Manga Reviews Reviews

Manga Review: The Illustrated Guide to Monster Girls Vol. 1 (2023) by Suzu Akeko

For those who need more monster girls in their life

“In the world of monsters, where scaring and tormenting humans is a way of life, even monster girls need to pass their classes, graduate and get a job! Enter Class Z: a bunch of failures more likely to be frightened and bullied themselves. Can this rag-tag group of underdogs become successful full-fledged monsters?” (Yen Press)

's ”” certainly delivers on its title premise, offering a visual feast for fans of monster girls. The book also takes an expected comedic edge mixed with sensational and slapstick violence to sell the ‘monster' aspect of its story. Moreover, the series uses kawaii designs to hit that sweet spot for those who like their monster girls as cute as possible.

However, the series offers little beyond the intended fan service to readers seeking out more monster girl content, as the book consists of short stories with a revolving cast that does little to build any intrigue beyond presenting humorous scenarios related directly to whichever monster is the focal point. While this may not be a negative for those who know exactly what they want/expect, it becomes difficult to find any enthusiasm for a book that is comfortable being surface-level entertainment.

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While not all series of this ilk can be “Toilet-Bound Hanako Kun,” it is difficult not to draw that direct comparison with a visual approach, and themes of a haunted school feel similar. Drawing the comparative, the book fails to capitalize on its characters in a meaningful way that builds attachment beyond aesthetics and a few basic traits tied to their ‘type.' Moreover, the humor lacks cleverness, bordering on juvenile, and no surprises can be found in its approach. Essentially, “The Illustrated Guide to Monster Girls” feels like pure fan service (not in the lewd sense) and nothing else. This could change in the coming volumes, but for an inaugural release, it lacks that bite that will make you want to return for more.

Visually, the book is undeniably where the strength lies, with Suzu Akeko understanding how to make the monsters pop and inject them with personality (even if it is one note). Comedic timing, character design, and backgrounds all hit the mark of what one would want from a monster girl-focused series. The cover art is also beautifully realized, giving a breakdown of various parts and tools of monster girl design and aesthetics that work to set the manga's tone. Personally, it is one of my favorite styles of cover artwork put out this year. Does this redeem the cookie-cutter story? Not necessarily, but those who love collecting and experiencing the work on aesthetics alone should be pleased with the release.

If you are a fan of everything ‘monster girls' related and want more of them in your life, then the series certainly hits the mark. However, it also plays it relatively safe and relies heavily on the romanticization of the character types the existing fanbase will have when approaching the book. The mix assures limited appeal to those indifferent or who dislike this type of content, and the series will not win anyone over to the creepy/kawaii side. You get what you would expect and nothing more; whether this is a positive depends entirely on the reader.

About the author

Adam Symchuk

Adam Symchuk is a Canadian born freelance writer and editor who has been writing for Asian Movie Pulse since 2018. He is currently focused on covering manga, manhwa and light novels having reviewed hundreds of titles in the past two years.

His love of film came from horror and exploitation films from Japan that he devoured in his teens. His love of comics came from falling in love with the works of Shuzo Oshimi, Junji Ito, Hideshi Hino, and Inio Asano but has expanded to a general love of the medium and all its genres.

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