Review By: John Fragglepuss Evans
Genre: Mystery, Drama, Horror, Police, Psychological, Thriller
First Aired: Spring 2004 – Fall 2005, 74 episodes.
Summary: Dr. Kenzo Tenma is a young Japanese brain surgeon working in Germany to further his research and knowledge in the medical field. Dr. Tenma is a bright surgeon that is respected by his peers and is quickly advancing in his field. All of this is about to change with a late night decision. A child and the town’s mayor both come into the emergency room. The child arrives first, with a bullet wound to the head. The mayor comes in soon afterward with an equally critical situation. Despite being pressured by his superiors to perform surgery on the mayor due to political ties, Tenma decides to operate on the young child. The child survives while the mayor is unable to be saved. After the surgery, Dr. Tenma’s world is turned upside down by his decision, triggering a downward spiral of lost opportunities. Tenma was always taught to believe that all life is equal to a doctor. After all, that was the thought running through his mind when he decided who to operate on. However, when a series of murders occur in the vicinity of Dr. Tenma with all of the evidence pointing to the kid he saved, Tenma’s beliefs are shaken.
Written by Naoki Urasawa, Monster is a thrilling story full of mystery, suspense and intrigue as Dr. Tenma travels to find out the true identity of the child he saved. As it turns out, the fate of the world depends on Tenma and his discoveries. The realism of the animation is Monster is remarkable. By this I mean the standard anime-style of animation, i.e. big eyes, bright colors, lack of a nose, eccentric attire, etc., is not used. The characters wear normal clothing, the eyes and nose are proportionate, and the scenes are drawn to resemble locations that could actually exist. The use of realism in the animation adds to the intrigue and mystery of the story by the way it makes the story more believable, even though there are some psychological elements that do not exist in the real world. It reminds me the same way horror movies present supernatural factors that feel real.
Monster is longer than most anime series. Most series these days last a single season, which can be a short season of about 12 episodes or a long season of approximately 24 episodes. The full series is 74 episodes, and while there were a few parts that seemed stagnant the overall progression of the story was fairly consistent. The show could have been drawn out into more episodes, but it kept the pace going with not a lot of down time.
The depiction of characters in Monster was believable. Dr. Tenma is an amazing character with a shining moral compass even though he is not immune to the dark world surrounding him. He is always doing what he thinks is right, but he develops and the line of right and wrong begins to blur. The same goes for other characters in the series that develop as the episodes pass. While the characters make various decisions that I may or may not agree with, I can understand why they are making the decision and taking that course of action. They are not one-dimensional, they make decisions based on what they believe is right.
You might enjoy this if: You have time for a long series that is as complex as it is beautiful. If you enjoyed Death Note, check out Monster.
You might not like it if: You are ready for a quick anime that you can watch in the background. There is a lot happening in Monster, so if you are not paying attention, you could miss important plot points.
Note to the Viewer: The creepy stills during the ending credits of Monster tell the story of The Nameless Monster. Pay attention throughout the series as the stills change and tell the story.
Here’s the “Monster Anime Trailer” by Fan Made Trailers: