Mimi: Funny, I’ve been talking about Monster to my anime-loving friends and family for years, yet when it comes to writing a review, I don’t know where to begin. After watching it so many times, it is as familiar to me as the back of my hand. I still remember that summer evening five years ago when I started the first episode on a whim, and my childish anime days of fangirling over the angsty teenage characters in Gundam Seed changed forever. The crazy mix-up of a wrongly accused doctor, a psychopathic murderer, and a detective blew my mind like no other story. Once it ended, I was a little disheartened that no other anime could compare, for Monster had raised the bar incredibly high. Naoki Urasawa is a genius and the master of suspense; you can’t go wrong in picking Monster when you want to see the most engrossing psychological thriller in anime.
The plot sounds like something right out of a Blockbuster film. Dr. Tenma, a highly respected Japanese brain surgeon working in Germany, goes against the hospital director’s orders in order to save the life of a boy, Johan, who was shot in the head. Unfortunately, his righteous decision turns out to be his worst nightmare. What follows next is the loss of his position and fiancé, a string of unexplained murders, and the boy’s disappearance. Several years later, Johan briefly reveals himself to Dr. Tenma as a psychopathic murderer, but Dr. Tenma gets accused of committing his crimes. Now he must find Johan to clear his name while avoiding a persistent detective, Lunge, who is convinced that Johan is just a figment of his imagination. The series becomes even more compelling from there, as it touches on child abuse, illegal experiments, and makes several references to real places and historical events in Germany. Seventy-four episodes might seem daunting at first, but there are plenty of intriguing mysteries and events to keep you at the edge of your seat. Monster also allows us to be the detective and think about what the character’s real motives could be, especially Johan’s.
Honestly, I have yet to come across another anime that characterizes a psychopath in such a serious and sensational manner as this one; Johan is simply one of my favorite villains of all time. He is intelligent, handsome, friendly, and deeply mysterious, yet we cannot forget that he is truly a monster. The other main characters are just as remarkable, and you might fret over picking a favorite. As you can probably imagine, Dr. Tenma encounters a lot of friends and foes during his adventures. Perhaps the most compelling aspect about Monster is the way in which the character’s stories are interconnected in deep and surprising ways, and you’ll find yourself craving for more information.
Monster has a firm place as my second favorite anime of all time, and it is the most exciting one I’ve ever watched. Like Legend of the Galactic Heroes, I can’t imagine letting anything else take the place of this mature masterpiece. Just to mention, I did check out the English dubbed version a little while ago. The only Japanese voice that I highly prefer over the English voice is Lunge’s, but other than that, the characters sound excellent. What a wonderful series all around! Oh, and did I mention that Alex is lame for removing this from his favorites? I need to go poke him repeatedly to be annoying.
Mimi’s Score: 10 Meeps out of 10 (Masterpiece)
Alex’s Score: 10 Meeps out of 10 (Masterpiece)