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Anime review of 'Monster'

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'Naoki Urasawa's Monster'

Rating:
Star5
Star
Star
Star
Star

UPDATE: 02/24/14, I received correspondence that Monster has been licensed in Australia and New Zealand by Siren Visual and has begun releasing the series! Here is the link they provided me.

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'Monster' is a political crime and suspense thriller by Naoki Urasawa originally published as a manga by Shogakukan in their publication Big Comic Original magazine and later adapted to a cartoon series by Mad House, Shogakukan Productions, and Video Audio Project (VAP). The series follows a young neurosurgeon, Dr. Kenzo Tenma, who is suspected of murdering his superiors at the hospital he works at. Running for his life in an attempt to catch the killer, Tenma must uncover the plot that is slowly enveloping the entire country of Germany before it kills him.

The story revolves around a young doctor who disobeys his directors orders and takes one patient (a young boy) over another (a rich statesmen). Afterwards Kenzo is threatened with being terminated and has all his research stolen by his superiors. Just as his career is about to end, the superiors all die mysteriously and the young boy disappears.

Years later, Kenzo is successful but accusations are leveled at him for the murder of his bosses. He discovers who the killer may be and takes off to prove his innocence. He meets new friends, enemies, and becomes entangled in an ever enlarging snare of crime, corruption, and evil.

Set in the post Soviet Germany, political tensions are high. Racism, nationalism, and fear commingle to show the dark side of humanity. This is a tense and fragile time in the country and not exactly a subject matter that is hit upon in Western or Far East media. Secret organizations and world war spanning plots litter the story lines with twists and turns.

This series is spectacular. It has a deep, hard hitting story line, it practically leaks emotion, and it has a fantastic cast of fully realized characters. That said, it has a few pitfalls. For one the twists are pretty constant but sometimes you can't help but feel like they tried too hard to put an emotional turn in. Also some of the dialogue is stiff or inhumane.

The defining aspect of the series is how human it is. Everything is bright and cheerful and they dark and gritty. Characters die and the cast keeps moving forward. Terrible realizations are made but the world doesn't stop. So through any bad--this show is still amazing.

The series ran on SciFi Channel's 'Ani-Mondays' but currently there is not a reliable distribution to get DVD's through (CORRECTION: see update at top of article). However, there is talk that Guillermo Del Toro could be interested in picking up the story to be made into a HBO series. Let's hope this really happens!

I give the series five out of five dancing hamsters! This series has it all to the point that I don't mind a few problems here and there.

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