(Warning: Character-related Spoilers for Monster)
Again, this is a case where I don’t have a favorite, but a list of several. However, most are from anime I’ve already talked about in this 30 Day Anime Challenge, so I’ll pick one who’s from an anime I haven’t mentioned much yet. It’s Wolfgang Grimmer! He is a supporting character from the anime Monster based on the excellent manga by Naoki Urusawa. Grimmer first appears in episode 40. He is a warm-hearted, cheerful, and sociable person, or at least, that’s how he acts. By his own admission, though, he feels very little, if any, genuine emotion. Why is that?
Kinderheim 511 was an orphanage in name only; it was really a place where a faction of the East German government conducted experiments on children, trying to create the perfect soldiers. The standard procedure at Kinderheim 511 was to brainwash the kids, wipe their memories, and rob them of emotional identity. Wolfgang Grimmer had the misfortune of being raised in that place. With his sense of right and wrong, and his sense of self both erased, he was left devoid of feelings.
When his life became stable, Grimmer quickly learned how to “fake” emotion and how to smile at the right times. But after his very young son tragically passed away, Grimmer was unable to genuinely cry or feel grieved. His lack of emotion alarmed him, and it also drove his wife away. So he set out on a life of traveling journalism while trying to reclaim and remember his ability to feel. During his travels, Wolfgang met Kenzou Tenma (the main character in Monster), and helped him a few times with various misadventures. They meet again in Ruhenheim village for the last arc of the story (episodes 68-74).
Grimmer has a whole other side to him which I can’t put off mentioning any longer. He has a form of Dissociative Identity Disorder, where he has two distinct personalities that do not share memories. This disorder is a defense mechanism, and it likely manifested because of the trauma at Kinderheim 511. The “other” Grimmer is the one who helps him when his life is in danger. He goes berserk and kills the person or people who was threatening him. When the friendly, kindly Grimmer wakes up again, he can deduce what happened, but has no memory of doing it.
It seems like many of my favorite characters end up dying, and so does Wolfgang Grimmer. He’s shot and killed in a gun fight, trying to protect innocent people in the chaos of the Ruhenheim arc. Before passing away, he is able to genuinely cry and feel grief for his son for the first time. His feelings return, and he says that it’s impossible for humans to really forget their emotions.
This man is one of my favorite supporting male characters in anime because of the brilliant way his character is built and developed over time. I also find characters with DID fascinating and uncommon in anime. Last of all, even if it’s sometimes fake, I adore Grimmer’s friendly, talkative, and optimistic personality. If you want to learn more details about him, check out Monster! Thank you so much for reading!