Director: Sho Tsukikawa
Cast: Masaki Suda, Tao Tsuchiya, Yuki Furukawa, Yuki Yamada, Elaiza Ikeda, Minami Hamabe, Gaku Sano, Mokomichi Hayami
RunTime: 1 hr 45 mins
Released By: MM2 Entertainment
Opening Day: 6 September 2018
Synopsis: Problem student Haru Yoshida sits next to cold and studious Shizuku Mizutani in class. Without any other friends to turn to, both of them start to get to know each other and grow closer. Haru eventually develops feelings for Shizuku and confesses his feelings to her. Will Haru and Shizuku get their happily ever after?
My Little Monster is based on a Shojo Japanese manga of the same name, written and illustrated by Robico. The manga series also had an anime adaptation which was aired in Japan 6 years ago. The story revolves around the romance between Mizutani Shizuku (played by Tsuchiya Tao) and Yoshida Haru (played by Suda Masaki).
Haru is a seemingly problematic student at school, and often gets into trouble for the fights he gets into with other students. Because of his suspension from school, Shizuku makes a visit to his place to deliver the homework and notes he has missed out on. But her first encounter with him turned out to be a disastrous and baffling one. Haru was at first cautious, but immediately assumed friends after realising that Shizuku meant no harm. When Shizuku overheard a conversation bad-mouthing Haru, she instinctively went up to them and stood up for Haru. Shizuku has never acted like that before, as her focus was solely on studying and getting good results. But that first sprout of her relationship with Haru changed her.
My Little Monster, pretty much like other Shojo movies, headlines with the up and rising stars. Tsuchiya Tao, the female lead, has made her breakthrough in 2015 when she was casted for the starring role of the NHK morning drama (a long-running time slot and became representative of Japanese media), after a rigorous auditions of over 2000 candidates. On the other hand, Suda Masaki the male lead, is multi-talented as well. Although he started off with many idol-like activities, his role in 2013’s Backwater (Tomogui) proved his ability to excel as an actor. His popularity rose over the years and he debuted as a solo singer last year, collaborating with several acts, including popular musician Kenshi Yonezu while maintaining his acting activities.
With these two holding the key roles of the movie, it’s almost a guarantee that the movie would not go wrong, given that the movie script is not messed up. And indeed, My Little Monster was mostly entertaining and enjoyable. In fact, Suda Masaki aced his role as Haru. He is so fitting for the role that you wouldn’t be able to imagine anyone else who can make it better than him! Some may say Haru is not a challenging character to begin with, but to bring out his charm points so effectively without spoiling the integrity of the character in the manga makes him such a natural.
Other than casting the right people, the movie pleasantly surprises with many scenic spots. They include a college in Toyama (situated in front of the mountainous range), Kobe’s Venus Bridge and Tokyo’s Anniversaire Tokyo Bay. Further, the movie used Nishino Kana’s songs for the theme song and insert songs, once again hitting the right notes with the target audience.
If you are a fan of the manga/anime series, you might find that the development in the relationship between the characters, particularly the supporting characters, is hastened. That is possibly less than ideal, but My Little Monster manages to recreate a close-enough appearance and atmosphere of the original fiction. Other than the (overly) dramatic ending scene, there aren’t many steep ups and downs or heart wrenching scenes that makes you cry a bucket. Even so, there’s nothing to dislike about this enjoyable watch!
(A feel-good, light-hearted and happy Shojo movie. Anyway, here’s a tip off: stay behind when during the credits roll to catch the continuation of the opening scene!)
Review by Tho Shu Ling