Unless you don't mind spending your time and money on two pages of actual entertainment, you can skip this volume of First Love Monster.
Title: First Love Monster (Hatsukoi Monster)
Publisher: Kodansha (JP), Yen Press (US)
Story/Artist: Akira Hiyoshimaru
Serialized in: Aria
Translation: Alethea and Athena Nibley
Original Release Date: August 22, 2017
Review copy provided by Yen Press
OK, bare with me a minute here.
Anybody remember years and years ago, TOKYOPOP released what I believe were called “Manga Minis”? I remember Kingdom Hearts and Kilala Princess being released in these short, thin half-volumes.
When I first got this latest volume of First Love Monster, I honestly thought this was one of those. Volume 7 is super thin. First Love Monster has never had volumes with high page counts, but this one looks even shorter than Kaz does when surrounded by his best friends.
One of those “Manga Minis” was about 90 pages long. This full, not cut-in-half volume? A whopping 128 pages.
If that sounds short to you, now subtract:
- A page of translator’s notes
- Four pages of summary and character introductions
- A Color insert
- Two page preview of Volume 8
- Four pages of illustrations
- A page of quotes
- A full page illustration of Atsushi Taga — yes, THAT Atsushi Taga — in a wedding dress.
So the actual manga is about 110 pages long. To make it even worse, there are only three actual chapters; the rest consists of three side stories. Plus the final bonus chapter is only four pages long and involves a pun that doesn’t really work in English.
“Ok, I get it! It’s really short! But what about the story and the art?”
Quite frankly, very little actually happens in those 110 pages. The main story basically focuses on Kaho and, to a lesser extent, Atsushi sulking in guilt after Kanade sees them kissing and then runs away as a result. Kaho and Atsushi get various lectures and talks from those around them…
…and that’s it. First Love Monster Volume 7 ends just as Kanade returns. And now there may be a third grader who looks like a high schooler?! What, four overly tall elementary students aren’t enough?
Meanwhile, the other “star” of the volume is Kouta. I say “star” because although Kouta has always been a favorite of mine, and his misfortune continues in both the main story and side stories as he is suspected of being gay and a plagiarizer. The latter is a misunderstanding, the former not a problem if he were.
But Kouta sure doesn’t help himself by being so concerned at Kaz’s first love ending with the revelation that it’s a boy (Ren-Ren) who writes angsty, ranting lyrics. Dude, Kaz was finally giving up. Why are you dressing up as a girl again and doing an exchange diary with a fifth grader? Kouta, you like Kaho. Don’t imitate her weirdness.
Meanwhile, if you wanted to see more of the oversized elementary schoolers, you’re going to be disappointed. Kanade is mostly absent this time around, and Tom and Ginare are relegated to some misunderstandings and general harassment in the side stories. Kaz is the only one who really gets screentime here, but I must admit I found Kouta’s imagined reverse looks for Kanade and friends to be funny.
That was pretty much the single highlight of the volume for me. The first half of the volume is pretty much Kaho looking dejected. If you’ve seen one sad Kaho face, you’ve seen them all. The second half I guess would please people like Arashi who love girly boys, as we are treated to not one but TWO cross-dressers!
And the random image of Atsushi in a wedding dress of course. So, uh, three?
Seriously, unless you don’t mind spending your time and money on like two pages of actual entertainment, skip First Love Monster Volume 7. Nothing important happens, and it’s too short anyway.