive the story to it's final epic climax. All the characters really get their chances to shine and even the minor characters allow themselves to be memorable thanks to them being written well and having larger then life personalities.
However to talk about each and every character in great detail would take me as long as a dissertation at university which is a shame as I would of loved to have done a dissertation "which in a sense is a book" on this fantastic series. So I will be brief in talking about the six main players of this story, those being Tenma, Johan, Nina, Lunge, Eva and Dieter. I'll start with Dieter.
Dieter starts off as a young man who is being treated in a similar way to many of the children of the past and when Tenma sees this he helps him escape this hell in his in. Afterwards he becomes a companion and a sidekick to Tenma, even though Tenma wants him not to follow him and for a large portion he doesn't follow Tenma but it's this companionship that helps Dieter help other children who were like him to see Tenma's view and without Dieter I think Tenma would be a completely different person.
Eva starts off as engaged to Tenma however when her father is killed and she blames Tenma for it she drops of the wagon and becomes a hateful woman who can't see anything good in the world and just drinks herself to death. Once she realizes Tenma's innocence she starts to pull her act together and seeing how some people will help her regardless of what she thinks of them really helps her to turn her life around and become a much better person. When I started watching Monster she was my least favorite character mostly because she just wined and moaned about everything yet thanks to the story and how she changed over the course of the series she became a much better character and one that I didn't end up hating in the end.
Lunge is an inspector for the Bka and the man who becomes a rival to Tenma thinking that he is responsible for the murders that are happening in Germany and how he created Johan through a split personality. Lunge is cold and calculating and can accurately pin point information and details into his brain or hard drive as he calls it. He lives for his work so much that eh doesn't even care when his family leaves him. He works like a computer to the point that he tries to convince himself his word is final and no matter what, even if the truth is starring him in the face he will never accept that his word is wrong. However when it becomes apparent of who is really behind the chaos in Germany he is force to accept for the first time in properly his career that he is wrong and sets about to bring about an end to the chaos in his own way.
Nina Foritner is Johan Libert's twin sister and is one of the main protagonists after Tenma, I won't say why they have different names as that will spoil one of the major plot points of the series. Nina starts off as an average girl living with her parents, however when memories of her past start to catch up with her she along with Tenma go to try and solve the mystery of her past and what happened and through her interaction with Tenma becomes a more stronger person and through her interaction with Dieter is able to stay grounded in who she truly is. She eventually with Tenma's help is able to confront her brother about their past, again what makes it so amazing is how the story can take these characters and through them in certain situations and how they change and Nina is no different, seeing the horrors of what her brother does is what truly inspires her to dig into her past and find her brother so that she can put an end to his reign of terror. Nina is probably my second favorite female protagonist and probably in my top three characters in Monster. Now we get to talk about my two favorite characters. Tenma and Johan.
Tenma is the main character and in my opinion the greatest anime character of all time. The reason being is that he is confronted with ideals and beliefs that are out of his element yet he still always tries to do the right thing yet even then he is still human and never lets the fact that certain people do horrible things keep him from making them suffer a little yet despite that he will try and help them as best he can. Throughout the series he always has the mandate that all life is equal and no one no matter how bad they have become deserve to die as he always believes that it's never to late to start over and make a fresh start and this mandate of his is what truly made me excited about following him and seeing him grow because he does see the corruptions around him and he is forced to do things that in the past he wouldn't of done but that's what makes him truly a hero the fact that he still holds on to his believe that no one deserves to die but he does have to do things that go against that sometimes and he isn't a perfect person but he is never the less still a person and a good person who will try to pull through impossible odds and when he is being told he is going to be arrested or told that nobody wants his help he still helps them and tries his best to save people and always show them a different way of life and throughout the story I always felt he made the right choice and even after seeing Johan do unspeakable things he still treats Johan like a person and chooses to save him yet again because he can't bring himself to end another person's life no matter what and that is inspirational to me that fact that he becomes a hero starting off as a simple man and to give me that belief that everyone shouldn't be treated any differently even if they are considered evil. But above all I feel his greatest strength comes in his desire to simple never give up on anyone. I love Tenma because of how he holds on to his humanity through the story and how he shows me the true value of sticking to what you believe in even though others around you are telling you otherwise and how you can't just give up on someone.
And now we get to talk about the main villain and the reason why this manga/anime is here Johan Libert. If you want to talk terrifying complex and damaged characters look no further. Johan really is a true psychopath in every sense of the word and this comes down to the fact that he is so harmless on the surface but that is all a disguise for a heart that is as black as a black hole in space and a mind which is even sharper then Guts's sword from Berserk. Johan makes people trust him and then kills them in certain ways depending on how he is feeling, Johan's overall goal is to kill as many people as possible to become the last person at the end of the world and see the world unfold into a rave of chaos and destruction. He tries to get Tenma and others to shot him so that the monster in him will turn to them and they will become monsters themselves. Johan simply can be considered the one character that you would never suspect of doing anything wrong which makes it all the more shocking when things are damaged by his hands. Johan kills for himself and nothing more and sees it as just a part of his life and let's face it when people are calling you the monster, the devil and the next Hitler all at the same time, you know you are not to be messed with under any circumstances. Johan is one truly terrifying character and that fact that even at the end we still don't know much about him makes it even more scary. Plus because he hardly appears in the story makes it even more shocking when he does pop up and the way people talk about him and how every murder is orchestrated by him and the longer he is around the more people die makes him a psychopath on a grand scale. Tenma sees life as equal, Johan sees life as nothing, perfect definition of two sides of the the same coin and really makes for a battle of the minds and every time he appeared in the story or even when a event was brought up because of him I got a sense of dread and despair which I have never felt before. Johan is truly the greatest anime villain and possibly the best villain of all time from his actions and shadowy presence throughout the story.
With a rich cast that will have at least one character anybody will fall in love with Monster makes great use of an ensemble a rich complex cast that is of epic nature.
Now when it comes to sound, the music fits really well with the intense moments and the nice quieter moments and that's all I can say, plus the opening song is one of the best ever. My personal favorite tracks are the one used in the final episode for when the articles about Tenma are being read for it's triumphant nature and Johan's theme for reason I don't need to example. The music fits well with a lot of stand out tracks that give the series a very real sense of the situations that go on. When it comes to voice acting I feel that Monster's dub gives a much better listen then the Japanese version. I know many people might think differently but I feel this dub falls with Cowboy bebop and Full metal Alchemist. Primarily because of the main cast, Lunge sounds more robotic in the English which is true of the character and Johan in the dub sounds much more colder and sinister then the Japaneses voice actor, plus at the end of the series I feel like the voice for Tenma really feels like he has gone on this long epic journey. The Japanese cast is great don't get me wrong and the sub is a fantastic listen I just feel the dub captures the impact of the manga much more.
So sound wise the music and voice acting once again is top notch.
Now we come to the last parts, the arts style really gives off some memorable moments and makes great use of it's setting. Being set in Germany it allows for the use of a lot of great areas to explore ranging from the hospital at the beginning of the series to the vast open landscape. Each setting allows the artwork to expand and become a character itself, when we enter a new setting it is drawn differently and gives off it's over unique feel which allows the audience to not be bulked down on repeated usage of scenery and allows us to connect to each of the location and give a sense that this a huge story. Also when it comes to the characters the art style allows them to act as normal people and be expressed like normal people which helps with the realistic nature of the story.
With some memorable locations that are capture on a drawing and very realistic characters the artwork is a treat for the eyes and never let's your eyes see two locations that are drawn the same.
When it comes to enjoyment of the series for me personally as you've probably figured out, Monster is my favorite anime/manga/any tv show ever. My reason I have already explained and every time I watch it I get this sense that I have always been on a experience to a place with a vast landscape and it makes me want to visit that place and travel around it and being set in the real world I can do that. Monster helps me to see the best in humanity as well as the worst and makes me satisfied when i do see the best in humanity win the day without the use of violence all the time.
Overall Monster is a series that just gets me filled with so many emotions. I maybe a little long winded for some people but I am not one of those people and it allows me to feel like I am there sharing these experience with the characters as they are going through the experience too. With powerful characters an epic storyline and a great enjoyable experience. Monster is my favorite all time series period. Nothing has and nothing will again grip me like this epic series did.
10/10 for a masterpiece in animation and anime history.read more
Let's get one thing out of the way first: I REALLY liked Monster! But, I wouldn't watch it again...
Monster is a down-to-Earth psychological crime drama. At first, it might appear to have supernatural elements, but I won't spoil it for you. After watching the entire thing, I would say Monster would've been great as a live-action TV series, which couldn't be said for any other anime I watched so far (and I watched quite a lot). It has everything a great series needs, a cast of characters that the audience can care about, action-packed scenes to liven up the pretty in-depth crime drama, great character development, a good story full of twists and turns that will keep you coming back for more, and an astonishing and realistic art-style to wrap it all together. During it's epic 74 episode run time, it brings up many hard questions about the human psyche, morality and human connections, relationships. How far are we willing to go to accomplish our goals? How much of your humanity are you willing to trade in for them? What is "humanity" anyway? Some of the episodes are frighteningly realistic in describing the human condition and it doesn't back down from touching really hard social and historical taboos either. No, it grabs you by the hair and slams your face in them saying "Look! That's what you are!". I can safely say Monster was one of the most unique and thought-provoking experiences I've ever had.
But, (and yes, here comes the "but") Monster is anything but perfect. While it's action-packed and suspenseful story would stand great on it's own, it's sadly spread too thin and too long. The story needlessly drags on for 74 full-length episodes and the ending feels more like a coup de grace than closure. The cast of main characters is huge, and while they are really well made and fleshed out, we are continuously introduced to a slew of new side-characters that have barely any relevance to the main story (if at all). The writers regularly go off on tangents just to demonstrate a small plot point or tidbits of (mostly irrelevant) character backstory, bringing in and taking out characters on a whim after they "served their purpose". In the end, they were seemingly just struggling to give enough individual screen-time to their monstrously bloated cast (pun intended), and it only makes the audience lose interest in them and lose count on who is who why they are even there.
The story itself is mostly delivered in (sometimes painfully dragged out) exposition. The series lurches forward in needlessly detailed investigation sequences, flooded with meaningless trivia and extra character backstory that have little to no bearing on the main story itself. The story paths regularly branch off into dead-ends and meaningless side-plots that fill entire episodes, yet don't bring anything new or interesting to the table. The sheer amount of dialogue and narration in Monster would fill entire volumes of books. Even the exposition itself is riddled by double-takes, needlessly repeated flashback segments, and a ton of redundant, rephrased information. You can seriously skip entire dozens of episodes and still understand everything because of mind-blowing number of flashback scenes, and the characters even keep repeating themselves over and over. The whole series could've been distilled down to a neat 30-40 episodes without losing any of the story.
My third (entirely personal) beef with this series is with the setting itself. Unlike most anime, the entire story of Monster takes place in 80's and 90's Europe (mostly Germany and the former Czechoslovakia). See, I was born and still living in Europe, I lived in the time and place the show takes place. Monster being a work of fiction, I chalked up most of the factual, cultural and historical errors and inconsistencies to "writer's freedom" and "suspension of disbelief" and such. While the creators of the anime obviously did their homework and got most of the general things right, there were some details that bugged me more than they should've. Little, insignificant things that most people from other parts of the world would miss, were just screaming at me from the screen. Getting used to the obviously Japanese idiosyncrasies, mannerisms, phrases and behaviors forced upon the allegedly fully European characters is one thing. But small details like choice of words, custom, type of foods/drinks, fashion, architecture or even music in some places were just flat our wrong and felt so out of place that it shoved me right out of the immersion. The whole thing felt like someone went to the library and read a whole bunch of books and travel guides about Europe, but never actually been there. I know it sounds lame, but since I did live here at the time of the anime, and the creators obviously tried to recreate the European setting realistically, I just couldn't help it.
I know I spent most of this review pandering on what's wrong with Monster, but the truth is, I really liked it, and I stand by my score of 8/10. It's really worth watching for everyone who desires something other than the run-of-mill anime, something unique. If you can overlook the droll exposition and sometimes aimlessly branching and dragged out storytelling, you'll find a really suspenseful and interesting story of crime and punishment, dark secrets, interesting characters, huge plot twists, thrilling psychological expeditions into the human mind and soul and much more.read more
I liked this show so much, that I decided that it would be one of the few that I'd review, so let's go, shall we?
Story: Well I have to give this one a full score, for the simple reason that it KNOWS what it wants. What I mean by that is that this is not an action show, or a thriller that has a lot of, well, action. It's very slow paced, which can be a huge turnoff for some, and a refreshing take on storytelling for others. Now you have probably figured it out, but I belong in the latter group, and for good reason. There is none of that "cute" look that is oh so common in anime nowadays. Rather, this anime asks the question "What IS a monster?". I would write more on this specific part, however I feel like I might end up spoiling something, so I will leave it at this for now.
Art: The reason that I gave the art a 9/10 is simply because, while great, it does not do anything special. Normally, I would have lowered the score even more, maybe to a 7 or an 8, I decided on a 9 as the weakness in this art style is also used as a strength, as it perfectly reflects the style and grittyness(?) of the show, without distracting us with things such as odd colour schemes, or bizzare hair colours.
Sound: Once again, the soundtrack isn't really memorable, however, the reason I am giving it a 10/10, is simply because of the way it's used. In this anime, they manage to use the soundtrack at exactly the right times, so much so, that you barely even notice it being there, simply because of how naturally it fits.
Characters: Once again, 10/10. This section, however, is the shows greatest strength. The series length gives an opportunity to even develop the smallest of side characters, and as the story progresses, you really get to know our main cast, and the way they change and develop throughout their journey. This means that if a character leaves, or dies, you can feel geniuenly sad, and when something good happens, geniuenly happy. You also get to see Tenmas journey, and the people he interacts with in a very organic way. Quite literally nothing in this anime is actually filler, as it all is related to the story somehow. Except for seeing just Tenma, you actually get whole episodes, and even arcs, about the side characters.
Well, other than the very vague review I wrote above, I only have 2 questions:
How is this anime not more famous and why are you still reading my review instead of watching this anime?
So all in all, 9.9/10, it is a must watch.read more
From such a headline, you might wonder why I would still give it a 6 ? Well, I've thought about it a lot, as on my personal page it is a 7, and I won't change it, but it is an incredibly biaised note. Normally I’d have given it a 4-5, because of the second part of the anime, but I couldn't bring myself to give that note for the review either. So iin the end I decided to take the middle path for this review and give it a 6 instead (as the show isn't bad from begining to end, on the contrary). It won't stop me, however, to say what is wrong with it. But I’ll try to not spoil it too much.
First of all, the art, because it is the first thing you encounter. It reminded me a lot of the 80th-90th and it is to be expected considering the manga started in 1994. Some people are going to be repelled by it, personally, it just brings in nostalgia of my childhood. But all in all, if you need "pretty drawing" in the more modern "standards" the chances are high you'll have issues with this at first. Not that it is bad, but just different.
What's less subjective though, is the drop in animation. I cannot exactly say when, but at one point the proportions and animation just start dropping drastically from frame to frame, as though the budget was starting to run out. Though for the last arc it gets better again.
Still in the con, some drawings are convenient. !!!SPOILERS!!! For example, Johan dressing as Nina. Dressed as her, his features change, not because he's good with make-up, no, no, at one point he's taking off his wig and he has his own features back whereas the second before, with a wig, it was Nina's face. Same can be said about his general body who is conveniently exactly like Nina, but only for that part because when he's Johan his frame somehow changes to be more masculine (which is rather inconsistent). I can understand they didn't want to give away that it was a fraud - even if it was obvious - but they just went with the easy and lazy way to deliver it. Just by showing he used make-up, or that even in his manly clothes his frame has changed or by "hiding" the fake Nina's frame, that would have been more coherent. Oh and lastly, once it is given he's crossdressing, the fake Nina has Johan's features or expressions most of the time. Just way too easy for me. !!!END SPOILERS!!! Also, I don't care if it is like that as well in the manga, I'm speaking about the anime here and that is what matters. An adaptation's responsibility is also to solve the original's work issues, not to simply copy past it.
On a lighter tone. When the anime was still a masterpiece, roughly 1/4 of the Anime (the second quarter was good, even if issues started to pop up, the third quarter was harder to get through and the last one was just an utter mess), I really liked how they used the image to convey the story or the emotions rather than through words. It's something that I feel is lost more and more, so having seen it felt really good. Sadly, through the episodes and more specifically toward the two last quarters they abandoned that and spent a lot of time holding your hand (aka, they explain everything, not trusting the people to get it on their own) which is really saddening and sometimes kind of clash with the general mood of the show. But well, that's not really about the art anymore.
On the same level though, their way to portray the emotional and mental states of the various cast was really well done. They don’t hold back when it comes to distort the “facial traits” to achieve it.
To keep with the visually artistic aspect, I'm gonna brush the opening and ending a little. Both really were good surprises. I'm not really into them, usually, and I'm quite fond of skipping them (between the fanservice and flashy, flashy one, my low tolerance is quick to quit), these however....man, I'll definitely miss them. Especially the opening. Now, it is definitely subjective, of course. What I enjoyed is that they tell stories on their own, they do a "job" whereas I often have the impression those two are there for "decoration" lately (which isn't negative and not exactly accurate, they try to introduce you to the world of the anime as well, but I don't feel as though they bring much to the anime itself and that the “decoration” aspect is more important than the “introduction”). In a way...my nostalgia is partly talking too.
Sound & Soundtrack :
And since I brushed opening and ending, I might as well speak of the soundtrack and the sound design in general.
About the sound I don't have much to say, it was more worked on when they went for telling through images than through words, so kudo that, but for the rest it wasn't ground-breaking.
As for the soundtrack, even if it isn't one of those that will stay with me forever, it remains really good and does its job pretty well (it isn't about "being beautiful" but about bringing the right ambiance and atmosphere, they can be really different from one to another to fit various mood and situations ; some really are memorable but they are a minority out of the close to 1 hour and a half long soundtrack). It has that "different" touch that I really liked too.
Story & Characters
Well, I've been turning around the bulk for a while, so it may be time I touch that. The story is slow paced ; there aren't thousand ways, you'll either have issue with it or you won't. I, for one, enjoy slow paced stories if they use it well. In this case, it was at first. It was mainly used to develop characters, to show their complexity, to show psychology through images and sound rather than text. Really, I was enticed. As long as it was used properly. But yeah, after one point, the anime started to drag unnecessarily. To build tension for the sake of it. It even starts turning in circles without any real progression, yes, things happen to make you believe it goes farther and farther, but they look more like a “mask” to justify length (and, to cross a bit with the chara part, they keep going back and forth their evolution, losing any consistency, another good way to drag an anime or a manga).
In the same type of ideas, a lot of arcs or doors are opened to be abandoned midway. Lunge, for example, suffers a lot from it the most, though close to every charas do. To keep on Lunge, his "unique trait" is underused, feeling more as a gimmick rather than an important point, which is really sad. Samewise, Johan’s “impressive ability to manipulate others” appears to be pure magic in the end : “do this !” “ok” “do that !” “ok”. That’s….not convincing…and it was supposedly something amazing.
More about the charas, a bunch of them play major roles at first, then completely disappear for no reason, even though they are presented and implemented in the story as mattering factors. Some never reappear again, others do...out of thin air. As though they suddenly were remembered and for what ? To be killed, to be forgotten again or for secondary events that won't even have a vital importance in the end.
And then you have the free exposition. If at first the exposition of the various cast were done nicely, revealing just what is needed, time by time, you eventually have characters whose entire screentime literally consist on their exposition.... Now, it is always good to give depth to your charas, but having a chara telling his life for 5 min and then disappear for the rest of the show is forced and unnecessary. Not to mention that doing it with the subtlety of a tsunami isn't exactly what can be considered proper delivery. Sometimes the exposition also occur in the most inappropriate moments. Like Tenma aiming a certain chara with his gun, said chara, at first afraid, will then suddenly start telling this entire life and...oh and then they are at his home and he invites Tenma inside as though they became some sort of allies, because, errr, well, there's no reason....it's just offscreen ? Maybe... I guess.... Yeah, no, ok....
About the characters development. Issues eventually shows up as well. From Tenma, to Nina, to Johan, to Lunge, to Eva, they lose consistency. For a moment they'll say "X", the one just after they'll say "Y" then back again to "X", then to "Z". It turns into a mess of inconsistency. Inconsistent because those changes aren't motivated. A good character development is a "justified" development. But like everything, it is really well done and portrayed at first, slowly (maybe too slowly for certain people), sure, but efficient. And then starts crumbling. And some scenes just don’t make sense when knowing the various aims of the charas. Yes, let’s aim at each other while repeatedly shouting the other’s name and letting the third person go away….because ! and third person apparently wasn’t in the mood to accomplish his aim just yet for ignoring one of us so sorely, yeah…not very convincing… They can also not make any sense on their own…for example having a long inner dialogue for several minutes about how you’re going to die and the guy which is about to kill you taking 5 min to shoot because he’s too scared…. Yeah, there was absolutely no way you could have done something in such a long timespan… It’s suicide, hu ? Yeah, I think you can call it suicide….
In the same order of ideas, the abuse of twists (just for the sake to pretend to be "smart", adding incoherence and losing credibility).Grimmer is a good embodiment of issues. Apart from the various incoherencies, the inability to convey/deliver the chara properly, he has way too many twists in a way too short amount of time to be credible. And after the 3-4 twists from a single chara, newly introduced charas will also start getting on a twist train. Twists are good, they are fun, but they should not be abused. They should not come out of nowhere and bring in incoherencies with the previous material. Though even without twists and character inconsistency you have a good amount of incoherencies, like getting fired but going normally to your job the next day and everyone acting as though your firing never happened or let’s speak about my son and it is for said son I’m doing this, but next time I talk to the same chara I’m saying the polar opposite and we both act as though we never discussed about it ; or no ! I know ! let’s threat someone’s life, kidnap that person and, and, and….errrrr…..we abandoned that arc, sorry, we have no idea what happened after that, but both charas are well and fine ! they…just….took different pathes….somehow…
On another level, the mood and tonality will also suffer shifts. As though the targeted demographic changed through the episodes. From a more mature audience to a younger one. It is particularly notable in the ending arc where charas will be “cool”…and OOC, as though it completely accepted to have turned into Shounen. On a more positive note, I do enjoy the parallel between ending and beginning, but the light-mooded epilogue feels really off.
Overall, I have the feeling that after a certain amount of episodes they had no idea what to do to fill in every episodes so they just had to find ways to drag it : abandoned arcs, abandoned charas, free exposition, twist for twist, charas' inconsistency, etc. they can all be "justified" by the need to "fill" the episodes (and no, I don’t know how it is in the manga and it still doesn’t matter).
I liked the various "main" cast (I must really give credits to Eva – well…before she loses consistency – to be that hateable character who is portrayed like a human being rather than a simple duality or Manichaeism, she even grew on me). Despite, my issues with them, and I do find one of the main subject : "alienation", really fascinating. Each of them represent a different type of alienation, and how hard it is to get out of it. I really just wished the quality wouldn't have dropped.
Overall…yes, this review is rather sore…. I do have deep regrets concerning this show… I said it already the first part of the Anime is still a masterpiece, the second part is good ; it’s only the two last parts, half of the show, that has issues, too many issues for it to be considered average. Or maybe I’m just so hard on the second half due to the ruined potential… But well, despite all that, Monster is still one of my favourite Anime, or to be more precise, the first half is. I’ll buy both DVDs and mangas for sure.
I wouldn’t recommend this show for people having issues with slow pacing or needing exaggerated characterization, this Anime probably won’t satisfy you. If you need “pretty art” – modern standard – to appreciate an anime, you may turn your back to this as well. If you expect a show to take you by the hand, the second half of the show is pretty much for you.
As for the others, it might be wise to abandon the anime midthrough, when you start realizing the anime is going down, because, no, it won’t get back up, sadly ; however, if you want to continue you might consider lowering your expectations or turn of your brain for a while ; even if theoretically, it shouldn’t be the type of show for that (and I have nothing against those shows, I always watch them when I just want to relax and nothing else).read more