Hello everyone! I've been busy this whole summer. With the combination of moving back home, leaving my job, finding a new job and getting to move again, life has been getting in front of Joemiroquai. Thankfully, things are somewhat winding down in a calm-before-the-storm sense and I had some time to ignore reality and find an anime that I have heard some reviewers say," there's so much hype around it! It deserves all the hype! I am the hype! HYPE!" This being said, I was skeptical and in that judgmental mentality, but so far my summer hasn't let me down. So after watching Monster's Inc. and Monsters University, I decided to kick back on a Monster energy and Watch Naoki Urusawa's Monster!
Starring 90s Trent Reznor Monster started off as a manga in the early 2000s and later turned into a series in 2004-2005. I could type more logistical information, but what I found important is that this is a type of anime called seinen, which literally translates to "young man". I personally haven't heard of this title before; I only know the basic anime labels that mean things are adult material. However, seinen animes are aimed at young men/men who are grown up/ men who like good anime. I say this because according to Wikipedia, other seinen titles include: Hellsing, Berserk, Battle Royale, Ghost in the Shell, and Elfen Lied. Because of these titles, I expected lots of blood, gore, fan service, and everything that anime is stereotyped. However...I was deceived. Instead of watching "Generic Guy Anime Episode I: Boobs" I found an enticing, alluring thriller that kept me hooked and wanting more. I wish people would just say that this show just has a feel of its own and try not to put labels on it. There were many things that make this series gripping for people that are looking for serious anime. Maybe it was the female characters that you can actually relate to and aren't as interesting as watching your fingernails grow. Maybe it's the fact that you can see every one of these things happen in real life. I feel that this series broke from the "seinen" brand that people have put on it because although it is entertainment, it is the kind of entertainment of watching multiple perspectives on an issue and how natural and forced events can effect the outcome rather than watching hulking male leads kill things because your animation studio is great and your plot writers are a bunch of canines who forgot how to dog.for those who like pretty pictures and have no imagination.
THE PLOTIt starts off with Dr. Kenzo Tenma, a top of the line neurosurgeon in Dusseldorf, Germany in the 80s. Dr. Tenma has a lot of things going for him, but after a series of events in which his fiancee/daughter of the chief of staff/bitch says that human lives aren't equal and his soon to be father-in-law determines who Dr. Tenma works on, he realizes that he needs to make his own decisions and operate on the next person coming in: a little boy with a bullet wound in his head named Johan Liebert. Tenma saves the boy, and not only is Tenma in hot water, but three other doctors, one of them including the chief of staff, all wind up dead. Fast-forward nine years, and Tenma is doing well at the hospital when all of a sudden one of his patients start muddering about a monster who is going to take over the city. When that patient escapes to a construction site, Tenma chases the patient down and watches the patient get killed by the "monster" he was talking about, which turns out to be Johan Liebert, the boy he saved nine years prior. Because of Tenma giving him life before, he now goes on a journey to stop Johan from killing.
That being said, it has a relatively simple plot in the beginning: doctor saves kid, kid becomes serial killer. Over time, the plot becomes more developed and there are many events that contribute towards the development of the characters. Something else I really liked about this series is that there weren't plot twists in every episode, but rather a few large twists that change the focus entirely. Every episode adds little pieces to the overall atmosphere and come into play at a later point in time. However, I will say that there are a lot of little pieces: 74 to be exact. This is a lengthy anime, but they covered every single one of their points and left no stone unturned. Honestly, I've watched anime twice as long as this and walked away from them feeling unfulfilled *coughdragonballeverythingcough*
oh! is this the episode where Trunks is a little bitch?! I've seen this one!
THE CHARACTERSOh my gosh, I can't rant about these characters enough. Every single character is fleshed out, realistic, and dynamic to the point that you can relate to them and know people that are like them. What I liked is that every character is justified for their actions. There is no," I did this because... reasons". Not only is there justification, but there is build up in episodes prior to those actions happening. I feel that that is something anime commonly misses; the idea of letting an idea fester for a few episodes rather than just trying to find quick execution. Something else that is here that isn't in a lot of anime? good female characters. Although there is only one female character that is fairly present (and really only one other one that pops in every now and again), the other female characters are well developed (MENTALLY) and honestly show more growth than the male characters. That is big to say, especially what happens through the series. I'll put the characters to you like this: in the end of the series, I liked every single character.
With that being said, there are a lot of characters. I mean a lot. Although each character is weaved in and out of the story seamlessly, there are many occurrences in which I said," hey it's that one guy from that one episode!" Thankfully, each character creates enough of an impact that he/she is hard to forget
THE PRESENTATIONAt first, I thought there wasn't much to say about this aspect. However, as I think about it more I realize that Monster has an amazing presentation of realism and atmosphere.From an animation aspect, it does really well in fulfilling the motions set out by the characters and FINALLY attach realistic facial expressions and not the typical anime faces. What impressed me was the atmosphere the Madhouse animation studio was able to build. there is an ample amount of shading and texture on the environment that everything looks sleek. The music tends to be a little repetitive, but it is used effectively to supplement the environment. The show's music is good... with the exception of the ending themes. For the first time, I think I heard music as aawkward as the composer looks...
THE MESSAGES BEHIND IT ALLThroughout the series, you see characters build friendships, become bitter enemies, and grow through the choices they have made. The two main messages behind it all (as it should be) is Tenma's downward spiral/obsession to stop Johan, and Johan's reasoning and background for the choices he made. There is a common theme of "What is a Monster?" throughout the entire series and it begs questions all the way until the very last scene. I wish I could rant about the messages more but I can tell you... they embrace a lot of things. From race, upbringing, nature vs. nuture, choices, frickin... everything. Hell, I was reflective when I watched the series, which is hard to do in a media where they try too hard to be philosophical.
CONCLUSIONThis show is amazing. You should really invest the time to watch it, and get your friends to watch it so you all become better people. However... I think they should make a prequel to Monster. A show where Kenzo Tenma is struggling through relationships with girls and his parents and have some bubbly characters. and I think it should be called...
Thanks for reading!
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