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First Love Monster

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  • AKA: Hatsukoi Monster
  • Aired: 07/02/2016
  • Episodes: 12

Freshman Kaho Nikaidou is from an influential family, and as such, no one has ever said anything even remotely mean to her, for fear of incurring her household's wrath. Wishing to be around people who will not treat her as special because of her background, she leaves home to live at a dormitory for her new school year. Shortly after arriving, Kaho accidentally wanders into traffic and is saved by a tall, handsome stranger. When she asks for his name, he tells her she is weird and walks away. Having finally met the only person to ever say an unkind word to her, Kaho falls head over heels for her savior.

After meeting her rescuer yet again and discovering that his name is Kanade Takahashi, she confesses her love to him. Kanade says he would like for them to be a couple, but that Kaho may not want to date him after she finds out his secret. To her shock, Kaho discovers the startling truth: Kanade is a fifth grader!

Deciding that she can't date a fifth grader, Kaho intends to break up with him. But as she spends more time with Kanade, she begins to care for him even more and continues dating him. Hatsukoi Monster follows Kaho's first steps into love with Kanade, her immature, yet kind, fifth grade boyfriend.

[Written by MAL Rewrite]




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Hatsukoi Monster is a shoujo rom-com with a quirky twist. The story revolves around a first year high school student, Kaho Nikaido, a wealthy girl who moves into a dormitory away from home to attend school. When the handsome Kanade Takahashi saves her life, she falls head over heels for him and asks him to be her boyfriend. Kanade accepts, under one condition- that she sees him for who he really is, first. The cheese slides off the cracker when she discovers that Kanade is the landlord’s son, and is in grade five.

Okay… I can explain. The premise grabbed my attention simply because I could relate (sort of,) as an individual romantically involved with someone with a five-year age gap in between. I was bored, it was a quick watch at only twelve episodes, and I was frankly curious. There wasn’t a single episode I didn’t shout WTF at my screen (some, more than once.) Weird obsession with wieners notwithstanding, its astounding self-awareness and occasional serious moments work to balance out the anime’s remarkably bizarre sense of humour.

There was a lot I liked, and a lot I didn’t like about this anime. If you’re the type of person who can loosen up and not overthink things too much, you’d probably enjoy this one. The often clever writing and hilarious antics the characters get into never allow for a dull moment. Despite Kanade and his friends being ridiculously over-developed for their ages (bar for Kazuo, the only normal one,) their personalities and actions are exactly what you would expect from eleven-year old boys. I especially found Ginjiro to be hysterical, as he shamelessly will tell anybody who will listen about his dream of becoming a gynaecologist. The anime cashes in on putting the kids centre-stage by making their misunderstandings go too far. They’re honestly a breath of fresh air to the genre, and though I never got used to it, their teenage appearances tied it all together surprisingly well.

Everyone who lives in the dormitory has distinctive traits, some of which are greatly concerning. Kouta, one of her classmates, has a stupefying crush on Kaho which is obvious to everybody but her. Mafuyu is a busty girl who lusts after Kanade’s dad (Shuugo) and has an unhealthy love for smelling his underpants. Arashi is a grad student with no shame in admitting he’s obsessed with cross-dressing little boys. His girlfriend Chiaki, a bold high school girl, somehow tolerates this. The only member of the household who might be somewhat normal is Atsushi Taga, a cold-shouldered college student who turns out to be a bit of a sadist. While all of the above are presented in humorous ways, anybody pausing to think about them as anything more than a gag is going to find themselves feeling awful for laughing about it. Although it can be blamed on the very premise of oversized kids, the anime’s casual usage of paedophilia for sake of comedy and the heavy bag of tropes present were more disturbing to me than funny. Once again, it was the anime’s willingness to acknowledge just how stupid it was that kept me going to the end.

The anime doesn’t begin with much of a goal in mind to work toward other than Kaho and Kanade getting to know one another and learning how to make their relationship work. This is because, unlike most romantically inclined anime, they are established as a couple from the very first episode. That doesn’t mean the challenges aren’t there; Kanade is immature and can be very oblivious to what is acceptable and what isn’t, and Kaho struggles not only with how the world will perceive her dating a primary school student, but with her own tendency to just… go along with things. It seems the anime’s goal is to tackle the subject of age gaps, which it does so with notable hyperbole. Some of the messages are well-meant but are delivered in the worst possible way and end up losing their merits. For example, the anime insists that Mafuyu’s addiction to Shuugo’s crotch should be supported ‘because she loves him.’ The same logic is applied to Arashi’s hobby of carrying an expensive camera everywhere with him for the sole intent to snap photos of children. In the real world, that’s the sort of hobby which can land you in prison, and I can’t say I was a fan of how the anime ignored just how wrong that was.

What I found most disappointing about this anime was Kaho’s unfortunate lack of personality. From the beginning, we know only that she is a wealthy girl who moved away from home to attend high school. Beyond that, she is not shown to have any likes or dislikes, ambitions, quirks, or hobbies. We never meet her friends and the only family we see is her twenty-nine year-old brother with an unnerving little sister complex. There is the ever-present and boringly typical inner monologue present whenever she has her doubts about something, but it was frustrating to watch her being unable to voice her concerns. I will admit, she did have a couple of moments where she was able to express how she felt to Kanade, often involving how she disapproved of something he did (which, unsurprisingly, was a result of him being too immature to know better.) Otherwise, she spends most of the series just being a follower, doing whatever Kanade wants to do and never telling him what she wants or expects. She is constantly treated poorly by her housemates (especially Taga, who even goes so far as to body shame her in one episode,) but she never stands up for herself and just waits for Kanade to defend her honour, which he isn’t always around to do.

Hatsukoi Monster was enormously entertaining, but I felt it could have been so much more. Like Kaho’s severely underdeveloped character, there was a lot missing to this anime which never was touched on, such as Daikoku (her brother,) returning home for unexplained reasons, or a certain encounter between Kazuo and Kouta which never gets resolved. Joji, another oversized kid and Kanade’s cousin, gave the impression that he had a story to tell, but we never got to see it once he was introduced. I won’t hold my breath, but I would welcome a second season if it expanded on the characters more and answered some of the questions left by the end of episode twelve. I would especially like to see Kaho being given some proper development because even though she is the central character, she’s often treated as a mannequin for Kanade and Taga to steal the show. 

If you want something funny and different, aren’t looking for a serious story, and can get past the creepy factor, you may enjoy this anime. However, if you’re in the mood for a tasteful shoujo with well-rounded characters and which has a conclusion, don’t expect Hatsukoi Monster to leave you satisfied. 

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