Naoki Urasawa is well known for his influence on the manga industry, with one of his most famous series being Monster. Monster follows Dr. Kenzo Tenma, a neurosurgeon renowned for his impeccable work. His life is perfect, until he realizes that a boy he saved many years before is committing heinous murders.
Monster expertly explores the value of human life and what gives meaning to a person’s life. Urasawa does this through the eyes of the protagonist, Tenma. Here’s why Tenma’s guilt for saving Johan makes Monster one of Urasawa’s most notable works.
Tenma’s guilt is one of the driving forces in Monster
The viewer immediately learns that Tenma is a good doctor and that his patients adore him immensely. Within the first two episodes, though his life is slowly turning into chaos, it’s very obvious that Tenma is good at what he does and enjoys doing it, often working too much because his job is all he needs to do. have. He also has a strong sense of justice, and decides to operate on a boy named Johan instead of an important public official as ordered by the hospital director. Saving Johan takes Tenma to new heights in his career, but his life begins to become more hectic, just like before he saved Johan. When he inevitably learns that Johan is killing people, Tenma’s life takes a turn for the worse.
After realizing that he is responsible for bringing a “monster” back to life, Tenma is wracked with immense guilt. The guilt Tenma feels is one of the main themes shown throughout the series, and he acts as the driving force for him as he ventures out to destroy the person he worked so hard to save. Tenma’s guilt makes him very willing to help others. His guilt is also one of the main reasons he doesn’t want others involved in the mess he thinks he created, and he fights to try and save as many people as he can.
Tenma is always willing to help others
Tenma doesn’t help others solely out of guilt; Tenma always helps other people throughout the story, even if he doesn’t want to, or it will put him in grave danger. He also helps a lot of people, he doesn’t care if they are “good” or “bad”.
at the end of Monster, Episode 50, “The Rose Mansion”, as Tenma is walking down the street, a boy trips and falls, scraping his leg. At first, Tenma walks past the boy, not giving him a second glance. However, a few moments later, she turns and appears next to the boy, medical supplies in hand. She cleans the boy’s wound and cheers him up. Soon after, Tenma is surrounded by Prague policemen and is arrested on the spot. If she hadn’t stopped Tenma to help the injured boy, she probably wouldn’t have been arrested until much later, if anything.
This isn’t the first time Tenma has helped someone he just walked past. One of the most important people for Tenma is a young man named Dieter, who he meets by chance because he also gets hurt. Unlike the second time with the nameless boy, Tenma is not arrested for helping Dieter. Fortunately, both scenes show Tenma’s immense sense of kindness and good nature. She is always ready to help others, even if it may cost her her life.
Tenma’s selflessness could be his downfall.
Tenma’s selflessness is one of his most prominent traits. It is also one of his biggest flaws, as it could lead him to danger or ruin. In episode 52, titled “Lawyer”, Tenma has been imprisoned in Prague. Shortly after his arrival, Fritz Vardemann, a lawyer known for proving people innocent, agrees to take Tenma’s case. Vardemann interviews Tenma and asks him what happened the night his former patient, Adolf Junkers, died. Tenma tells him that he saved Johan a decade earlier and that Johan was the one who killed Junkers. Tenma insists that his story is the truth and that he will not tell another version. Later, Vardemann comments that Tenma has no interest in proving his innocence, he just wants to prove that “Johan” exists.
Since Tenma only responds to this by agreeing with Vardemann, the viewer can really assume this is correct. There is little room for discussion, Tenma’s actions are unintentionally self-destructive, further demonstrating his selflessness, his willingness to save others will likely get him killed.
A similar situation happens to another character, the Prague police detective Jan Suk. After the death of his superior, Suk is under investigation for alleged ties to the Prague secret police, and is later framed for the murder of the two detectives, one he clearly did not commit. After the murders, Suk is wounded and sent to the hospital, where he remains bedridden for an unknown amount of time. Once Suk is released from the hospital, he seeks to prove his innocence. His circumstances slightly mirror Tenma’s, except that Suk shows more willingness to prove his own innocence rather than the apathy Tenma feels towards his own situation.
Tenma’s selfless personality is a big part of who he is as a character. While this trait is often seen as a “positive” trait, it is a major flaw for Tenma, as it makes him a bit self-destructive: he cares more about saving other people than proving his own innocence. Tenma also doesn’t want to involve more people than necessary in his situation. He wants to save lives, not take them. So, he feels immense guilt for saving Johan. Tenma’s guilt is one of the main driving forces behind Monstermaking Tenma a compelling lead and the series one of Urasawa’s most notable works.