Oh, hello there. If you’re reading this, hopefully you’ve read last month’s article, Monster: Part 1, or at least watched the anime, otherwise, reading this would be very silly of you. I mean…you can read it – I’m not going to tell you what you can or cannot do with your body.
I finished Monster pretty quickly considering the amount of episodes left after drafting last month’s article – I was compelled to get to the story’s conclusion. Would Tenma kill Johan? Would Tenma die? What was Johan’s plan? Am I even going to tell you?! If you don’t already know the answers, beware of even more monstrous spoilers, anime-niacs.
Finally, the seemingly impossible happened – Tenma was arrested and jailed (which is nothing to cell-ebrate). With more than 20 episodes left, however, I was sure he would escape. Certainly, Monster does not focus solely on Tenma, but he is such a large part of this story and featured too heavily to suddenly disappear in prison. So it wasn’t if he would escape, but when and how? Although the circumstances were rather incredible – an accident during prisoner transport – the situation showed Tenma’s willingness to further abandon his once peaceful life and risk even more legal repercussions all to find and stop Johan (suture self, doc). Dr. Tenma had never fired a gun until he was in his 30’s, but he correctly assumed a firearm would be necessary to defend himself while searching for Johan. After the car accident, Tenma points a gun at law enforcement in order to escape imprisonment (Tenma must be used to giving shots, and certainly, not all are in vein). However, one of the most surprising developments came during Tenma’s capture.
Inspector Lunge had been insistent throughout Monster, taking place over an entire decade, that Tenma was a murderer (Inspector Gadget was right more often than Inspector Lunge). Despite the very real stories about Johan, Lunge believed that the villain was a fictional character (well actually…he’s not wrong). But when one hole is exposed in Tenma’s guilt and Johan appears to be unavoidably real, Lunge finally believes it is possible that Tenma is innocent. The inspector very discretely gives Tenma helpful advice for dealing with interrogation during his arrest. This bit of nuance spoke volumes of Lunge’s character development as the seemingly undaunted belief that Tenma was guilty had shown a crack. Regardless of any character development, however, there is only one character whose presence is felt whether or not he is involved in a particular scene or even sub-plot – Johan.
The story primarily concludes in the town of Ruhenheim where Johan is determined to erase all proof of his existence, which includes all people who knew him. It is a small, quiet town, but with Johan on his way, the town descends into chaos. One of the show’s antagonists and a follower of Johan, Roberto murders innocent people and sews general distrust amongst the small population. It was incredible and tragic to watch Ruhenheim’s citizens turn so quickly to paranoia and murder as the majority of the main cast arrives for a final showdown (where a doctor, an inspector and a monster walk into a bar…). At this point, Johan’s past has been revealed and his plan is known, but I had mixed feelings about him as a villain…initially.
Although the viewer watches Johan exude cunning and charm, as well as occasional overt evil, much of Johan’s character is revealed through tales told by other characters. In this way, Monster builds the terrifying lore around its primary antagonist rather than specifically showing every detail. Moreover, there are a plethora of secondary but powerful antagonists who vie for Johan’s approval and acceptance. This leads to a terrifying contrast: The evil Johan borne out of dialogue, and the handsome and soft-spoken Johan the viewer sees. For quite a few episodes, I had trouble totally accepting Johan as a looming and dreadful villain, but one specific instance changed my mind. One of the most disturbing acts Johan performs is convincing a young, orphaned boy named Milosh to try finding his mother in the red-light district of a town (the writer should not have green-lit this situation). Wandering aimlessly, harassed by prostitutes and forced to watch a couple have sex, Milosh is traumatized and, of course, does not find his mother. The pain is cemented when Johan arrives to greet Milosh at the other end of the town and convinces the boy that his mother never wanted him. Milosh, likely not even 10 years old, is emotionally broken and would have committed suicide had Tenma not found and stopped him in time. Although there are more explicit instances of exactly what Johan is capable later in the show, the situation with Milosh halfway through Monster is what convinced me I was watching a truly terrifying villain at work. However, I took an issue with a specific behavior the writer included.
There is a period of time when Johan dresses as his sister, Nina, who had taken the name Anna, in order to fool a detective. At first, the viewer does not realize it is Johan in disguise, but the revelation that a villain used cross-dressing as a cover is an unfortunate stereotype that needed not be reinforced in Monster. Cross-dressing is not a deviant behavior, but the only instance of cross-dressing in this show is done by the primary antagonist. This is a completely unnecessary trope that I was disappointed to see.
Ultimately, there is a lot that happens throughout Monster and much to remember. There were times I felt a little lost or didn’t completely understand a particular development’s relevance, but much of those issues were resolved as the story continued. I will not spoil the finale, but was surprisingly satisfied with the conclusion considering the multiple last-minute twists getting there. Overall, Monster tells an incredible story, is full well-crafted characters, and is a wonderful but tense ride. I would highly recommend Monster to fans of thrillers.