My Little Monster (となりの怪物くん) by Robico
Shizuku is single-minded in her pursuit of academic success to the point of ignoring all else. Haru is, well, sort of a mess, with a long school absence, a quick temper, a complicated family situation, and a lack of understanding of social cues. Those factors are what lead Shizuku to visit him on a teacher’s orders. Haru quickly professes his love to her as casually as someone else might say, “I’m hungry.” And for her part, Shizuku dismisses him as acting on momentary feelings, causing Haru to dig in his heels.
It is rather refreshing to have the feelings out in the open so early in this series. While there is still the occasional uncertainty, it comes more from Shizuku not trusting her own feelings and not trusting those around her. Shizuku’s ongoing conflict within isn’t just about Haru either; she makes more connections with others as the story goes on, which causes her to reevaluate her approach to people.
The series also boasts a fantastic supporting cast. Lonely blogger Natsume who feels she can’t become friends with other girls practically steals the spotlight. Perceptive Sasayan who isn’t phased by the conflicts (both wacky and true) emerges as the last sane person. Cool Mi-chan who acts as a father figure to Haru takes everything in stride. And there are many others who come into Shizuku’s orbit.
I like that My Little Monster is about friendship, what that truly means and how to nurture it, as much as it is a love story. At first, it may strike you as the story of a good girl taming a wild guy but it is a lot more. Despite how different Shizuku and Haru seem at the beginning, inside they are actually quite similar.