(Above Pictures: Via MyAnimeList)
My Little Monster (となりの怪物くん, Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun)
(Manga, 2008-2013, Anime 2012)
I watched the anime series before reading the manga, となりの怪物くん (Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun), also known as My Little Monster or The Monster Sitting Beside Me by Robico. Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun focuses on the relationship between Shizuku Mizutani and Haru Yoshida. Shizuku has no interest in making friends or having a social life. All she cares about is studying in order to become a full-grown working adult. Haru is the complete opposite of Shizuku: he is an eccentric troublemaker. He could be considered a bona-fide genius, but is somewhat lazy when it comes to studying. After being suspended for a fight on the first day of school, Haru decides to not come to school anymore even though his suspension has been lifted, which leaves Shizuku without a desk partner at school.
One day, a teacher requests Shizuku to deliver class printouts to Haru’s home, and also try to convince him to come back to school. Shizuku meets Haru, and he instantly befriends Shizuku despite her reluctance and coldness. Although Haru has an uncontrollable and violent nature, Shizuku learns that he is actually kind and gentle. Haru openly expresses his love for Shizuku. In fact, she is the reason why he decides to go back to school. However, it takes time for Shizuku to acknowledge her own feelings for Haru. Together, Haru and Shizuku learn how to care for others and make friends.
The characters are hilarious and adorable. I like how each character has some sort of social anxiety which makes it difficult for him or her to make friends. Yet ironically, these students manage to become friends with each other. The group’s friendship begins when they have to build a chicken coop for Nagoya, the chicken that Haru finds and is also known as the school’s pet. Through this project, the group start to get to know each other and bond.
One of the strong points in the series is the friendship development between four very different students: Shizuku Mizutani, Haru Yoshida, Asako Natsume, and Sōhei Sasahara. Like I said before, Shizuku is a studious girl, but she is also nicknamed “dry ice” because of her lack of emotions and coldness towards people. Her coldness makes it difficult for her to make friends. In contrast, Haru is a strange and eccentric troublemaker, which makes him difficult to handle or befriend. However, Haru proves to be a fun, loyal, and valuable friend to Shizuku and the others.
One of the very first characters to befriend Shizuku and Haru is Asako Natsume. Asako is first introduced in the series when she pleads to Shizuku and Haru to help her study for the midterm exams or else, she will fail and won’t be able to go to a group gathering with her online friends. Eventually, Asako befriends Shizuku and Haru, and slowly beings to trust Sōhei. Asako has a difficult time making friends because of bullying during junior high. Many girls ostracized and bullied Asako because they were jealous of her beauty, which results to many guys crushing on her and confessing their feelings. As a result, Asako develops a strong dislike towards boys in general and has a tough time making friends that are girls. Before meeting Haru and Shizuku, she befriends people on the internet as oppose to real life.
The last member of the group is Sōhei Sasahara. He is part of the baseball club, and is a close friend to most of his team members. Asako considers Sōhei, popular among the students and she possesses some jealously towards him for it. Yet despite his friendliness to others, Sōhei sometimes feels lonely. Eventually, he develops an unrequited love for Asako, but she doesn’t know how to respond to his feelings because she still strongly dislike guys who have feelings for her.
I love all the characters in the series because they are funny and have unique traits that make them like-able. The character, Shizuku, reminds me of myself. Similarly, I am a studious student and a bookworm. I consider myself an introvert; hence, I have a hard time making friends and talking to people in general. However, like Shizuku, I found a group of friends that I get along with really well (and we are still friends up to this day). Therefore, if I could think of one significant theme of this manga, it is the emphasis on friendship.
The manga series, Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun, is already completed. I kind of wish that there was a second season for the anime because I would love to see more of Haru and Shizuku’s adventures. It is a hilarious story that you should definitely read or watch.