My Fickle, Little Monster

Ah, high school–that time of turbulent emotions, assignment deadlines, and lots and lots of free time.  In a way, I was once a lot like Mizutani Shizuku, the protagonist for Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun.  I cared mostly for grades and my student resume. I had my eyes set on the future, and I wanted my student life to appear full and inviting to college recruiters.  Unlike Shizuku, I had my fair share of crushes through my four years of high school; I was just too awkward to pursue anyone, many of whom I had known since kindergarten.  Past perceptions had me pegged as some kind of man-hater, that little girl who liked to kick boys in the shins.  Although my former dislike was a far cry from Shizuku’s indifference, we still shared a growing desire to connect with others.  And while she certainly comes a good distance in forming friendships and acknowledging her attractions to Haru, thirteen episodes and the multitude of see-sawing emotions made any sort of closure impossible.

The heart of what makes and breaks this show is its fickle attitude.  Not only do the characters sway between hate, love, and disinterest, so, too, does the entire focus of this show.  Main lead Shizuku and Haru are hot and cold, and never at the same time.  And while this may be somewhat truthful to how young people really are, the lack of forward movement in their relationship makes the wait extremely uncomfortable for an audience. Kimi ni Todoke may have shared a similarly drawn out romance, but at least the two always held their feelings for one another as a priority.  As long as that is the case, a future successful relationship is possible.  I hold no such illusions for Shizuku and Haru with college looming on the horizon.  The one saving grace they may have is Haru’s probable ease in entering the same university as Shizuku, if he decides to pursue her that far.

While the back and forth feelings did nothing for romance, it did well enough in the realm of comedy.  Haru on his own was amusing to watch, and I could understand why Yamaken found it worth his while to hang out with the people he does.  Unfortunately, none of my questions about Haru were answered, and as such I had a hard time supporting him and Shizuku as a couple.  It didn’t help that his explosive temper sometimes made him lash out at the people he should have been protecting.  I’m not sure if the anime wanted the physical violence to be humorous, but I didn’t find it funny in the slightest.

It’s the nature of high school rom-coms like these to flit between different characters, and Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun isn’t an exception.  A good amount of time is spent on friend Natsume’s character, a pretty, sweet girl with the social exuberance of a puppy.  Her bubbly personality does her well in winning the affections of males and, in turn, the jealousy and dislike of females.  In hunger for closer connections with others, she has created an online personality for herself through a blog and various websites.  She finds relative joy both in her new found friendships with Shizuku, Haru, and Sasayan, and in her online persona.  Yet the disconnect between the two worlds makes what’s missing all the more painful.  What she wants more than anything else is someone guaranteed to stay by her side; it’s no surprise that she looks to the older (by four years) “Mitty”, Haru’s father-like cousin.

Natsume’s more colorful personality and familiar young worries about identity and place were so relatable and enjoyable to follow that her story, which was amped up at the end, became more interesting than Shizuku and Haru’s.  While I do think development in side characters is always a good thing, there’s a certain extant that a series should take when considering the episode count.  Thirteen episodes was not enough to stalemate on the main couple and suddenly switch over to a new one and feel like a complete story.

What this anime needs more than anything else to redeem it’s sorry excuse for an ending is a sequel, or at the very least, a few extra episodes to both create some agreement between Shizuka and Haru as well as finish what was started in Natsume’s storyline.  Does Mi-chan/Mitty return her affections, do the clamorers get their wish granted for her and Sasayan, or does she go full love-love for Mizutani? I’m not sure how much will be revealed in the upcoming OVA (to air in January of 2013), but unless it’s the length of a movie, just the one addition won’t be enough to finish what was started.

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15 thoughts on “My Fickle, Little Monster

  1. Hmm, I craved some cake and milk after reading this post and Snippy’s and went to Burger King instead.

    Anyway, cliffhanger “ish” or no resolution endings seem to be the norm in romantic comedies. Either that or the writers of these shows enjoy torturing their audience and make them waste money on Blu-Rays, demanding a properly animated conclusion

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    1. Ooh, cake and milk sounds like a good idea! I have…cookies and milk on hand :3

      I can understand the anime with cliffhangers or meaningful open endings, but My Little Monster really just seemed like it was going-going-WHOOPS!-the end. I lean more towards your latter statement with the company perhaps pushing its consumers to picking up the BDs out of sheer desperation for something more.

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  2. Brains Base never gives a second season to anime that isn’t called Natsume Yuujinchou (which is kinda sad since I do want my Kuragehime, Durarara, Kamisama Dolls and Tonari sequels). I actually like Shizuku’s headstrong personality and how she’s handling their relationship. She loves Haru but she isn’t just about to start a relationship with him until she can find assurance within Haru.

    I root Yamaken though.

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    1. Ah yes, pretty much all those shows you named are ones I want sequels to >< But I also love Natsume Yuujinchou and have liked every installment so far…oh well! Part of me also agrees with you on Yamaken for Shizuku; he just seems more honest. Haru’s strange family situation and dark moments were never explained, so it kind of scares me how he might be if he were ever to snap at Shizuku.

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  3. I feel like you’d like this if it were 26 episodes. I’m actually torn on whether I would watch this. I would want closure.

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    1. Well, I did enjoy the journey, so that’s worth something, right? Like I mentioned, I’m drawn between disliking how back and forth the love in this story is, but also appreciating the reality of young emotions that tend to be all over the place anyways. As it is, though, I think there are quite a few shows from this past year more up your alley with both a fun journey AND closure :)

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  4. Indeed, I didn’t feel much on the romance side of things, no closure or anything, they are just going back and forth. But what it did achieved, at least on a somewhat good scale, is humors. I did remember chuckling from time to time as I watched the series.

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  5. This was my favourite series of 2012, and I wasn’t even going to initially watch it. It’s being heavily voted as “best romance of 2012″ on AnimeSuki, and that’s where I kind of disagree. The romance was good, it was fun. However, by the end of it all, the story just comes full circle instead of taking steps forward with it, and that was my one minor complaint about it.

    Other than that, by god, I loved the characters, the settings and the music. Absolutely sublime.

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    1. I definitely disagree about this show being the best romance of the year, though it certainly has a great cast (what about Ano Natsu…). I really had an issue with the lack of progress, so of course hope that there’s a sequel. If not, I just may have to go and pick up the manga!

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      1. The amount of majority taking the side of Tonari is quite surprising to me as well. Even with how great Ano Natsu was, I actually voted for Chuunibyou for that category in the end.

        Most other series I’d call overall development stale, but I think the focus of Tonari wasn’t exactly to pit the two together at the end. The character interactions were new and everyone was fun, so I definitely found it my favourite series of 2012. Well, Chihayafuru probably a little more, just since that series really hit me and I marathoned the whole thing going home from AX.

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      2. I actually skipped on Chuunibyou when I first read about it, but now with a lot of people I respect bringing it up, I just may have to try it out. Now to wait for a batch release!

        If Tonari’s goal wasn’t to place our two protagonists together in the end, then the show probably has some focus issues given the response many of its fans had with the abrupt ending. I’m not even sure what the goal of the series actually is: taming Haru? Softening up Shizuku? Making a love-love circle of friends?

        Talking about Chihayafuru, it’s probably one of my most anticipated shows for this winter, along with Minami-ke Tadaima ;)

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      3. Chuunibyou was absolutely adorable, I loved every moment of it.

        I consider Tonari to be more of a slice-of-life than a full blown romance. Whilst romance was definitely in the air and was a primary focus, I think the big moral of Tonari was to be comfortable with who you are. This adage applies to Haru, Shizuku, Oshima, Natsume, and the list goes on.

        I am looking forward to Chihayafuru S2 as well. Now that Minami-ke Tadaima is out, I can say that it’s easily set up to be one of my favourite shows of the season. Still waiting on what I’ll get from recommendations, but Ore no Kanojo was able to hold my interest, and Tamako Market is still set to come out. It’ll hopefully be another great season. :)

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