Adaptation Review- Monster

Monster by Naoki Urasawa is my favourite manga series (though currently I have only read 6 volumes), so for this weeks adaptation review I decided to be brave and watch the first episode of the anime adaptation, produced in 2004. I say brave because I watched the first episode of the Tokyo Ghoul anime adaptation not long ago and strongly disliked it- though I know this is a very popular series, I thought the gore, surprisingly, was better in the original and the Japanese (technically, correct, so this issue really comes down to me) pronunciation of the characters names to be confusing and a little annoying at the frequency. Luckily, I didn’t experience the same dislike watching Monster.

Firstly, the first episode was shockingly similar to the manga. All of the characters looked identical and even the dialogue was the same. This could be see as either a positive or a negative, sadly I viewed it as the latter- I already love the manga series so was hoping for something a little different from the anime.

Other small details made up for this in my eyes. From the start, parts of the title sequence entice interest in the viewer- images that stood out included blood splatters that revealed etchings of characters to be introduced later, and the image of Tenma holding a gun reflected in an eye. An impressive sequence also happened later in the episode: when Tenma is forced to make a decision and the voices of other influencing characters sound in his head, the view shifts to circle Tenma, drawing the viewer into the protagonists overwhelming feelings of pressure and confusion. 

Music is used sparingly but effectively. During the episodes tensest scene- when police are just about to enter a crime scene they have been called to- the sounds of bad weather and dramatic music mix to effectively create a tense atmosphere. Again, fragmented violin music is employed later in the episode for a similar purpose.

On the other hand, I felt some of the angles used made Tenma appear strange or even ugly (something which annoyed me slightly as everything in the manga was so beautiful and well drawn) and in one scene, his facial expression didn’t seem to match his emotions. Whilst the directors reveals some rather controversial opinions over tea with Tenma, the protagonist should have grown angry. Indeed, he does clench his fist. However, his expression is closer to sadness- either his face only looked this way to me, and the closed fists still reveal his anger, or a change was made here that I did not appreciate.

The last scene was by far the best scene, with lighting (the light from a fire) used effectively to begin to shape a villain. The final utterance of the episode is also really creppy, so fits the mangas style well.

Overall, the anime was too similar to the manga for me to be interested enough to enjoy it. Whilst this was a good adaptation, I don’t think I will be continuing with the series, as I won’t get anything new out of it and would rather just finish the manga.


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