Johan Liebert is the main antagonist and titular "monster" of the series. He is a fairly realistic take on an Anti-Christ figure and an example of the exploration of Doomsday themes in anime/manga. Johan is a mysterious individual who causes many tragedies in his wake, and he could be described as a serial killer of sorts. At the height of his terror in Ruhenheim, Johan is described by Herbert Knaup as the beast with seven heads and ten horns.
The Eugenics ExperimentEditJohan Liebert and his twin sister, Anna, were born as the result of the eugenics experiment orchestrated by Franz Bonaparta in the early 1970s, the primary goal of which was to create a child who not only had an exceptionally high level of intellect and a flawless appearance, but could also "lead" the human race. The birth of these children came about by arranged pregnancies between hand-selected men and women meeting the said criteria. However, these plans were engineered by spectators and the women involved had no idea their relationships were part of a government operation.
One pairing set up was between Viera Černá and Bonaparta's younger stepbrother ("Jodaddy"). "Jodaddy" was aware of the project and its goals, but was not permitted to disclose any information on it to his partner. It was arranged so that they would accidentally meet at a cafe in Prague, and from there Bonaparta used a formula he created to make the two of them fall in love. In doing so, the man felt it was wrong to keep secrets from the woman, so he told her about the project then suggested that the two of them run away together. Their escape plan had already been predicted though, so the couple was captured; "Jodaddy" was executed while Viera was placed under constant surveillance until she gave birth. During her confinement, she realized that the man who often came in to draw her pregnant form was the one behind the experiment, so she cursed him, saying that her children would get revenge for everything he and his people had done to their family. He laughed and told her how amusing she was. Later, in 1975, the twins were born.
Separation from AnnaEdit
After Viera and the twins were released, they moved to the Three Frogs Building next to Čedok Bridge in Prague. While living there, the mother dressed both children as little girls in order to convince the public she had only a single child.One fateful day, Bonaparta and Peter Čapek appeared with news that they would be taking one child to the Red Rose Mansion for experimentation; the other would stay at home, safe from harm's grasp. The catch was that Viera was the one who had to make the decision of which twin to give away, putting her in a Sophie's Choice-like scenario. First, she handed Johan over, but quickly changed her mind and gave Anna up instead. It is unknown whether or not she was aware of which child was which. As illustrated in the final scene of Monster, this was the most crucial point of Johan's life, leaving him to question whether or not he was wanted by his mother.
Anna and Viera were both taken away, and Johan stayed at the Three Frogs by himself. During his sister's absence, he spent a lot of time reading The Nameless Monster, a picture book written and illustrated by Franz Bonaparta under the pen name Emil Sebe. The story was about a hungry monster that was looking for name: it would make deals with people, offering them strength in exchange for their identities. After jumping into its hosts, however, it didn't take long for the monster to regain its appetite and devour them from the inside out. In the end, it jumped inside a prince named Johan, finally attaining satisfaction. However, he ate all the people Johan knew, so even though he had a name, there was no longer anyone left to call him by it.Indicated by the number of meals she counted while in confinement, it may have been a few weeks before Anna finally returned home. As she did, the infamous "I'm back... Welcome home," conversation ensued, after which Johan asked her to tell him the precise details of her experience. She described to him how she was locked in a dark room with no sense of direction, sitting alone for days and eating meals that appeared out of thin air. Eventually, the door opened and Franz Bonaparta, standing before her, extended his hand and said that people can become anything. Following that, she wandered through the halls of the Red Rose Mansion until reaching a large room where the organizers of the experiment were having a toast to their success in creating "the one". However, the banquet itself was just another scheme set up by Bonaparta, who had fallen in love with the twins' mother and intended to kill everyone involved in the experiment. Anna stood there and watched all of the bodies pile up as the poison-filled celebratory wine took its toll. Afterward, Bonaparta approached her and said she and Johan must never become monsters; Anna forgot to pass on this detail to her brother. Because of his own instability and perhaps the procedures later employed at Kinderheim 511, Johan ultimately walked away from the experience believing he was the one sent to the mansion in place of his sister.
Start of Their Journey AloneEditAround this time, an unknown individual (likely Bonaparta) visited the Three Frogs and told the twins that they would have to live on their own. Johan cried before he and Anna burned down the building, beginning their journey with no destination. They wandered aimlessly, cold and hungry, and met a middle-aged couple who provided them with food. After eating, the twins played in the grass while the man and woman discussed adopting them. However, Johan came over and slit their throats before they could make any decisions. He then went back over to Anna and told her they were leaving because he had "a plan". Before running into General Wolf, they also met and/or stayed with the following people: Uncle Josef and Aunt Clara, Mr. Bedger, and Mr. Schlegel.
The two continued walking and eventually, starving and on the verge of death, reached the "Scenery for a Doomsday" in the mountains by the Czech-German border.
Patrol officer General Helmut Wolf rescued them from the near-death experience. He looked in Johan's bag and found one thing: a copy of The Nameless Monster. He decided to name the boy after the monster Johan in the book, and gave the girl the name of Anna. After that, he sent them to two separate orphanages -- Anna to a place called Orphanage 47 and Johan to the infamous Kinderheim 511. This was around the year 1984.
Kinderheim 511 was an experiment set up by the East German government to create perfect soldiers; a lot of its procedures and programs were based off of Bonaparta's work. Little is known about what took place inside the facility, though survivors who were able to recall some memories stated that they participated in "debates" where students would psychologically destroy their opponents. Other children, like Wolfgang Grimmer, were subjected to activities like immoderate exposure to TV while put under a lot of stress. According to Hartmann, Johan was already beyond their program by the time he arrived, so naturally the higher-ups grew curious and forced him to partake in an interview while under the influence of narcotics.
Even when separated, the twins still seemed to have knowledge of each other's whereabouts. Initially, the woman running Anna's orphanage thought her claims of knowing how her brother's day went were nonsense. That is, until those retellings of daily events transformed into "Johan is going to leave Kinderheim 511 tomorrow."Johan no longer desired to be in orphanage, so he took advantage of the hatred and tension wandering about, and, as he put it, "added a little fuel to fire." He implanted the idea in the students' heads that they were going to destroy the place, and together the boys managed to brainwash the instructors into hating the director and each other. Johan also created a fairytale that went like this: "In Kinderheim 511, there was a boy who was always kept under sleeping pills. Because he held the words that could destroy any person, the teachers thought he was a monster and kept him locked underground. Such was the terror that they felt towards him that they swore they could see ten horns and seven heads. But one day, the boy developed resistance to the drugs and awakened. He manipulated his jailors and slipped back among the pupils. But the boys didn't know who he was... because none of them knew each other's names or pasts. The boy hated everything about the facility, so he began secretly plotting to have everyone kill each other. First, he would steal all of their memories, so that they couldn't even remember their own names, and then offer them the path to death, through their torment... But the boys never even realized that they were being controlled. Could it be that someone is trying to manipulate us? And so this incredible fervor raced through the orphanage."
Something about the story terrified the pupils and instructors, making them paranoid to a point where they massacred one another. In addition to Johan, Christof Sievernich was the only other survivor. The two formulated a "plan" and decided they would meet again someday.
The LiebertsEditFormer East-German trade adviser Michael Liebert and his wife wanted to adopt Johan. However, he refused to go anywhere without his sister, so Anna was granted a place in the family as well. In April 1986, the four fled to West Germany: more specifically, the city of Düsseldorf. Franz Bonaparta, who was living in Ruhenheim under the name Klaus Poppe, saw them on TV and went to pay the twins a visit. The Lieberts allowed him in, and he looked at twins while under the impression that they were sleeping. Johan, however, was not asleep and thought that Franz Bonaparta, this "monster," was going to seize hold of him and his sister again, supported by his later statement, "The monster came today... the monster came to take the two of us away." Consequently, he killed the Lieberts as some sort of protective measure. The gunshots woke Anna up, and she found her parents' corpses as well as Johan standing armed in a nearby room. He gave Anna the gun, ordering her to shoot him in the head, wipe it afterward, and run away. She followed her brother's request and pulled the trigger, subsequently entering a state of shock herself. The next door neighbors, who had woke up due to all the gunshots, called the police. The authorities arrived shortly after and Johan was taken to Eisler Memorial Hospital to be treated by Dr. Kenzo Tenma.
Kenzo TenmaEditKenzo Tenma was a bright, young neurosurgeon on his way up. He had come to Germany from Japan after a paper written by the hospital's director, Udo Heinemann, caught his attention. Heinemann had taken Tenma under his wing, using him to write papers or put together presentations that he could take credit for. At one point, Tenma was supposed to operate on a Turkish man who was brought into the hospital first, but Heinemann told him to perform surgery on an opera singer instead because his life was "more valued". Later, he ran into the wife of the Turkish man who died, and she hit him repeatedly saying, "Bring him back! If you had operated on him, he wouldn't have died!" Tenma felt guilty about this, and asked his fiance, Eva Heinemann, for her opinion on the matter: she told him that human life is not equal. Tenma thought she was wrong, standing firm to his own beliefs. That set the tone for his attitude when Johan was brought into the hospital on that rainy night.
He was about to begin Johan's surgery, but received an emergency call from Director Heinemann, demanding he operate on Mayor Roedecker instead. Tenma had been deeply affected by the Turkish woman's words the previous day, so he refused Heinemann's order and continued surgery on the boy. Johan's operation was successful, but the mayor died; as a punishment, Tenma lost his position and ruined any chances he had in progressing in his career. Consumed by an angry rage, he told Johan's comatose body that the individuals who were responsible for doing this to him would be better off dead. Johan was already awake at the time of Tenma's speech, and decided to grant doctor's wish: using poisoned candy, he killed the director and the two others, then disappeared with Anna from the hospital.
After Their Escape from Eisler Memorial HospitalEditThe day of their escape, Johan and Anna met Rheinhard Dinger, who had run into complications for attacking a man after he abused his dog. Johan explained to the police that Dinger was not in the wrong, saving him from potential jail time. As an expression of gratitude Dinger offered to drive the kids home, but after discovering they had nowhere to go, allowed them to spend the night at his apartment. While the three watched TV that evening, Dinger muttered that many people featured on the news channels were depraved scum who would be better off dead. Johan agreed, then proposed the idea that he could kill these unnecessary vermin. Dinger was easily convinced and turned into a serial murderer, occupying a position as a cab driver and killing customers who treated him with disrespect. The twins departed soon after, but eleven years later Johan came back and asked Dinger to execute someone; he agreed despite the fact that the man wasn't an individual he'd usually dub unrighteous.
The twins traveled on to Heidelberg, where Johan left his amnesia-stricken sister in the care of the Fortners until 1995. Then, he went to Munich and stayed with a family under the name Franz Heineau from March of 1987 to April of 1988. He struck up a good relationship with a blind man who was a former soldier. The veteran told Johan war stories and, per his request, gave him his description of "ultimate fear". He also taught Johan French and English, which he had mastered by the end of that thirteen-month period. After this, Johan stayed with the Reichmanns in Köln for a year, the Schumanns in Hanover, a couple in Hamburg, and possibly Hanna Kemp.
The Other LiebheartsEditNext Johan went to Bruntal, where he found a new family with the last name "Liebert"; coincidentally, they once had a son named Johan who died as a toddler, giving him the opportunity to jump into the deceased boy's identity. Following a convenient fire where the town birth certificates were kept, the Lieberts were able to apply for a new application making it seem as though their son had never died. He provided his new family with a nice home in Offenbach Hessen.
Johan didn't kill them until much later (if at all), using the couple to prove he had an identity and ordinary background. Although he had established a family, Johan didn't spend much time with them. At the age of fifteen, he organized a money laundering business which became very prosperous and well-known in the German underworld. Towards the end of his career, he spent several months living with Halenka Novakova, who was baffled by the extraordinary similarities between Johan and her friend, Viera Cerna. Halenka was the victim of a phantom killing in 1995, presumably related to her association with Johan. Eventually he grew bored of the underground bank, so he took some money and abandoned it. With the president's disappearance and an inevitable end in sight, those involved lost control, wiping away what was left of the organization with a massacre.
Adolf JunkersEditStarting in 1993 until he abandoned the bank, Johan hired serial killers around Germany to murder his former foster parents. One trio carrying out the executions involved Adolf Junkers and two of his partners. In 1995, Johan betrayed the group; two were killed on the spot and Junkers was hit by a car after trying to run away, sustaining an injury to the head. He received treatment from Kenzo Tenma and made a miraculous recovery, until one night his paranoia caused him to run out of the hospital in terror. Tenma chased after him and they reached an abandoned building where Junkers was shot to death by Johan. As Johan left the premises, he was observed by Eva Heinemann.
This is when Tenma decided he would find and kill Johan with his own hands. The doctor conducted investigations that led him to Heidelberg, where Johan had gone to pick Anna up in May of 1995. Tenma interfered with his plans though, and rescued the girl from Johan's grasps.
Involvement with the Neo-NazisEditTraveling to Frankfurt, Johan prepared to destroy an organization led by neo-Nazi leaders "The Baby," Gunther Goedelitz, Capek, and Wolf, who believed that he would become the next Adolf Hitler. Tenma, meanwhile, arrived in Frankfurt while investigating the murder of the Springers, a family Johan stayed with under the name Erich Springer before arranging to have them killed by "Sunflowers Guy". He learned of The Baby's plans to destroy the Turkish district, then encountered Helmut Wolf, who requested of him to prevent the group's welcome party from happening. He also added that he wanted Tenma to be the person to kill Johan.
As Tenma put a stop to the idiotic scheme, Johan annihilated a vast majority of the people involved in the organization. He then left a little note for Tenma on a water tower indicating that he may have split personalities, however, this is not true and was just Johan's way of playing with him. After that, Johan left and enrolled at the University of Munich.
As a Law StudentEdit
Johan's plan in enrolling at the university was to get close to the former business tycoon Hans Georg Schuwald. If everything went according to the initial scheme, Schuwald would have ended up dead, allowing Johan to gain control over Germany's economy. First, he manipulated murderers to kill those close to Schuwald, creating an empty space he could fill with himself as one of the elder's Latin readers.He began setting up Edmund Fahren to appear as Schuwald's son, but soon realized the tycoon's real son, Karl Neuman, was available and latched onto him instead, consequently putting Fahren up to suicide. Private detective Richard Braun was hired to investigate the case, and after suspecting Johan began to draw connections between him and other unsolved murders. The two came into contact one evening and Braun was found deceased the following morning.
Meanwhile, Johan was able to reunite Schuwald with his long-lost son; delighted, Schuwald made him his newly appointed secretary. Karl and Schuwald decided that because Johan had a broad understanding of economics, if anything ever happened to Schuwald he would occupy his position instead of Karl. Johan's plan had run smoothly, and all he had to do was kill Schuwald at the book donation ceremony (which was to be done by Roberto), but instead found a copy of The Nameless Monster and regained some of his forgotten memories. He then changed his plans entirely and left Schuwald because he was no longer of interest, giving his goodbyes with a fire at the donation ceremony.
In Prague as "Anna"Edit
Johan then remembered his past, and decided to erase everything. To that end, he embarked to Prague, where he established his identity as "Anna Liebert" and began emulating Nina by adopting her personality and manner of dress. First, Johan murdered Reinhart Biermann, the headmaster of 511 Kinderheim before his enrollment, as he was in possession of a tape from Johan's youth located in an undisclosed safety deposit box; several of the orphans Biermann was taking care of caught sight of "the beautiful blonde lady" as (s)he left the scene of the crime. He then tracked Inspector Zeman and two of his subordinates, former members of the Czechoslovakian StB who were trying to obtain the tape for the purpose of selling it, to a factory setting where they were torturing Wolfgang Grimmer for information about its location. Upon interrupting the interrogation, Johan (in his "Anna" disguise) shot one of the subordinates in the head, before apparently allowing (and perhaps inciting) Wolfgang Grimmer to kill the other two by manifesting his "Magnificent Steiner" personality.Thereafter, Johan, as "Anna", begin to frequent a local bar, where (s)he connected with Zeman's one-time protege, Detective Jan Suk, who was smitten with "her". However, the courtship seemed to be a means to an end, as Johan killed Suk's boss and other corrupt policemen involved with the StB who were trying to obtain the tape using poisoned whiskey bonbons, in a manner similar to his previous poisonings, deflecting blame and suspicion for the murders onto Suk. Johan's efforts to acquire the tape led him to Suk's mother, who allowed him to see it and copy over a message for Tenma. Meanwhile, in order to exonerate Grimmer from false suspicion of murdering Biermann, several of the orphans who were previously in his custody banded together to find the "mysterious blonde lady" and one of them, Milosh, found "Anna", who invited him back to "her" apartment and told him he should find his lost mother, but cruelly imparted that if he couldn't find her, then he had no place in the world; he then sent him to look for her in a nearby red light district, and it was only through Grimmer and Tenma's narrow intervention that the boy didn't commit suicide after failing to find his mother and witnessing several forms of human depravity along the way.
Before departing the city, Johan, with little else left to attend to in Prague, proceeded to burn down the Red Rose Mansion after giving a distant speech to his mother's portrait.
Reunion with Christof SievernichEdit
Thereafter, he attended a high society gathering back in Germany, where Eva Heinemann, who had encountered him once before, pointed him out to Peter Capek, enabling his reunion with Christof Sievernich, the only other "monster" who survived the events of the massacre at 511 Kinderheim. In the weeks prior to their meeting, Johan manipulated multiple serial killers to murder three people associated with Christof's past and mistakes.
However, Johan had other matters to attend to as well, and proceeded to send the organization attempting to make him their leader into chaos, following Christof's lead in having The Baby murdered by surprising Capek at his country retreat, causing the man to lapse into paranoia. The reason for his unanticipated visit was to determine Bonaparta's then current area of residence; Capek was able to supply him with the location of Bonaparta's son, Jaromir Lipsky, which he somehow used to pinpoint Ruhenheim.
The "Perfect Suicide"EditThe last piece Johan needed to get rid of was Franz Bonaparta, but before that he finally met with his sister and told her about all horrible experiences he had at the Red Rose Mansion. Anna told him he was wrong, that that story wasn't his to tell as she was the one who witnessed the incident. The two talked, and, when they were done, Anna likely would have killed herself had Tenma not showed up at the nick of time. Johan visited Horst Grossman, his last remaining subordinate aside from those in Ruhenheim, and said he had woken up from the dream, that he knew where he had to be. Following Grossman's death, he went to Ruhenheim and destroyed the town's peace by instigating a massacre. In the midst of it all, he visited a small cottage on the edge of the town where he found piles of drawings of him and Anna as children. According to his sister, who visited the same place shortly after, he had been crying as he sorted through the unfinished sketches. Johan traveled back to the center of town and executed Franz Bonaparta, thus carrying out his mother's wishes ("The children growing inside of me will have my revenge,"). He then tried to provoke Tenma into killing him by holding a gun to the head of a young boy, Wim Knaup, but instead was shot by the boy's alcoholic father who described Johan as "The Beast" from the Book of Revelation, with seven heads and ten horns.
The EndEditIronically, Johan was operated on and saved yet again by Doctor Tenma, with urging from both Nina and Heinrich Lunge. At the end of the series, Tenma paid Johan a visit in the state police hospital, where he had been unconscious ever since the massacre. After being informed that he had name, Johan sat up and began talking to Tenma, retelling the story of his mother's choice and asking which child wasn't needed. It is unclear whether this was a hallucination that Tenma experienced or if it was actually real. Either way, Tenma gave no response and departed shortly after. Johan's fate following this is unclear, but his hospital bed is seen empty in the ending credits, ambiguously implying he has escaped from the hospital to do as he pleases.
PersonalityEditJohan Liebert (only one of his many assumed aliases) is a character that is nearly impossible to describe without making some wild guesses. A 5,000 page essay could be written about what one does not know about Johan, which probably would not make for very interesting reading but it would be accurate to the T.
Being able to debunk all of the myths surrounding the guy would be the unraveling of Johan’s true identity and existence and all else that comes with probing a guy’s nether regions. A true biography could finally be written about him, and it would speculatively be titled “Life of a Man Made Up of Mind Screws No More.”
Johan is hardly a simple, easy to figure out, or linear character mainly because he’s a complex and mysterious human being undoubtedly. He essentially stands for the fact that even if we know a person, we don’t really know them as well as we think no matter what.
What can be said about him is that he represents an astronomically dark kind of character that scares us because we have no idea how low a person can go or how artificial a person can get, so the purpose of his character is definitely to push the boundaries and make us feel unsafe or uncomfortable in our own skin and around others and so on and so forth.
It’s the amount of his character that has been censored that makes him seem so unreal, and how little he cares about e.g., the world ending, etc. as though nothing can touch him or rather he feels as though he is darkness itself.
It is difficult for most to properly describe Johan’s personality because a person, who seems to be a personification of darkness and basically lives by the code of “unseen, unheard, unknown, unreal” all the time, must be quite abstract; therefore, his personality feels eternally incomplete and even quite empty to a degree that does not seem possible within a living human being.
However, what it all boils down to is, Johan is mainly a highly unconventional killer whose methodology is definitely not spelled out for the viewers and may be above most viewer’s comprehension leading many to wonder if he may just possibly be supernatural, and this is seemingly what he wants to be known as and nothing else—so, ultimately, his “true personality” essentially may be that his one and only goal is to destroy, manipulate, or skewer his personality so that we cannot “see” it and must fill in the void with made up stuff.
Inheriting his mother's genius intellect and deductive reasoning capabilities, Johan is an excellent speaker he always know the right thing to say at the right time, and appears to be naturally brilliant in whatever he studies, he is the abosloute best in anything he pursues. This is noted by Schuwald, when praising Johan's knowledge of law and economics, and later Karl, who, in Another Monster, notes that none could surpass Johan in anything, Johan is also a very skilled teacher. He is capable of perfectly memorizing and understanding anything in limitless volumes without trouble and stress, he has extremely powerful observational, analytical and deductive skills. These skills along with his inhumanely incredible charisma allow him to come up with his extremely convoluted plans and manipulate anyone into doing whatever he wants after one short meeting with ease. He is capable of amassing immense wealth, power without being noticed or challenged. He is capabile of making very loyal "friends," allies and followers out of anyone and is capable of making anyone feel good just by being around him. He possess endless willpower and doesn't seem like he ever gets bored, he is able to not feel fear and ignore any pain. He was intended to be a person capable of leading the human race, on a global scale.
|Note: Johan's manipulative personality is already well analyzed in the main section, however we"ll talk more detailed about his manipulative skills and ranges in this subsection|
Johan is characterized as a master manipulator. The process of his exploitation could be represented by a tree, where he is the base and each branch 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 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.
Johan is also a master of perfect disguise. Around the middle of the series, he masqueraded as his sister while living in Prague. This disguise proved to be quite useful, not only for spying but also because he was able to pass unnoticed while leaving crime scenes. However, knowing Johan, Tenma wasn't fooled. Grimmer was also sceptical 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 also easier for him to manipulate people while in form, especially the male characters like Detective Suk.
Learning foreign languagesEdit
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 become fluent in both within a span of just thirteen months.
Johan learned Latin in a very short time while attending the University of Munich. He also tutored Karl to help him impress his father.
Johan is a tall, blond young man who is mostly seen with mild expression on his face. With an appearance that Hitler would consider the ideal Aryan look, he has beautiful blue eyes, hair of a medium length, pale skin and a face that has no flaws as far as the lines and proportions. Beside that, he is healthy, well-trained, has a proper lineament, one could say that Johann has the most-perfect body a man could have; handsome, well built and toned, without flaws, and well-endowed. Johan is elegant and charismatic and is consequently favored by many people, mainly among the female audience. As seen through various encounters, Johan often leaves the impression of kindness and patience, thus easily earning respect of others. His presence can cheer people up from depressive mood. Johan is always calm and collected and usually walks upright, holding his hands behind his back. Moreover, he is eloquent and tends to speak smoothly which is, as well, part of his charm.
Even though Johan looks kind, anyone who closely makes eye contact with him can see the monster, or "hell" as Schuwald describes, in his eyes.
As an adult, Johan is most commonly seen wearing a beige lounge coat with lightly grey shirt or black sweater under and trousers of the same colour as his coat. At an earlier age, he wore a dark blue coat with white shirt under and olive shorts. Johan is sometimes seen wearing a necktie, both as a child and adult. When he was wandering with Anna on the Czech-German border, Johan was wearing attributes closely following the traditional German clothing; a white shirt with suspenders, shorts, and black shoes with white rolled up socks.
Johan's relationships with nearly every person he interacts with are marked by manipulation and exploitation on his part, and obsession with him on the other person's. The obsession at first may be the intense fascination or, in extreme cases like Roberto, cult-like devotion he is able to elicit from others. However, those who have discovered Johan's true nature are so horrified by what they find that they become obsessed with the desire to stop or kill him. The only relationships Johan has that he admits really mean anything to him are with his sister Nina and Kenzo Tenma.
Anna Liebert/Nina FortnerEditJohan has a deep attachment to his twin sister Anna/Nina, who is possibly the only person for whom he feels affection. During a cassette recording made while he was in Kinderheim 511, he said, "What I'm most afraid of is forgetting Anna. The strange lessons we have everyday... are making my memories fade. Please, don't make me forget Anna. It's only Anna and me in this world." Johan also mentions several times their special connection as twins, calling Nina his "other half" and saying she is him and he is her.
Their relationship is further complicated by the fact that as children they spent a great deal of time dressed as identical little girls, with matching dresses and hairstyles, in an attempt by their mother to hide the fact that she had twin children. This blurs the boundaries of their individual identities even more, to the point where Johan confuses Nina's shared experiences at the Red Rose Mansion as his own memories.
Despite their emotional bond, Johan remains unfazed at his sister's repeated attempts to kill him, believing himself beyond redemption, and seems to passively wait for the time his sister will come to kill him once again.
Dr. Kenzo TenmaEditJohan's relationship with Tenma is somewhat paradoxical. Johan has openly stated his gratitude towards the doctor for having saved his life, poisoning the ones that posed a threat to Tenma's career – Drs. Heinemann, Oppenheim and Boyer – and allowing him to live, despite Tenma not only knowing everything about his identity and past life and crimes but also actively trying to kill him, as a reward for saving Johan's life. He also claims Tenma is "more than a father" to him. Like General Wolf, who is not killed by Johan but left to live in complete solitude and fear after having all his close relatives and acquaintances murdered, Tenma seems to be one of the few people regarded as worthy of seeing "what Johan saw" – the scenery of doomsday, a life in absolute solitude, without a name, all his loved ones taken from him. Ironically, this may be borne out of some respect for both Tenma and Wolf, both of whom saved Johan from death and took care of him, though this is left unclear.
On the other hand, Johan seems to enjoy playing this cat-and-mouse game with Tenma, leaving him messages on walls with clues about his next locations and generally leaving an obvious trail for the doctor to follow. As with Nina, he also passively awaits for Tenma to shoot him, or rather even invites it. Whether Johan does this out of a genuine death wish or to taunt Tenma into committing the crime of murder, thus becoming a monster himself, is left ambiguous.
Anna (mother)EditIt can be thought that Johan had a deeper attachment to his mother than Nina did, first because he was the one who cried when their mother left them to live by themselves. Secondly, he was the only of the twins who recalled 'being one with their mother', as per his visit to the Red Rose Mansion to see the Maria Theresa's Hall. Thirdly, as implied by the scene in the last episode, he was the only one thinking about his mother's choice at that time when Čapek and Bonaparta had to take one of them away. His mother's true sentiments while making the switch might have been frightening for Johan, leaving him to question the scene for years to come. However, if that segment is to be interpreted as a hallucination by Tenma, this might not be the case.
In any event, whether or not the latter scene does bear some truth or relevancy and irrespective of whether Johan holds his mother with any degree of respect, esteem or even love, the initial source of his disturbing personality facets and outlook may have been rooted in his prenatal development, framed by his mother's desire for vengeance against Franz Bonaparta and her resultant promise to him that her children would attain that retribution on her behalf.
RobertoEditJohan's relationship with Roberto, despite framing an important periphery storyline in the series, was largely left unseen and was mostly indirectly alluded to, as Johan and Roberto didn't often appear in the same scene and were only shown directly interacting and speaking with one another during the penultimate episode, when Roberto expired from his injuries. What is known is that Roberto has been intensely devoted to Johan, acting as his fervent disciple, ever since he allowed him to recall the best and most sublime moments of his otherwise deeply traumatic childhood by offering him warm cocoa, hearkening back to his friendship with Wolfgang Grimmer. Since his sense of identity was connected and largely confined to these brief but relatively idyllic moments amidst the overall social conditioning of the program at Kinderheim 511, Roberto likely sought Johan out as a source of emotional solace in spite of his otherwise antisocial and even sadistic outlook and hence immediately formed an inseparable bond with him on this basis.
What, if any, feelings Johan had about Roberto are unknown, though it is likely he exploited and manipulated Roberto to suit his ends. Roberto sees Johan as a savior, a god figure and his feelings of admiration and devotion are very one-sided. It may be the case that Johan does empathize or at the very least distantly relates to his situation, much as he appears to in the case of appealing to other serial killers or those with sociopathic tendencies. Ultimately, however, Johan seems to hold Roberto with some contempt, when he coldly but wistfully denies his request to see "the scenery for a doomsday" after he's collapsed to the ground in his last death throes; though Roberto seems disappointed, he had previously acknowledged to Inspector Lunge that he only wished to see "the end" that Johan was attempting to implement, not that he necessarily would.
Christof SievernichEditWhat, if any, interactions Johan and Christof had prior to the aftermath of the massacre at Kinderheim 511 aren't indicated (c. age ten for both of them). However, what is shown is that, as the only other survivor of the events at 511 Kinderheim, Johan was the one to find a malnourished and feeble Christof hiding in a cupboard, dazed but alive. He outstretched his hand to the boy upon finding him, appearing almost angelic to Christof in a flood of white light, sparing him the fate of the others at the orphanage, possibly because Johan was only interested in inducing others to commit atrocities during those moments (as implied by Hartmann's comments to Tenma), that Christof had passed a test of some kind in surviving the massacre that Johan had instigated where others hadn't (much like the other children he later manipulated as a young adult), or that he already suspected that he could play with Christof and/or eventually use him to suit his purposes in the future. It is quite likely that some combination of all three of these factors motivated Johan to rescue and befriend the boy, promising that they would meet again ten years later.
Johan would manipulate events to ensure that Christof would meet him through their respective circumstances at a later point, including ensuring that he got adopted by the late Ernest Sievernich, an influential business mogul as head of the Sievernich Group and also a prominent figure in the ultranationalist, neo-Nazi community in West Germany, acting as one of four administrators in an organization that had the goal of seeking Johan out and making him the next Führer. When they met according to plan ten years later, by the auspices of Peter Čapek at a high-society social gathering, they reviewed their ambitions and goals and rekindled their relationship, subsequently meeting at his hotel room, where Christof awaited "the devil", according to Martin. Later, when Eva Heinemann, who had been partly responsible for facilitating Johan and Christof's newfound relationship, sought Christof out and demanded to know where Johan was on threat of taking his life with a pistol she had in her possession, even shooting off his right ear, Christof's frustrations with her actions climaxed in a bout of rage, wherein he pounced on her and disarmed her at astonishing speed, pointing the gun at her and elaborating on Johan's seeming intentions to make him a politician, likely so they could implement their agenda of destruction. Whether Johan actually meant to do this or was again using Christof as a means to an unforeseen end (with the latter being most likely, and both being possible) is left unindicated.
Johan's principles and motives are largely left unclear, however it is apparent by his actions and strange attitude that his way of thinking completely differs from the other characters'.
In contrast to Tenma's "All lives are equal" philosophy, Johan believes people are equal in death. He states at some points throughout the series that life is essentially meaningless, most notably in his conversation with Miloš, in which he says a single life is merely an insignificant flash unworthy of being counted as an existence.
- Johan Liebert is born in the city of Prague, alongside his twin sister Anna, as the products of an experiment engineered by Franz Bonaparta.
- He, his mother, and his sister move into the Three Frogs building.
- Franz Bonaparta and Peter Čapek come to the Three Frogs to take either Johan or his sister away for experimentation; their mother is forced to choose and selects the latter. She is also taken away.
- Anna escapes from the Red Rose Mansion and tells Johan about the massacre she witnessed (he takes these memories in as his own).
- Someone (likely Bonaparta) informs the two that they will have to live on their own, so they burn down the Three Frogs and start heading west.
- The two encounter various people, including Uncle Josef and Aunt Clara, Mr. Bedger, Mr. Schlegel, and an unnamed couple who offer them sandwiches (see episode 66).
- Johan and his sister are found starving and nearly dead on the Czech-Germany border by Helmut Wolf.
- While Anna is enrolled in Orphanage 47, Johan is sent to the infamous Kinderheim 511.
- Johan initiates a massacre within Kinderheim 511's walls; only he and Christof Sievernich are left alive.
- Anna and Johan are adopted by the Lieberts.
- Franz Bonaparta pays the twins a visit; Johan consequently kills their new parents. Anna discovers his crime and shoots him in the head at his request.
- Johan is taken to Eisler Memorial Hospital where he is operated on by Kenzo Tenma.
- Johan kills three of Tenma's superiors before fleeing the hospital with his amnesia-stricken sister.
- The twins stay with Reinhardt Dinger.
- Johan and his sister move in with the Fortners in Heidelberg; he disappears a few months later.
- Johan stays with the Heinaus in Munich.
- Johan moves in with the Reichmanns in Köln.
- Johan lives with the Schumanns in Hanover.
- Johan stays with an unnamed family in Hamburg (date is approximate).
- Johan finds another Liebert family in Bruntal. Playing the role of their son, he provides them with a home in Offenbach Hessen.
- The underground money laundering corporation begins.
- Halenka Novakova retires from prostitution and begins living with Johan (they share an apartment in Offenbach Hessen).
- Johan hires Adolf Junkers and company to kill off some of his former foster parents.
- Johan moves in with the Springers in Frankfurt (however at this point, he has yet to abandon his second "Liebert" family).
- Johan executes Junkers and his partners, crossing paths with Tenma in the process. Tenma decides to set off on a quest to kill his former patient when he learns the man's true identity.
- After traveling to Heidelberg, Johan attempts to "pick up" his sister on their twentieth birthday, but Tenma interferes with his plans. Her parents, however, end up dead by the hands of two men Johan hired.
- Johan puts an end to the underground bank; it goes down with a massacre.
- Halenka Novakova is murdered by Johan or someone at his request.
- Johan evades The Baby's "welcome party" to make him the new leader of a neo-Nazi organization in Frankfurt.
- Johan enrolls in the University of Munich.
- Trying to get close to Schuwald, Johan kills off many of the former tycoon's friends, colleagues, and associates.
- Johan latches onto Edmund Farren, trying to convince Schuwald the boy is of blood relation to him. When Farren is no longer of use (aka when Karl enters the picture), Johan puts him up to suicide.
- Richard Braun encounters Johan while investigating Farren's death; he digs too deep and ends up dead.
- Karl Schuwald and his father are reunited with Johan's help. To thank him, Schuwald offers Johan a position as his secretary.
- After coming into contact with The Nameless Monster, Johan faints in the University of Munich library.
- Schuwald's book donation ceremony goes up in flames.
- Johan travels to Prague, where he kills off many people involved in his past and meets Jan Suk while cross-dressing at a bar. He leaves the young detective in a position similar to the one Tenma was faced with in 1986: three superiors dead and one man to blame.
- Johan burns down the Red Rose Mansion and comes into contact with Hermann Führ.
- With the help of Eva Heinemann, Johan and Christof are reunited.
- Johan meets with Peter Čapek to obtain information on Franz Bonaparta's whereabouts.
- Johan finally comes into contact with Nina. He tells her about his visit to the Red Rose Mansion and the massacre he saw back in 1981; Nina corrects him, claiming that she was the one who witnessed the tragedy.
- Unconfirmed, but Johan may have visited Jaromír Lipsky to receive information regarding Franz Bonaparta's location.
- Johan travels to Ruhenheim and orchestrates a massacre, wiping out not only Bonaparta but also the entirety of his "peaceful home".
- After being shot in the head by Herbert Knaup, Johan is saved by Kenzo Tenma and enters a comatose state.
Another Monster was written basically for the compilation of testimonies for and against Johan.
There is some question as to when the birthday of the twins is. Near the beginning of episode twenty one in the anime, there is a brief moment showing a file for Nina Fortner, which states her birthday as April 7th. However, the manga does not provide the same information (though instead of giving a different date, the birthday is just excluded entirely).
In the first chapter of Another Monster, one of the paragraphs reads as following: "In May of 1995, a shocking incident occurred in Heidelberg. Christianne and Erich Fortner, along with a visiting newswriter from the Heidelberg Post, Jacob Mauler, were shot to death in their home."
Since Johan killed her parents and Mr. Mauler on their twentieth birthday, this implies the two were born in May. Furthermore, if they were born after the twenty first, their astrological symbol would be Gemini, or the sign of the twins.
"The big secret to breaking the rules is to make it look as though you're following them."
"Tell me, what do you think is the ultimate fear? I really thought I'd already reached the darkest of the dark, but then, ahead of me, I beheld a darkness even greater still."
"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 ending. It's from a memory only I have; the real place where I must be."
"How weak the mind when it wants to forget. Maybe you didn't forget. Maybe you're lying. Is it a lie you tell everyone around you, or perhaps a lie you tell yourself?"
"I was supposed to die that night. You're the one who resurrected me, doctor."
"Doctor Tenma, for you, all lives are created equal; that's why I came back to life. But you've finally come to realize it now, haven't you? Only one thing is equal for all, and that is death."
"You can see it, the scenery for a doomsday."
"What can you see when you look into my eyes? I was born in a town that was straight out of a fairy tale. 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 whole world. Neither one of us possessed a real name."
"The end. What exactly is the end? The end. The end. The end. I've seen the end over and over. What is the end?"
"Do you think your sin will disappear if you lie?"
"What I'm most afraid of...is...forgetting Anna. The strange lessons we have every day...are making my memories fade. Please, don't make me forget Anna. It's only Anna and me in this whole world." (stated by his younger self)
"The monster inside of me, wasn't inside me. It was outside."
"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 tiny corner of our planet is nothing but a tiny, insignificant flash. Death is a normal thing. So why live?"
"Was my mother really trying to save me that day, or was she just confusing me with my sister? Well, which is it? Which one of us didn't she need?"
Knowing that Urasawa admires Osamu Tezuka a lot, Johan might be based on Michio Yuki, the antagonist from Tezuka's manga MW, who has a very similar background and character as Johan. Starting as an innocent child, going through the secret military experiments and so on...