Anime Spotlight: My Little Monster

My Little Monster (which is known as Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun in Japan) is an anime series based on a manga series written and illustrated by Robico. The anime was produced by Brain’s Base and was directed by Hiro Kaburaki. The series ran on Japanese television from October 1-December 24, 2012. As of this writing, NIS America holds the North American distribution license for My Little Monster.

The series focuses on two students at a Japanese high school. The main character of the series is Shizuku Mizutani, an intelligent first-year student who is trying to stay at the top of her class. Because of this, Shizuku has trouble relating to people and doesn’t really have any friends. In order to push herself in her studies, Shizuku needs to acquire a study guide, but is unable to afford one. A teacher offers to pay for a study guide if Shizuku will do a favor for her.

Shizuku is sent to deliver handouts to a boy in her class named Haru Yoshida, who has been absent since the first day of school. Before the day started, Haru had beaten up some upperclassmen and was immediately suspended from school. Haru is quick to pick a fight, but it turns out that he doesn’t really know how to relate to other people, either. After some initial misunderstandings and awkward moments, Haru tells Shizuku that he’s in love with her, and Shizuku has no idea how to handle Haru’s declaration of love. As the first episode progresses, there’s a twist about Haru that I didn’t see coming. This twist affects the interactions between Shizuku and Haru, and as the series progresses, Shizuku finds herself attracted to Haru but not knowing how to deal with it. She finds herself struggling between wanting to be in a relationship with Haru and focusing on her studying in order to score the best on the national exams.

These two social misfits end up making friends with Asako Natsume and Sohei Sasahara, who stick by their side. Asako wants to see Shizuku and Haru get together and can get frustrated by Shizuku acting so nonchalantly about a relationship with Haru.

Over the course of the series, a couple of rivals come in for each of the character’s affections; however, both Shizuku and Haru seem to be oblivious to these other people’s feelings. Kenji Yamaguchi was one of Haru’s friends at the beginning of the series who were just trying to use him, and he finds himself becoming attracted to Shizuku while they attend the same cram school. Chizuru Oshima, a girl with glasses who gets bullied, is saved by Haru when he beats up an upperclassman that was picking on her. As Chizuru gets to know Haru, she begins falling for him.

Even though Shizuku is emotionally distant and Haru doesn’t seem to understand how to relate to other people, I found myself rooting for these two to become a couple by the end of the first episode. As the series progresses, we learn why these characters act the way they do, although I think that Shizuku’s story is a little clearer than Haru’s is. In the anime, the viewer needs to try to fill in some gaps for Haru’s story that aren’t included. Perhaps those gaps were filled in later in the manga, since the anime adaptation of My Little Monster came out while the manga was still ongoing.

Asako and Sohei are interesting characters, even if they’re primarily there in supporting roles. There’s also Nagoya, a chicken that Haru finds. The series is a comedy, so the chicken doesn’t seem to be quite as weird as it would have been if My Little Monster was a more dramatic anime. And building a house for Nagoya ends up serving an important plot point when it comes to Kenji and his friends, which ultimately causes their role in the story to change.

The additional love interests are a typical trope for this kind of a story, but I still found myself feeling a little frustrated when it became obvious that Chizuru had feelings for Haru. By the time this plot point happens, both Shizuku and Haru have been developed enough as characters that I really wanted to see them get together.

My Little Monster is an enjoyable romantic comedy, and it successfully makes the viewer want to ship Shizuku and Haru. The series’ main weakness is the fact that the story doesn’t truly end, and that the ending is very open-ended. However, this lack of a conclusion is understandable when you realize that the manga was still ongoing when the anime was in production. If you go into the series knowing that there won’t be a proper ending, this should help make the story a little more enjoyable.

Now that the manga has ended, I’d love to get a second season to see how the story ends. Unfortunately, enough time has passed since My Little Monster finished airing that I don’t think a second season will ever happen.

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