Finally sick of waiting for a second season, Marlin has decided to catch up on the My Little Monster manga as it’s being released in America. Starting with where the anime ends, Volume 5 picks up on the drama caused by Natsume’s awkward confession, as well as delivers more insight into Haru’s checkered past. Keep an eye out for volumes 6 and 7 later this month!
My Little Monster Volume 5
Publisher: Kodansha Comics
Release Date: November 18th, 2014
I’m so glad I decided to pick up where the anime left off. As some of you may remember, the anime left on a very unsatisfying note, as while Shizuku had come to some realizations, there was no real plot thread tied up by the series finale. In fact, what we got was more loose threads than ever. Yuzan was increasingly inserting his presence back into Haru’s life, and it seemed we might get a bit of a glimpse into his past just as the series closed shop. Similarly, we have Natsume’s half-hearted confession to Mitchan just in time to see nothing come of it. Thankfully, both of those lingering questions are brought to the forefront in this volume.
Natsume’s story came first. As the comic relief character, it’s hard not to disregard her entire plight. She’s got a huge ego, but here we finally start to understand why it happened. Her natural good looks combined with her terrible social skills had alienated herself from all her friends quickly, and thus she finds it hard to trust people her own age to this day. This is why she’s so infatuated with Mitchan, he’s a mature adult that takes her seriously despite her own immaturity. Unfortunately, he’s not the most mature person, and thus doesn’t even think to take any of this dumb teenager’s advances seriously until it goes way too far. In the end, the lesson Natsume learned is to be more confident in herself.
We knew Haru had a rough past, but nothing conveys that sentiment quite as well as a flashback. We still don’t know the root cause of his trauma, but it’s obviously very powerful for him to act with so much distrust from such a young age. Hopefully, as he opens up to more people, he’ll be able to put that trauma behind him. The meat of this volume is definitely in the still teetering relationship between Shizuku and Haru. The two of them just haven’t been able to communicate properly. While Haru’s past goes a long way to explain his emotional distance, we haven’t focused on Shizuku’s own deficiencies until now. While I think it’s a little unfair to say Shizuku has done nothing for Haru, hell their involvement expanded his social circle dramatically, but it is fair to say she hadn’t been putting as much effort into burgeoning their relationship. Since Haru is still paralyzed by his own fears, as well as his jealousy of Yamaken, it really is up to Shizuku to push this relationship forward from here.
Since this is the first volume I’ve seen first hand, I have to note on how beautiful the art is for this manga. Sure, My Little Monster has its weird pentagons and bloom effects same as every other shoujo, but it never abuses them, more often drawing its characters with a rich level of detail. It’s a masterclass in using art to display mood, with funny scenes becoming chibified while tense dramatic thoughts or situations usually give characters more definition. I’m also a pretty big fan of blush abuse, which this series has in spades. The translation is fantastic as well. There’s a few times where it decides to let incredibly obscure Japanese culture references stay in, but considering how obscure some of them are I can hardly blame them for not trying to shoehorn in an ill-fitting replacement. Sometimes it gets a little hard to follow conversations, but that’s a problem that seems to stem from how the manga itself was written. Otherwise, the tone remains conversational and gives you a pretty good feeling feel for each person’s personality. On quality alone this is a pretty impressive release. If anyone has been jonsing for more My Little Monster, I wholeheartedly recommend they check out the manga. While it can never replace the breathtaking color of Brains Base’s adaptation, it’s an absolutely fantastic manga that continues to deliver great comedy and romance in spades.