It occurs to me that I have added nothing of good manga to my list of recommendations on this site. Since all I have are rants about shitty manga this might lead some to believe I do not enjoy this medium of otaku culture. I am actually quite fond of manga, and I read it as often as I can. To prove this I decided to share with you one of my personal favorites. I present for your approval…
My Little Monster (Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun)
My Little Monster is one of my favorite shōjo (girl… shaddap) manga of all time. Debate me if you will, but to date this is the one that I stuck with from beginning to (very satisfying) end. The mere fact that it not only ended, but ended VERY well makes it an excellent read for any fan. If romance/comedy/drama aren’t your thing then you can skip right on past it, but honestly I wasn’t into this kind of manga either till I read this one. I implore you to give it a try, or at least to read on and see if my ramblings make it any more enticing.
The plot centers around high school students Shizuku Mizutani and Haru Yoshida. Shizuku is a perfect student who spends most of her time studying while ignoring the majority of her classmates. Haru gets fantastic grades like Shizuku, however he is frequently away from school due to his volatile nature when dealing with other people. In fact it is this very nature that leads to Haru getting into a fight with other students on his first day of high school, and subsequently being suspended. After this Shizuku is sent (by means of bribery) to give the absent Haru his school work. It is from here that a story of self reconciliation, romance, and youthful comedic blundering is launched.
Throughout the series the multiple characters are faced with the standard trials and tribulations befitting a shōjo manga. Certain characters like others, who in turn are infatuated with another, so it’s not very atypical of most romance story-lines in general. What sets it apart for me is the character’s personalities. For example Asako Natsume falls into the category of “pretty girl” which is usually trumped up as “popular girl” and/or “absolute bitch” in most romance manga. Natsume defies convention by being a loner due to her attractiveness, and instead finds solace in her “internet social life”. This and a few other conventional troupe breaking character personalities drew me in from the onset, and kept me enamored till it’s conclusion.
Some readers point to Haru’s violent streak as a cause for concern for the young couple, but I think that overcoming past afflictions is the point of the story. Haru’s rash violence and Shizuku’s isolationist views are symptoms of varying degrees of childhood neglect. While Haru is something of a wildcard in the early stages of the story, he quickly mellows out as he learns to trust others. Shizuku is kind of heartless throughout the beginning, but as her relationship with Haru progresses she sheds her past emotional detachment. It’s a story of growth more than anything else, and I believe it executes it nicely.
I really don’t want to spoil more or how it ends, mostly because it technically hasn’t ended yet. Not for the English speaking audience at least. I’ll admit that I actually read this manga back before my proclivities towards “supporting the industry” started. I have read this story to it’s conclusion, but the actual English print hasn’t caught up with the end yet. This makes it a decent time to jump in, as the last book should be coming in early 2016. You can also buy/read the manga on the Kindle app if you don’t want a physical copy of the book… or you can find (cough) “legitimate” (cough) websites to read this fantastic story. It should be a testament to this manga’s value however, that after reading it on a questionable site I felt the need to actually buy physical copies of it to support the creator. I hope that anyone else who enjoys this story will do the same.
What do you think of my first manga recommendation? Let me know of any manga I should be reading while you’re at it! I know it’s weird that my first one would be a shōjo, but I can’t stress enough how much I enjoyed this story. I’ll probably be doing a video about unboxing the My Little Monster anime soon, because I’m impulsive and bought it while writing this article. Look forward to that, and hopefully better editing due to a software upgrade. That wraps up this episode of the BrOtaku Blog, but I’ll see you again in 2,880 minutes with another. Till then…
Arigatō my fellow BrOtaku!