[A review/ ramble about Monster]
Not too long ago, I completed the 74 episode psychological thriller – Monster. I think ‘thriller’ is too strong a word to describe this show, because while it certainly thrills at the beginning, it drags itself to a rather dull conclusion.
‘Monster’ is not new; it’s been around for over a decade. I just never got around to watching it because it always seemed rather bleak and all the characters seemed to have a greyish, dreary aura to them. Eventually, I decided to give it a go, for a lack of better things to do (or watch) and it really wasn’t too bad. Unlike some other shows I’ve watched like Toradora or Casshern Sins, I didn’t have to force myself to watch it to the end. It did manage to entertain, especially the first half of the show and I found myself watching it into the late hours of the night. So it was rather engaging initially.
Johan (whose real name we never learn) is an interesting antagonist who never bats an eye, even as he goes on a killing spree, all the while speaking in his characteristic gentle tones. He doesn’t appear insane and we never quite learn how his mind works, which makes him intriguing.
The thing about ‘Monster’ however, is that I find it hard to buy. Johan, as interesting as he is, is not a very believable character and his brand of evil is very hard to comprehend. There seems to be no emotion involved, although the way I see it, if he truly felt nothing, he probably would not be a mass murderer. Apparently, he convinces people to commit murder on his behalf and is able to control them by playing on their fears and desires (The Imperius curse has nothing on Johan).
The ability that Johan has does not seem monstrous to me; it just seems ridiculous. Perhaps if he had some supernatural power, it would make sense. But seeing as he doesn’t, it simply seems to me that everyone he meets is an utter idiot, willingly carrying out his bidding. They have no mind of their own. The story tries really hard to convince the audience that Johan is a genuine threat by getting the characters (including Johan himself) to repeatedly address him as “Monster” or “Devil”. For some unfathomable reason, the characters seem so afraid of him, when really all they have to do is to aim and pull the trigger. Because Johan has little regard for life (his own included) he will just stand there and take the shot. In fact, he will even be as considerate as to point out where one can shoot to kill him. He’s really “nice” like that…
While I couldn’t digest Johan as a ‘monster’, there were other elements of the show that I appreciated. I did enjoy the chase as Tenma, the exceptionally insipid excuse for a protagonist, uncovers the mysteries surrounding Johan’s past. It did however, stretch on for too long. I think the story would have been more impactful if it had ended at around 30 or 40 episodes. Without a fun protagonist and any comedy, a 74 – episode chase is quite a drag. The conclusion to this series was also utterly senseless, with random distribution of firearms and the random massacre of random people. The unnecessary shootings didn’t achieve a single thing except to convince me that Johan is a ridiculous character.
So at the end, nothing much changes. Tenma eventually goes back to work, Johan (like a cockroach) survives, and much of the evil that has happened – the experiments on the children, the corruption and the whole mess that led to the creation of Johan – remains shrouded from the public eye.
Altogether, there never seemed to be a purpose to ‘Monster’ and the crappy ending does not really help here. It is not a dreadful show, but it leaves much to be desired. Watch this show if you have nothing better to do. There are many stories out there that are much better than this.