Story & Art by Spica Aoki
Translated by Taylor Engel
Lettering by Lys Blakeslee
The monster girl genre has become popular in recent years. The success of series such as Monster Musume has caused a plethora of similar titles to be published and the number only continues to rise. That being said, the growth of the genre has also led further innovation within it. Kaiju Girl Caramelise follows the popular monster girl trend, but provides a unique spin to the concept that helps it stand out among its predecessors.
Kaiju Girl Caramelise focuses on the main heroine Kuroe and her relationship with her classmate Arata. Due to her kaiju-transforming illness, Kuroe has become insecure about her own body and has isolated herself from those around her. Her issues of self-esteem and social conformity are prevalent throughout the entire first volume of the series. Because of her behavior, Kuroe is looked down upon by the other girls in her class, and it only causes her self-depreciation to grow. However, the series shows that Kuroe isn’t the only one facing hardship in their life. While Arata is popular with his peers, he’s been pressured to alter his life choices to appease those around him. This mutual anxiety is what makes Arata and Kuroe’s relationship work so well. Both of them want each other to overcome their insecurities and be happy with their natural selves. It provides an emotionally open connection that is not often present in many high school romance stories, and it is a pleasant change of pace.
Outside of its serious moments, Kaiju Girl Caramelise also has its fair share of humor. Kuroe’s flustered behavior is particularly enjoyable and helps flesh her out further as a protagonist. The spectacle of Kuroe’s kaiju form also provides an extra layer of comedy to the situation, being used as a physical expression of Kuroe’s pent up emotions. Kuroe’s classmate Manatsu is another great source of entertainment, as she goes to extreme lengths to express her love of Kuroe’s kaiju form Harugon. She consistently helps lighten the tone of the manga, making her a perfect edition to the supporting. The series does a great job of taking advantage of its crazy premise, while not overshadowing the emotional aspects of its narrative.
An interesting aspect to note about Kaiju Girl Caramelise is its visuals. Spica Aoki spent many years working for shojo publications before moving to Media Factory’s Monthly Comic Alive for the series. As a result, the manga has a lush and vibrant appearance which helps separate it from similar titles. This looks especially fascinating during the kaiju sequences in the story, as even Kuroe’s kaiju form shares the vibrant appearance of the surrounding environment. The series looks and feels distinct and that further adds to its charm.
While Kaiju Girl Caramelise may seem too crazy to work in execution, this first volume proves those notions wrong. The series is wholeheartedly entertaining, while also maintaining a strong emotional message underneath. Whether you’re an existing fan of the monster girl genre or are simply looking for another solid romantic comedy, Kaiju Girl Caramelise will hit all the right notes.