First Love Monster

First Love Monster

First Love Monster anime series cover art
First Love Monster

Series Overview

First Love Monster (Hatsukoi Monster / 初恋モンスター) is your typical shoujo romantic comedy, except that half of the bishounen characters are actually fifth-graders. One day, high-schooler Kaho Nikaido is rescued by fifth-grader Kanade Takahashi, with whom she instantly falls in love.

That basic synopsis of the series may sound bad. And to be fair, the series is bad. But surprisingly, it wasn’t bad for the reasons I thought it would be. The fact that Kanade and some other literal children were depicted as beautiful Greek gods wasn’t actually an issue — and neither was the fact that this technically makes Kaho a pedophile.

Both of these seemingly glaring issues with the series were actually dealt with in entertaining ways. I quite liked seeing your typical shoujo romance scenes involving Kanade acting like an adult only to be followed by him doing something to remind us that he’s actually 10-11 years old.

As for Kaho being a pedophile, I know there are a lot of people out there who will instantly write this series off just because of that premise. However, I’m not someone who’s going to be up in arms over something as inconsequential as a gag relationship in a comedy anime.

And just for the record, it’s not as if the relationship between Kaho and Kanade is portrayed as some great relationship out of a fairy tale. Their relationship breaks down multiple times due to their inability to see eye-to-eye on a lot of matters. And Kaho is somewhat vilified by other characters who think what she’s doing is creepy (which it is).

If you go into First Love Monster anticipating a bad anime, I think you’ll be able to find some comedic value in it. But if you’re expecting a “good” rom-com, this isn’t for you.

Characters

First Love Monster has a surprising amount of characters for a show with a relatively small scope. So with that in mind, I’m going to be focusing on the five who are most important: Kaho, Kanade, Gin, Tom, and Kaz.

Kaho Nikaido is a pretty odd shoujo series protagonist. Normally, these protagonists are fairly air-headed and depicted as being pure and innocent — like Tohru from Fruits Basket. That’s not really how I would describe Kaho, though. Instead, Kaho is a relatively average girl who’s simply blinded by Kanade’s appearance.

She knows that he’s a fifth-grader who makes poop jokes, but he’s so handsome that she doesn’t care.

Gin, Kanade, and Tom from the anime series First Love Monster
Gin, Kanade, and Tom

Kanade Takahashi, despite being a poop-joke-making fifth-grader, is actually one of the most likable characters in the series. He does have a serious side, which comes out whenever he’s reminded of a lesson that his late mother taught him. For example, that you should treat girls well and not make them sad. That may seem pretty basic, but nobody else in the series understands it.

Ginjirou “Gin” Sannomiya and Tomu “Tom” Kaneko are Kanade’s best friends. Like Kanade, they’re complete bishounen (pretty boys), who don’t look like fifth-graders. Gin is the “smart” one while Tom is the “bad boy.” But at the end of the day, they and Kanade are very similar in how they behave.

Kazuo “Kaz” Noguchi is another friend of Kanade, Gin, and Tom, but actually looks his age. He’s a model student, is very popular with the girls in his grade, and serves as the class president. So it’s a bit of a mystery why he hangs out with the other three. But at the end of the day, he’s still a kid who’s naive about many things.

What Went Wrong?

Most of the problems I have with this series seem to stem from the quality of the adaptation. That doesn’t necessarily mean that the source manga is good. But it does mean that there were some choices that were made when adapting the series that weren’t exactly the best, to put it mildly.

The first problem I encountered in the series was the use of an early 2000s rainbow effect. If you watch even just the first episode, you’ll understand what I’m talking about. Luckily, although it was used a lot at the start of the series, its usage disappeared for the middle portion and only resurfaced right at the end.

Next, we have the excessive censoring. Normally, when mentioning censoring in anime I would be referring to visual censors, such as beams of light covering naked characters. In First Love Monster, however, the censoring comes in the form of verbal censors. All of the “dirty” words that are used (frequently, I might add) are bleeped out.

I think this was supposed to be funny and not true censoring. But it was honestly just annoying.

Kanade and Kaho from the anime series First Love Monster
Kanade and Kaho

The last major complaint I have is about the”gimmick” of the series. Often times, I complain about series gimmicks being overplayed, such as in Do You Love Your Mom and Her Two-Hit Multi-Target Attacks? But this time around, I felt that the gag of Kanade being a fifth-grader bishounen wasn’t used to its fullest extent.

And in the final episode of the series, they did what I like to call the “school festival” problem (despite there not actually being a school festival. It’s pretty well-known that I hate all school festival episodes in anime. But one of the main reasons I hate them is because they often include plays starring the characters performing different roles.

The problem I have with this is that it completely removes the roles, interactions, and relationships I liked about the series. This same phenomenon happens in First Love Monster. In the final episode, Kaho has a dream in which Kanade is a high school student like her. That completely removes the dynamic that I felt was carrying the show, which leads to a boring finale.

Conclusion

I ended up giving First Love Monster a 4/10. It’s a bad anime, but it’s not so bad that I think the series is irredeemable. It does have some genuinely good comedy, but the problem is that there are so many other issues that hold the anime back. It doesn’t look very nice a lot of the time, it’s overly censored, and the finale removed the best part of the series.

As for the OP and ED, I don’t think the OP is anything special. It’s not a bad OP, but I wouldn’t call it that good either. The ED I liked a lot more. There’s not much in terms of visuals, but the song is great if you actually see the lyrics. It’s basically all nonsense.

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