Watch this masterpiece on Netflix before it’s too late

Watch this masterpiece on Netflix before it’s too late

Watch this masterpiece on Netflix before it's too late

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When you think of anime you think of Naruto, Dragonball Z or One Piece. Over-the-top combat sequences with planet-destroying consequences. Slow motion battles that take multiple episodes to resolve, sentimental flashbacks and conversations. Dear god, the conversation. Impossible monologues that drag on mercilessly.

And I have no problem with that! I to like these shows and everything that goes with them. But the Narutos of the World are a small – albeit hugely popular – part of the anime’s vast following. If you dig deeper, you’ll find a host of world-class shows like you’ve never seen before.

Shows like Monster, for example.

Currently streaming on Netflix for the first time, Monster is an epic mystery show based – panel for panel – on the multi-award winning manga by acclaimed artist Naoki Urusawa. In Monster, our protagonist, Dr. Kenzo Tenma, is a genius Japanese surgeon caught in a maze of conspiracy and intrigue after saving a child from certain death. A child who grows up to become the sinister Johan, the main antagonist of the series and the result of a eugenics experiment aimed at creating the perfect soldier.

Monster is a multi-layered masterpiece that spans across Europe. Beginning in Germany and expanding into the Czech Republic, Tenma attempts to right the wrongs he believes he has done by rescuing the monstrous Johan, a sociopath who leaves a trail of chaos, death, and destruction wherever he sets foot.

Monster’s main antagonist, Johan.


Tenma’s mission is simple: find the obnoxious Johan, whose life he once saved, and kill him.

But in Monster, nothing is simple. It’s all complex and confusing – in a good way. Multitudes of well-drawn characters are introduced over the course of Monster’s flawless 74-episode run. Some surprise you, all are memorable. One by one, each spends its time in the sun, via tight concentric arcs that seamlessly feed into the series’ main threads – but the sinister specter of Johan, the series’ “monster” is ever-present. It hovers over every interaction like a dense fog, complicating issues, obscuring truths. The few times Johan shows up, you hold your breath. Monster’s magic is how you, the viewer, are sucked into Johan’s vortex. There is a light charm to her evil. Even in animated form, there’s a seriousness to his charisma.

And there is also fear. He is a villain who kills without mercy, but never without thinking.

I’m still not 100% sure Monster will get the ending the series deserves. I remember feeling confused. Disappointed ? Maybe. This is a running theme in much of Urusawa’s work. I felt the same with Urasawa’s other acclaimed manga like 20th Century Boys and Billy Bat. But Monster comes closest to crafting something worthy of its carefully crafted web of plots. I won’t spoil this, but it’s messy. And it robs viewers of the catharsis we could have dreamed of after dozens of episodes chasing a ghost across Europe. But maybe that’s the point. We cannot atone for our mistakes or change our history through acts of violence. We can save ourselves by peaceful means. It is our responsibility.

Monster is a notoriously difficult show to consume legally. It is worth noting. Having the ability to easily watch this from start to finish on a mainstream service almost feels like a privilege at this point. Don’t waste it.


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