In the thirty-second episode of Monster, Lotte makes a new friend; Tenma prepares for his big decision. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Monster.
Trigger Warning: For talk of consent, sexual assault, Nazism, death
Holy god, this episode. I like how the quietest realizations and epiphanies can feel so goddamn huge, y’all. I’M HERE FOR IT.
I’ve said this in a number of different ways, but I also adore how willing Monster is to drop us into the perspective of the secondary characters in this story. I never once thought we’d get the POV of Lotte, and after Karl’s conflict was resolved, I kinda forgot about her? Which is the point! She was the one who not only pushed Karl to investigate the truth, but she helped him repeatedly as he tried to work out his feelings towards Schuwald. “Sanctuary” flips the story, though, and in doing so, we see how Lotte feels like she was just the character development for someone else. I’ll be very honest with y’all: I related to this SO MUCH, and it’s something I’ve struggled with a lot in my life. And very recently! It’s an issue of reciprocation, of feeling valued by the person you valued so much. What happens when it becomes clear that the other person doesn’t ever plan on returning the favor? Or when you can tell they don’t see you like you see them? The worst is when you don’t even realize this is happening!!! HEY FEELINGS ARE THE WORST!
So, it was a little hard to watch Lotte try to pursue Karl, who is so wrapped up in the life of his father that he can’t even see Lotte. Not really see her, that is. He thinks the dance that she invites him to is just any ol’ social function. He doesn’t ask her how her day is; he doesn’t inquire into anything going on in her life. She is just like… a distant acquaintance to him. That’s it! All the friendliness we saw before is gone.
Thus, it makes sense to me that she basically attaches herself to Nina when she spots Nina in the library. (I was also LOSING IT because NINA IS IN MUNICH, TOO, HELP ME.) She’s reeling from rejection and from feeling ignored, and so she is.. a lot. Like, I’m not gonna sit here and say she isn’t super intense around Nina, but I feel like Nina gets it on some level. And even if she doesn’t, she’s so supportive of Lotte, despite that she just met her. Well, that and Lotte is pretty extra at the dance. She makes a lot of assumptions about what Nina’s life has been like because Nina is traditionally attractive. Of course, the audience knows how tragically wrong Lotte is. Like I said on video, this whole thing fascinated me because Lotte’s story revealed something new in Nina: Nina was not used to a “normal” experience. She even remarks as much during the dance! She never got to be a regular college student. Her life has been marked by trauma, by her training, by her mission to track down Johan.
My take: Nina tolerated Lotte and supported her because Lotte treated her like an actual person, and that includes being kinda rude about Nina’s life and her appearance. She was a whole human in Lotte’s eyes, and she appreciated that.
BUT NOW WHAT IS GOING TO HAPPEN??? Lotte just realized that Nina and Johan look alike and are most likely related? Oh god, I can’t get over the fact that EVERYONE IS NOW IN THE SAME CITY. The possibilities! They are endless!
Okay, I feel a lot better about what I wrote in the previous review about Tenma’s struggle. As Tenma gets closer and closer to his fateful decision, he finds it increasingly hard to commit to it. Oh, he definitely bought a sniper rifle, and he’s training on it and on his body, and guess what? HE’S EVEN MORE FUCKED UP THAN HE WAS IN THE LAST EPISODE. I feel like that’s what those scenes in the restaurant were for. Tenma has become so obsessed with this mission of his that he can’t think of anything else. Unfortunately for him, he’s also haunted by the idea of murdering Johan, even if he feels like it’s the right choice. Shit, does he even think that? Or is he just following the momentum of his initial decision?
I don’t know, but I don’t know that I need to know that just yet. What happens here is still striking because it’s so relevant to Tenma’s problem. After determining the location with the least obstacles—a forest that Johan frequents with Karl and Schuwald—Tenma tries to practice pulling the trigger. But it’s not his reluctance or terror that stops him. No, it’s a random older man, one who visits the forest every day. And why? Well, I did not expect this show to introduce a stranger, punch me in the heart, and then leave, because I’m a fool??? I SHOULD HAVE KNOWN. But the story of that man’s involvement in Nazism, his utter devotion to following what he was told to do, and the way his racist/xenophobic murder haunted him clearly affected Tenma. I don’t think the show is saying that Tenma is the same as this man, but I would not be surprised if, in the coming episodes, Tenma decided not to shoot Johan in that particular forest. It’s a sacred place, where tragedy befell someone who was just trying to live. The appearance of the bird on Tenma’s arm is a sign from the universe, and it makes me wonder. And I’m gonna wonder aloud: Is Tenma actually going to kill Johan?
My gut feeling is no. He’s not. And I’ll predict that now: I think Johan might die by the end of Monster, but it won’t be at the hands of Dr. Tenma. He just doesn’t have it in him.
The video for “Sanctuary” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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