Love is not always as straight forward as we believe it should be. Which is something addressed in NIS America's recent released My Little Monster. A story that follows the not-so normal relationship between a misunderstood delinquent and a diehard bookworm.
At first glance, Shizuku Mizutani is as antisocial as they get. A complexion caused by her deep rooted desire to do nothing but study. Friendships, idle chat, events, and anything else unrelating to study is completely unappealing to her. However, after her teacher bribes her with a new workbook to take some class notes to an expelled student, Shizuku's life quickly takes a turn for the worst.
The delinquent's name is Haru Yoshida, a boy who was expelled from school shortly after the school year began. Though, despite his name being cleared, he has avoided all contact with the faculty and has grown to dislike them. This has lead him to miss quite a bit of school despite his suspension being over. However, according to Shizuku's teacher, his absence will soon lead to him being dropped out.
Common sense would lead one to believe these two are polar opposites, but thanks to Haru's overly innocent mind, curiosity gets the better of him and he grows quite attached to Shizuku. This is only amplified when Shizuku calls out Haru's friends for mistreating him. So begins the not-so normal relationship between the socially awkward and quick to violence boy and the no-nonsense book worm girl.
My Little Monster spares very little time in jumping into the romance of its story. Due mostly to the socially broken male lead Haru. His character centers mostly around not knowing true friendship, being isolated from people due to his intimidating appearance, and of course his quick temper that often turns violent. This causes him to attach to Shizuku when she shows a slight amount of care to him. Which is definitely the show's most heartwarming and interesting element.
Though the tension and suspense for that love is kept going throughout the course of the story thanks to Shizuku's desire for her studies. Often trailing Haru along and creating for some very comical moments as the two play tug of war with their feelings. Of course, it's feelings of love that these two know very little about and can't comprehend.
It's in these aspects that My Little Monster shines the most. Seeing Shizuku's struggle between her life long desire for academics and a high salary job, how her past plays into that, and of course coming to grips with her feelings. On the opposite side, Haru's struggles with friendship, obtaining a more acceptable image, and his fallout with his family.
They are enduring characters that you enjoy seeing grow, but they are also served by a good cast of supporting characters that join them along the way. Asako Natsume, a beautiful girl who's been outed by others due the attention she gets from boys; Souhei Sasahara, a popular baseball club member who gains interest in the change Haru has seen thanks to Shizuku; Chizuru Oushima, the class rep who ended up isolated after joining the school year late; and Kenji Yamaguchi, a rich scholar who constantly is in competition with Shizuku and warrants jealousy from Haru.
It's a cast that serve more than to enhance the main characters as they each struggle with endeavors of their own. Most of which come in the form of love, bullying, and isolation that bring about scenarios that beg attention and resolution.
Keeping this drama and romance in check is a nice dosage of comedy. Never feeling forced and rarely breaking the mood, it always manages to enhance the character's personalities rather than seek to only serve a chuckle. Even at times when it seems it could shift the tone, it's typically followed up by some very warm and touching moments.
One of the only real upsets to the story of My Little Monster is a bit of unfinished business. While the series as a whole feels very self contained and almost like a finished chapter in the character's lives, there's still a desire to see it continue. Mainly for the sake of Asako Natsume who struggles with her feelings for another character. Then there's also the time spent focusing on Shizuku's broken past and how Haru fought to remedy it. Though it's not enough to discount the enjoyment of the series as a whole. If anything, it could just beg one to see its conclusion in manga form.
Make no mistake, My Little Monster is a fun watch. Filled with countless smiles, chuckles, and a cast of characters that you want to see grow through their joys and hardships. While it never lays the romance on too thick or too serious, the bonds that grow throughout its story end up becoming something worth seeing to the end. So much that the characters may stick with you even after watching to its conclusion.
My Little Monster is currently available in North America in a Blu-Ray/DVD Premium Edition from NIS America Online Store as well as select retailers including: Rightstuf, The Anime Corner Store, Anime Pavilion, and Collectors Anime.