The Illustrated Guide to Monster Girls is a 4-volume, light-hearted horror/slice-of-life manga, written and illustrated by Suzu Akeko. A prolific manga creator, she has previously written and illustrated Nightmare Eater, Kori no Hanatori, and Wareware wa Uchuujin da!!, as well as worked as an artist on Inchiki Seijo to Iwareta node, Kuni wo Dete Nonbiri Kurasou to Omoimasu.

In a world of monsters where scaring and tormenting humans is a way of life, there is an academy for training these ghouls to be effective in their haunting, the prestigious Monstrum Girl’s School. The manga follows the girls of Class Z, who dream of graduating and becoming full-fledged monsters. However, their grades are the real horror show, and they must work hard to pass their classes and achieve their dreams.

One of the key driving forces of The Illustrated Guide to Monster Girls is the incredible level of character variety. Featuring the likes of a ghoula, vampire, ghost, automaton, witch, devil, and Jiangshi; each character is vastly different in both easily-definable visual design and rambunctious personality. Additionally, each monster girl attains a duality of kawaii and monstrous in disposition rather than just a focus on cuteness. Although their ability to petrify may be limited, the efforts put forward certainly reinforce their ghastly nature—a stark reminder that no matter how cute these girls are, they are dangerous as well.

Those looking for a strong emphasis on unfettered horror may be somewhat disappointed. Although it does contain a number of scenes of grisly gore, the manga is certainly focused on the girl’s personalities and their personal growth, as well as their relationships with each other. So much so, that the manga’s overarching premise—a strong rivalry with their upper classmates in Class A—only begins to really take shape in the last chapter. Despite this, the precursory chapters still display a certain level of progression sprinkled in between the profound character and world-building.

Featuring some incredibly expressive artwork, The Illustrated Guide to Monster Girls brings this world of spooks and scares to life spectacularly. The visual design of Monstrum Girls’ School presents a historic yet fantastical setting truly representative of the monstrous characters that reside there. Furthermore, each student expresses significant body language and facial expressions to convey emotion, seamlessly breathing life into every panel.

A captivating start to this darkly comedic, yet cutesy, slice-of-life manga, The Illustrated Guide to Monster Girls certainly sets the stage for the construction of an alluring premise. With its distinct character designs and expressive artwork, the manga is a congenial blend of the two genres into a cohesive kawaii package that left this reviewer wanting more.

*Affiliate Link

An Illustrated Guide to Monster Girls Volume 1 is available to purchase on Yen Press’ website here as well as on Amazon here*

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