Rating: 3.5/5 – A Solidly Comedic Monster-Themed Manga
by ComicSpectrum reviewer Al Sparrow.
I’ve written elsewhere about how Monster Musume blew me away, delivering a laugh-out-loud story while giving the monster fan in me something to smile about. Because of that, I wasn’t too sure about diving into Nurse Hitomi’s Monster Infirmary, as I didn’t really care to have too much of a good thing, or be disappointed if this new title didn’t stand up to the earlier one. Manga, or at least manga as it’s released here in the United States, tends to be very trend oriented. A harem manga hits big, and suddenly there are several harem manga being published. Same with high-school romance stories. Fantasy yarns. You get the idea. Whether this is a reflection of what’s happening in Japan or if it’s American publishers responding to what their audiences want, I’m not 100% sure, but I was worried that Monster Infirmary was the opening salvo of a new barrage of monster-themed manga coming to a shelf near me. To drive the oversaturation idea home, there’s already another title from the creator of Monster Musume with that theme – 123 Beasts – vying for space on the shelves of your local store. It’s not a bad problem to have if you’re a fan of the genre being promoted, but it can be difficult to separate the good from the meh.
In the case of Monster Infirmary, I needn’t have worried. While the titular nurse, with her single eye in the middle of her forehead, certainly passes the “monster” definition, the book deals more with the “monsters” she helps as the school nurse – such as the girl who is growing too tall, or the girl who feels (and is) invisible. There’s a lot of lighthearted humor and whimsy at play here. Hitomi’s father is a giant bear, for one thing, and her one eye, while “all-seeing” also limits her depth perception, making her a bit of a klutz. While there are plenty of allusions to adult situations, and much is made of Hitomi’s fairly – pardon the pun – cyclopean breast size, there’s actually very little fanservice or nudity going on. Shake-O, the creator of the series, has an artistic style that seems to be designed more for playful, comedic work than for titillation, and that gives this book a decided edge over many other titles that might get lumped into the same category.
Nurse Hitomi’s Monster Infirmary has a lot going for it. It’s playful, managing to walk a tightrope of dealing with the inadequacies of adolescence (which Hitomi’s “monstrous” students come to her with) while at the same time being lighthearted and fun at the same time. It manages to deliver adult humor and content without relying on an overabundance of fanservice or nudity, forcing the jokes themselves to do the heavy lifting. Finally, the artwork is just different enough from everything else out there to have a uniqueness that should appeal to anyone thirsty for something new. It might be early yet to determine if monster-themed books are the new harem manga, destined to dominate the market, but this book is a solid entry into that field.
Reviewed by: Al Sparrow
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