Manga Review: My Little Monster Vol. 8

There’s the type of shojo manga where a girl really can envision herself as the heroine. And then there are those where the characters are constantly going off the deep end. My Little Monster falls into the latter category, and if your taste in high school romance leans toward the improbable and wacky, this title might be up your alley. Kodansha  has released Volume 8 of the English translation, and you can read on for the review. (For my review of previous volumes, click here.)

Back Cover Blurb

The second year of high school is here, but Haru’s been moved to another class all by himself! At first, the former chronic truant refuses even to enter the strange classroom, but with Shizuku’s “encouragement,” he slowly comes to terms with the change. Shizuku begins to feel she’s really reaching Haru, especially compared to how things used to be, but then the unexpected arrival of a new student throws things out of whack, and Yamaken finally begins to move… What could possibly come next?

The Review

Finally! Progress on our lead couple’s relationship, and it’s due in part to a new character. Shizuku and company begin a new school year in the previous volume, and Iyo Yamaguchi is an incoming freshman. She’s pretty but has a peculiar way of speaking that might confuse Western readers. As for her role, she’s a new rival for Haru’s heart. Unlike Oshima, she’s completely aggressive about her intentions, not that Haru’s interested. Oh, and by the way, she happens to be Yamaken’s little sister.

So we have two Yamaguchi siblings aiming to split up Haru and Shizuku, not that they are collaborating. Yamaken regards Iyo with disdain, and she shrivels up when he’s around. At one point, Shizuku, Haru, Natsume, Sasayan, the Yamaguchi siblings, and Yamaken’s stooges are together in a donut shop, and all sorts of awkwardness ensues. Trying to follow so many wacky interactions is a bit confusing, but the scene creates a believably crazy vibe–crazy enough to push Yamaken into confessing his feelings to Shizuku.

That felt like the surprise of the entire series, especially given the circumstances under which he spits it out. It’s an unusually anxious moment for the cast’s two most unflappable characters. While Shizuku’s rejection is a given, watching it play out is pretty interesting.

So Iyo and Yamaken get nowhere in their romantic pursuits, but their efforts serve to push Haru and Shizuku into admitting the feelings they’ve been holding back. And so (drumroll)… Haru and Shizuku become a couple. Yes, it’s a sweet moment, but my main reaction was, “It’s about time!”

Now that that’s settled, it’s unclear what direction the story will take. A summer vacation arc begins with Haru and Shizuku in the mountains again, this time with the Yamaguchi siblings and their cohorts. Yamaken and Iyo make clear they haven’t given up hope, but neither really qualifies as romantic rival material. For now, the group dynamic continues much the way it has been, except Haru and Shizuku now have the “official” label on the relationship.

Extras include bonus four-panel comics, short bonus manga, an afterword from the mangaka, and translation notes.

In Summary

A very eventful Volume 8! The introduction of a new character and lots of hearts laid bare. The relational mayhem makes for surprising and entertaining scenes, and Haru/Shizuku fans will be gratified by the decision that results from this roller coaster of teenage emotions.

First published at the Fandom Post.

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