Monday, 4 August 2014

I'm in love (Tonari no kaibutsu-kun)

...With an anime character, natch.

Just kidding! But I have recently gotten myself into a bit of trouble, as I am now addicted to an anime (and quite possibly the manga it's based off of). Ahem.

I'm actually pretty late to all this raving about Japanese and Korean pop culture, but recently while I was on holiday I got bored and decided to watch television (unfortunately since I was in Ulaanbaatar all the channels were in Mongolian except for Animax). And thus I found myself rolling on the bed in peals of laughter and wondering what on earth had gotten into me.

Tonari no kaibutsu-kun (literally translated as The Monster Sitting Beside Me) - or My Little Monster - is a 13-episode anime about Shizuku Mizutani, a girl who has no interests other than her grades and her future, and Haru Yoshida, a delinquent regarded by everyone as a monster but who is simply misunderstood. Put like this, it sounds like a sort of messed up, "boy-meets-girl" romantic comedy. Which it is.

If you don't want to read my crazy fangirl ranting, then I suggest you stop reading this post now.
Don't say I didn't warn you.

But at the same time, it's so much more. It's a story about [domestic] violence, sexism, standing up for yourself, and understanding the sometimes confusing conflict between our heads and our hearts. It's about growing up, falling in love (*ehem*) and dealing with rejection. Basically, apart from the fact that it's an anime, it's perfect for English class discussion. Not that I'm suggesting that our school starts teaching us with manga books. That would not lie well with the parents.

Basically, this show threatens to be the very sweet, very cliche, "girl-reforms-psychopath-and-falls-in-love-with-him-in-the-process" story that shoujo manga is often put as. Two characters meet, one confesses their love to the other, things get awkward then mellow out, the other confesses their love and the awkwardness resumes, followed by some figuring things out and then it's a happy ending.

Obviously, this scene doesn't help the show's set-up.
Don't know if this helps, but he doesn't actually rape her. Just so you know.
Thankfully, Shizuku is not your typical shoujo-heroine. She does not let Haru's romantic intentions get in the way of her studying and hates being told what to do. She also fails to sigh about, pining for her love interest simply to drive the plot along. Which is refreshing, for a change.

This is probably the standard opening scene for most shoujo stuff.
All romantic-ness aside, what makes the show truly worth watching is the fact that it's packed full of scenes that made me smile (which is not easy to do, in case you're wondering). My sister fails to find it laugh-out-loud funny, but she does say that she always wants more. She's 10, so she's quite honest. Bonus points for Nagoya the chicken, too. There aren't many chickens in anime.

This is Nagoya. He's named after Nagoya Cochin chickens.
Character design is decent too, and the use of chibi(s? I never know how to plural this word) was just enough to make it cute, but not so much as to make you think that the art budget was probably being stretched. And the music was great (possibly my favourite part of this anime). The range of sound was amazing - loud and brash for fight scenes, but also soft and quiet for the romantic scenes. 

Chibi!!
This is one of the few anime that I would highly recommend to girls. But guys are free to watch too, I won't judge if you're into this stuff. It's adorable and addictive, but I feel like the manga probably would be better since the ending of the anime is pretty frustrating.

- end of crazy anime ranting -