Room 208

Elaborate Burn

My Little Monster (Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun) is an odd beast, if you’ll forgive the pun, and not just because the first episode feels like someone’s compressed an entire movie into twenty-two minutes. In more than a few ways, it reminds me of Maid Sama! from a couple of years ago, particularly in the personalities of its main pair: Haru is Usui, except twice as erratic and possessing half the social graces, and Shizuku is Misaki with loner tendencies and a stronger sardonic streak. Also like Maid Sama!, My Little Monster also has a mild self-awareness problem — not the lack of it that’s stereotypically associated with shoujo, but an almost positive excess of it. For instance, it’s almost unbelievable that Haru, poor communicator that he seems to be, manages to so often get straight to the point of his rather complex emotions. I say “almost,” because the idea that he can dispel the usual romantic confusion of teenagers so readily with his child-like credulity makes some sense. In any case, it makes for an entertaining show where Haru, intentionally or unintentionally, is constantly keeping Shizuku on her feet. I do hope that the teasing doesn’t get as one-sided as it did in Maid Sama!, but otherwise this is a promising, if puzzling, opener.