My Little Monster
Shizuku is a bookworm thoroughly focused on academics, with little interest in anything else in life. She's always been like this, and currently is among the top rank in high school. The seat next to her in class is always empty, but one day it falls on her to find the absent classmate and give him assignments. Rumors say Haru is a violent monster, although Shizuku doesn't find him that way at all. He's kind, naive, and very very weird. As the ever emotionless girl who is disinterested in others, she gives him the papers and leaves, but makes an impression on Haru.
The next day Haru shows up in school and becomes attached to Shizuku. Both are socially inept in different ways, finding it hard to relate to people. In discovering each other, a whole new world waits before them.
Typical for school romance shoujo, the protagonist is the make or break feature of the show. My Little Monster has a great lead in Shizuku, and is probably the main reason I liked this anime. In 12 episodes a lot happens, but then there is a lack of ending in which a lot does NOT happen. It's hard to know what to recommend because this otherwise good anime really ought to have a conclusion.
The basic idea is crazy guy + stoic girl. It seems like the intent is that he'll simply "break her out of her shell" but that's not the way it goes, and Haru has many issues himself, so it's not like he's rescuing her. In fact it's more the other way around. Shizuku is a fascinating protagonist as a girl focused on her studies. Many anime start with this way, then neglect the topic of what happens to their scholastic pursuits after romance blooms. More often they just get good grades by default, but My Little Monster stays focused in that regard which I really liked.
Shizuku is at the top of her class, but only due to diligence and hard work. She's made it a priority to get there, and won't let peripheral things interfere. This becomes a major point in My Little Monster. Shizuku lives to study, but begins to discover other things in life, although she has no idea how to deal with, or balance them. Having shunned socialization gives her unusual traits, and a strong personality. Others look down on her for studying, having no friends, or lacking fashion sense, but Shizuku doesn't give a damn what anyone thinks. She's blunt, but also candid about her own shortcomings. At times she'll say something which would be embarrassing to most, but instead Shizuku begins thinking aloud about something she realized.
I didn't like Haru anywhere near as much, but admit he has his moments and works well as the romantic interest. Others in My Little Monster also have social problems making them a quirky entertaining group. The story builds slowly, going many good directions, then it's left hanging for that second season yet to come. Looking at the release date, I wonder if that's ever going to happen. This is especially frustrating with one girl stuck in romantic limbo after a confession with no answer as of yet.
My Little Monster is a good shoujo anime with a strong story, but the lack of ending is a huge downside. If you can handle that, give it a shot. I enjoyed My Little Monster enough to hope the second season comes, but poking my nose into the manga, I wonder if perhaps the story is headed for a tangent the anime studio doesn't want to deal with.
Shizuku: Every time I deal with another person, I'm reminded how little control I have over my life.
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