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There's nothing special about being born. Not a thing. Most of the universe is just death, nothing more. In this universe of ours, the birth of a new life on some corner of our planet is nothing but a tiny, insignificant flash. Death is a normal thing. So why live?
~ Johan Liebert
I was born in a town that was straight out of a fairytale. Many people died there, and when I walked away, I held hands with my other self. To me it seemed like we were the only two people in the world. Neither one of us possessed a real name.
~ Johan Liebert
I woke up from the dream. There were so many visions I had of the end, but now I'm picturing a different ending altogether. A clearer vision of the true end.
~ Johan Liebert
Johan Liebert is the titular monster and the main antagonist in the manga and anime series Monster. He is a ruthless and psychopathic serial killer whose life was saved by Kenzo Tenma as a child. He is also the twin brother of Nina Fortner.
He is voiced by Nozomu Sasaki in the Japanese dubbed version of the anime, and Keith Silverstein in the English dubbed version, the latter of whom also voiced Hisoka, Masayoshi Shido, and Aaroniero Arruruerie.
Johan Liebert's origin is shrouded in mystery. When he was just a young boy, he was wandering the border of Germany with his twin sister, Anna. They were both discovered half-starved and dying. They were taken to two separate orphanages, Anna to Orphanage 47, and Johan to Kinderheim 511. Kinderheim 511 was a horrid place where children were treated like criminals and experimented on in an attempt by the government to create perfect soldiers.
One day, Johan led a revolt in the institution, and got fifty people to kill each other by simply "tossing an oil rag into a fire." Johan's mentors had always nurtured Johan's skill for manipulating others with no conscience. However, when confronted, they claimed that Johan was already a "monster" when he first came to the orphanage. The details of how his mind came to be so twisted are still unknown.
Tenma: You can't just go around killing! Johan: Why not?
~ Johan expressing his utter lack of empathy.
Johan is a certifiable psychopath who has no conscience whatsoever and revels in human suffering. The only two people that he seemed to refuse to kill are his sister, Anna, and the doctor that saved his life, Dr. Kenzo Tenma. He claimed that he has two personalities in his mind, where one likes to commit murder, and one tries to stop the murders. The evil personality is the dominant one, and the other has yet to be physically seen. His sister once described Johan as being "absolute evil". He is also fully aware of what he is, not even trying to justify his actions.
He is ruthless, cruel, remorseless, uncaring, and manipulative, but pretends to be polite, generous, and empathetic to hide his true colors. He is also shown to be very persuasive and charismatic. He is very calm, patient, tactical, and methodical, never losing his temper even when confronted over his crimes, and able to manipulate people into doing his bidding, easily.
Powers and Abilities
Inheriting his mother's genius intellect and deductive reasoning capabilities, Johan is prodigiously brilliant and impressive in whatever he studies and the absolute best in anything he pursues. This is noted by Schuwald when praising Johan's knowledge of law and economics, and by Karl, who notes that none could surpass Johan in anything. Johan has an amazing voice (hypnotic), he always intuitively knows the right thing to say at the right time, he is an excellent speaker and teacher.
He has the most perfect, ideal, healthiest, and prime physical conditions, he possesses incredible pheromones, he is "well-endowed", handsome and attractive.
Johan can intuitively and perfectly assess anyone's psychology, behavior, and motivations, he sees their mind and soul at first glance allowing him to perfectly predict what people will do and how to manipulate them, he has perfect, observational, perceptive, analytical, calculating, tactical, and deductive skills, these allow him to perfectly predict, understand, and control anything no matter how simple or complex, easily. These skills, along with his charisma, eloquence, and persuasive abilities, allow him to create convoluted plans and control anyone into doing what he wants easily.
He can amass wealth and power without being noticed or challenged, he nearly and easily conquered Europe's entire economy only to stop because his goal changed. Johan can create loyal, submissive, and completely obedient "friends," allies, and followers out of anyone and anything after one conversation, one word, and people will do what he says, absolute obedience.
He can make anyone and anything feel good and hopeful, or feel overwhelming intimidation, fear, and despair with his presence. He possesses endless willpower, vitality, he never gets bored. He is able to not feel fear, guilt, regret, loneliness or pain. He's capable of leading humanity on a global scale with ease.
Johan is an exceptional master manipulator. The process of his exploitation could be represented by a tree where he is the base and each branch in a separate case which is all tied together in one grand scheme.
Johan leaves such a strong impression on people that he is able to convince legions to commit murder, play suicide games, or do other monstrous things after just a single encounter. According to Heinrich Lunge, this process is done by altering the fulcrum of someone's identity, like removing a map's coordinate axis. The more jumbled their "lines" become without that foundation, the more room he has to redraw or redefine their maps.
As discussed in the personality section above, Johan often manipulates people to kill for him; this is done in a variety of different ways. When working with Michael Müller and Detective Messener, for example, he blackmailed the two by threatening to reveal their drug scandal if they refused to murder Mr. and Mrs. Fortner. In other cases, such as with Peter Jürgens and Rheinhard Dinger, he befriends his victims and acknowledges their worth; they
are therefore willing to perform "favors" as extreme as killing, dedicatedly withholding any information on him even in the face of authorities.
Johan is also skilled at making people reflect on their mistakes or any haunting memories of the past, as in the cases of Richard Braun and Miloš. He forced Richard to connect his former blunders as an officer and alcohol problems with his desire to see his daughter, making him believe he was not worthy of the one thing he truly wanted. Similarly, he convinced Miloš that he was not wanted by anyone and thus destroyed the boy's cheerful personality (at least temporarily).
When dealing with Schuwald, Johan gained the tycoon's trust pretty quickly. Schuwald noticed Johan's talent in law and business and decided to employ him as his personal secretary. To further secure their relationship, he approached Schuwald's son Karl and reunited the family, putting himself on even more favorable ground to succeed Schuwald's position.
Tenma once visited the blind man who taught Johan French and English. The old man was impressed by Johan's intelligence, patience, and mastery of the languages, as he had quickly become perfectly fluent (mastered) in both within a span of just thirteen months. Johan learned and mastered Latin in a very short time while attending the University of Munich. He tutored Karl to help him impress his father.
Johan is also a master of perfect disguise. Around the middle of the series, he masqueraded as his sister while living in Prague. This proved to be quite useful, not only for spying but also because he was able to pass unnoticed while leaving crime scenes. However, Tenma wasn't fooled. Grimmer was also skeptical of Johan's disguise. Johan, for the most part, played his role as "Anna" perfectly, leaving the impression of a beautiful, charming and polite young woman. It was easier for him to manipulate people while in form, especially the male characters like Detective Suk.
Johan has stated that his one true goal is to be the last one alive when the world ends. But in reality, his goal is to commit the "perfect suicide", dying without leaving behind any evidence of his existence, except possibly Dr. Tenma's memories of him, in order to destroy Tenma's faith in humanity.
All of Johan's characteristics are similar to Michio Yuki, the main protagonist of MW. They turned insane when affected by secret military experiments. They are also experts at manipulating people, have ambitions to end the world, try to commit suicide by cop, and they also cross-dress. Also, both have a benevolent sibling. It is very likely Naoki Urasawa based on Michio Yuki to create Johan.