Is Dr Tenma or Johan the Real Monster? 

Dr. Kenzo Tenma leads a sophisticated lifestyle as a neurosurgeon in Germany. Will saving a young boy named Johan ruin his life and unleash a dangerous Monster?

Have you ever watched something that terrifies you, and excites you at the same time? 

This is a horrible show with horrible people, but I am enjoying every single moment of it. I know that may be pretty trashy to say – rather openly admit – but I’ve got to be honest with myself. 

Monster Episode 1 – 4 Review 

As I’ve decided to put my thoughts on the first four episodes of an 18-year-old anime online, I’m going to go ahead and assume that you’ve already seen this series. Or rather, at least heard of it – so I’m going to skip the brief introductory recap I usually do concerning shows I write about. 

I think being a doctor would be terrifying – much less a neurosurgeon at a prestigious hospital (here’s looking at you, Chocolate).  

Nonetheless, Dr. Kenzou Tenma has been dealing with the pressure of that profession this entire time, along with the ‘politics of the hospital’ to boot.  There are of course, many professions where catty people reside (I’ve worked in more than a few) but it generally does seem that the more illustrious the position, the worse-off the people that surround you. 

I know the anime is making Dr. Tenma out to be a “good guy” – and quite honestly, he is – but he got to this ‘bad place’ in life through complacency, as Tenma openly admits.  

Does this make Dr. Tenma a ‘monster’? 

Should we fault Dr. Tenma for using his natural-born talents to survive in waters too deep for those with lesser skills? No, absolutely not.  

To be fair – I thought it was genius that Tenma got that far in his career by playing a very convoluted game of cat and mouse with his associates.  

Udo and Eva Heinemann Manipulate Tenma 

Due to playing a dangerous game, Tenma received dangerous consolation prizes – mainly the former Director Heinemann’s evil daughter Eva, and the sacrifice of his research for the academic “greater good” of the director himself.  

Working as a united front, the father-daughter Heinemann duo worked to enslave Tenma’s mind and body, bending it to their will. (I.e. Eva controlling Tenma sexually, and the director controlling his social and academic studies.) 

It’s a pretty good scheme they had going, and something that has been done repeatedly, according to Eva’s reaction at the party when she gave Tenma back the engagement ring. Eva then proceeded to immediately cozy up to the newest contender for her father to manipulate. 

It wasn’t funny, but I did laugh when Eva switched up from the “it’s just business attitude” at the party, to “can’t we just talk?” after her father’s funeral.  

I’m sure that girl will land on her feet, though.  

After all, once you are accustomed to living a certain way (money, power, status amongst the ‘popular and pretty’ people of society, etc.) it would get mighty hard to go back to a ‘normal’ life.  

If Eva had ever lived like a normal person, at all. 

Is Dr. Kenzo Tenma Evil? 

Maybe… Dr.Tenma was always meant to inherit the role of Head Surgeon. 

Hear me out – I believe that the creator, whether you consider that to be god, jesus christ, buddha, jehova, whoever – has a cruel sense of humor. This series began with a reading from the book of revelations, replacing the word ‘beast’ for ‘monster’ – as a nod to serial killer Johan Liebert. 

Tenma, despite using his special gifts and playing the game – was cast aside by the medical society (I.e., Director Heinemann and his peers at Eisler Memorial Hospital) for insubordination, and a bruised ego.  

Tenma resigns to his fate, but one moment of speaking his true wishes aloud captures the interest of a little devil named Johann at his bedside. 

Because Tenma helped the devil, the devil helps Tenma achieve his dream. 

Nine years later, the devil returns and is “cleaning up society” or whatever Johann’s goals are to be. 

There are good and bad people we encounter every day – but one person’s good is not the same as another person’s bad, if you catch my meaning. 

Johann murdered innocent people, but at the same time you could consider the director, head surgeon, and the other guy (forgot his name haha) criminals, as well.  

Just because they haven’t killed anybody directly, despite ordering hits on people’s livelihoods and careers…does that make them completely innocent? 

Just because Mr. Junkers wanted nice things and developed a habit of breaking into buildings because of his gift for picking locks…does that make him completely guilty? 

While Dr. Tenma is not completely evil, his good intentions paved the way for a hellish chain reaction ultimately beyond his control. 

Why Does Dr Tenma take Personal Responsibility for Johan Liebert’s Actions? 

Although we would like to think so in society, all lives are not treated equally. Or worthy of even being taken into consideration in times of crisis. Just as lives were judged based on status at Eisler Memorial Hospital, they are also judged accordingly in other circles. 

I know it is not the point of Monster to push a jagged corporate-capitalist agenda (or, maybe it is-) but if Dr. Tenma had just kept his mouth shut and ignored the dying boy Johan, he could have saved many lives. 

As they say, “a bullet can change the course of history”. 

But, Dr. Tenma didn’t. 

Tenma disobeyed his superiors in favor of his conscience, deciding to take responsibility for his previously complacent lifestyle, and lost everything.  

At the end of the day, what was it really all for?  

Was Johann worth saving at the cost of unleashing years of internal turmoil within himself simply because he felt guilty for living good by doing what others wanted? 

Lots of philosophical questions were posed in these past four episodes, and I guess the answers all depend on your own morality. 

Either way, I’m excited to see where this all goes. 

But, tell me your thoughts. 

Who do you think was in the wrong here – Johann or Tenma? 

Were Johan and his sister even the biological children of the Liebert family? 

And…why does Detective Lunge have such a hard-on for proving Tenma guilty? 

Leave your thoughts in the comment section below, we’d love to hear from you! ☺ Also be sure to follow us for more Monster Season One Reviews and Discussions!       

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☆ In Asian Spaces    

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Author: In Asian Spaces

I write in my personal time and I haven't published much at all. I don't know if that qualifies me as a writer or not, but I'd like to change that. I have a deep passion for travel, cinema and (mainly) East Asian things, but I plan on writing various things to keep it spicy. Let's prosper together ~ よろしくおねがいします。

12 thoughts on “Is Dr Tenma or Johan the Real Monster? ”

      1. Maybe someone will see the value in it soon. I would hope it’s Crunchyroll, since their library is huge now after various streaming service mergers. As long as it’s not Disney+, it would be fine. It seems like shows licensed by Disney go to their platform to die (like Summertime Rendering)

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I hope so, too. It’s been a while since I watched anything from Crunchyroll and I heard there have been massive changes with the Funimation merger. Disney+ is a big sack of no and I don’t want Mickey Mouse to touch Monster with a 20-foot pole. Interestingly enough, I considered one option to be Discotek since they made a career of relicensing so many series and movies. I did a list about anime they should rescue.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I’ve never heard of Discotek. I’m going to check your list out – it really would be better if Dinsey+ stopped trying to license anime (and kdrama) all together. I didn’t know CR changed a lot with the Funimation merger – I stopped using the platform for the most part a few years ago. Hulu surprisingly has a good amount of anime…but Disney owns too large a stake for comfort and I hate all of the commericals.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. They’re not as big of an anime distribution company as Funimation or Viz, but they have a good-sized library. You can watch a good portion of their catalog on RetroCrush since they have a partnership there. Disney+ was licensing anime and K-Dramas besides The Wind Rises? Could’ve fooled me. I hear you about Hulu. I first saw Kimba the White Lion on there years ago, but Hulu removed that series and I have a theory it was because of Disney’s stake in the company, especially if you know about that controversy associated with that anime and a certain Disney movie. That was before they bought out Fox which gave them a bigger share! It’s just mad how Mickey Mouse owns so many things including a slice of Vice Media of all things, for example.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Oh wait, I’ve heard of RetroCrush. I have that app on my Roku device. I didn’t know they had any sort of partnerships going on.

        Lol, that is definitely why Kimba is gone from Hulu. You know Disney can’t have competition over anything. And yes – they locked Summertime Render in D+ jail – shame because if it was airing alongside Japan it would have been the top anime this season.

        Well…I hear Vice Media is going down, along with a lot of the msm/ ‘edgy’ rags. Buzzfeed is dead, too. Disney Plus membership is plummeting, they are basically trying to give Hulu away for free…Mickey Mouse wants to own everything, but that doesn’t mean people want to be bothered with their nonsense. It seems like that company has the kiss of death on many media these days (namely, the ongoing MCU phase 4 disaster so bad they just skipped to phase 5.)

        Liked by 1 person

      6. That’s right. Most of the stuff on there is from Discotek. I think it’s cool that you can watch random series and movies without an account even though you have to deal with ads. But there are some hidden treasures there.

        I seriously wouldn’t be surprised if that really was the case why Kimba was booted from Hulu. God forbid some random viewer put the two and two together with some of the characters, scenes, and plot points. I believe Claw is the most ripped off anime character of all time with him being a black maned lion with a wounded left eye and has hyena henchmen. Just saying. Hahahaha! 😛 It’s truly monopolistic. I wasn’t aware of that with Summertime Render. It’s an online only sort of thing? That’s such a bummer with D+ handling that series. I feel like they wouldn’t know what to do with Japanese and Korean media.

        That wouldn’t surprise me even though I don’t really watch those types of news and media things. Disney Plus membership is declining? Oh, wow! I remember how that service was getting so much hype when it came out. I lost track of a lot of the Marvel stuff. Don’t even get me started about the other controversies like the cultural appropriation madness they’ve done or tried to do.

        Liked by 1 person

      7. Oh, I never knew that. That’s cool to know.

        Lol, I feel like checking out the Kimba series now to compare similarities. Just your description of Claw sounds hilarious because it’s literally Scar. And yes, Summertime Render is only on D+ Japan…I guess Disney thought the rest of the world has no interest watching along while it’s airing? I mean, it’s not like everyone watches the series and discusses it….according to Disney, at least. They are just greedy, instead of leaving J&K media to the outlets who have been distributing it (illegally and then legally) for years, they’d rather pretend they know what they are doing licensing it.

        Yep, Disney Plus is a massive failure. It’s reportedly not as popular as estimates expected, and Disney is rumored to be searching for external content and established franchises to license. I don’t like superhero stuff, but the MCU failures are always a delight to check in on for a good laugh. Have they been doing cultural appropriation? I don’t even pay attention to that sort of stuff anymore, lol.

        Liked by 1 person

      8. Sure thing. I thought I would share that information. It’s cool how they have so many shows and movies available. I saw they added some new ones like Megazone 23 which I haven’t seen in a long time. That’s not even counting the other things I want to see. They even have sub and dub options depending on the show. I could give you some recommendations for series and movies if you’d like.

        Hahaha! That would be a good comparison and you can throw Ringing Bell in there, too. Claw literally is the original Scar. Sure, he’s not related to Kimba and doesn’t kill his father, but Scar TOTALLY ripped him off. The Lion King isn’t 100% identical, but it’s obvious which characters, plot points, and scenes they stole from and still never owned up to it. The most insane example is in one episode where Kimba doesn’t think he can save the kingdom and you see his murdered father’s spirit in the sky to motivate him and that “Simba, remember who you are” scene is shot-for-shot. Watching Kimba is interesting to see the comparisons and also to see anime history because it was the first anime TV show to be created and broadcast in color in 1965 which predated Speed Racer by a year and it’s from Osamu Tezuka (creator of Astro Boy, Black Jack, and Dororo). Also, the original Kimba show and the Jungle Emperor Leo 2009 remake movie are both on RetroCrush.

        I had to stop myself because I researched so much about that controversy. Anyways, that’s a shame with Summertime Render and Disney fumbling the ball with distribution. No disagreement there.

        I wasn’t aware of Disney+ failing which is surprising to me. What external content would they get? I guess people want to see things outside of Disney, Pixar, Star Wars, Marvel, or NetGeo. I haven’t seen the MCU shows, so I couldn’t tell you anything. Some examples of Disney doing cultural appropriation would be them trying and failing to trademark Dia de los Muertos with Coco, but they succeeded with trademarking “Hakuna Matata” which is such a super common Swahili phrase and one could argue they stole from 5 African countries where that language has official status (Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, and the DRC). There’s also the Aulani resort in Hawaii that’s high-class, but loaded with Polynesian kitsch and only 4 miles away from an actual Native Hawaiian community.

        Liked by 1 person

      9. Really? Wow, it seems like they have a lot of options. Yes, please give me some recs ☺

        So Disney basically stole the entire outline of Kimba and changed the characters and plots slightly to avoid copyright infringement. Not to mention, made the “Simba, remember who you are” scene perverted with the subliminal ‘sex’ written in the stars. Classic Disney. (I need to check out the Jungle Emperor Leo on RetroCrush)

        I heard Disney wanted well-known franchises (like ‘Friends’, for instance) but seeing how Netflix went that route and now has a reputation for axeing original shows, I don’t think it’s going to go well. (I don’t like superhero stuff or marvel, but I see so much backlash online regarding their new series/phase 4/phase 5)

        Oh, I remember hearing that they successfully trademarked Hakuna Matata. I didn’t know they tried that with day of the dead, as well. While Hakuna Matata isn’t super common, day of the dead is well-known enough that it should fall into a commonplace word no longer elgible for copyright/trademark – like kleenex tissues, for example. I’m surprised not one of those African nations tried or even attempted to sue Disney over that.

        So there was controversy surrounding Aulani, then? I remember watching Ordinary Adventure’s on YT’s trip there and wondering why they went to a resort when the island outside of it seemed really pretty.

        Liked by 1 person

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