My brother introduced me to the Monster anime series but due to the length of the anime, we kind of gave up on watching it. So when I was searching for a good manga series to read, Monster seemed like a perfect choice! And it definitely is, as the story is interesting and a fast read despite having 18 volumes.
The story begins with Dr. Kenzo Tenma, a brilliant surgeon with a kind heart working at a hospital in Germany. He has a promising career ahead of him but one day, everything changes. Risking his medical career, he decides to save the life of a boy. Subsequently, strange murders happen around him that ends up benefiting him which makes the police suspicious.
Years later, when the guy whose life he saved comes to greet him, Tenma realizes that he has saved a monster who has an evil plan that has already claimed the lives of many innocent people. Unable to come to terms with his guilty conscience, he embarks on a lonely journey to find the monster and learn about his past so he can stop him before the monster inflicts any more damage.
The ‘Monster’ attempts to understand whether people are born evil or they become evil due to external circumstances. The case study is an elusive antagonist who had a terrible past. The protagonist, a doctor who holds the power to save lives and believes ‘all lives are equal’ must grapple with the moral dilemma of saving or killing criminals.
The question is whether it is a person’s responsibility to hold himself accountable for the crimes committed by the people he saved. Moreover, there’s an important question to consider: If you’re faced with the same situation twice, would you choose the same thing over again or would you make a different choice? That’s a great topic for discussion! Now here’s my take on the story:
Pros: Monster has a unique story-line that takes place in a couple of different places such as post-war Germany, Austria and then Czechoslovakia. Most of the backbone of the story is built around the time when the Berlin wall was up. The author does a commendable job of writing a realistic story that combines an interesting investigation into the past and the contemporary issues prevailing within integrated Germany.
What I loved about the story was the journey of the protagonist to uncover the secrets from the past. With every volume, you learn something new and you’re constantly on the edge of your seat trying to figure out what’s going to happen! Along with Tenma, you also follow various other characters that are on the quest of their own and whose lives get intertwined with Tenma’s because of the antagonist.
The illustrations were well done and depicted the atmosphere of the story perfectly. The characters were also well drawn, plus I loved reading about the different character arcs. You also have some morally ambiguous characters that make you sympathize with them.
Cons: Where do I even begin?? Just kidding! But seriously though, I’ve got some huge complaints. Like the ending! I felt the same way people felt after they finished the 8th season of GOT. (I mean I can only imagine because I stopped watching GOT after like 5th season but you get the drift!) You expect a satisfying ending after you’ve invested so much of your time in the characters and the story.
Monster has a promising start and an amazing story and all the events are leading up to this massive climax but that’s it! What you get is a very disappointing and underwhelming end to this exhilarating story. It made no sense and it made me question all the events that happened earlier in the story. The antagonist was supposed to be a genius who used people as pawns to get his way but that’s not how he appears in the end. I wish the last volume didn’t exist.
Naoki Urasawa’s Monster is an intricately plotted and a highly entertaining thriller that had a great potential to be a masterpiece, but unfortunately it fell short of achieving that title due to an anticlimactic climax. But, if you’re someone who enjoys a murder mystery, go for it!