Author Topic: Compare and Contrast: My Little Monster and Say, "I Love You"  (Read 117 times)

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Offline Zen

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Episodes 1 and 2

Rating: 4 of 5 for both

Synopses:

General: A girl who has spent her entire school life friendless, seemingly by her own preference, is suddenly befriended by an energetic boy who pursues her despite her apparent indifference.

Specific:

My Little Monster:
A girl, Shizuku Mizutani, who cares only for her grades and her long term goal of landing a high wage job as a result of those grades, is asked by her teacher to deliver some handouts to the boy, Haru Yoshida, who is supposed to be seated next to her in class, but has been missing since the first day of school because he was suspended for a violent attack on a group of upperclassmen. Upon delivering the handouts, he takes her bringing them as a sign that they are friends, because that is one of the things friends do in manga and anime, after all ? bring handouts to sick classmates. (Never mind the fact that he is not sick, that she has only ever seen him in passing, and that they are only classmates in the sense that they were assigned to the same class, as he has never attended.)

The teacher has an ulterior motive, as his suspension has been lifted, since it was determined that, while he went a bit overboard, the upperclassmen were actually at fault. However, Haru has refused to respond to any of his teachers requests to come to school. Since school attendance is not compulsory at the high school level, there is nothing the teacher can officially do, so she tries an ?end-around?, so to speak, by sending a classmate to try to convince him to attend.

Shizuku has no intention of encouraging Haru to come to school. She just wants to deliver the handouts and go home. Haru, has other plans though. He seems to have no real concept of how to function in polite society, alternating between violent, impulsive behavior and a naive desire to be friends with someone. He latches on to Shizuku as being ?his friend? and even goes so far as to confess his love to her.
How will this cold-hearted girl and naive, impulsive boy deal with school and each other, now that she can?t seem to get rid of him?

Say, "I Love you":
Mei Tachibana has spent her entire life without either a boyfriend or friends of any sort. She doesn?t trust other people, feeling that trusting others only leads to betrayal. It is suggested that this opinion comes from past personal experience. One day, as a result of a misunderstanding, she accidentally injures the most popular boy in her high school, Yamato Kurosawa. Much to her surprise, this doesn?t result in him getting angry at her. Instead it has the opposite effect: he decides, quite unilaterally, that they are friends. She rebuffs his advances, even to the point of refusing to exchange cell phone numbers or e-mail addresses with him, but he gives her his on a piece of paper anyway.

Later that evening, when leaving her part-time job at a convenience store, Mei finds she is being followed by a creepy older man that had been shopping in the store. Fearing the worst, the attempts to call her mother for help, but cannot get through to her. Having nowhere else to turn, she ducks into a store and digs out Yamato?s phone number and begs him to help her. He comes to her rescue in a startling manner, leaving Mei?s previous existence as a loner-by-choice in definite danger of being shattered.

Can the girl who cannot, and will not, trust anyone learn to be friends, or perhaps even lovers, with a boy that could have his pick of the other girls in school merely by asking? Why does a boy with model looks and a winning personality want so desperately to win the affections of a girl who would rather be left alone?

Impressions:
If you are interested in seeing how two creative minds can take the same basic premise and come up with radically different stories, look no further than these two series that are both adapted from shoujo manga.

By the end of episode 2, both of these shows have pretty much reached the same point in their respective stories, but have taken very different paths to get there. Interestingly, I can see shades of the shoujo romances that I am most familiar with each. My Little Monster has the mismatched personalities and penchant for super-deformed character transformations reminiscent of Kare Kano, as well as the crazy, outrageous comical situations of both Kare Kano and Ouran Host Club. Say, ?I Love You?, seems to draw more from the serious side of Kare Kano?s story telling style, with a realistic approach to dialog, and the downright meanness of some high school girls and much less broad comedy. The contrast extends to art style, with My Little Monster being presented in bright tones, with a clean shoujo style to the character designs, but  a more sharp edges and exaggerated character reactions, while Say, ?I Love You? brings a softer palette, with plenty of pastels and a strong shoujo/josei character style, similar to the more serious chapters of Kare Kano and shows like Kids on the Slope.

Both of these shows are fun to watch and have compelling characters. The stories, while not gaining many points for originality, aside from some rather bizarre side story sections in My Little Monster that feature a rooster that the tenderhearted, or possibly just tender-headed, Haru inexplicably wants to try to protect from the rain. What they do have, however, is generally impressive level of execution and enough freshness in the characters and plot lines to prevent them from seeming too old hat. The one thing that holds them both back, in my opinion, is some slight issues with word choice and character actions that seem a bit on the misogynist side of the appropriateness needle. It is hard to tell if that type of issue is due to real sexism issues or is more a case of cultural differences in interpretation.

For a full review, click the link to my blog post.
« Last Edit: October 25, 2012, 15:48 by Zen »
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Offline Genichiro

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It is amazing how many ways the same thing can be used to make many unique series, isn't it?
Beware what hides in the Sunflower field