On Valentine’s Day, it’s no surprise that playboy Atsu gets plenty of chocolate from fawning girls. But everyone’s shocked when a heart-shaped box is found on Macharu’s desk-especially since it’s not from Haruna! Does Macharu have a secret admirer?
By: Shouko Akira
Publisher: Viz Media
Age Rating: Teen (13+)
It’s another collection of trial and error episodes for Haruna and Macharu. First, it’s Valentine’s Day, and a heart-shaped box of chocolate appears in Macharu’s desk. Does Haruna have some competition? Then it’s the end of the school year and the class of 1-2 want’s to have a party on the same day as Haruna’s birthday. School starts back up, and a girl Haruna knew from her old school has transferred in and can’t believe Haruna is going out with Macharu, which leads to a basketball competition between Macharu and Atsu. Finally, Haruna is asked to run for Student Body President. Will she?
After 2 volumes, jaded Haruna and baby-monkey Macharu are still together. However, through these chapters we see Haruna is a little less jaded, and Macharu has grown some thanks to their relationship. There is still plenty of push and pull though. Even though Haruna has been trying to give Macharu her chocolate for Valentine’s Day all day, she still goes off on everyone about their obsession over giving/getting chocolate. She regrets it almost immediately, and by the end of the chapter is able to give Macharu the chocolate. A little later, Macharu decides he has to prove he is worthy of being Haruna’s boyfriend and gets wrapped up in a basketball shooting contest with Atsu. Haruna doesn’t think Macharu has to prove anything, but he becomes adamant about playing even as he pushes himself hard, just to show Haruna he’s willing to give his all for her. By the end, they come to the understanding that going out isn’t about impressing anyone.
All of the things I loved about the main characters, Haruna’s jaded attitude and Macharu’s cute, sweet side, are still there, but the influence of each other can clearly be seen. Haruna has softened some, though she still thinks of her class as a bunch of monkeys, and Macharu is still silly, but gets serious where ever Haruna is concerned.
What I really enjoy about this title is realism about Haruna and Macharu’s relationship. Haruna says she don’t know why it’s Macharu that makes her heart race, but it’s shown again and again in each chapter. They make each other happy. It’s really just that simple. Macharu can make Haruna smile like no one else. Their romance is a sweet one. Each chapter has them learning something new about themselves or the other, that reaffirms why they are together. It just feels like a real relationship, with nothing contrived or forced about bringing them together. This is just how I imagine a relationship should start and grow. It just a real joy to watch.
Monkey High is a title that can easily get lost in the Viz collection of shojo titles, but it’s really one of the best and deserves more attention. It’s fun characters and sweet romance make it easy for anyone to pick up and enjoy.