“Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun,” also known as “My Neighbor the Monster” is a manga series of about eight volumes that began in 2008. The story follows a teenage girl named Shizuku Mizutani who is considered cold and heartless by her classmates because she only cares about her grades. Shizuku has the misfortune of being seated next to Haru Yoshida, a delinquent student in her class who hasn’t shown up to school since the first day. Shizuku is forced by her homeroom teacher to take homework to Haru. It seems she bites off more than she can chew, as the surprisingly air-headed Haru latches onto her immediately after she defends him from friends who are using him. Volume 1 follows Shizuku as she deals with the very clingy and often ridiculous Haru and his antics.
This manga series is quite unique because it doesn’t follow the patterns typical for a shoujo (romance-oriented) manga. Shizuku is an extremely independent girl who isn’t looking for love. She focuses on her grades and homework and is brutally honest with everyone she meets. Even though her behavior gives her a reputation as cold and heartless, she is refreshing as a character. She doesn’t long for love; instead, she stumbles into it without compromising her own ideals.
Haru is also wonderfully different from the typical delinquent stereotype. He only gets into fights because he overreacts to small things. In truth, he is a sweet goofball who tends to adopt animals and clings to Shizuku because he doesn’t know how to make friends. He adds a lot of humor to the series because he scares away other people, he can’t smile without looking angry and he gallantly declares his love for Shizuku after knowing her for only two days. He and Shizuku make a great pair because they show that two people can be completely different and still complement each other. Shizuku makes Haru calm down and try to understand others, and in turn, Haru helps Shizuku loosen up and examine her own feelings.
The secondary characters of the series are also very interesting and unique to their genre. A standout is Natsume, a girl who is extremely pretty and sick and tired of being hit on by stupid guys. She hangs out in chat rooms and tries to make friends who can’t see her and won’t ask her out. She is the perfect choice for Shizuku’s first female friend because she is fiercely loyal and isn’t afraid to knock a few heads on the side. A girl after my own heart.
This manga series’ atypical cast and storyline, as well as its humor make it very fun to read. It is a nice choice for a bit of light reading with little drama and few cliche events. I give this volume 4 out 5 stars for its sheer originality. The series has also been adapted into an anime that is set to premiere this fall.
Kate Haddock is a sophomore in English. Please send comments to email@example.com.