Genre: Drama
Format: 74 Episodes
Allegiance: Studio Madhouse
Director: Kojima Masayuki
Vintage: 2004-2005
Intelligence Agency Report by: Loner
Dr. Tenma Kenzou is a kind-hearted Japanese brain surgeon with a promising future in his hospital in Germany. However, after he decides to operate on a boy who was shot in the head instead of the mayor – indirectly causing the mayor’s death, his promising future disappears when the director of the hospital shuns him and his fiancée calls off their engagement. Incredibly, Tenma is then propelled back to the top when the director and the doctors that replaced him are suddenly murdered. Nine years later, everything is turned against him again, as Tenma becomes the chief suspect of these and other murders and is forced to go on the run, while the boy he saved turns out to be the real murderer…

Field Agent Report by: Loner
Overall 9.75
(not an average)

It is very difficult to make a good long series that can keep the audience’s interest for the entire run. A lot of times, there is simply not enough material to carry a series for so long, and filler inevitably starts to appear. Kudos to Monster for managing to glue me to my seat for all 74 episodes. Unlike many other long series, Monster manages to maintain a coherent and riveting plot that paces itself perfectly, a set of characters that never cease to amaze, and all without fading away with a whimper towards the end.

The beauty of Monster‘s plot is that it does not need to have edge-of-your-seat non-stop action and move at a rapid pace to keep the audience’s attention. In fact, the series for the most part moves at a purposefully slow pace. Many episodes may appear to contribute little to the main plotline, but if you take them out the series will lose a lot of its emotional appeal. For each story arc, sufficient time is allocated to build up tension until the powerful climax, as well as a cool down period in order to gear up for the next arc. While the series splits into different storylines over time, it never loses focus, and everything comes together in the end with an ending that is a powerful and moving tour de force.

While the storytelling of Monster is brilliant, the series would not be nearly as powerful without an engaging cast of characters. Monster’s characters do not stand out because of vibrant, extraordinary character designs. Indeed, all of them look rather plain and simple, just like the kind of people you would expect to meet while taking a stroll in a city or a village in Europe in the 90s. Yet every single one of them, even those that appear in only one episode, is memorable in some way. They all have their own personalities, their own quirks, and their own story to tell. None of them start out as a “hero” or a “villain.” They are all normal humans who are put into extraordinary circumstances and forced to make choices that eventually forged their characteristics. Almost the entire cast of Monster has one thing in common: at one point or another, they all have the potential to become a “monster.” Whether they do become a “monster” or not depends on the choices they make in their lives.

It is a pity that most anime are not as well-planned and well-paced as Monster. This series knows exactly how it is going to tell its story and develop its characters so that the audience will really care about the story and the characters. The characters may look dull and plain, but their personalities are absolutely memorable. They go beyond clichéd classifications such as “round” and “flat” or “dynamic” and “static.” They are human beings, people who the audience can really connect with. Together, they make scenes like a simple picnic or a meal at the dinner table extremely powerful.