Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Manga Review: My Little Monster (volume 4)

I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that I think my branch library has gotten a new employee lately who is fairly manga-savy, not just because of the "sad Naruto is over? Read these manga instead!" display but because I've seen more recent manga releases popping up in our small section recently. Obviously this was one of them, I hadn't gotten around to buying the latest volume of My Little Monster yet for, well, actually that's part of the review!

My Little Monster (volume 4) by Robico

The year is ending which means there's more time for Shizuka to take cram lessons and Haru is jealous when he realizes that his old "friend" is in her class, although all three of them are too dense to realize the crushes that are developing. But the gang also manages to have some fun with the new year and hope for some changes with it.

One reason I hadn't bough a copy of this volume for myself yet is because money is still a bit tight for me Barnes and Nobel sends pretty regular 15-25% off a single item coupons these days so that wasn't the only reason. The fact is, while I did really enjoy the anime adaption a few years back, the pacing here just seems to have slowed down and I'm not enjoying it as much as I used to. I think the pacing is both slower in the manga (comparing chapters to episodes) and having to wait a couple of months between volumes instead of watching the anime over 13 continuous weeks also isn't helping, even though Kodansha has been putting out a volume every two months and will wrap up the series next year because of it. I do want to keep reading the manga but that is because the anime only adapted half of the manga, by volume 7 the story will be in completely new territory for me and perhaps that will rekindle my interest in it. Which does leave me in a bit of an awkward position, I want to support the manga since the anime was never licensed here but for the moment this is very much of a "I would rather rent the volumes and save my money" situation, thank goodness my library does seem to be collecting the series now and hopefully they won't take terribly long to get subsequent volumes.

As for the events in this particular volume, the love polygons are starting to get very muddled here and there's no progress being made on any of the relationship which is a bad thing story-wise. Relationships are complicated even in real life so I can understand to a degree why multiple characters would be interested in each other, although since a large part of this story is about how the character's have unlikable personalities it is a bit of a stretch here. But this is frustrating none the less since the series seems to start off on a different note with Shizuka and Haru realizing early on that they liked each other, only to backtrack and have the characters flipflop more to keep the plot going than as a natural cycle of character development/regression. I had also forgotten that Natsume hadn't formally confessed to Haru's uncle yet and, while I'm not fond of that pairing at all I will admit that her crush on him makes more sense than most of the crushes in the story and seeing the two of them handle it is less cringe-worthy than some parts. And I will admit that the non-romantic parts, especially with the characters hanging out on New Year's Eve, was very fun and cute. The story's romance can be both good and bad but it's comedy is usually very solid, it captures the strange zany moments of teenagers pretty well and those are pretty amusing to see no matter how old you are.

I also still continue to like the character introductions in each book, it's a cute and clever way to fill a few pages, and continue to be baffled why there is no gutter in the book. As per the last few volumes, it's not a problem on most pages but there are at least three times when a word bubble is too close to the inside edge to read it properly. I'm still confused if it was the Japanese side or the American side that made such an obvious error, especially since Kodansha USA won't even acknowledge it when asked!


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