Version 5.4 ~ Haruhi gave rock and roll to you.

21 August 2008: This Monster review has grown so big (Part Three)

Mauler and Tenma
Google Maps disavows the existence of a
16 Neckarstrasse in Heidelberg, Germany.

If I can't talk about the plot of Monster, what else does that leave? Well, for one thing, there's the setting.

Nina begins her ascent to Heidelberg Castle
Nina begins her ascent to Heidelberg Castle.

Monster is one of the few anime series set outside Japan. Nearly all the scenes take place in mid-nineties Germany, as Dr. Tenma, his nemesis, and Inspector Lunge chase each other around. The settings are well-researched, with accurate cityscapes, landmarks, and other details (such as bus stop signs).

Heidelberg Castle
Tourists mill below the real Heidelberg Castle.

Monster is also the closest thing to a road movie that you're likely to find in anime. Thanks to Dr. Tenma's travels, the viewer is treated to new locales (mostly in Germany), many of which are introduced almost as characters themselves.

Tenma and Nina at Heidelberg Castle
A troubling moment at Heidelberg Castle.

For example, when Monster introduces us to "The Girl from Heidelberg," we don't only get to meet the lovely Nina Fortner, we also visit the Heidelberg Schloss.

Heidelberg Castle
A quiet moment at Heidelberg Castle.

Various landmarks and landscapes are depicted accurately and prominently without detracting from the story. Other shows depict well-known settings similarly, but such settings are usually in Japan. (How many times have we seen Tokyo Tower or Big Site, for example.) The mere fact alone that Monster takes us into Europe makes the show worth a look, although I suspect most viewers will be too quickly hooked by the captivating story to go sightseeing.

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