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Watch & Learn: MONSTER #1

This is how you do "morose!"

 Herr Tenma... I accuse!
 Herr Tenma... I accuse!

MONSTER is some black-on-gray intense drama with a bleak tone that gives me a better perspective on why I disliked such drab “serious” shows like REQUIEM FOR THE PHANTOM and GUNSLINGER GIRL. While one of you lunatics recommend this show to me in the now-legendary talkback thread a while back, I only zeroed-in on actually watching it after one of its trailers played in front of another Hulu-hosted anime show. On as basic level as you can get, the hook's just lot more interesting.  A doctor having to handle the horrors of a serial killer whom he saved as a boy, and all the paradoxical guilt that comes with that, is just more intriguing to me than any amount of emotionless child assassins searching for the truth of their past through any number of blown up heads. While it was hard not to laugh at show that finds nothing funny about a little girl beating up full-grown criminals, this has real emotional substance to befit its serious tone.

The only real problem with a show like this, however, is that you kind-of have to know a secret or two ahead of time before you go in. I know that little boy’s going to grow up to be the titular “monster,” and, thus, it’s patently obvious that he’s the one who murdered his family. Also, his catatonic sister’s obviously trying to tell everybody to kill him. There’s no ambiguity about that. However, I was impressed by how the proper dues were paid to explain Tenma’s motivations. You can just hear that voice in his head, blaming him from the Turkish father’s death and urging him to resist the temptations of hospital politics. We’re probably a few episodes away from the much-hyped twist hitting, but the developments in this episode still ratchet up the predetermined tragedy with the power of omens in tragedy.

Anyway, I’m definitely intrigued to watch more of this, but I’m daunted by the show’s 72-episode length. Sheesh… BROTHERHOOD was a fantasy with so many worlds and mythologies to explore, and even it wasn’t as long as that. Also, while I enjoyed the more realistic and restrained rendering style, I have to say it was morbidly amusing that Tenma’s fiancé looked like she’d had some baaaaaaad plastic surgery.

Watch this episode "Herr Dr. Tenma" below and decide for yourself.  

  

  Check out my thoughts on the other shows I've sampled below...

 Tom Pinchuk’s the writer of  HYBRID BASTARDS!  &  UNIMAGINABLE . Order them on Amazon   here  &   here .  Follow him on Twitter:  @tompinchuk

ninjahamsteron May 7, 2011 at 12:27 p.m.
Monster is a very slow burn but has a really good story line, but I must say did struggle to watch the complete series.
AURON570on May 7, 2011 at 12:44 p.m.
That sounds intense, I must check it out.
Onrackon May 7, 2011 at 4:08 p.m.
One of the thing's I appreciated was the level of detail that went into getting the location correct. In college I had a Russian roommate who asked if it was in East Germany after seeing the show on the computer screen.
Lurkeroon May 7, 2011 at 4:15 p.m.
You are right, one of the problems with this series is its length. Much longer than it should have been, and a lot of it drones on.

If it weren't for the length of Monster I would say it was great for watch and learn but I am not so sure. I think many people following W&L would lose interest after a while if you followed this series. Honestly, I never finished it myself, but I am much more of an action fan.
Halberdierv2on May 7, 2011 at 5 p.m.
Im surprised you're only now watching this, and a bit dissapointed that you don't like it.
darfox8on May 7, 2011 at 5:20 p.m.
I think Monster worked better as a manga. The dude who wrote/drew it had a great sense on how to lay out the panels. So even very basic reveals and scenes had awesome flow/suspense and it made it jst fun to turn the page. I know panel layout and planning should be basic in all comics but it seems this guy is one of the few mangaka that actually puts alot of thought into it or maybe he's just natrually good at it.

The manga is the same as the anime but I personally feel the story looses some gravitas in animated form. Especially when you come accross to occasional low budget episode.

Even if your not going to do the W&L feature on it I still recommend you watch it. It's still fantastic no matter what medium you experience it through.
Iconon May 7, 2011 at 6:35 p.m.
I love both the manga and the anime. One of my all-time favourites. Amazing series.
Rudeboy217on May 7, 2011 at 8:54 p.m.
@Halberdierv2 said:
" Im surprised you're only now watching this, and a bit dissapointed that you don't like it. "
Yeah, this is seriously one of my favorite series.
No_name_here staff is online on May 7, 2011 at 10:03 p.m.
@Halberdierv2 said:
" Im surprised you're only now watching this, and a bit dissapointed that you don't like it. "
Did you actually read the post? I gave it a positive review.
Halberdierv2on May 8, 2011 at 6:03 a.m.
@Tom_Pinchuk: yea, I read it, its just that you found 72 episodes to be a bit daunting of a task. the way how things pick up rather quickly, the series' intensity makes up for it.
WarlordPayneon May 8, 2011 at 11:18 a.m.
I really liked the premise of this show, but it is far, far longer than it needed to be.  Tenma also annoyed the hell out of me.
Karkarovon May 8, 2011 at 11:38 a.m.
Man did they never fully release this show on DVD?  I actually WANTED to buy it but I can't find anything but box set one even today.  (which I already own)
vergiliuson May 8, 2011 at 5:02 p.m.
Yeah, this show could have been shorter. But I get the sense that it knew where it was going...we have the initial setup to get Tenma on the run, then we basically have this extended chase which is the bulk of the series, and then the finale. The chase could have gone on as long or as short as the author had wanted it--and I think he understood that. Sort of how like One Piece can be as long as the mangaka wants because he can keep sticking more islands between Luffy and the end of his journey, Tenma could always visit another European city and track down an old friend/enemy of his quarry.

What I really like about this show, incidentally, was the supporting cast. So Tenma being a little single-minded and boring for most of the middle of the show didn't hurt too much.

Anyway--I really did like this show a lot, and I hope Tom finishes it, but I don't know that it would make a good Watch-and-Learn. The moral issues here are probably too similar to Death Note's and Geass's, and sure the plotting is good, but how many times do we want Tom to write "wow, I am impressed that this show is managing to sustain the tension for all this time!"

Dig Deeper into Monster

A doctor saves a young boy at the cost of any further career advancement. The boy then goes on to become an incredible mass murderer, leaving the doctor a suspect-- determined to destroy the "monster" before it can kill again.

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