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Alethea & Athena
First Love Monster, volume 1 
5th-Aug-2015 04:31 pm
First, I want to mention the call for translators again. Yesterday it was kind of jumbled up in fangirl delight, so I was afraid maybe it got missed, and now I'm mentioning it again all by itself. For those of you who missed it, one of our publishers is looking for more translators, so if you or anyone you know is interested, let us know and we'll get the relevant information to you. We're willing to give the information to people to pass on to their friends, but not until after we get a confirmation that the information is desired.

Now moving on. It's Wednesday, and that means reviews! Or as we like to call it, Review Rednesdays!

I wanted to give it a catchy name, like Throwback Thursdays, but so far all I got is RevieWednesdays, and I'm really not sure I like that. Athena suggests going Elmer Fudd and call it Weview Wednesdays. Or we could go the other way and call it Review Rednesdays. I think I like that one, but it's funnier when you don't know the explanation. Hmmm. We could also call them Time Warp Wednesdays, because we wrote the review weeks, sometimes months, ago, and then we don't have to force alliteration. I like that, too.

Anyway, this week, we have the first volume of First Love Monster. We had a hard time with this title--by which I mean we had a hard time with the title of the series, because it's so close to My Little Monster that it was hard not to get them mixed up sometimes, even though the two series are both very...pretty different. And now we're also translating My Monster Secret, so now we need, like, a First Secret Love or something to complete the circle.

But here's the review. Spoiler alert level: mild.

When we were first asked to translated First Love Monster, we did what we normally do when asked to translate a series we've heard nothing about: we went to Amazon Japan and looked at reviews. It seemed pretty evenly divided between five star and one star reviews, so we started reading them to see what the deal was...and all the reviews at the top were bad ones. Like, "It was so bad I couldn't read it anymore" bad. We were like, "Uh...okay!"

Still, we know we tend to have unusual taste, and of course there were some good reviews, and none of them seemed to indicate that there was any kind of content we might have problems with (which is the main reason we check Amazon anyway), so we happily agreed to do it, all the while wondering if the only reason they offered the title to us is that all of their other translators refused.

When we got the books, the boy on the cover (Kanade) was very good-looking, so suddenly we were eager to get started on it. But we still had eight zillion other things to do (the books landed around the same time as Baymax), and after that we had Let's Dance a Waltz. So when we started Let's Dance a Waltz, we were like, "But I want to see what First Love Monster is all about!" but when we got to First Love Monster, we were like, "But it's not Let's Dance a Waltz..." Whine, whine, whine.

Nevertheless, there was nothing for it but to get to work anyway, and so we did. Turns out...it was alright. We probably would have given it a three star review. It wasn't nearly as terrible as some reviews led us to wonder, but it wasn't great, either. I suspect part of it had to do with expectations. It bills itself as a high-paced comedy...and it's really not. But if you don't expect a high-paced comedy, the story is interesting enough. In fact, it's pretty much like your typical shoujo manga, and our biggest problem with it is the same problem we had with Tenshi 1/2 Houteishiki: we spend most of our time inside the wishy-washy heroine's head. Meanwhile, we're thinking, "There are these great characters all around you. Let's try talking to some of them."

The other problem is that the author seems to have the idea that certain elements are inherently funny. They must be to some people, because there are some five-star reviews, but, for example, the mismatched heights of the main couple are not automatically funny to us. If they did something with the mismatched heights (like the kabe-don sketches of Mana and Yuiko, for example), they could be funny. But by themselves...eh.

The other other problem is Kanade himself. He looks like your typical shoujo manga hero, but he's in the fifth grade. This caused a bit of frustration for us personally, because they never discussed why he looks the way he does and is still in fifth grade. Apparently he's one of those kids that either hit puberty early or is just really tall, but a comment to confirm that would have been nice. For all we know, the trauma of his mother's death caused some kind of amnesia and he reverted to his eleven-year-old self. Then it turns out he really is just eleven years old (we think; there's still no definite confirmation), and that may be seen as problematic for some people. We're okay with it because this seems like a pretty innocent manga (or at least the romance seems like it will be), and if you think about it, Kaho is only four years older than he is, which really isn't that big of an age difference.

As for Kanade's personality, he is adorable. ...And now I'm trying to think if I had anything else to say. I think that covers it. The story has potential, so we'll see where it goes.

Today I'm thankful for our editor getting back to us quickly about the L/R issue, making good enough progress on work today to justify stopping early, having a snazzy new name for when we post reviews (still a toss-up between our two favorites), getting to play Ace Attorney last night, and clever ways to reuse hot cocoa tins.
6th-Aug-2015 07:10 pm (UTC)
I vote for Review Rednesdays because it's the silliest option :D

Between the weird premise and the not-my-style art, this probably isn't a series I'm going to read but I still enjoyed your writeup! Oh, Tenshi 1/2 Houteishiki though. When I read volume 6 (however many ages ago that was) I decided, for the sake of my own enjoyment, that it's not just a series with a heroine who happens to be excessively wishy-washy and spends too much time in her own head, but it's intentionally aboutbeing a wishy-washy girl who overthinks everything, and (hopefully) learning to overcome those tendencies because really, you're overthinking it, you're fine, girl, enjoy your life. I may be deceiving myself but I felt a lot happier and more sympathetic toward Yuiko once I came to that conclusion.
6th-Aug-2015 08:58 pm (UTC)
That's why we like it, too! And the Rednesday part is unexpected. But time warps are fun, so they're a little hard to pass up.

We don't have a problem with Yuiko being wishy-washy as a character; it's believable and it happens. But we do tend to lose patience with it, so the first couple of volumes were a little trying. But then they started letting more characters be in it, and it's been pretty fine ever since.

That is a good point, though. We've just been thinking about how the solution isn't always as obvious when we're actually going through a problem, as opposed to being a third-party looking in. This week's episode of Snow White with the Red Hair illustrated that point really well--the cause of the disease is so obvious when the cinematography keeps emphasizing certain things, but to the people actually experiencing the problem, their focus may not be directed as directly toward the right clues.
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