This marks the first manga I have read in the year of January 2019! While looking through a list of manga that won awards, I noticed this series in particular that has animal transformations, which is a big yes in my book.
But before I begin I want to point out how important it is to have a good villain, for they are the ones who begin the conflicts most of the time in manga/anime.
It is with complete honesty that Sonehara is one of the most cruel and despicable antagonists I have seen in my history of manga/anime. But to be honest, despite her cunning and resourcefulness which I respect, I can't really find anything to like or relate to her as an antagonist. Sonehara actually reminds me of the antagonist from Higurashi, however despite the similiarities, I find her more likable and relatable compared to Sonehara. Despite the series being shojo, Sonehara feels like one of those antagonists from a battle shonen manga, with her feeling more like an obstacle for the characters to overcome, which they do, than a character that feels likable or relatable.
Now the positives for the series has to be the romance between the protagonists, that was something I thought the author handled well. As well as overcoming the cycle of hatred for the female protagonists Rinko and Mai. I'm glad that neither Rinko nor Mai had to be the one to kill Sonehara, because bearing the burden of having to kill someone is hard on anyone, especially if they spent a good part of their life growing up to high school age without having to defend their life.
The theme of bearing the burden to kill is something I thought is explored well in Kara no Kyoukai and Monster. I don't think the characters were having Goku moments in sparing mercy to the antagonist, cause the male protagonists didn't want Rinko or Mai to have Sonehara's death hanging over them.
I do think that having another antagonist besides Sonehara would have helped the series not feel too long, even though it was only 12 volumes. The art is definitely gorgeous though. I actually thought Mai having a father complex was interesting for the character. The series has its moments, although Sonehara's stubbornness is something I think will test any reader's patience. I won't say its perfect but I will still recommend it to others, to fans of suspense, and to those who love animal transformations like with the Animorphs series.