My Little Monster

My Little Monster

MY LITTLE MONSTER

Watched via Crunchyroll

WHITNEY

CRYSTAL

PLOT: I should probably add a disclaimer. I’m still healing from the massive disappointment I incurred from the ending of this series. Yesterday I decided to knock out the last half of this show so we could finally review something a little more “now” (though it’s totally last season by this point).

Typically I’d avoid talking about the ending of a show, but really there are no spoilers here, because the whole show is essentially filler. That’s right, nothing happens at all. The last episode is just a recap showing us personality quirks of all the characters so we can say to ourselves, “Wow, I really liked watching those guys as they almost did stuff.”

My Little Monster has a tremendous amount of potential and was shaping up to be the best shoujo series of the season (compared to the rest it still might be). Although being a typical show that revolved around school life and friendship, the comedic elements and motivations of the characters were relatable and charming in an over-the-top yet humanistic type way.

I know nothing of the manga, but the lack of story arcs, plot, drama, makes me think that the downfall for this anime may just be bad story telling from the manga dragging over. I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that the manga probably took 2-3 volumes before finally reaching its striding, which really sets the anime up for failure as a 13 episode only show.

I can’t believe you think a non-ending makes this show a failure! Maybe it’s because of how long I’ve watched anime, but I’ve come to forgive a lot of anime for bad endings.

PLOT: My Little Monster has a strange title, but don’t get yourself thinking it’s a fantasy series or anything. The series follows Shizuku, a girl who’s incredibly focused on studying so she can have a good future. One day, her teacher asks her to take homework to a long-running absentee classmate, Haru, who immediately decides that Shizuku’s his best friend. Shizuku’s socially awkward because she’s never tried to make friends due to her constant studying, and Haru’s socially awkward because he’s skipped classes for over three years and only has friends who use him for his money.

Once Haru begins clinging to Shizuku, she has to figure out what to do with him. Does she like him? Does he like her? If so, where do they go from there? Clearly, they’re meant to end up together, and in these 13 episodes we see several love confessions, but the characters have yet to begin dating. Instead, Shizuku continues to grapple with the question of what she should do with Haru and how to keep herself focused on her studying.

I’m going to have to strongly disagree with Whitney about My Little Monster and plot. The series may not have a strong conclusion, but I still think it uses its time well, especially in comparison to a lot of other anime out there. Though Shizuku and Haru don’t begin dating, they develop a lot as characters, especially when it comes to making friends and navigating those new relationships, too. Furthermore, I really appreciate the focus on Shizuku and her determination to stay strong in her studies. I love seeing a shoujo heroine whose main concern isn’t falling in love; in fact, Shizuku’s wary of dating because it could affect her future by distracting her too much. Because falling in love isn’t My Little Monster’s main concern, I found its ending to be satisfactory. Sure, I’d love more time with the characters, but my main concern is how Shizuku keeps herself grounded amongst all of her new relationships, not how quickly she begins dating Haru.

I think you’re vastly overstating the development in this series. I’m not sure which you have in mind, but I can think of plenty of series that have much more development in 13 episodes than My Little Monster. The “development” that it does have is cyclical and a lot of the show is wasted on covering the same material over and over without bringing anything new to the table.

SETTING: I wish I could find where the characters are supposed to live in Japan because I found their accents to stand out more than usual, specially Haru. Otherwise the setting is pretty standard fare, the cast all attend the same high school in modern day Japan during the winter.

Many of the events in the second half of the show tie in strongly to the holiday season and you get your typical Christmas and New Year’s episodes. Personally I feel that these events could have been used more to the advantage of the show to push forward plot and character development, but it ended up feeling more like a checklist.

SETTING: Another modern-day high school anime, another standard modern-day Japanese town. It has a lot of the features you see in other anime, like hills, a river, cram schools, restaurants, a shrine, etc. The kids even hang out at a batting center run by Haru’s cousin, Mi-chan. Unlike Whitney, I didn’t find anyone’s accent to be noticeable, but then I don’t normally notice them unless there’s an extreme Osaka accent going on.

As for formulaic events of the school year, Whitney forgot the cultural festival and an eventful summer trip. My Little Monster does do better at carefully following the normal schedule of shoujo manga events than other series out there, but it’s a slave to its genre in the end. I think if there weren’t Christmas and New Year’s episodes, fans would revolt.

How could I forget two other events that were horribly under utilized?! There you have it, at least four events that were wasted and used as a checklist to replace plot entirely.

CHARACTERS: Truly the saving grace of this series is the cast. There are so many shoujo titles flooding the market that they all start to blend together. My Little Monster does an excellent job of bringing the clichés of the genre, that everyone loves, together with a unique new perspective that revitalizes the genre.

Shizuku is your typical top student and study bug, excelling to be the best in her school and cram school. She is a no-nonsense kind of girl who can be constantly found reading a book while shenanigans happen all around her. While many lead ladies of the past have compromised their goals for love, Shizuku sticks to her guns and never wavers when it comes to her study priorities.

Next to her stands Haru, a bad boy who dropped out of school for being misunderstood, who is shown as the “natural genius” (he studied everything already while ditching school). His explosive personality and naivety are what drive the show along through humor and encouraging repeat events due to misunderstanding. Really how many times do we have to watch them confess?

The secondary characters are interesting on their own and could even fuel their own story arcs if they ever got the chance to shine.

First of all, I can’t believe you think anime is “flooded” with shoujo anime, just because we got three in one season. Secondly, I think you’re really harsh about how long it takes for Shizuku and Haru to get together. They’re both maladjusted, and it rightfully should take a long time and lots of growing pains for them to become a couple. I find their development very realistic, though I guess it can get frustrating to watch.

Okay, first of all, I’m not talking about just this season or anime solely. I mean shoujo as a whole. Secondly, I’m NOT complaining that Shizuku and Haru don’t get together right away. That is a given in the genre. What I’m complaining about is that that’s ALL the series wants to show. There are a billion other ways that the characters could be developed throughout the series, and instead every other episode we get a pseudo confession or checklist event.

CHARACTERS: The characters completely make this series worth watching. If you’re tired of the normal shoujo heroines (old school or new school), you owe it to yourself to check this show out.

Shizuku’s the complete opposite of what I think of when I envision a shoujo manga heroine. She’s a loner without friends, not because she was betrayed or teased in the past, but because she’s always known she needs to do well in school to have the life she wants. Even when she begins making friends, Shizuku’s not overly sentimental, and she carefully avoids having them change her in ways she doesn’t like. As a heroine, her blunt honesty and stubborn refusal to be nice just to get others to like her is refreshing, and I love watching her interact with the rest of the cast. She probably becomes more sociable in the manga, but at the end of the series, she’s still very resistant to hanging out with anyone.

To Shizuku’s straight man is Haru’s funny man, as he’s a goofy class clown who doesn’t know his own strength. Unlike Shizuku, he desperately wants friends, and his attempts to befriend Shizuku and her friends often involve him making huge missteps, some of them more offensive than others (like the rape joke in the first episode—ouch). If you can get past Haru’s ignorance, though, he’s super hilarious to watch. Furthermore, he has that semi-tragic past that makes girls’ hearts go nuts, as well as good looks. His main fault is how thick-headed he is, but I think it works with his lack of socialization.

As Whitney said, the secondary characters are also very fun to watch. I was very excited with how everyone joined the group without it feeling too cliché, and the two main secondary characters, Natsume (who has no friends because she’s too pretty) and Sasayan (who tags along because he’s nice) really round out the main cast. I liked seeing as much of their development as I did, and I’d love to see how their paths go in the manga. If only there were a second season! Or the manga got licensed! Or both!

ART STYLE/ANIMATION: You can tell there were high expectations for My Little Monster as it was given a wonderful budget for a shoujo series. This could be due to the nature of the show following closely to comedy and having gender neutral qualities. I feel that the treatment of the animation and character designs really tries to encourage mass marketability of the series to fan girls and boys alike. Which kind of works out as the plot doesn’t play much into either shoujo or seinen type flags, at least in the few episodes we see.

Most episodes were very well rounded action and camera angle wise. There aren’t too many panning shots or obvious reuses of animation or backgrounds. In fact the whole series does an excellent job of keeping scenery fresh and exciting. It’s rather disappointing to think that all that effort was wasted on a plot that didn’t amount to much. If this series got a second season, I’d watch it in a heart beat to see the full potential of the animation finally realized through proper plot implementation.

I agree that the show looks snazzy, but I don’t think it has broad appeal outside of the shoujo market. More than Kamisama Kiss, maybe, but it still has a strong shoujo look to it.

ART STYLE/ANIMATION: Something about My Little Monster’s character designs makes it look just a little offbeat. Maybe it’s how thin and straight Shizuku’s hair is. Maybe it’s the silly chain that features in the original art for the show. Maybe it’s the way Haru can look both like a bad boy and like a big softy at the same time. Regardless, it stood out from the normal shoujo style for me, and that slight difference in style matches the slight spin the story takes when confronting standard shoujo tropes.

As Whitney said, this show clearly had a higher-than-normal budget for a shoujo anime, especially if you compare it to the low-budget Kamisama Kiss that aired in the same season. Brain’s Base, of Mawaru Penguindrum and Durarara!!, animated the series, and it looks properly gorgeous and fun. The opening has a lot of visual inventiveness that reminds me of the first opening from The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya (flying stars and rainbows!), while the main show also has strong animation. The animation illustrates the characters’ personality traits well, as well as avoiding the hallmarks of lazy animation. I don’t think I’ve seen a shoujo anime that’s looked so good since I finished Kimi ni Todoke 2.

OVERALL: My Little Monster is so conflicting! On one hand it has wonderful characters and potential and on the other it’s a train wreck of a plot that never moves anywhere. I know it’s typical for shoujo anime to be slow moving, but My Little Monster fails to pull together even a small story arc, unless successfully bringing Haru to school counts, but that’s really the starting element not a major plot progression.

If you have a lot of time on your hands and don’t mind a show that isn’t rewarding plot wise, this is a wonderful show to watch just for the characters. Otherwise I’d suggest just keeping it on your radar, and if it manages a second season then watch it, and hope to God that it makes some progress at a later point.

OVERALL: Whether or not you’ll love My Little Monster may come down to how much patience you have for shoujo that spins its wheels a little for the sake of allowing more character interactions. My Little Monster, like Love*Com, often trades romantic progress for character-watching, though at least this series sees a fair amount of character development along the way.

I strongly have to disagree with Whitney about the lack of story arcs, though. My Little Monster definitely has story arcs and a forward-moving plot. The arcs may not be drawn out over five episodes like in Kimi ni Todoke, but they are still there, just compressed into an episode or two. I think this is a very helpful move, since it’ll take Shizuku and Haru so long to learn how to interact with others and each other successfully. My Little Monster lacks the drawn-out, slow development of Sawako in Kimi ni Todoke, but for this story, I think that’s okay. Also, a filler ending doesn’t mean the series achieved nothing, and I’m happy having watched Shizuku and Haru grow together for the time I got.

FINAL SCORE: (7/10) FINAL SCORE: (8/10)
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6 thoughts on “My Little Monster

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