Monster – episode 74

February 9, 2006 on 1:15 pm | In Monster | 18 Comments

“The Real Monster”

Last week I wrote something very brief for the conclusion of Monster. I quickly scrapped it because I think the series deserves something more. When I reach the end of certain anime, I feel as if the series in question was more of a waking dream. Monster was just that nebulous, with an epilogue episode that very deliberately leaves some questions not so much unanswered as it leaves their answers unrevealed to the audience.

Ultimately, Monster is one of my favourite anime ever. If something can stir as much emotion as this, it’s definitely worthwhile. I laughed (very briefly), I cried (explosively), I convulsed in horror (on several occasions). Monster comes with my highest recommendation.

Epic spoilers – but not every spoiler possible!

There’s no story to “The Real Monster”, as it simply acts as a way of showing where all of the characters are, an indeterminate amount of time after the events of “The Landscape of the End”. Tenma, for example, has been exhonerated and cut his hair; Nina graduates from university with her sights set on becoming a lawyer, and Eva looks like she’s come to terms with many of the issues that she has faced.

There’s little to say about an episode like this except give opinions on the fates of all of the characters. It was nice to see characters that hadn’t been around for upwards of twenty episodes; they had almost been forgotten, but a simple sighting of their face was enough to bring the memories flooding back. I had just about forgotten Detective Suk and Verdemann, but as they stood at Grimmer’s grave I could recall the intricacies of Prague. That Lunge came to meet them was an apt choice: Suk and Verdemann took Grimmer’s clearance as their own, and Grimmer was the only person Lunge ever came close to being a “friend” of.
Through Grimmer, Suk and Verdemann were able to become more honest people, and Lunge managed to break through to his sister. The change of career that Lunge has sought will clearly be much better for his psychological welfare. One can’t suggest that he could “rebuild” his life, as there was very little there to rebuild in the first place: when you’re an emotionless husk, there’s very little point in trying to return to that husk once it’s gone.

It was only mildly surprising to find that the twins’ mother was still alive, blessed with a bad memory. Anyone who had committed what she had most likely would have found their mind failing them as well. Tenma still had a desire to find answers in his quest, and so he tried to unlock the final memory. He could not, but what he got was an incomplete story: one of a mother’s “unconditional” love. Tenma’s lesson was that of the names, which I feel became the final note for the character of Nina.

The audience never learns the “true” names of Nina and Johan, but this is because the characters do not need to know them. A name is what someone calls you, but it does not matter if that is not how you consider yourself. Very briefly, in the early episodes of the series, Tenma considered Nina to be “Anna”, but came to understand that she identified herself as Nina. Therefore she was Nina thereafter. When Johan was masquerading as the killer version of his sister, he called himself Anna; that is what he considers her.
Nina returns to her old life upon the conclusion of the ultimate suicide débacle; this goes only to show that Nina thought of herself as Nina Fortner, and the Fortners had been her parents for all of these years. To tell Nina her “true” name would be a disservice to the character, as at her age identity is something you forge yourself. Nina does not want to forget the horrible times, but she must advance as the Fortner’s daughter.

It’s strange, but despite all of the deaths and loss most of the characters came out of this story as better people: even Grimmer discovered his humanity at his end. To list everything would be pointless, as most of it is self evident in “The Real Monster”: however, I am satisfied with the outcomes of just about every character. I was even tickled to briefly see the reunion of the old team of Dieter and Heckel and was most pleased with Eva.

So what do I think of the very end? The ending in which Johan gets away? I really am not sure. Does it mean that Johan will go on another rampage, or does it mean that he will live a quiet Johan life of his own? Regardless, anyone who learns of his escape will most likely be filled with some sort of dread. I would like to read it that Johan has finally made Tenma understand him, and he knows that Nina understands him, so he can continue to exist.
It is strange to think that Johan was only on a quest to make others know his pain, but somehow one can grow a bizarre sympathy and forget that he has committed the most sins of all of the characters in retaliation for all of the sins that had been commited against him.
Wild Johans can not be caged, but still one would expect his hospital window to have had, say, iron bars on it. Presenting such a happy ending is somewhat soured by this escape attempt for the reason of comfort levels for other characters. Still, some people still found Johan quite charismatic and sympathetic, so they were probably pleased.
Personally I found the appeal of Monster was in contemplating how much of a bastard Johan was; I was horrified by so many of his actions and, while I never expected rough justice, I expected … slightly more competent justice.

I placed the conclusion to this article in the introduction, so that those who didn’t want Monster spoiled for them could receive my final say. Thanks for reading!


  1. I just watched this – could the ending for Johan depend on what floor of the hospital his room is on?

    Comment by Dave — April 20, 2006 #

  2. I think Johan is smarter than that.

    Comment by Alex — April 20, 2006 #

  3. Actually, I don’t think there was ever any possibility of “justice” insofar as Johan being imprisoned.

    There is so little proof of his existence, let alone that he did everything he did. In addition to that, for the few things that they can come close to proving, it would be very easy for a good lawyer – or Johan himself, as Schuwald says that Johan knows the law – could further muddle things. And a jury would be sympathetic towards him, especially given his charisma and good looks. The fact that there is so little concrete evidence, the fact that Johan himself would make most of the jurors believe that he couldn’t *possibly* have done those things means that the likelihood of a guilty verdict would be extremely low. I would have doubts as to whether the German equivalent of a DA would even want to attempt the case.

    And if on the off chance that he was convicted, we’ve seen Johan’s ability to manipulate and control; I’m not sure that the prison system could succesfully control a person like Johan, with his uncanny ability to perceive, persuade, and manipulate those around him.

    Comment by Mumei — June 22, 2006 #

  4. It’s the best pyschological thriller I’ve ever seen in my life. I like how they ended it, but there are still a few missing pieces that will keep you thinking …..

    Comment by fuhnie — July 9, 2006 #

  5. The ending upset me. It was so nice to see all of Tenma’s friends living happy lives. I was happy for all of them. And then we find out Johan escapes. As much as I’d like to hope he’s changed, this is not realistic, and the same thing that happened before is just going to happen again. Hundreds will die and Nina’s life will be made difficult again. I think I would have been happier if they just left it with Johan in a coma. Before I watched this episode, one of my theories was that Tenma gave him a lobotomy. I would have been happier with that kind of ending too.

    Comment by Vicki — July 14, 2006 #

  6. i finally finish monster but the thing that bother me the most is that one piece of memory. did the mother wanted to save johan or mistake him for his sister. if anyone know please tell me.

    Comment by jeanie — December 26, 2006 #

  7. Well, Johan is no longer an illusion or a mystery. He probably got fingerprinted and photographed. Runge would have made sure that he is in the system. He won’t get too far this time. As for the mother, I think she gave out one the kids just because she had to. Sacrifice one to save another or loose both! Great show.

    Comment by Nitin — March 27, 2007 #

  8. Can someone explain this anime to me in simple clear words??? What the hell are johan’s motivations fer doing all that he did. I understand it’s to erase his existence and all that but why the hell does he want to do that and whats this landscape of the end thing??? From reading the blog I come to the conclusion that most of the same doubts that I have, others had too until the final 2 episodes so a clear explanation of what happens in those 2 eps too will be a lot helpful!

    Comment by jake — April 19, 2007 #

  9. Johann’s goal was to show Tenma the isolation and emptiness of a world where you’ve lost everything, as Johann had when he and his sister were torn apart.

    In a strange way, Tenma was the only person Johann had truly connected himself with besides his sister (whom he had become removed from). He wanted to annihilate all that was himself and all that was Tenma so that at the end (before dieing perhaps?) Tenma would feel what he did.

    And the scene with the Twin’s mother is one of the most chilling things I’ve seen in my entire life, fiction or not.

    Comment by bob — June 30, 2007 #

  10. “I think Johan is smarter than that” doesnt really apply when you remember this is Johan we’re talking about. Intelligence is far from the only factor, especially when you consider what he has been through. I have to agree that the ending really does depend on what floor of the building he was on.

    After all this and the closure he recieved in recent events? Im suspecting it is more likely to be a suicide than an escape, and it seems to have been portrayed very softly to represent his final rest, not as a monster, but a forgiven, re-saved somebody finally with a name of their own.

    Comment by nullfield — October 30, 2007 #


    In terms with the last scene… I agree with the last commenter. In a nutshell, this series involved 100% character development directly or indirectly. The last scene may be illustrating Johan’s turn for undergoing positive character development.

    Comment by Mark — January 3, 2008 #

  12. Although I started out loving this anime in the first six or seven episodes, I couldn’t help but dislike long stretches of it, espescially in the middle of the anime. for one all the characters are one sided. There is a detective who only thinks of investigating, a doctor who cant kill, a thief who does nothing but steal, and of course a evil bad guy who just thinks of evil plans. It’s hard to take it seriously at some points.

    that said, i cant tell if the ending was intentionally ambiguous or not, but it sure is frustrating as hell! and the scene where johann sits up while tenma is talking to him scared the shit out of me. personally i would have preferred johann living in a prison but happily spending his life reading books or something. oh well…

    Comment by Jim — January 14, 2008 #

  13. was the dream tenma had meant to be presented as real? That revelation of the twins mother was a dream tenma had in the hospital room.

    Unless this scene was shown sometime before in the series, wouldn’t the fact Tenma dreamed this nullify it as truth?

    Comment by londin — March 11, 2008 #

  14. I just finished watching Monster, and as I do with every movie/series I like after watching them, I go about to see what other people thinks of it. Indeed, I find it to be the best anime series I’ve ever seen (Cowboy Bebop was the former champion). It’s a master example of what a script and character developing should be. It’s a 10/10, no doubt about that. As for the ending itself, I liked it very much the way it was, though I spent the whole series waiting for Tenma to finally pop a whole in Johan’s head (and to shoot twice, as his trainer taught him to). Yet again, the ending was very satisfying. You can’t just put someone like Johan behind bars. It just doesn’t work that way. Imprisonment is quite uneffective as it is on most serious inmates, let alone a monster like Johan. Whether you whack him or you don’t, and it suits the characters that they didn’t. It would have broken them to do so. And it would have sort of perpetuate the monster also within them. Besides, the main thing seems to be that Johan appeared to be exhausted as a monster. He closed the circle himself. Even if he escaped, I believe that the character didn’t have any more potentially harmful monsters within him. Besides, I gotta say, the very last scene left me thinking. We didn’t see Johan raising from his bed and climbing out of that window. We just see an empty bed when Tenma goes away. Yes, Johan was real and all but, even if it may be far fetched but… was there anyone at all in that specific hospital bed?

    Comment by Leonardo — October 28, 2008 #

  15. Ok I got a question…
    I need like.. a timeline or something cause here’s where I get confused.

    In the last episode, when tenma sees Johan/Nina’s mom choose the kid for them to take, she chooses Nina (listen to the children’s voices, it’s definitely nina). Was that the choice to take them to the mansion or to 511 kinderheim? Because Nina says that the Memmories of the Mansion were hers, and she told Johan and he took them as his.. But Johan was in 511 Kinderheim…
    Which happened first? Apparantly Nina ran from the mansion after those people died. Did Johan go to 511 after that? I’ve only watched it once so maybe someone who watched it twice could clear this up so i don’t have to watch it again, though i wouldn’t mind.

    Comment by mako — December 22, 2008 #

  16. Also… If Franz killed everyone who knew about the experiment and the twins when Nina went to the mansion, who could possibly have recreated the experiment at 511? Ug confusion >.<

    Comment by mako — December 22, 2008 #

  17. Also Again… (wish I could just Edit post…)

    I think Johan killed himself in the last episode, because if you look out the window, it has a pretty high up view of the rest of the town. The building is either on a cliff above everything else or he is on a high floor, which seems more likely.

    Comment by mako — December 22, 2008 #

  18. I have to agree with mako. I too think that Johan killed himself. Firstly, now that he had shown someone else the horrors that he had gone through, he felt he could finally end his burden. He also knew that he could never undo what he had done. Finally, the audience wanted a sort of justice, yet they had some sympathy for Johan, so I believe the creator of this show decided that Johan’s suicide would be the best course of action. But then again, that’s just my opinion.

    Comment by GRiM — January 30, 2009 #

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