Manga in Minutes: My Little Monster, Vol. 1
Welcome to this weeks Manga in Minutes! Back to our regular format for this week, I hope everyone had a chance to read and enjoy the extensive Anime Boston 2014 con report from last week. As per usual, here’s a small collection of news, editorials and other manga related tidbits that have caught my attention from over the past week.
- In the latest “House of 1000 Manga”, Shaenon Garrity talks about Hiroaki Samura’s two short story collections, Ohikkoshi and Emerald.
- Late last week, our extended family over at Robot 6 stumbled across a news item about Tezuka’s daughter discovering some of her father’s erotic sketches and an essay about Akira creator Katsuhiro Otomo. I can only hope that someday that essay gets translated and released in the West.
- Tokyo Pop’s founder Stu Levy held an AMA over at Reddit this past weekend. Not many people partook of it at the time, but there’s still some rather interesting tidbits and stories in there.
- Haikasoru is holding a contest where some lucky winner will receive the new edition of Battle Royale and the Battle Royale Slam Book! The Battle Royale Slam Book is a collection of essays about the original work, while the new edition of Battle Royale consists of a brand new translation!
- And, of course, The New York Times Best Sellers List for the week of March 22nd, which sees the Attack on Titan franchise take 5 of the Top 10 slots!
On to this week’s review!
Shizuku Mizutani is a young girl dedicated to her studies, ignoring everything and anything that could keep her from achieving academic excellence! Or at least she was, until she crosses paths with Haru Yoshida, a strange classmate of hers with a bad reputation and a tendency to never show up at school. Now Shizuku’s life is increasingly entwined with that of the erratic and awkward Haru, and much to her surprise, that might not be a bad thing! Such is the set up of Robico’s My Little Monster, Vol.1!
My Little Monster is a bit of an odd duck. The focus of the book is the growing friendship between Shizuku and Haru, two characters who are polar opposites but at the same time had certain things in common, like a desire to be alone. As the two get together we start to see each slowly coming out of their shell. Shizuku’s probably the more likable of the two, as Haru is socially incompetent on an all new level. He’s constantly threatening people, even when it’s uncalled for, and on one hand this seems like it’s supposed to be endearingly awkward and comedic, but at some times it comes off as creepy and uncomfortable. For example, after his first encounter with Shizuku he follows her to school and literally grabs her and pulls her into an ally threatening to hurt her if she screams, all so he can show her a dog he found. There are a few incidents like this, where his awkwardness goes from funny to creepy and it doesn’t really do much to help him come off as a sympathetic character. The book really glows when it does away with Haru’s over the top awkwardness and instead focuses on the ways Shizuku and Haru change each other and bring out each others humanity.
Robico’s artwork is solid and does a fantastic job at reinforcing the emotional landscape of the story. Important moments to Shizuku are allowed to hang in a panelless void, or are dotted with small bursts of toning suggestive of sparkles or even blushing. The characters’ designs are simple but easy to distinguish from one another. There are some comedic over reactions, but thankfully they’re few and far between and none of them are so ridiculously over the top as to break the mood or take one out of the story. They fit in nicely with the general tone and work pretty well. The lack of backgrounds is at times annoying, such as a scene with Shizuku in a batting cage hitting a ball into a white void, but at other times it helps reinforce the emotional beats as I touched upon before.
I enjoyed My Little Monster, Vol. 1 a lot more than I thought I would. While I still have some problems with Haru, who’s personality swings far too wildly for me to take to him at this point, Shizuku’s slow growth and emergence from her shell is interesting and intriguing to watch.
My Little Monster, Vol. 1 is available now from Kodansha Comics. Review copy provided by the publisher.