Where’s HBO and Guillermo del Toro’s Monster adaptation?


It’s been over two years since news first broke that nerd darling Guillermo del Toro would be adapting Naoki Urasawa’s 18 volume manga Monster for live-action television on HBO. The director was set to work with Steven Thompson (Doctor Who, Sherlock) as well as the series’ original author, who would be overlooking an outline of each episode before production would be allowed. According to del Toro, the adaptation would be extremely faithful to the original and the online response to the concept was predominantly positive across various platforms. So what happened?

Monster follows a neurosurgeon who is forced to deal with the twisted and unexpected consequences of his decision to save a 12-year-old orphaned boy instead of the town’s mayor. Various messaging boards are inundated with posts asking what happened to the eagerly anticipated series and the curiosity is valid; little noise has come out about the series beyond the initial April 23rd, 2013 announcement that del Toro would be heading the adaptation. Various entertainment sites have spoken about the series in the month and years following the announcement, but they contain no new information. Unfortunately, that doesn’t bode well for fans that still wait with baited breath.


It may have taken HBO four years to get their Game of Thrones adaptation off the ground but, if over two years in we’ve still seen no news about a pilot being ordered or casting, things don’t look good for Monster. Del Toro has an unfortunate history of canceled and indefinitely delayed passion projects; most recently, his survival horror revival Silent Hills went the way of the dodo when Hideo Kojima and Konami parted ways. Before that, another game called Insane was announced and then never heard from again. Films like At the Mountains of Madness got as close as having Tom Cruise set to star before Universal Studios pulled the plug due to del Toro’s insistence on an R rating. Monster was even supposed to be a film with New Line Cinema before it was decided that the story was simply too big to tell in a single movie.

It’s not as though del Toro has a schedule that leaves much time to play around in; his newest film, Crimson Peak, is set for release October 16th, 2015, while Pacific Rim 2 has been announced for a 2017 release, and Pinocchio and Hellboy 3 are waiting in the wings. So whether HBO simply did not like the scripts they were given or just have been unable to make all the necessary schedules line up for a pilot to be filmed, we don’t know. Manga fans will simply have to hope that Monster is still on its way and is just taking its sweet time to get here.

Because an adaptation of Monster from a well-respected channel like HBO opens the door to the vast array of source material that North American television has largely left ignored that is manga. Were Monster to see a critically acclaimed and financially successful show, it was surely result in more television creators looking to manga for inspiration. Does this mean a live-action One Piece or Naruto on American television? That’s unlikely, but for gripping dramas like Monster that have more of the elements that Western audiences are traditionally drawn to? Absolutely.

Hopeful fans will just have to keep their fingers crossed that Monster hasn’t been abandoned; if we can get an answer from del Toro or the rest of the team on the show’s fate, that would at least answer some desperately dangling questions.

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Genevieve LeBlanc
Genevieve LeBlanc 126 posts

Genevieve LeBlanc is a contributing writer for NerdReactor.com and lives in snowy Canada.