This Monster Wants to Eat Me Volume 1

Content warning: themes of suicide and mental health are discussed within the book and this review.

Hinako is a high school student, who went through a great tragedy recently and lost her family. Now she lives alone and seems to float through life with little purpose, until one day she meets a mysterious girl named Shiori, whose eyes seem as blue as the ocean itself. Shiori is no ordinary girl, however; she’s a mermaid with one goal in mind: to eat Hinako at the peak of her deliciousness. But Hinako isn’t scared, or thinks of running, in fact she welcomes it, and the pair begin a friendship unlike any other…

If you’re a big manga reader, especially of the dark romance variety, then you may get a vibe or two from this series comparing it to the BL series The Summer Hikaru Died (which is being covered here by the lovely Sarah). While there is some minor comparison between the two: dark romance between a human and monster, taking place in a small town, monstrous horror imagery, etc., they are different from each other. This Monster Wants to Eat Me isn’t just the Yuri version of The Summer Hikaru Died; the latter has themes of something looking quaint and idealistic, but with something far darker lurking in plain sight, threatening to tear apart from the inside. The former, however, is about a girl who’s already had her life torn to pieces; she lost her family before the story begins in (currently) mysterious circumstances, and the monster instead seems to be a welcome change for Hinako. She seeks the darkness, as a way to end her own life and suffering, whereas Yoshiki in The Summer Hikaru Died is given no choice but to face it. Both deal with dark forces in different ways to tell LGBT stories that have a unique sense of dread throughout the manga, and are both worth reading in my opinion.

As the monster in question is a mermaid for this series, the theme of water is prevalent here, but it doesn’t just start when the mermaid comes into town; you get a sense of Hinako already drowning before Shiori arrives. For example, at the start Hinako is at school, seemingly in conversation with her friends, but she starts to zone out. The dialogue boxes become incomprehensible, like they’re being drowned out. The panels become darker and water shimmers all over, with frightening fish designs swimming in the background as her friends drift out of sight, as if the familiar school surroundings feel as foreign and deadly to her as the deep blue sea. It’s a recurring theme that’s very effective, tying to Shiori’s trauma as well as expressing how deep her depression lies. She’s drowning in her sorrows, forced to swim on her own and others seem to struggle to see how deep her sadness truly lies. It also nicely contrasts with her hatred for summer; the season brings up horrific memories for her and she physically seems to do everything in her power to avoid it, from not attending the Japanese tradition of festivals, to constantly wearing long sleeve tops in every panel regardless of temperature. Understanding why Hinako wants to go deep into the bottomless sea to get far away from the sun is effective storytelling and it leads her right into the arms of our monster.

Our monster, Shiori, starts off as a mysterious girl who just showed up in town, but it doesn’t take long to reveal her true nature and intentions. Unlike The Summer Hikaru Died where the monster side is more horrific, almost eldritch in nature, This Monster Wants to Eat Me leans more into yokai and folklore for inspiration; a combination of human and monster, with mid-transformations in panels where Shiori is almost holding back her true nature to get Hinako on her side. She smiles constantly in the book, and seems harmless on the surface, but her dialogue is anything but. She’s such a mixture of sweet and sinister that you can’t help being pulled in yourself, and you can see why Shiori is as well. Their dynamic will be interesting to watch develop as the manga goes on.

This series seems to be Sai Naekawa’s first serialisation, having only anthology experience previously, but this manga has the right tone and atmosphere as well as pretty art. Just looking at the cover you can see the depth of the sea, the cute designs of the girls and how close they look – but a quick look at Hinako’s dead eyes is enough to lure you in and make you wonder why that is. The art is very good throughout too; the aforementioned water motif is put to great use across the book and the yokai designs are all creatively detailed too.

Caleb Cook provides the translation of this volume and does a good job of balancing the small comedy that is in there with the lurking horror of the series overall. There are also helpful translation notes at the back.

The first volume of This Monster Wants to Eat Me lures you into its waters for a dark, devilishly good read that leaves you fishing for more once the last page has turned. Not to be missed if you like your series with a tinge of darkness.

Our review copy from Yen Press was supplied by Diamond Book Distributors UK.

9 / 10

darkstorm

By day, I work in the television industry. By night, I'm a writer for Anime UK News. Twitter: @lilithdarkstorm

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