Reviewby Nick Creamer,
My Monster Secret
Asahi and Youko may have finally confessed their love, but that doesn't mean things will be getting any less hectic around their school. With the third year finally upon them, the responsibilities of the future will be matching up against the insanity of the present, as old friends say goodbye and new students join their class. And when a new assistant teacher arrives with a suspiciously keen interest in Asahi and Youko's relationship, Asahi will have to once again fight to keep all of their many secrets under wraps. You'd think that dating would be the easy part, but these two sure make it look hard!
Having finally confessed their mutual feelings last volume, you'd think Asahi and Youko would finally get to enjoy some well-deserved rest. Unfortunately for them, this is My Monster Secret, and if they're not going to fuel the manic drama, their friends and acquaintances are happy to assist. Here in My Monster Secret's eleventh volume, the story detours a bit from the continuing exploration of our leads' feelings, as we run through a wide array of madcap adventures featuring side characters both old and new.
As has become typical for this era of My Monster Secret, the results of this comedic grab bag are a little mixed. The volume's first two chapters neatly exemplify this messiness, presenting a small arc focused on Nagisa being called back to her home planet. In the first, terrified at the thought of being publicly spanked with an inferior derriere, Nagisa enlists Shiho to help make her butt the best it possibly can be. This chapter is absurdity stacked on absurdity, and its mix of a novel character pairing and a fundamentally ridiculous concept makes it one of the funnier My Monster Secret chapters around.
Unfortunately, the chapter following all this exciting butt stuff leans heavily into the theoretical drama of Nagisa leaving, only to deflate that drama with a last-second psych out. With Asahi and Youko having resolved their immediate conflict, Eiji Masuda almost seems obligated to gin up some personal drama among other members of the cast, and the results aren't terribly satisfying. On top of that, there are also some chapters here that basically feel like retreads of prior shenanigans, like a flower viewing excursion that leans far too heavily on Mikan's russian roulette puffs.
Fortunately, the overall balance of chapters leans towards the positive. The largest arc within this volume centers on Yumi Ryokuenzaka, a new assistant teacher who we swiftly learn is actually just Youko's father Genjirou. Once again finding a novel character dynamic in Genjirou and Asahi, these chapters succeed through absurd contrasts and great expression work, as Genjirou is forced to engage with Asahi as a genuine equal. “Genjirou is suspicious of Asahi” is a conflict we've seen a few times before, but by placing it in a school context and making Genjirou himself vulnerable, My Monster Secret is still able to wring some satisfying comedy and drama out of this familiar setup.
Ultimately, that's also true for this volume as a whole.Though there are a few lukewarm chapters, there are no truly terrible ones, and Eiji Masuda is still able to pull off some novel and very entertaining adventures. On top of that, his expression and overall linework have never been better. From relatively stiff beginnings, Masuda has grown to imbue his characters with naturalistic body language and simultaneously sympathetic and larger-than-life expressions. My Monster Secret might be looking a little long in the tooth at this point, but Masuda is still an engaging storyteller, and this cast is likable enough to carry us through the weaker spots. There is life in this romcom engine yet.
Overall : B-
Story : B-
Art : B
+ Offers some individually excellent vignettes, Masuda's artwork is improving all the time
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