Do you love Pokémon, but wish that it had more graphic violence and gruesome death scenes? Then ‘Tomodachi x Monster’ by Yoshihiko Inui just might be the manga for you!
Narimiya Wataru is an elementary school student whose family is constantly moving and, as a result, he doesn’t have any friends. That is, until he meets Peke, a weird little monster whom he finds in the woods and instantly bonds with. No one else seems to be able to see Peke, except for a handful of other children who have their own monster ‘friends’. Unfortunately, these other kids want to battle Narimiya with their ‘friends’ and things quickly turn deadly.
I like the idea behind this manga, taking the basic concept of an innocent children’s franchise, like Pokémon, and putting a dark spin on it. For the first two volumes this idea is executed fairly competently. The monster designs are imaginative, and a combination of creepy and cute that fits the tone of the series well. The action scenes are exciting and easy to follow, with each of the ‘friends’ having unique powers. Narimiya is a pretty likeable main character and I found myself interested in discovering more about what exactly the monsters are and where they came from. There is a lot of gore in this series, so I don’t recommend that you read it if you are squeamish about graphic violence, but, if you can get past that, there is a lot to like about this series.
That is, until the third and final volume. I’m not sure if this series was initially intended to be longer, but it feels like the ending was rushed. A number of seemingly important characters that had been introduced in the first two volumes basically disappear during the final act, including the policemen who were investigating the mysterious deaths and some kids who had teamed up with Narimiya. The true nature of the ‘friends’, while a pretty good twist, is revealed in a clumsy information dump that leaves several questions unanswered. To top it all off, the conclusion is left open ended! Granted, this is a common trope in the horror genre, but I really despise this kind of ending.
Overall, ‘Tomodachi x Monster’ just feels unfinished. There’s some good action and, if you’re anything like me, you’ll get a few laughs from the clear references to Pokémon (Like when one of the villains starts shouting “Got to Kill them all.”), but the disappointing ending makes it hard to recommend this series.
Final Grade: C+
For more information on this series, visit Seven Seas Entertainment’s website: http://www.gomanga.com/books/tomodachi-x-monster/674
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