Monkey High Vol. #01 -

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Mania Grade: B

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  • Art Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: B
  • Text/Translatin Rating: B
  • Age Rating: 16 & Up
  • Released By: Viz Media
  • MSRP: 8.99
  • Pages: 192
  • ISBN: 978-1-4215-1518-2978-1-4215-1518-2
  • Size: B6
  • Orientation: Right to Left
  • Series: Monkey High

Monkey High Vol. #01

By Danielle Van Gorder     May 21, 2008
Release Date: March 04, 2008

Monkey High Vol.#01
© Viz Media

Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Shouko Akira
Translated by:Mai Ihara
Adapted by:Mai Ihara

What They Say
ter her politician father is disgraced in scandal, Haruna is convinced that school life is like being on a monkey mountain - everyone is in a clique, they all fight, and then they get back together again. Haruna even meets a boy named Masaru who reminds her of a baby monkey!

The Review
Life is like a barrel of monkeys.


Viz never really goes all out with their packaging, and it's standard practice here. The Shojo Beat cover template actually works really well with the cover image. While not fabulous, the print quality is at least passable, with dark blacks and fairly sharp lines.


While this is the first book of hers I've read, Akira's art feels vaguely familiar, like it's something I've seen before and should be familiar with. Large, limpid eyes on male and female alike really jump out on each page, and she does a good job with contrasting different character types (although side characters are more difficult to tell apart). Mouths, however, are a bit problematic - in most cases they're reduced to their simplest form, even in panels where detail is lavished on everything else. They still convey the appropriate emotion well, but it's something that stood out.


Viz has done a decent job on this book overall. All sound effects are replaced with English translations, there is a page of translation notes in the back, and for the most part the translation reads smoothly. There are some rough points where an awkwardly phrased line left things a little confused, and a couple panels had me thinking "nobody really talks like that!" It's adequate overall, but it does feel like there's some room for improvement. Some lines, though, felt spot-on and very natural, especially a few of Atsu's lines towards the end of the book. While it's a little uneven, on the whole it's not bad.

Contents (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):

Haruna is well acquainted with the realities of high school life. One day you're on top of the world, while the next can have your classmates turning on you because of something you had nothing to do with. Forced to transfer because of a scandal her politician father was involved in, Haruna is feeling pretty low, and is determined to distance herself from the jockeying for position - like a pack of monkeys - that she knows her new classmates are going to involve themselves in.

Not all monkeys are created equal, however, and Masaru (or Macharu, as his classmates call him, because of his monkey-like appearance) refuses to let Haruna remain isolated, even if it is by her own choice. Despite their dramatically different backgrounds, personalities, and, well...everything, Haruna slowly starts to respond to his advances, unable to resist his easy charm. Their classmates (some relieved that Haruna isn't interested in the handsome and popular Atsuyuki) are enthusiastic in their support of the budding romance, which leads to some awkward situations when Haruna reacts badly out of simple embarrassment.

Even in the face of Haruna's ex from her previous school, the two remain committed to exploring the emotions that are growing up between them - together.

While high school romances feel rather passé at this stage, I thought this one was unexpectedly charming. While there is some conflict, they aren't the huge life-altering crises that seem to define the genre. Instead, you have two people, both a little unsure of their own identities, trying to figure out a new love. There are misunderstandings and fights, but they never reach the critical "lives are at stake!" tone that some series default to. It's a rather refreshing change.

The characters are a delight. Masaru is goofy and cheerful, but not one-dimensional. He gets upset, uncertain, angry, etc. Haruna isn't a one-trick pony either, as she gradually warms up and starts to relax and show more of her real face to the others through the course of the story. The whole book felt very laid-back and mellow, the sort of thing to read on a lazy summer Sunday. But with that being said, I'm not sure that this story has the legs to go on for too many volumes, unless there's a dramatic change to the series overall. It's something where I want to read another volume, but probably not much more than that.

If you're in the market for a high school romance, this definitely isn't a bad choice.


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