Anime of Tomorrow
Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun Ep. 1
Autumn 2012 (12 episodes) (English title – My Little Monster, title literal translation – The Monster Next Door) (more info)
What I couldn’t stop thinking is how much Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun reminds me of Kimi no Todoke or even Kids on the Slope. You know how it goes…socially inept high school freshman (Haru Yoshida) is helped out by a classmate (Shizuku Mizutani) and not only is the first person’s social status raised, but a possibility for love begins. Only this time both hero and heroine have problems interacting with society—particularly the hero, Haru. This unfortunately means that both protagonists must necessarily have a lot of unlikable qualities in order to feel real, and to its credit that criterion is accomplished for better or for worse.
For the most part so far, Kaibutsu seems well written and suitably awkward with lots of room for the characters to grow. It’s definitely not as well adjusted as Kimi no Todoke, but the only reason I watched as much of that series as I did was to listen to Mamiko Noto’s wonderful voice acting. Kaibutsu also has the same playful tones, but overall it feels weirdly haphazard with its humor. Where Kimi no Todoke was so polished it occasionally bordered on fake, the pacing of Kaibutsu has a more naturally chaotic and improvisational feel to it. To balance out my softball praise with a so-so complaint; its hard lines and lack of shading reminds me of the art style of a shoujo manga—in other words it doesn’t look too bad, but nor is it by any means distinct.
I’ve got nothing against these kinds of anime, but I already suspect this series is headed in a direction I’m not interested in following—particularly after Kids on the Slope went into a downward spiral in the spring and the crash and burn of Natsuyuki Rendezvous last season. However, if you read between the lines of my opinions, I think you can determine for yourself if Kaibutsu is going to be the smart romance series you hope it will be.