Nurse Hitomi’s Monster Infirmary, Vol. 1

By Shake-O. Released in Japan as “Hitomi-sensei no Hokenshitsu” by Tokuma Shoten, serialization ongoing in the magazine Comic Ryu. Released in North America by Seven Seas.

As longtime readers will know, I pay far more attention to which company is releasing a manga and what magazine it runs in, for good and ill. Sometimes this can give me a feeling of great anticipation (Love at Fourteen is a good example), and sometimes it can inspire a feeling of dread, such as with this title, which runs in Comic Ryu, home of Monster Musume, which is very, very popular in North America and I simply can’t stand. Luckily, even though it does feature a degree of fanservice and boob jokes, Nurse Hitomi is a far more palatable title, mostly as the fanservice is a distant fourth to its other aims: amusing comedy, amusing drawings of weird creatures, and monsters as a metaphor for teenagers.

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This actually puts it closer to its other Comic Ryu neighbor, A Centaur’s Life. But whereas that’s more of a slice-of-life title that takes great pains in its worldbuilding, Shake-O is not particularly interested in why the world of Nurse Hitomi is filled with mythological people hybrids, or for that matter how a bear can father a cyclops. This is a manga that wants to have fun and be silly. And it certainly succeeds there. Hitomi is a nice teacher who genuinely wants to help her kids, but she has no depth perception, making her clumsy, and she tends to try to do everything herself, something pointed out by fellow teacher and childhood friend Kenjiro (you’d think they would have some unresolved tension between them, but sadly Ken is a lolicon, the final joke in the volume and a lousy one to go out on).

Rather than Hitomi, probably the best reason to read this title would be the kids who come to her with unusual problems, some of which are couched in subtle metaphor but most of which are as unsubtle as they come. One girl is horrified that as she gets older her tongue is getting longer and longer, and she can’t control when it comes out anymore. Two childhood friends are going in opposite directions – one is now a giant while the other has shrunk to the size of a 5-year-old. And a shy girl who has trouble speaking up has now found herself literally turning invisible. (To comedic effect – if you want Translucent, go bother Dark Horse.) As you can see, monster teens = puberty. Most of these titles try to have a heartwarming lesson in them, but the lesson is secondary to the humor, and that’s just fine.

There’s other things going on here – Hitomi’s assistant, Itsuki, seems to be gender-ambiguous, though Itsuki mostly exists to poke gentle fun at Hitomi. The story of the giant girl and her small friend has an undercurrent of yuri – though only an undercurrent – and I hear future chapters may do the same thing. For the most part, though, despite the occasional ‘this looks like tentacles but it’s really not’ art and ‘why are people staring at my large breasts’ jokes, this is a fairly cute and innocent look at teens and their problems, couched in monster language. It’s not essential, but if you like unusual comedies, give it a try.

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Comments

  1. What sold me on the series was the art as I thought the line work and use of blacks and whites were impressive.

  2. Thanks for this review. Was curious as to whether it would be more Monster Musume or A Centaur’s Life so I’m glad it’s the latter. The premise sounded quite interesting so I’m glad it isn’t just used as an excuse for fan service. Will think about checking it out in future.

    • Sean Gaffney says

      Don’t get me wrong, there IS fanservice. Hitomi’s chest gets mentioned a lot, and the monster teens lead to odd fetishes. But on a level of one to Monster Musume, it’s only about a 3.


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