Saturday, June 22, 2013

My Little Monster: Unconditional Love

I slowly watched My Little Monster (aka Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun) over several months. It’s a slow shoujo romance anime, the kind I once avoided. It’s not quite interesting enough for me to marathon the thirteen episodes. In fact, I’m not entirely sure why it kept my attention long enough for me to finish it.

There isn’t much action, adventure, or suspense. I’ve long since expanded my horizons beyond action shows, but I still like them, and I still have trouble sitting through slow plots.

There is humor, but it only makes me smirk a little, at most.

The primary conflict is internal, within the main character, Mizutani Shizuku.

I guess I watched because I wanted to see her find her balance. I wanted her to be both a friend and a good student, to know when to prioritize what. I wanted her to find her identity beyond just being first (or second) in class.

Identity: isn’t that what we’re all searching for? Up to this point, Shizuku has relied on herself for identity, and her place at the top of the class is her affirmation. She is so wrapped up in her schoolwork, she doesn’t have time for anything or anyone else.
Haru in the sixth episode
Then he comes along. Yoshida Haru is wild and free and tops her in class without even trying. But most importantly, he cares for her. Not for her brains or status in school. Not because she’s a challenge. She gives him no reason to pursue her. I believe he loves her simply because he’s chosen to. To him, the only part of her identity that matters is that she is his friend. 

She isn’t a very good friend to him or anyone else. She has very little idea of how to even be a friend. To everyone else at school, she is just a cold, soulless top student. But he doesn’t ask anyone’s opinion. He earnestly, honestly loves her, and that’s all that matters.

Hm... that sounds familiar. In fact, it sounds a lot like what I talked with God about a few times. 

I, like Shizuku, place too much of my identity in school. When I turn in incomplete homework, ask a less than brilliant question, or even learn that I’m not the best student where I think I could be (prideful, I know), I become unsettled. I want my professors and classmates to think well of me. I want to meet my personal standards. And I forget that none of these is important. 

Jesus doesn’t love me for my brain. He likes it - He made it! - but He’s a lot smarter than me, and a much more diligent worker. I can neither impress nor disappoint Him.

He doesn’t love me because I try to be a good friend. He’s a much better friend, and doesn’t hold my failures against me.

He loves me because He chose me. He loves me not for what I see, but for what He sees. He delights in me, not despite or around my flaws, but with my flaws. He doesn’t expect me to heal myself; that’s His job. He just wants me to sit long enough for Him to treat me. He’s sad when I reject Him, but He’s still around. He chose me. 

Haru doesn’t expect Shizuku to change for him. He doesn’t expect her to suddenly become friendly to everyone or stop caring about school. He just wants her to open her heart to him. As she begins to love, she naturally begins to change. She starts to be a friend, to care for other people.

Jesus doesn’t expect me to make myself a perfect or different person. He doesn’t expect me to know what to say, to please everyone, or to be at the top of my class. He doesn’t expect me to know how to converse with friends or professors. He doesn’t even expect me to be wonderful at getting homework done. He chose me. He loves me. He stands by me as I learn. And He tells me those things don’t matter to my identity. They don’t make me me. All that matters is that He chose to love me.

So as I watched My Little Monster, I hoped that Shizuku would come to realize she doesn’t need to have the perfect balance, or to be the best student, or even be the best student she can be. I hoped she would realize that her identity, and even her success in life, isn’t reliant on grades. Haru loves her for who she is, faults and all. All she has to do is accept it and open her heart to the change his love brings.


  1. I was very much the same back in High School; I was very interested in my grades, but I don't think my relationships with others suffered because of it.
    Unconditional love is an iffy prospect, because it's tough to form a relationship without any mutual interests. To me it's definitely a nice thought, but there has to be a certain amount of give an take in a relationship, or one partner ends up doing all the work >.<
    To be honest, the character here sounds like the main character from Ouran High School Host Club (for the first episode anyway), which is the only shoujo anime i've watched.
    I feel like I may have missed the overall message behind this post, but there were a few so i've done my best to cover them >.<

    1. Thanks for commenting!

      Yes, I agree that unconditional love is a nice thought that's hard to actually apply. Give and take is important in any relationship, romantic or not. For me, the love shown by Haru in this anime can be used as an illustration of God's love. There isn't much of a reason for God to love me or any of us, when you think about it. But He made us and chooses to love us anyway. Kind of like how Haru chose Shizuku. I can never change myself enough to be perfect like He is. All I can do is acknowledge Him as my lord and savior, accept that He loves me even though I still mess up, and open myself to being changed by His love. I give what I can, but when it comes down to it, He IS the one who does all the work. What little I can offer in return is minuscule compared to what He has done for me - for all of us.

      In regards to OHSHC: I think the main characters in most shoujo anime are similar in some wa: plain, school-obsessed, socially awkward, and/or have no past success with boys. :P

  2. I actually didn't think I would stick around either to finish this, but for some reason, it was a joy to watch back when it was airing. I also kind of identify with Shizuku's character, since back in high school, I always was studying hard (liked the praise my teachers gave me), but also found myself deeply in love with a girl. Thankfully enough, it worked out (and still to this day in college it does), but back then, I always try to do little things to impress her, even though she liked me for who I was and sees something in myself I can't.

    So in way, being a love does sort of does give a person purpose and a sense of identity. With regards to Shizuku, it sort of reminds me of two quotes by the Sufi poet Rumi.

    “Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.”


    “What you seek is seeking you.”

    1. Thank you so much for sharing!

      Yup, love does give purpose and sense of identity, whether you're the beloved or the lover. Not that I have any personal romantic experience, but I think it's true when ever you are cared for deeply or care for another deeply. :) Being loved by God is a huge part of my identity. So is caring for my family.

      I like those quotes you shared. They're good bits to chew on. I'm sure I have barriers built against love and even close friendship because I'm too busy protecting myself. ^_^

  3. It was a pleasure reading yours and stumbling upon site. Already have you added to my RSS. I aspire to have my site reach your level of analysis. If I can stay focus and write like I usually do XD

    Well, being loved by God is sort of a personal romantic experience in and of itself. Its not the same on a physical level, but sort does emulate the same experience. "All love is a path to divine love" which is another quote by Rumi. Same with caring for family, which I have much experience on the matter, lol.

    I think that is normal, since most of all do for one reason or another. However, letting them down every once does provide some rewarding experiences and help you learn something about yourself. Well, that is my takeaway from it anyway ^^


CAREFUL! Read the buttons before you click!

Google decided to put a "sign out" button in the spot that some of us expect a "post comment" button. If you accidentally click "sign out," then you will lose everything you just wrote. I've done that several times right here, on my very own blog. Don't be like me. Pay attention to what you're clicking.

Thank you for reading. And thank you for commenting. Every comment puts a smile on my face. ^_^

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.