Reviewby Nick Creamer,
My Monster Secret
It feels like the moment of truth has finally arrived. As Shiragami still seems to be avoiding Asahi in the wake of her unexpected kiss, it falls to Aizawa to keep things moving, as she gears up to finally make her own love confession. And when Aizawa's actions prompt unexpected rumors back at school, Shiragami and Asahi will be forced to reckon with their feelings or die trying. Can these two hapless dorks muster the strength to actually declare their feelings? Either way, chaos will almost certainly ensue in this game-changing volume of My Monster Secret!
It's time at last, folks. After ten rambling volumes of mixed signals and improbable anticlimaxes and distant longing, confessions abound in this climactic volume of My Monster Secret. Truths will be revealed, feelings will be faced, and the fundamental dynamic of this goofy romantic comedy will be changed forever. It's taken some time to get here, but if you've stuck with these kids this long, their moment has finally arrived.
My Monster Secret doesn't waste any time getting to the good stuff, as this volume's very first chapter focuses on class rep Aizawa finally confessing to Asahi. This chapter demonstrates many of the visual strengths Eiji Masuda has been polishing over the course of this series, managing to naturally convey Aizawa's feelings through paneling and expression work. While the actual narrative beats and dialogue here are relatively standard, Masuda's smart paneling and mix of wide-open shots and extreme closeups still make this a dramatic highlight, in addition to reflecting the courage both Aizawa and Asahi have developed over the course of this series.
After that, My Monster Secret suddenly and awkwardly steers back into full farce mode, and we get some creaky chapters centered around comic conceits as fresh and poignant as “he doesn't know he's actually propositioning a guy in a girl costume” and “their teacher is middle-aged and also single.” My Monster Secret has always been a somewhat uneven manga, but it's been a little aggravating seeing the story's weakest and most mean-spirited jokes become some of its most enduring running gags. And on top of that, we're in climax mode now - I can understand the need to put some distance between the big emotional highlights, but separating them by material this weak and irrelevant feels like the wrong choice.
Fortunately, volume ten only dilly-dallies in slapstick land for a couple chapters before remembering this is the big moment. From there, it's all drama all the time, as a classic misunderstanding about Aizawa's confession forces both Asahi and Shiragami to reckon with the possibility of never actually being with each other. My Monster Secret is generally a very light and fluffy narrative, but its brief turn to melodrama here actually feels totally earned and very rewarding. These characters have made enough obvious mistakes that their misunderstanding here doesn't feel arbitrary at all, and their progressively deepening relationship make panels like Shiragami sobbing alone land with real impact.
In the end, the strong visual design of Aizawa's confession and the emotionally grounded material of Shiragami's despair come together in this volume's climax, when our two lovebirds finally acknowledge their feelings. Strong expression work, dramatic compositions, and unusually lifelike dialogue all work hard to make sure Asahi and Shiragami's big scene feels both dramatically momentous and also very personal, littered with great little details like Shiragami's utter disbelief that this is even happening. This is definitely far from a perfect volume, or even My Monster Secret's best volume, and directly reflects this series' limited aspirations and comedic weaknesses. But if you're here at all, you're here for these kids and their feelings, and this volume does its absolute best to bring those feelings home.
Overall : B+
Story : B
Art : A-
+ Demonstrates some of Masuda's best expression work and paneling yet. Nails its big confession scenes and their aftermath.
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