Day Three of our Seven Days of Summer brings us the first shoujo of the list – and the first show you could easily marathon in an evening:
My Little Monster (Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun)
Studio: Brain’s Base
Based On: The manga by Robico
Available On: Crunchyroll (listed as “My Little Monster”) (subs only)
Episode Count: 13
In a Sentence: Emotionally distant Shizuku and hot-headed Haru are isolated loners, but that all begins to change when the class seating arrangement sends Haru barreling into Shizuku’s life.
Here There Be: High school slice of life(ish), romantic comedy, well-rounded and deceptively deep characters, and a pet chicken named Nagoya.
…And the Pitch!
I love shoujo, but I tend to be a bit less in love with “slice of life” stories because they have a tendency to reuse a lot of the same plot points and character tropes. (And also because the “romances” tend to be full of what I consider to be less-than-healthy codependency.)
That said, I adore TnK, an unconventional tale about unconventional high schoolers that uses comedy and character development in equal turns to tell a story that resonates emotionally while rarely (if ever) dipping into cliche or melodrama.
The main pair (Shizuku and Haru) have genuine chemistry, gradually drawing one another out of their self-imposed shells while still maintaining their independence and individual strengths, failings, and future goals. They meet each other as equals throughout, and watching their relationship slowly develop (with all the false starts and stops that come with a high school romance) is something you’ll want to root for, not cringe at.
They’re also joined by a broad cast of supporting characters with just as much depth, who play with tropes but never fall into them (and in some cases subvert them altogether). For character-driven school stories, it doesn’t get much better than this.
Why This Summer?
The original manga finished up last summer, and Kodansha recently began publishing the volumes in English. While it’s unlikely we’ll ever get a second season of the anime, I highly recommend watching it, falling for it, and then finishing the story in print form as the volumes come out stateside.