Monster is a seinen manga written and illustrated by Naoki Urasawa, published by Shogakukan  

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Monster (モンスター, Monsutā) is a seinen manga written and illustrated by Naoki Urasawa, published by Shogakukan in Big Comic Original between 1994 and 2001, and reprinted in 18 tankōbon volumes. It was adapted by Madhouse as a 74-episode anime TV series, which aired on NTV from April 7, 2004 to September 28, 2005. It was directed by Masayuki Kojima, written by Tatsuhiko Urahata and featured character designs by Kitarō Kōsaka. The manga and anime have both been licensed by Viz Media for an English release. Urasawa later wrote and illustrated the novel Another Monster, a supplement story detailing the events from the manga as from an investigative reporter's point of view, published by Shogakukan in 2002.
The series follows Dr. Kenzo Tenma (天馬 賢三, Tenma Kenzō) as he pursues a young psychopath/sociopath named Johan, whose life Tenma once saved. The story rapidly progresses through a number of locations: it starts in Düsseldorf, Germany, passes through Berlin, Frankfurt, Munich, Wiesbaden, cities in the Czech Republic such as Prague, and other cities and villages.
Both the anime and the manga begin with a passage from The Revelation of St. John the Divine, Chapter 13: Verses 1 & 4
And I saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads, the names of blasphemy. And they worshipped the dragon which gave power unto the beast: and they worshipped the beast, saying, "Who is like unto the beast? Who is able to make war with him?"
The quote is often interpreted as the coming of the Antichrist. This quote is used because of the many parallels and comparisons between one of the main characters of Monster (Johan) and two candidates of the Antichrist as predicted by Nostradamus.
The text on the cover of the first volume reads as follows:
"Düsseldorf, West Germany in 1986. One day, Dr. Kenzo Tenma ignored his boss's order and executed humanitarian rescue of a man's child. That's how this horrible story begins!!"
Dr. Kenzo Tenma is a young Japanese doctor working at the Eisler Memorial Hospital in Düsseldorf during the 80s. A highly accomplished brain surgeon, he appears to have everything on his plate: a promotion in the offing; the favor of the director of the hospital, Heinemann; and Heinemann's daughter, Eva, as his fiancée. However, Tenma grows increasingly dissatisfied with the political bias of the hospital for treating patients, and seizes his chance to change things after a strange massacre brings the twins Johan and Anna Liebert into his hospital. Johan has a gunshot wound to the head and Anna keeps muttering about killing, and Tenma decides to operate on Johan instead of a prominent politician who arrived afterwards. Johan is saved, but the politician dies. Tenma loses all his social standing and Eva as a consequence. However, Heinemann and other doctors in Tenma's way are mysteriously murdered, and both children disappear from the hospital soon after. The police suspect Tenma, as he benefits greatly from this turn of events, but they have no evidence, and so can do no more than question him.
At this point, the story advances to nine years later. Tenma is now the Chief of Surgery at Eisler Memorial Hospital. However, he is about to come face to face with a sociopath - a sociopath that he helped save.
A known criminal is found on the street, hit by a car. He comes under the care of Dr. Tenma, who observes him muttering about a "Monster". Tenma extends kindness to that criminal, and thus the criminal begins to open up for Tenma. Then one evening when Dr. Tenma comes back with a clock as a gift for the criminal, he finds the guard in front of the criminal's room dead, and the criminal himself gone.
Following his trail to the construction site of a half finished building near the hospital, he finds the man. The man, who has developed a sort of doctor-patient friendship with Dr. Tenma, warns him against coming closer, and pleads with him to run away. Tenma refuses, however, and the identity of the man holding the gun pointed at the criminal in the abandoned parking garage is revealed to be the boy whose life Tenma had saved nine years ago - Johan Liebert. Despite Dr. Tenma's attempt to reason with him, Johan shoots the criminal, tells Tenma that he could never kill the man who had saved his life, and then walks off into the night while Tenma is still too shocked to stop him. After this incident, Tenma is again suspected by the police, particularly Inspector Runge, and he tries to find more information about this 'Johan'. He soon discovers that the boy's sister, now named Nina, happily living the life of an adopted daughter to two caring parents, and the only trace of her terrible past are few dreams she has had. Tenma discovers her on her birthday, and manages to prevent her from meeting her brother, but comes too late to prevent Johan from murdering her foster parents. As the show progresses, Tenma learns of the origins of this monster, from the former East Germany's attempt to use a secret orphanage called Kinderheim 511 (where Johan came from) in order to create the "perfect soldiers" through "psychological reprogramming", to the author of a children's book which was used in a eugenics experiment in Czech Republic. He also learns about the scope of the atrocities this "Monster" has committed, and he vows to fix the mistake he made when he saved Johan's life.
While Tenma is the main character of Monster, the story also focuses heavily on those surrounding his search for Johan, such as Inspector Runge (who is investigating Johan's various murders but pins them all on Tenma) and Nina Fortner (aka Anna Liebert, Johan's twin sister), and a host of other characters, minor and major, whose lives have been shaped by the deeds of the monster named 'Johan'.
The series was adapted into an anime by Madhouse, which aired between April and September 2005 on Nippon TV. Directed by Masayuki Kojima, written by Tatsuhiko Urahata, it features original character designs by long-time Studio Ghibli animator Kitarō Kōsaka, which were subsequently adapted into the anime by Shigeru Fujita. It includes an instrumental theme by the Chilean folk music group Quilapayún called "Transiente", originally featured in their 1984 album Tralalí Tralalá. An English dub of Monster is being produced by Salami Studios for Viz Media who has the North American license to this anime. The first boxset of the series is scheduled to hit shelves December 2009. Viz has also recently come to an agreement with Funimation to run Monster (as well as other Viz titles) on FUNimation's Funimation Channel this summer. While some of the Viz titles have already hit the FUNimation Channel, Monster has yet to be scheduled. But, Monster has been scheduled for Syfy's Ani-Mondays. It is scheduled to begin airing in October, with 2 episodes each Monday night.

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