YMMV / Monster

The Manga and Anime:

  • Acceptable Ethnic Targets: All villains in the story are either German or Czech Caucasians (the most dangerous of all being, actually, a young blonde man), whereas the ethnic minorities are portrayed in a positive light (for instance, all Turks and Vietnamese are hard-working immigrants who have to put up with groundless German intolerance on a daily basis). One of the story arcs includes a neo-Nazi group that tries to set fire to the Turkish quarter in Hamburg... and the police, fire brigades, and even emergency ambulances are nowhere to be found while that's taking place. That is, until everything's already wrapped up.
    • In fairness, that same arc depicts most of the leaders of the Turkish community as people who make prejudiced insinuations about Turkish sex workers and women seeking out interracial relationships with ethnic Germans or involving themselves with German clientele getting what they deserve when they (invariably) disappear or face other adverse circumstances, to say nothing of the fact that they initially dismiss Tenma's warnings about the extremists' plan at least in part by pointing out the fact that he is a Japanese outsider who is unaffiliated with the Turkish community, and have to be set straight by a respected Turkish elder. While their wariness is somewhat understandable, their attitudes still seem to stem from xenophobic impulses.
  • Alternative Character Interpretation: Johan. Is he truly heartless? Or is he just broken? Or is he heartless because he was broken?
    • His relationship with Tenma has a number of possibilities. Was he serious about seeing Tenma as a Father figure and genuinely want to make his life better? Or was he just screwing with him? Or was he screwing with him because he thought it would make his life better?
  • Base-Breaking Character: Dieter. Is he a nice tag along kid or a Bratty Half-Pint who is Anvilicious about being nice?
  • Broken Base: The ending is considered to be divisive - or, at least, the final shot of the ending.
  • Complete Monster: This work, dedicated to exploring whether there is such a thing as pure evil, concludes that while anybody, no matter now heinous, can be redeemed, it is Johan Liebert's refusal to seek redemption that makes him the titular monster. A sadistic chessmaster and Manipulative Bastard since he learned to walk and talk, Johan murdered his own foster parents and manipulated over 50 adults and children into massacring each other even as a preteen, and, as an adult, Johan is on a personal journey to become, in his own words, as dark as possible. He is also trying to find out if there is anyone as evil as he is out there, or, failing that, forcing the heroic Dr. Tenma, and/or his own pacifistic sister, Nina Foertner, to kill him in cold blood. In this way, he hopes to establish that even the best people can become just like him. Along the way he convinces children to jump from rooftops, gets a recovering alcoholic drunk before throwing him off a building, sets a highly-occupied library aflame, and convinces various serial killers to murder every foster family he has ever lived with, as part of his quest to become an unperson. In the end, Johan tries to manipulate the population of an entire town into slaughtering each other, and, failing at this, prepares to shoot a child in the head just to torture Tenma. Numerous Freudian Excuses are proposed for Johan's behavior, yet each one is ultimately undermined, revealing that in the end, Johan simply is pure, unadulterated evil.
  • Crowning Moment of Funny: There is an unintentionally hilarious moment when Gustav gets hit by the police cruiser.
  • Crowning Music of Awesome:
    • Al Green's "Let's Stay Together" being played in Episode 23 when Roberto and Eva are at the bar.
    • "Medium Shot" with its jittery violin and clattering percussion (including the triangle!) is the one of the most delightfully creepy songs in the OST.
  • Ear Worm: How much of an ear worm is the Ronette's "Be My Baby"? People have reported getting it stuck in their head from reading about it in the manga.
  • Ending Fatigue: 74 episodes. Shots sustained simply to reproduce the manga rather than narrative purpose. Repeatedly winding up suspense to yet another lack of climax. Monster in general is a series that likes to take its sweet time in doing things. In general, it loved to do this thing where it would basically make the main protagonist, Tenma, disappear for a little while, introduce a side character or small set of side characters, give them A Day in the Limelight and sufficient Character Development to get the audience to like or remember them to some extent, and then much later reintroduce Tenma to clean up whatever the new characters were doing. The epitome of this would be the Bayern arc, for introducing about six new characters that went on with their own problems for, in the manga, about 15-20 chapters before Tenma even shows back up, and even then, the main plot is largely disconnected from this. All-in-all, the characters this arc focused on really didn't impact the plot in any huge way but was largely still compelling enough to read through to when it would.
  • Ensemble Darkhorse: Grimmer, Lunge, and Martin to name a few.
  • Family-Unfriendly Aesop: Franz Bonaparta's books deliberately contain plenty of these like, "Sometimes you're simply screwed no matter which choice you take."
  • Genius Bonus: Aside from the extra understanding gleaned by those with medical degrees, there's a bonus for film or animation students. Lipsky could be a puppeteer just because it's a part of his character, or because it's both creepy and sad...or it could double as a Shout-Out to the Prague school of animation, which, based on when Monster is set, would have still been going strong during Lipsky's childhood. This particular localized trend produced a lot of work based on puppetry and dark fairy tales, both elements which compliment Monster nicely. And of course, Lipsky's first met in Prague.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: When Grimmer first meets Tenma, they hold a short conversation. Grimmer's first line starts with "Thanks." The second starts with "Thanks again." And now Patrick Seitz, who voiced Grimmer, is voicing Sky High, and the lines sound kind of familiar.
  • Ho Yay: Roberto describes Johan to Dr. Reichwein as if he were having an affair with the man. Also doubles as No Yay for a lot of people.
  • Iron Woobie: Tenma.
  • It Was His Sled: Johan's a cross-dresser.
  • Jerkass Woobie: Eva.
  • Like You Would Really Do It: Will Tenma actually confront the problems of his Thou Shall Not Kill code? Of course not, don't be ridiculous. Possibly subverted by the finale, however. If Johan escaped to continue his rampage, it wouldn't do Tenma's idealism any good.
  • Magnificent Bastard: Johan Liebert, the monster himself.
  • Mainstream Obscurity: Despite its massive praise, this series isn't watched or read that often.
  • Mind Game Ship: Johan and Tenma. To a lesser extent, Johan and Nina.
  • Misaimed Fandom: Most people appreciate Johan's Magnificent Bastardry. Others seem to ignore all that, and move on to a Roberto-like level of worship.
  • Moral Event Horizon:
    • Johan skips right past it in the first volume and keeps going from there.
    • One could even say that this series doesn't have one. People are redeemed (sometimes at a large cost) for crimes so heinous even death wouldn't be enough in most series. At the end, even Johan is forgiven by his sister, who says "Even if we were the only two people left in the whole world, I would forgive you."
    • One of the main themes of the series is the question of whether or not the Horizon even exists: is there a point where a person is so far gone as to be truly irredeemable?
      • In the end, the answer is a mixture of yes and no. No one, not even Johan is truly beyond redemption, but what makes Johan irredeemable is the fact that he doesn't want to be redeemed.
      • Even this is ambiguous as Johan's lack of desire for redemption seems to stem from his belief that he is irredeemable. "Some things can never be amended."
  • Nightmare Fuel: The show, for the most part.
  • Nightmare Retardant: Franz Bonaparta's books are supposed to be ominous, but honestly, they try way too hard. And the silly artwork doesn't help.
  • One-Scene Wonder: Gustav Milch.
  • The Scrappy: Some characters, Eva for being a Rich Bitch to everyone for starters, though she does get better.
  • Some Anvils Need to Be Dropped: Tenma is this trope on legs. Without the Aesops he provides, this series would be far too grim to bear.
  • Tear Jerker: Many, but in particular Grimmer's death. Not to mention the poor guy with his baby in Ruhenheim whose wife was killed and he's crying begging for a gun and revenge.
  • Too Cool to Live: Martin.
  • The Woobie: Tenma, Grimmer, Nina, Dieter, and Wim are all excellent examples.

The Film:

  • Crowning Moment of Heartwarming: For all the trouble in their relationship, Aileen and Selby do have some pretty cute moments together.
  • Hollywood Homely : Zig-Zagged. While the makeup, prosthetics, and dumpy wardrobe make Charlize Theron look much more "average" than she usually does, it's still hard to disguise the fact that it's Charlize Theron! In an interview on the DVD extras, she points out that Wuornos was not ugly, she was a beautiful woman who had had a very hard life.
  • Hollywood Pudgy: While Theron gained 35 pounds to play the role, she's not that much bigger than average. Wuornos herself wasn't that big either, just out of shape from being in prison.
  • Jerkass Woobie: Aileen.
  • Tear Jerker: Several moments, but the last ten or fifteen minutes of the film especially qualify.

The Book: