Now Reading
The Horrifying Tendencies of Humans: ‘Monster’ An Anime Review

The Horrifying Tendencies of Humans: ‘Monster’ An Anime Review

Monster is an anime adaptation of Naoki Urasawa’s manga of the same title. Released in 2004 with Madhouse as its animating studio. The series ran for 74 episodes.

Monster: Overview

Photo | [Pinterest]

The story goes with Doctor Kenzo Tenma, a prolific Japanese neurosurgeon at Eisler Memorial Hospital. His fate changed when he performed surgery on one of the young Liebert twins. Fortunately, he was able to extract the bullet, saving the child’s life. As righteous as this action may be, but not for the hospital director. He is certain that Dr. Tenma will regret his decisions.

Despite being demoted from his position and his fiancée, Eva Heinemann, calling it quits, he still continued with his duty at the hospital. Currently contented and fulfilled, but not for long. Everyone admired Dr. Tenma until he was accused of murder for the deaths of hospital Director Heinemann and 2 other doctors.

This incident made Tenma lose his career. Tenma’s action is to prove his innocence and to find out the root and real culprit behind the director’s and fellows’ death. Still on the run, Tenma’s search for the truth will unveil more mysteries to come.

1st Theme: Weighing options

“Even if you can forget, you can’t erase the past.”

Kenzo Tenma

Although the anime is driven by genres of crime, psychological, and thriller, the plot is set in moral and philosophical dilemmas as well. Both the characters and viewers pondered on which to choose whenever situated in a critical position. This thought makes a distinction in choosing what should be and shouldn’t be done.

In the series, then doctor Tenma is about to perform an operation on a mayor, when a young boy, shot in his head, is rushed to the hospital needing immediate attention. Recalling how he turned down to operate as a Turkish immigrant under his higher up’s instruction just so he can prioritize a famous opera singer’s life, haunts him.  Now faced with a similar situation, he chose the young boy’s life over the mayor’s, resulting in the latter’s death. Tenma’s firm in his moral standing, believing that he made the right decision.

The choice that Tenma made illustrates that everything is like a double-edged sword. It comes with either positive or negative outcomes. Either way, it bears a consequence of its own.

2nd Theme: Nature VS. Nurture

“Hatred is born when people gather.”

Johann Liebert
Photo | [Pinterest]
Photo | [Pinterest]

Another is the argument of nature versus nurture. This dichotomy can be observed with the Liebert twins. Anna and Johann set foot in Germany on their own. They were sent to different orphanages, separating the twins at an early age. Anna was fostered in an orphanage that brought her to nurturing adoptive parents, whereas Johann was in a research/experimental facility disguised as an orphanage.

The differences in upbringing resulted in them being extrapolated from each other. Anna/Nina imbibes her loving nature, while Johann personifies the harsh environment he grew up in. With Anna/Nina or Johann as references, leaving audiences to decide if monsters are born or created.


Characters in the series add depth to the story as well. The main character, Kenzo Tenma, draws viewers more into him through his altruistic and kind nature. He finds resolve through logical and morally-upright decisions. Tenma also believes that life is important, and should be equal for all. Though it is portrayed that he offers help medically, and subliminally, he also helps others in different forms.

Additionally, Johann Liebert, or the boy Tenma saved, parallels Tenma’s character. Johann as the antagonist kept the story going. His wits, charisma, stoicism, and beautiful face are a perfect facade for his ruthless, manipulative, sly, and apathetic character.

Photo | [Pinterest]

Johann’s other half or his fraternal twin, Anna Liebert, is a balance between the two opposing characters. Anna or Nina Fortner from her adoptive parents is characterized as sweet, brilliant, and reliable.

Photo | [Pinterest]

Supporting characters also played crucial roles alike. Tenma’s encounters with Dieter, Dr. Reichwein, Wolfgang Grimmer, Inspector Lunge, and others are crucial to Tenma’s motive. These characters are not just variables, as they have their own backstory in their respective arc in the series.

Photo | [Pinterest]
Photo | [Naoki Urasawa’s Monster Wiki]

Despite the three main character’s differences, there is still one common denominator that makes them alike. The characters in the series are held back by their past. Tenma with his decision in saving Johann, Johann with his cruel and tragic upbringing, and Anna/Nina not pulling the trigger twice at Johann. All these contributed to all the mishaps in their lives.

See Also

Each of the character’s past clearly established the reason why certain circumstances turned out as such. These events that transpired help in understanding and keeping up with the flow of the story. Unlike other animes or series, past events are hints and not just fillers.

Final Thoughts

“Only one thing is equal for all-and that is death.”

Johann Liebert

In general, the series is not just centralized with Tenma’s goal to hold Johann accountable. It also covered other societal issues. Issues concerning class and racial disparity, discrimination, and government’s abuse and control. The anime showcased that these issues can crumble a society.

Furthermore, Monster also reveals human nature in a creative way. Providing a perspective on how vulnerable a person can be—that people may or may not operate through moral conscience, but also through primal and selfish instincts.

Monster is ahead of its time. It may not boast its visuals to pique viewers’ interests, but it could by its story. The anime is gripping and scary, not because of paranormal entities. Rather, it is horrifying because it showcased instead the atrocious and morbid tendencies of humans. It chose to attack its audience psychologically, even questioning one’s reasoning and conscience.

Highly recommended to watch as a breather to most common genres. It offers thrill and feverish through its dark and mind-boggling theme. After completing the series, it will leave its audience to think and realize that monsters are not in children’s books or fairytales.

So, are monsters born or created? Follow this link for anime recommendations

Scroll To Top