If you've been following recent manga trends you've most likely noticed a new-wave sub-genre of monster-girl supernatural dramas I like to call "waifu eat waifu protec".
They tend to have a similar premise - a monstrous shapeshifter of tremendous power is "protecting" a tormented protagonist from an array of supernatural entities wishing to "eat" them. However, said "protector" has an ulterior motive, which is to consume the said protagonist themselves once certain conditions are met.
"A Monster Wants to Eat Me" is no exception to this, however I believe it manages to set itself apart from the rest by having great sense of direction and pacing.
"Green was the silence, wet was the light, the month of June trembled like a butterfly..." (Art & Atmosphere)
The major element setting this work apart from its siblings is the atmosphere. From the very beginning you get to feel the melancholy of the main character and their world. The pensive sadness they are experiencing is always looming over their shoulder and even during moments of levity it manages to remain unshaken. It works as a cornerstone for all other aspects of the manga which makes me believe that the author has a very clear idea of what they wish to accomplish with this work.
While arguably not the most outstanding in the sub-genre the art here definitely feels a lot more impactful due to the fact that it manages to maintain the melancholy atmosphere. Every page is filled with detail and emotion and even the most generic urban background looks like a painting. The double-page spreads are the highlight of every chapter, filled with small details and using lighting and shadows to great effect in order to set the tone of the scene.
- "Dreams are the touchstones of our characters..." (Story & Characters)
If you've read mangas with similar premises you've probably noticed that the main characters usually feel bland or are just a vessel to take the reader along for a ride. That's not the case in this manga as the main character actually feels like an individual. Through subtle facial expressions, actions, inner monologues and lighting and shadow compositions of the panels accompanying them you can feel that there's more to characters than the outward appearance presents. The subtext is pretty strong and there are many small details which work as great foreshadowing for things to come.
The story, however, is where things start to slowly unravel. It is fairly simplistic and doesn't deviate much from the premise description I've given earlier. At the current stage I would classify it as mystery drama - there are many questions which have been raised in the 7 chapters I've read and while it is good that certain things are being addressed as it currently stands I can't imagine receiving reasonable answers. Additionally this is as urban fantasy as it gets but there's simply too great of a disconnect from mundane and supernatural - the author went with the most basic of cop-outs to explain why supernatural phenomena are not being talked about on the news.. Maybe the author will surprise us with their creativity and if that happens I will applaud them and change my opinion on this matter. However, until then, while not bad, I feel this to be the weakest aspect of the manga.
- "And I would have gotten away with it too, if not for those meddling transfer students..."
And now for my personal pet peeve... I simply can't comprehend why this story has to be set in a school.. It serves absolutely no purpose - teachers do not exist, characters don't go to classes or worry about their grades, there's no dramatic element of monsters messing with their school life, etc. It almost feels like the school was chosen as a "default setting" and was not thought through at all. And don't get me started on the one of the stupidest plot holes in this entire thing - you'll know when you see it..
If you look this series up on any manga list aggregators you will notice tags like "Shoujo Ai" or "Yuri". I honestly have hard time imagining why that is the case. Reading as far as I have I've not noticed any of the elements one might expect from such stories other than the fact that the three main characters are female. If anything I'd say that at best we are presented with some sort of twisted friendship but there simply are no such undertones. I guess author called this a "yuri story" hence the tags? If anything I think that these tags dissuades people from checking this work rather than attract them.
Overall I am enjoying this manga and will be keeping up with its releases. My biggest hope is that focus and direction are not lost and all the mystery elements being set-up are executed well. If we manage to get reasonable answers to some of the (few) presented absurdities I'd be even more happy.