Monkey High! (Vol. 01) – Shouko Akira
Published by Viz (March 2008)
If there’s a contest for cutest shoujo couple, give the two leads in Monkey High! the grand prize. Haruna Aizawa transfers to a new school after her Father falls out of diplomatic favour with her old private school. Bored with the social ladders of school, and expecting nothing different at her new one, she’s surprised to be greeted with the smiling face of Macharu Yamashita.
Macharu Yamashita is the school’s ‘baby monkey’, short and sweet with a positive sense of sincerity and a joy for life. It also makes him a fairly unlikely candidate for romantic endeavours with the beautiful and cool new transfer student, but it doesn’t take long for sparks to fly between them. An evolving romance is built up throughout the story, from awkward sidelong glances to dealing with fellow classmates eager for the final word on their blossoming relationship.
Haruna Aizawa as lead is calm and collected, a down to earth and, in my opinion, pretty cool character. Her apprehensions, fears and demeanour make her feel very true to life and the believability of her character will not be lost on readers. In contrast, there’s Macharu, which isn’t to say he doesn’t feel true to life himself, but in a different way than Haruna. Macharu is positively adorable, but not in a manner that pulls him from his role as high school student (sorry guys, this kind of cute isn’t usually your forte). He’s kind and chipper but with his own serious side that comes out at all the believable moments. His smile easily lights up the page and it becomes no wonder why Haruna can’t help but feel elated.
With an art style that compliments the story to near shoujo-specific perfection, and a couple that easily rules as one of the most endearing I’ve read in a long while, volume one of Monkey High! impressed me with all its charms and I can’t wait to read volume two.