Monkey High by by Shouko Akira (amazon)
Due to her father’s political corruption scandal Haruna has to transfer from her exclusive high school to an ordinary one. She’s decided that high school is like a monkey mountain, full of people squabbling senselessly and trying to climb to the top. Haruna is aloof, not wanting to reach out and make any new friends. The kids at Haruna’s new school are fun-loving and rowdy, accidentally breaking down the door of the principal’s office due to their enthusiastic eavesdropping when she’s conferring with him. They run away, leaving Masaru (aka Macharu) a boy who reminds Haruna of a baby monkey. Where Haruna is reserved, Macharu is open and enthusiastic. Atsu is the most popular guy in school, and his womanizing tendencies lead him to single out Haruna when she wants to avoid being noticed.
Haruna and Macharu keep being paired together – she’s forced to sew his dwarf costume for the class production of Snow White, he lends her his umbrella, and he helps her hide from her ex-boyfriend. Macharu’s emotional honesty begins to break through Haruna’s defenses and she finds herself thinking about dating a guy she never would have gone out with in her former life. The other students at the school function as a Greek chorus, commenting on Haruna’s strange taste in men, betting about the budding romance, and trying to set up Haruna and Macharu on the school trip.
Monkey High’s focus on the emotional moments and developing relationship between Haruna and Macharu reminded me a little bit of the early volumes of Kare Kano. The pairing of the cool girl and goofy guy is a refreshing change from many of the stock characters and situations usually found in shojo manga. The art is very cute, with plenty of significant glances and blushes shared between the protagonists as their relationship progresses.
A review copy was provided by the publisher.