Manga: My Little Monster (Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun) Volume 1 Summary + Review

“I’m not getting involved with this”

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Publisher: Kodansha Europe

Genre: Romantic, Comedy, Shojou, Drama  Age: 13+

Released: 20th March 2014 (UK Version)

Hardworking schoolgirl Shizuku Mizutani is a student with a life mission to get perfect grades. Her life is turned upside down when she is asked to deliver a homework assignment to the school delinquent, who then manages to convince himself he is love with her. Haru appears to have very little social skills, but the pair clearly have a chemistry, even if Haru is getting in the way of Shizuku’s goal of being number one at her school.

This is the manga that formed the basis for the anime series, and the first volume covers up to the first two and a half episodes.

Warning! May contain spoilers!

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After delivering homework to the school’s badboy, who even the teachers are afraid to face, Shizuku catches the eye of Haru. He kidnaps her to show her his most recent discovery; an abandoned dog that turns out not to be abandoned, and the two take a break at a fast food restaurant. Shizuku cautions Haru after he gives his money to his bum friends, but he is insulted instead.

After taking on the bullies who pretend to be friends with Haru, Shizuku earns the gratitude of Haru, and a love confession,. He is convinced that he is in love with her, but Shizuku explains that it is probably because she is the only girl he has ever talked to, and if he makes more friends, he will be able to find other girls.

Haru’s clumsiness in rescuing her from vengeful third years results in Shizuku getting hurt instead, and her walking off. After gaining the top score in her school, she calms down and apologises to Haru. Taking some tips from shoujo manga, Haru decides to kiss Shizuku in an effort to feel the heart-pounding feelings of love. Afterwards, Shizuku’s feelings for Haru are being internally scrutinised, whilst Haru seems unaware of what he has done.

A student in Shizuku’s class, Asako Natsume, approaches her for tutelage on getting a passing grade, so she can hang out with her internet friends instead of doing the makeup test.

After much trouble with both Haru, Asako, a chicken, and Sasayan, another young boy in their class, the crew finally get over the hurdle of studies. Haru reaches the top score in the school, surprising Shizuku about his intelligence.

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After falling asleep on the roof, and accidentally missing her class, Shizuku wakes up top realise that her perceptions about Haru were wrong, and that she should give his feelings a chance. She confesses to him, but backs out at the last second, afraid to put her feelings on the line.

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On the weekend, Haru, Shizuku, Sasayan and Asako get together to build a chicken coop for the crew’s unusual pet. They are getting supplies when they run into Haru’s fake friends. A scuffle takes place, but Shizuku ropes them into building the chicken coop as an apology to Haru for being mean.

That night Shizuku confesses her feelings to Haru again, and they have a heartfelt moment. Haru gets a message informing him that his older brother Yuzan is at his place, so he and Shizuku decide to go somewhere else for the night.

Overall, My Little Monster was one of the best shoujo series to come out in a long, long time. It had a niche with a strong and stoic lead female character, who endured the pursuits of the male lead character, but she also had a softer side that was hilariously selfish. These are the kind of characters that I last saw in something like Kare Kano, which had a couple with a sizzling chemistry (well, in the earlier episodes, before the series seemed to burn out..). I also love the sudden shifts in mood that Haru and Shizuku have, they are so calm one second and then burst into motion the next.

The first volume of this manga covers a fair amount of ground in just four chapters. All the pages are clusters of characters talking and making the plot progress at a frankly neck-breaking speed. There’s a lot to see, and a lot of information gets packed within one volume, introducing characters fairly quickly, and establishing some new ones for the next volume.

Occasionally Haru will throw some person or another to give the reader a break and with a gag, but this is very different to the suffocatingly slow, typical shoujo manga pace.

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I enjoyed having plenty to look at, but physically the spine of my manga was really tight, and a lot of the dialogue on the inside of the page disappeared into the crease. It’s not a nice feeling to peel back the two halves of the manga apart, straining to see the inner text, whilst also trying not the rip the book in two, from the brute strength you are inflicting on the spine. Not a nice feeling at all. Not only does it take the reader out of the zone, but there’s always a fear that you will ruin this volume, and it will always have a weird gap where the spine glue has become undone, or other such book related horrors.

Another things that struck me when I picked up this book was the cover. I get that Haru is meant to be some sort of instinctive person who follows his guts… like an animal… but that cover illustration is something that is sexist, brutal, and uncivilized. It doesn’t really reflect the characters either, especially since they have so much life in them, but on the cover they have a dead-eyed stare. I don’t condone subjugated images of women, and it’s not okay for men either. If there was one thing I could change about this manga, it’s that awful chain.

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The real reason to watch or read My Little Monster isn’t for the love story, it is for the frank characters and the comedy. I’m looking forward to reading the rest of the volumes, although they don’t release until later in the year. I have followed the anime and already know about the plotlines, but it seems fresh all over again.

You can find My Little Monster Volume 1 here, and also Volume 2 (UK Version To Be Released 27th May 2014) and Volume 3 (UK Version To Be Released 29th July 2014).

Rated – 3/5 Good introduction to the characters. Rushes through the plot very fast.

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