By Mujirushi Shimazaki. Released in Japan as “Kaijuu no Shiiku Iin” by Houbunsha, serialized in the magazine Manga Time Kirara Forward. Released in North America by Yen Press. Translated by Amber Tamosaitis.
When I reviewed New Game!, I went into a bit of detail regarding the classic Kirara work, i.e. “a group of girls doing but really just relaxing and chatting a lot”. It’s a shame, because it would help to pad out the word count of this review, as there’s a lot of that happening here as well. To be fair, Monster Tamer Girls does have the girls taming monsters a hell of a lot more than, say, K-On! has the girls playing concerts. This is a world where monsters are still being analyzed to a degree, and as such, even though it’s treated as a typical high school club, the need for girls like Ion and her friends is absolutely needed. Sadly, Ion is rather shy and tends to still be wary of monsters, which is why we also have Sora, who has no talent for taming but is spunky, outgoing, and really loves monsters. Stop me if you’ve heard of this type of twosome before.
As you might guess by the cover, if you were expecting cute Pokemon-style monsters you’re in for a surprise. The main monster we see here is essentially a dinosaur, and even the short cute one that follows after the girls quickly grows to enormous proportions. Joining our two main heroines are Tsukiko, an overly serious monster tamer with horrible naming sense, and Kotomi, a teen genius in the graduate program whose chief job seems to be providing yuri subtext, although honestly there’s plenty of that to go around. And then there’s Kyouko, who is not only a level above every other monster tamer girl (she’s a monster charmer), but is also the girl who saved Ion from a monster when she was just a kid. Sadly, Kyouko is straining her voice from too much abuse (as a former chorus student, I can attest to how easy it is to do that), and also worries that Ion does not have what it takes to do the job.
As a first volume, this did its job very well, and manages to be a “monster” series without the fanservice that usually goes with that sort of thing, possibly as the girls aren’t the monsters in this case. Sadly, it apparently wasn’t interesting enough for Japanese readers, as the second volume will be the last one. I think it will definitely appeal to those who like relaxing, girls-in-school type manga, and I’d argue its main audience may be the yuri fan. There’s no yuri here, but, y’know, girls hug other girls and say they missed them, so it’s not all that hard to connect the dots. This may actually be a good series to wait till summer and get both volumes as a gift for someone else. And since the fanservice is nonexistent and the yuri is all hypothetical, I wouldn’t object to younger readers looking at it either.