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I've watched a lot of anime, I've read a lot of manga, but Monster has
managed to blow all of my former "favorites" out of the water. It
manages to combine everything that's great about thrillers, mysteries,
character studies, and psychological dramas all at once. The writing is
superior, the direction is fantastic, and the way the story builds is
slow but undoubtedly engaging. If Alfred Hitchcock had ever endeavored
to create a serial work, it would be something like this.
The characters are all lovingly and soulfully rendered, and the show never seems to fall into the traps that even the best anime do - that is: needless fanservice, forced comedy, or ludicrous violence.
In addition, get ready for a history lesson. This story deals more with the social and political annals of 20th century Eastern Europe - ACCURATELY - than most classes on the subject.
This series held surprises into the very last episode.
I'm not really going to include any major spoilers for the series in my review. The closest that I'll come will cover what you've probably heard about from any general discussion concerning the TV series, or the books that the story comes from, or the opening TV credits for the very first episode. That means that some key elements from the first 4 episodes, which covers the first 5% of the 74 episode series, will be mentioned. But it's hard to even say what the series is about without going that far, and you're likely to get more spoilers in any major review of the latest Hollywood mega-release anyways.
In life, there are two types of monsters. The first is the type that most of us have probably thought of in our childhood, the type that we feared under the bed or in the closet, the type who our parents or guardians told us didn't exist. The second type, however, is what the title of this series refers to. This is the type which adults do fear, the type that does exist. This monster can plan human deaths with the same nonchalance that others have when they decide the details of getting their next coffee.
Naoki Urasawa's story is one that covers such a monster, but this monster isn't the main character. Instead, the main character is the highly skilled Japanese neurosurgeon Kenzou Tenma, working in Germany shortly after its reunification. Tenma believes that all life is of equal high worth, and that the value of life isn't changed with wealth, fame, nor with celebrity status. But he discovers that the hospital itself doesn't share that belief. The life that he saved, the life which more desperately needed his skills, looked so much like another anonymous life that was about to get wiped out by the hospital's lack of ethics. But Tenma unknowingly gave life back to a monster. And for the first time ever, Tenma regrets the life that he saved; so much so that he finds himself forced to correct that mistake.
From this point, if you saw the opening credits which cover the first 90 seconds of the very first episode, you can guess the general direction of the series. Picture the TV series 'The Fugitive', but with a single storyline which went from the first episode to the last. Now throw in a detective (Inspector Runge) who is as calm, confident, and calculating as the devil himself, pursuing Tenma. There are also other characters in the series, who are crucial to how the story builds, and who are rather difficult to introduce clearly without spoiling some of the many subplots which build through the series. These characters include Tenma's ex-fiancée Eva, as well as a retired detective, a reclusive billionaire, two criminal psychiatrists, members of organized crime, ones involved in possible illegal dealings with the Czech police, a crusading defense attorney, and others.
There will be a few times where the main storyline seems to be put on hold, and a new storyline with new characters will be introduced. And you'd likely be wondering why things have taken a detour, or when they'll get back to the actual story. But the overall plot is much more complex and detailed than you may have seen on other serial thrillers such as 'Alias', '24', or 'Lost'. The seemingly disjointed story lines in 'Monster' slowly build to be a critical part in the overall plot, and the series overall doesn't have any wasted scenes or episodes (filler), nor the jumps and jolts which betray signs of last minute rewrites.
If you're hoping that the upcoming Hollywood movie based on the series will be as good, you might want to reconsider. For starters, it'll mean rewriting a story which takes 37 broadcast hours to tell, and re-conveying that over a time slot of 90 to 100 minutes. Also, it'll be coming from the same talent pool which took the highly rated Japanese movies 'Ringu', 'Ju-On', and 'Shall We Dance', and turned them into the mediocre Hollywood productions 'The Ring', 'The Grudge', and 'Shall We Dance'. (From 94-64-79 to 72-40-49, according to RottenTomatoes.com.) While Hollywood can make a good original movie occasionally, their record at remaking movies leaves a lot to be desired.
In short, this is one of the better suspense stories out there. The writing is solid, the characters are believable (even when their character changes), and the story always makes sense. In some story arcs, just when you think they're getting ready to wrap things up, they find a way to ratchet up the tension again. But it never seems forced, or cheap, like what is by far more common in most thrillers I've seen. 'Monster' is definitely a series which requires your full attention when watching it, due to the pace which events happen and the number of details which all come together as the story progresses. And if you don't mind a long story with a lot of twists and turns, this is definitely one worth following.
I've always been very picky about my anime. I don't mind watching most
series, but I always hold myself back from really truly liking most of
them -- I watch, say, Fullmetal Alchemist, and I get some visceral joy
from it, I cry a little bit, but I wouldn't call it a favorite; I find
Cowboy Bebop enjoyable, but I wouldn't ever watch it ten times.
Monster blows everything I've ever seen out of the water.
I stumbled upon the anime by accident. I had just finished watching Moribito -- which was one I truly liked because the characters didn't follow normal anime standards -- and was searching for something to follow up after that. I expected to be disappointed. Someone on a forum suggested Monster, so I looked it up and watched it.
I kept expecting something to be horrible. But the show started, and the art was realistic for an anime--something I hadn't quite experienced before. The opening theme song wasn't some annoying pop song that grated on my ears and made me snicker. The characters were real. The background music always fit the scenes and was never overbearing. The language spoken was honest and like something I could hear on the street. Germany looked like Germany and not some twisted version of Japan. The story was compelling.
I watched all 74 episodes expecting something, -anything- to go horribly wrong, waiting for it to fall into the tripe I had watched hundreds of other anime go into. But there was never fan service, no overly gory violence. Nothing like that.
Monster is a masterpiece. You can truly connect with every character. You'll see a person on screen for, at most, five minutes, but they'll have more depth to them than the main protagonists of other anime. You'll feel overwhelming sorrow whenever someone is killed after only one episode. You'll decide that a certain person fits the title--"Monster"--only to decide a few moments later that no, someone else is a monster. And you'll even feel empathy for people you long to hate.
This is one of the only anime to ever please this picky fan. It might not be for people wanting more action, but as someone sick of anime where all that happens are flashy fights, this was a more than welcome release. Give Monster a try--you'll probably find it worthwhile.
This is not typical anime, it is not even a series or a video, it is an
experience I have gone through watching this piece of brilliance called
I have been a huge fan of crime dramas of Martin Scorcese and thrillers of Alfred Hitchcock and totally enjoy movies that dive deep into human emotions such as 7even, Taxi Driver, V for Vendetta, Machinist, Schindler's List, American Beauty etc. For anyone out there with similar tastes, this is a must watch content. It is must watch because all those works that we have seen until now seem so little in terms of their emotional intensity before this masterpiece of a thriller.
Unlike the title, there are no monsters in this series, well actually there is one, far more deadlier than the ones in our nightmares, monster created as a result of difference in the perception of what we see in society. No, we are not talking about psychopaths with extreme emotions that enjoy hurting people here, but normal human being that can see the difference between good and bad, light and darkness, life and death very clearly and thus obviously does not agree with the society. The whole series is about a monster created out of the extreme surroundings around him and the people he encounters during his life that either get obsessed with his thinking or want to kill him for how dangerous he is.
Overall this series could be the best animated work as it would leave you with an everlasting feeling like it did on me. There has been an attempt to make a movie out of the plot and nothing seems to be happening, I wish it stayed that way. A story like this will be a disaster as a 2-3 hour movie, there is just too much good stuff in here that cannot be passed/cut-down to make a movie.
For those who watched V for Vendetta, this work will seem relevant to the main theme of series. Be ready to spend some time (74 episodes) and make sure you do not give more than 1 day break between each episode as you could forget everything very fast. You should concentrate on everything in the episode as there are hundreds of characters that have a lot to do with the plot.
A dark, suspenseful and extremely entertaining anime that boldly answers back to the skeptics who think that all anime must be as brain-dead and child-oriented as the majority of prime-time viewing. (Which is, quite frankly, usually embarrassing to watch in the presence of others.) The plot of Monster is without a doubt the best part, dark but not without cheerful scenes, and centered around the story of a Dr. Tenma, a talented Nero-surgeon, who's upright morals soon send him on a rarely chosen path to correct the wrong he'd unwittingly committed in the name of justice. Unlike other anime, most of which seem to focus on super-powers, fantasy, or sci-fi horror, this one's true chillingness is in the fact that despite being animated, it is portrayed in an all-too-real manner. In reality, the most truly terrifying people are generally people who you wouldn't think out of the ordinary in a crowd, not some supernatural monster who relies on brute force or the inability of the entire world he fights to stop him. The animation isn't the best, but the story more then makes up for it, and even watching it on a 42" TV, I was far to engrossed with the story to make more then the occasional observation that perhaps the movement wasn't quite as smooth in some places as it might be. The same applies to the sound, which doesn't quite keep pace with the story either. Nonetheless, it is one of the best shows I've seen, period.
I recently watched the popular anime serial Death Note. In search for a
similar dark and gritty tale of power and deceit, I stumbled upon this
little pearl. Like Death Note it's an epic train ride of plot twists
and philosophical visions on the worth of human life.
It is about the young surgeon Dr. Tenma who finds himself in an awkward situation. Will he continue the operation on a little boy with a gun wound in the head, or will he save the mayor of the city, and also benefactor of his hospital, from the effects of a stroke? In all his fairness he makes the choice to save the boy. It is the beginning of a tremendous tragedy; his boss and father-in-law doesn't want him anymore, his wife dumps him, colleagues despise him, and he becomes the scapegoat for the hospital. And then something odd happens. The little boy and his twin sister disappear and all the people who meant to do harm are killed. Though everything points at Dr Tenma's direction, there is not enough evidence for prosecution. And from that point on starts the story of Dr Tenma's quest to find out what happened and who was behind the killings. He stumbles upon a terrifying discovery that will alter his life tremendously.
I like this cleverly written show for its addictive storyline and emotionally tense scenes. You must be willing to accept the many ''fillers'' - episodes with as only goal to lengthen the story - but it's well worth too watch through them. Those of you who liked Death Note, please give this less famous show a try. In some ways I think Monster even surpasses Death Note by its themes and dark vision on humanity.
Once I started reading this manga, I really couldn't stop. It's probably one of the most fascinating, complex and suspenseful stories I've ever read. The artist's grasp of facial expression is amazing. When I compare Monster to other manga I've read...well, for the most part, there is no comparison. Like another commenter said, there is no fanservice, no glorification of violence, pointless gags, characters with cutesy personality quirks, etc...everything seems genuine and real. There were moments that horrified me speechless and scenes that brought tears to my eyes, too. Monster is very moving, but also very disturbing...a powerful commentary on human nature.
People traditionally associate Japanese animes with the likes of
Pokemon and Dragonball Z and it is often very difficult to convince
non-anime fans that there's more to them. I'm no exception! Luckily,
Monster was the third serial anime I was introduced to after Death Note
and Fruits Basket (odd combos, I know). And to be honest, I was not
The series starts off ordinarily with the traditional story of a doctor forced to prioritize between patients and his career. The story of two traumatized children is introduced along the way and things start becoming rather interesting. By the time I got to this point, I had completely forgotten I was watching an anime. See, in traditional Japanese animes (and no disrespect to the fans), the writers have no idea how to develop the dialogue and make it work with the story. The height of a character's shock will be repeating somebody's name in a low, gaspy/raspy voice. Among the millions of other queer things, I never got why anime writers felt that was a good emotional expression. I simply dismissed it as another odd Japanese behavior.
As a pleasant surprise, Monster does almost everything to stray from that. At so many points during the story, I wondered how brilliant this would've been as a non-animated series. The character development is interesting and not muggled up or confusing, the songs/music make sense for a change, there are no irritating characters trying to be funny and the plot keeps thickening ... although slowly, and that might be a flaw. But to be honest, the gradual development is what keeps you so attached to it.
So in conclusion, if you're a japanime fan and want to introduce the haters to the club, I highly recommend you make them watch this as their first ever anime. All in all, a 9.5/10 score. Definitely worth the watch!
I've seen a lot of Animes and I have to say this is the best one in my
opinion, a true masterpiece that goes beyond others. I liked Monster
since its not a common Anime (japanese cartoon) since it doesn't evolve
around supernatural abilities or Futeristic techs. The story is written
in a way that make it feel very realistic. The realistic story also
makes it a very scary story in a sense that the monsters in this story
actually can exists, these are the real monsters we should be scared
Don't let the fact that its anime scare you off. Even if its hard to watch at first you'll get used to it, the story makes up for it. The story is so compelling that once you get into it it's hard to stop watching. I don't want to spoil any of plot more than it questions a common moral "all human life is equal worth". The plot really gets you thinking.
This is a great series so far - I've watched up to episode 34 as of
this posting. Just as the story seems to be getting slow, or losing
direction, something sinister happens that pulls it all back together
and on track.
The story revolves around Dr. Tenma, a genius Japanese neural surgeon living in Germany during the late 20th century. Its hard to say much else without ruining the subtle twists of the story that unfold through the series.
There is a lot of discovery in this series... lots of people doing detective work, including the viewer.
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