It's Naoki Urasawa. I would end the review with that, but I have to write a certain amount of words praise before it could be accepted. So, here goes a praise-filled review of yet another masterpiece by Naoki Urasawa, now in animated form. With extra praise. But if you don't want to watch it, you can always read it. The only difference is the lack of voice overs and that it's in book form, so you pretty much win with either version.
Having believing that you read the synopsis and know the gist of the beginning, I'm just going to praise it: it starts slow, it moves slow, and it's brilliant for being slow. Urasawa never really rushed things and here for me, it works amazingly well. He leaves nothing out and that also goes with the fact that it's extremely faithful to the manga. And by extremely, I mean unbelievably faithful. None of that filler crap that's only seen in some anime (And not the manga version of said anime) that lasts episodes upon episodes. So instead of filler, we get sub-plots that eventually relate to the main tale that may seem independant at first, but really aren't. As the story progresses, it gets more serious and captivating and doesn't let up, even as it reaches it's conclusion.
The artwork is typical Urasawa, which is quite comforting. And which means first and foremost, no chibi. It's serious business through and through. In all it's seriousness, it suits the story perfectly, even if it may not be the most pretty of the bunch. The environments are beautiful, even when they're suppose to be ugly or depressing (Depending on the area). Also should mention the EP, which plays out like a picture book. Pointless at first? May seem so, but it plays it's role later on. Still looks pretty good.
Dubbed or subbed, you win, simple as that. The casting is excellent, especially Johan. But Johan is perfect, so that is to be expected. The OP is beautiful, all instrumental except for some chanting, which only makes it more... grand. The first EP is both beautiful and haunting and better than the second. Don't know what to make of it, but it's alright.
As great as the story is, it wouldn't be as good without characters of the same calibur. Fortunately, you got lucky. This cast is absolutely brilliant, even the minor characters. Every character has his or her place, does their role perfectly and it feels good. Another bit about Johan, as he's one of the best antagonists ever. Cold, calculating, brilliant, and those eyes... and not to forget Tenma, who is brilliant in what he does and yet is kind, caring and not egotistic with his uber medical skills. Minor characters play greater roles than minor characters should have, and are fleshed out more than they should be, which is quite amazing.
Brilliance. Sheer brilliance and any other adjective for that I used repeatedly in this review. Come for the story and characters, stay for the story and characters. It's as good as the sublime manga, it's as good as his other works, it's as good as the best of the best. Still one of my favorites out there.
The scoring is heavily based on story/characters, which are the driving force of both versions of Monster.