DVD Review: Urasawa Naoki's MONSTER, Episodes 46-60
While I have yet to hold the last few discs in my hands, Australian distributor Siren Visual has stuck the landing and managed to get the anime Monster on DVD in its entirety. The previous attempt to launch the Monster anime on DVD in an English-friendly version, on the other side of the globe, was stopped in 2009 after only 15 of the 74 episodes had been released.
But that hasn't happened this time: the fifth (and last) boxset of Siren Visual's release is safely in storage, and on its way to shops as I write this. And a good thing that is too, as I have just finished watching the penultimate fourth boxset, which covers episodes 46-60.
Time for a review!
The fugitive Doctor Tenma continues to investigate the roots of the mysterious Johan, the killer who has framed him for several murders. Friends and foes of both Tenma and Johan keep clashing with each other throughout Europe, discovering and losing clues as they go along. The trail leads to a house in Prague, where terrible brainwashing experiments were conducted back when Czechoslovakia was still a communist country.
When the police finally catch up with Tenma, he has a difficult choice to make: proving his own innocence won't stop Johan from performing his most terrible plan yet... but a violent escape will make Tenma even more of a criminal than he already is.
The Series Continued:
I swear: when that fifth boxset with the last fourteen episodes arrives, I will probably finish it in a marathon session, and get withdrawal symptoms afterwards.
The Monster anime may be old hat for many, being originally aired ten years ago, but this first viewing has provided me with the most thrills I've had with any series this year so far, animated or not. The story is gripping, locations feel like actual places, characters seem like real people (really Japanese-acting people sometimes, but still).
While Johan's talents are exaggerated, and fears of the supernatural are gleefully mined, the Monster anime does an impressive job keeping the proceedings firmly rooted in reality so far. After having pleasantly meandered all over the place, the story suddenly gets focused again in the last episodes of this set, raising the stakes and increasing the danger. That "genocide" plot that got hinted at in the past, by all those shady organizations? Yep, that one is ON again.
And after having spent 60 episodes with them, some of the supporting characters have become awesome enough to almost warrant a series of their own. These include the brilliant but increasingly unpredictable (and creepy) inspector Lunge, and Tenma's unhinged (and creepy) ex-fiancée Eva. Both have been bitter enemies of both Tenma AND Johan, both are literally opening doors that should have remained shut, and finding out their final roles in the next fourteen episodes promises to be interesting indeed.
So bring on those final discs!
On To The Discs:
By now I can just repeat myself from what I wrote in the previous releases in this series. Siren Visual has released the fourth boxset of Monster on NTSC DVD, locked to region 4.On the plus-side, there are Japanese and English soundtracks, and the English subtitles are excellent. On the minus-side, this fourth set is again barebones, and is not exactly of pristine video quality, due to the age of its transfer.
Which means that if you loved the first three sets, you'll love this one as well. The story is what drives this series, and the story is magnificent. Only one set left to discover!