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So, I just finished watching Monster (thank God for Hulu, am I right?), and my immediate desire is "debate morality with others who watched it!" so here we are.
Now, there's a lot to debate about the worldview Monster presents; redemption, human nature, the value of a life, so on, so forth. And talking about either Tenma or Johan is the most obvious course - they're the central foils, the main "moral centers" of the show. One stands for unflinching goodness and optimism while the other is a remorseless nihilist. But I think that's too broad a concept. The one character that interests me most is Franz Bonaparta.
To an extent, he's the single most important character in the series - Johan is his "fault," and through the creation of the twins, the plot begins. Of course, he's not revealed until near the end. He's hinted at and played with for many, many episodes before he's revealed in the flesh. We're teased about a cold, unflinching scientists who corrupts children, who causes countless deaths, who's more than willing to destroy lives for science and for his own personal sense of accomplishment. However, when he's revealed... he's not any of these things. He's a kindly old hotel owner who keeps a child firmly on the side of good. Before he's given a name, he's the last person you'd suspect of being Bonaparta... personally speaking, I'd call it the best jaw-dropper of the series.
Ruhenheim, and the series as a whole, has a pretty constant undercurrent of forgiveness and redemption. Bonaparta falls in love with the twins' mother and begins to regret what he's done: in his first act of "good," to protect one of the twins, he kills a room full of people. From there, he moves to a sleepy little town, paints uninteresting storybooks, and generally lives a quiet life as far away from his past as he can.
And Urasawa presents the question - should he be forgiven? He regrets what he's done, he now "does good" in a small way, and he no longer has the "evil impulses" that drove him to ruin so many lives. And yet, he cannot make up for the lives he's lost. He does not spend his life trying to atone for what he's done. He accepts it as the past, accepts it as wrong, and attempts to move on. He feels that his time has come when the chaos comes, and is willing to die; Grimmer thinks this is too easy, and he needs to repent for what he's done.
Of course, he holds a gun to Johan and is killed shortly after. He never really redeems himself in any visible way; through small kindnesses, perhaps, but never any sort of penance.
So what do you think - do you, personally, "forgive" Franz Bonaparta? Do you believe that, no matter what horrible things a person has done, simply becoming "good" is enough to let them off the hook? Is his fleeing to Ruhenheim and never taking the punishment for his crimes acceptable? Has he gone too far past the line to be redeemed at all?
| 3/17/97 - 9/20/08 5/26/12 |
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