In Japan…there was a boy named Haru. And he…
Fell in love.
A chicken. Yeah, there was something about a chicken. If I’m not mistaken, he fell in love with the chicken. Wait, no, that doesn’t make sense! What was the name of the main female protagonist again? This is a shoujo anime, right? So, what was the name…
Oh yes! I remembered! It was Nagisa!
Whoa, whoa, whoa, hold on, Nagisa, wrong anime!
Oh yeah, I remembered! Nagoya! Nagoya, not Nagisa… what was the last name again? Mizutani? Nagoya Mizutani!
Yes, that’s it! Nagoya Mizutani fell in love with…the chicken? Why, CHICKEN? STAY AWAY, CHICKEN!! GET OUT OF MY HEAD!!!
Now, where was I? Ah yes…
And…back to the review.
[Note: Spoiler alert for Episode 1, nothing much though]
Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun is a shoujo romantic comedy anime that revolves around Shizuku Mizutani, a first year honor student who has the best grades in her year and excels academically. However, aside from that, her looks are bland and boring, and she is cold towards other people, which gives others the impression that she is a scary person. And despite her grades and intellect, she sits in the far right corner of the classroom by the window, where harem forming delinquents normally sit.
Anyway, as it turns out, her seat is next to a “problem student”, Haru Yoshida who hasn’t attended school since the first day. When her homeroom teacher (who is somewhat aloof) asks her to pass handouts to Haru, she reluctantly agrees (in exchange for a new study guide) and goes to the arcade center that the truant resides in. Haru, upon seeing Shizuku, flees from the arcade center, as if she is the harbinger of doom and Satanic demons. She, dumbstruck by the boy’s evasive attitude, passes the handouts to his guardian and heads to the nearest saloon to get a new look since her existing one is terrifyingly scary. (Joking, she is actually going home.)
The next day though on her way home from school, Haru kidnaps her and interrogates her about her origins. After identifying her identity, Haru somehow arrives to the conclusion that she is his friend and starts attending school.
Plot & Settings
Most avid anime viewers would immediately identify anime by its genre, and more often than not, decide whether or not to watch a particular anime just based on its genre. A shoujo anime either turns potential viewers away (mostly male audiences) or draw people towards it, mainly because shoujo anime are mostly infamous for its incredulous and cliched settings. While this anime’s settings are both ridiculous and cliched at the same time, it draws a good balance by turning some tropes on its head. It incorporates comedy elements seen in comedy anime like Nichijou and Danshi Koukousei no Nichijou into its story telling, which makes for a brilliant blend of enjoyable rom-com.
However enjoyable the comedy elements may be, this is still a shoujo anime, and thus the compulsory romantic elements still exists. However, Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun is more comedy than romantic as the romantic portions of the plot gradually runs out of steam. The relationship between the two main characters is quickly developed by the first few episodes and nothing really happens for the remainder of the anime.
As a result, the plot loses steam after a few episodes and by the ninth or tenth episode, the show just deteriorates into a goofy slice of life comedy. The show attempts to add flavour by introducing side plots involving the secondary characters, but nothing is really covered in the anime since it was cut short abruptly due to its length of 13 episodes and a obvious sign by the studio in charge, which reads: “READ THE MANGA DIMWITS”.
There was no conclusion, a bloody big mess and a lot of loose strings, which is a major setback for a show that offered much promise and entertainment in the beginning.
As I said earlier, the main characters are the focus of the series in the first few episodes and by the end of the show, they are the most fleshed out. However, after that few episodes focusing on their relationship and inner conflict, most of Haru and Shizuku’s showtime is spent on dishing out more running gags and they don’t get much development after. Credit must be given where it’s due, though, as at a point in time, I genuinely felt for the duo and wanted things to work, but they rarely change and move on from their initial state of mind and it’s frustrating to watch them remaining the same for much of the show.
The rest of the characters though, seem to be decorative and don’t serve much purpose aside from comedic relief, which isn’t a good thing. Until, of course, the writers decide to forcefully bring into the spotlight and add depth to their already one-dimensional character design. This endeavour fails, naturally as these side plots felt more like distractions than entertaining sideshows.
There is an exception, though. Not all secondary characters are one-dimensional as there was one that caught my eye: Kenji “Yamaken” Yamaguchi. He is essentially bratty, spoilt, angsty teenager born with a silver spoon character. In the beginning, he is portrayed as an ill-meaning person but as the show progresses, he gets more development and becomes more relatable.
Animation & Soundtrack
The studio responsible for adapting Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun is Brain’s Base, which is also responsible for animating Natsume no Yuujinchou and popular Durarara!!!. While the animation in the show isn’t phenomenal, it does have the consistency in quality that the studio is known for. Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun may not have the sparkle and dreamy textures shoujo anime is famous for, but it makes up for it with consistency and charm.
The soundtrack on the other hand, compliments the visuals well, though it may not stand out on it’s own, but then again, this isn’t Yuki Kaijura, you know.
Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun promises much in the beginning, but runs out of steam later on with a series of hit and misses in the character design department. Even with it’s failures, it still manages to present to us a fresh and upbeat take on the shoujo genre, one that is entertaining to both shoujo lovers and skeptics.
After meticulously calculating the scores awarded for plot, settings, character development and, animation and soundtrack, while also serving a bucket of steamy, aromatic KFC (Sorry, Nagoya…), I shall award Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun with a rating of:
I apologize for the long wait for a new review, though at this point, I’m sure no one is waiting anymore. Anyway, I was busy because I had to attend interviews for my university admissions, and preparations for the interview are overwhelming at times.
This season’s anime series are all quite good. I enjoyed Koutetsujou no Cabaneli a lot, while I found unsuspecting good shows with Sakamoto desu ga and Bungou Stray Dogs. Even though it’s way too late for a seasonal post, I am looking forward to reviewing Koutetsujou and Sakamoto desu ga.
So, till the next post, cheerio!