My Little Monster: Romance Is Violent
By now you all know about Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun, or My Little Monster. It’s a shoujo anime currently airing, and it has a little rape problem. Actually, this is supposed to be a romantic show but instead it is incredibly violent. So violent, in fact, that I posit it would serve better as the beginning to a horror story. My Little Monster could be a retelling of the Monster, the 2003 film based on Aileen Wuornos, or perhaps the Stephen King classic Carrie.
Is there an excuse for this?
Let’s take a step back and examine the characters a bit. Shizuku is our protagonist. She is a headstrong girl who is deeply afraid of failure. Her cold attitude tells us that she is afraid of abandonment and allows this fear to manifest itself such that she openly pushes others away. This is a defense mechanism. Her means of acceptance and definition of self-worth are thus pushed entirely to her grades.
Haru is a lumbering clod whose personality likely places him on the Autism scale a little past Asperger’s. He has little respect for anyone else, except perhaps in hindsight. He can’t understand what makes people hate him, nor does he recognize when people are using him. The tag lines call him good natured and gentle, which we know to be false, in reality he is a selfish brute who is too stupid to correct his actions. His emotional IQ is close to zero. He is essentially a violent version of Forrest Gump.
If taken this way, it’s possible to think that Shizuku might open her heart to Haru because his infantile nature gives her an opportunity for a highly dependent relationship. If Haru is an overgrown toddler at this age then he will likely continue to need her throughout his life. Abandonment issues solved. Haru is simply willing to fall for anyone who keeps coming back. The plausibility ends there.
How far can you push someone before they snap?
In just one episode of Tonari Shizuku is pulled violently aside 3 times, she’s threatened multiple times (including the infamous rape comment), is publicly humiliated a couple times more, and is subjected to Haru exposing himself. This isn’t rape culture – sorry feminists – it’s domestic abuse and sexual harassment. The show doesn’t try to make these things become acceptable, though it does try to excuse them by highlighting Haru’s mental incapacity. Instead, it seems to want to show us just how bad these incidents are so that we can cheer Shizuku on as she fixes Haru through the power of love. This is absolutely depicting a habitual abuse victim.
The problem I have with the story thus far is the ridiculous pace in which it is told. This is exacerbated by the choice to show so much abuse at once. If the viewer is to believe that Shizuku is suffering this abuse out of budding love for Haru, then the show has failed. Instead this seems more of a sad tale of a boy who needs professional help whom is bullying a girl. That girl wants out, even though she feels sorry for the boy. That’s not love, it’s an unfortunate series of events that leads to an abusive relationship.
If we’ve no reason to believe that Shizuku acts out of love, then how long can her altruism hold out? There comes a tipping point for everyone where a pattern of annoyance and abuse becomes too much to bare. I think most people would forgive Shizuku if that breaking point were to be the beginning of episode two.
What happens when the perfect ones snap?
Now, in most situations of bullying like this it’s easy enough to remove the problem from your life. Request a change of class. Transfer schools. Get a restraining order.
However, we must remember that Shizuku is a person who bottles up her emotions, and she does this within a culture that places community ahead of self. This is an overinflated ballon, ready to pop. One can hope that whatever reaction to this Shizuku has would end after punishment to Haru.
I like to think that she would not go the route of Carrie, in which her rage was sufficient to destroy an entire high school class. Instead, I think Shizuku would be calculated and determined in exacting her revenge. I believe she would take revenge on Haru, but that this would permanently distort her mind. The trauma of her violent reaction in defense against Haru’s abuse would scar her for life.
Likely, she would change her view of such reactions so to fit her innocence and protect herself from true insanity. This would lead her to an altered reality in which violent reactions to problems becomes normal. If caught early, this may not bring any further harm. If not, well I think the Wuornos story tells that tale better than I ever could.
The irony is the upside.
In My Little Monster, as in Monster and Carrie before it, the protagonist female is the victim. However, these are stories of both tragedy and strength. Every woman has the strength to overcome her situation, this is no different than for men. Men enjoy other advantages that help them succeed, but women must rely on their strength. I think My Little Monster would be far more interesting should it choose to show Shizuku falter in her quest to overcome this situation. The frightening, and terrible beginning to the show would play better if her resolve were not misplaced.
Since I waited so long to watch the first episode it didn’t seem right to post this without accounting for the second. The upside is that the rancid atmosphere of bullying is largely absent from this episode. The downside is that there are still disturbing elements in this show. The worst of which will have me apologizing to the feminists. The second episode contains some pretty clear rape culture.
At the end of the episode, Shizuku hides on the roof, wishing to escape Haru’s attention and relax for a change. She is accompanied by her classmate, the newly introduced character Asako, whom she asks not to alert Haru of their presence. As Asako leaves to get snacks, Shizuku slips away. Now is when things get weird. Haru shows up on the roof, with a dramatically staged entrance. He then begins hovering over Shizuku as she sleeps. When Asako returns, she is startled by Haru’s presence and he looks at her and says, “shh.” She then backs away slowly while silently wishing Haru luck.
You don’t do this, folks. When the creepy, violent guy is hovering over a sleeping girl you don’t turn your back on her and leave when he tells you to be quiet. Now, maybe you don’t go running around screaming about rape, but you sure as hell don’t leave them like that.
I still stick by my original premise; this show would work much better with a nice boat.