2020’s Kaiju Girl Caramelise, Volume 4 is the fourth tankōbon of Spica Aoki’s comedic kaiju romance manga. Titled Otome Kaijū Kyaramerize in the original Japanese, Kaiju Girl Caramelise has been serialized in Monthly Comic Alive since early 2018. The English translation of Volume 4 was published in 2021.
Public revelation of Kuroe Akaishi’s relationship with handsome fellow student Arata Minami provokes a reaction — although not the one Kuroe expected.
Background: when stressed, Kuroe transforms into the massive kaiju Harugon. It was as Harugon that she kissed Arata. The press is hounding Arata, who has been dubbed the Kaiju Prince.
Concerned lest the press take an inappropriate interest in Kuroe, Arata avoids being seen with Kuroe. While frustrating for Kuroe, this has the unintended side-effect of better concealing Kuroe’s nature from the press; her tendency to transform is a detail Kuroe has thus far concealed from Arata.
This unfortunate state of affairs is a godsend to Kuroe’s schoolmate Manatsu Tomosato. Manatsu wants a companion for a quick trip to Kaiju Island. Manatsu’s companion must be Kuroes . Kuroe is reluctant … until it becomes clear that the wealthy Manatsu plans to bribe Kuroe with pastries.
A neutral observer might conclude that Manatsu is nuts. She is fixated on Harugon in an unhealthy way. It’s her dearest wish to catch the kaiju’s eye, perhaps even be squished “like a grape” or incinerated by the kaiju’s fiery breath. She figures that Kaiju Island is the right place to summon Harugon and that Kuroe (whose tendency to be where Harugon appears has been noted by Manatsu) will be just the girl to help summon the monster.
Since Kuroe is Harugon and since she will be standing next to Manatsu, Kuroe knows Harugon isn’t going to appear (Kuroe is unwilling to expose her other identity). Poor Manatsu is fated to be disappointed. Or, if she is unlucky, eaten alive (along with Kuroe) by Kaiju Island’s ravenous Komodo dragons.
Neither of the girls is eaten alive by ravenous Komodo dragons at this time. It is not for lack of trying. This manga is a comedy and death by Komodo dragon would not be funny.
We do get an explanation for Kuroe’s medical condition but it’s a spoiler and I won’t mention it unless it plays a significant role in future volumes. Let’s just say it answers some questions by replacing them with different questions.
One of the odd things about Kuroe’s success at concealing her secret is that while she manages to hide her occasional partial transformations, she appears to have two horns pretty much all the time. This suggests that the key to concealing embarrassing personal quirks may be that humans are as a rule unobservant.
Some readers may have concluded that this is going to be a yuri manga1 given Manatsu’s pursuit of Kuroe in Harugon form. Possibly not: Manatsu firmly believes Harugon is male. On the other hand, Manatsu is a passionate kaijuphile and it’s not clear that it would matter to her if she knew Harugon was a girl as long as there was a good chance that Harugon would inflict on Manatsu a horrifying death2.
Readers looking for an absurd romantic comedy populated by eccentrics with endearing personal flaws (with the proviso that there’s none of the carnage one might expect from a manga whose protagonist occasionally turns into a rampaging tower-block-sized monster) need look no further. Kaiju Girl Caramelise is an amusing little bonbon.
1: Yuri manga is a manga genre that focuses on lesbian relationships.
2: On an unrelated note, if any of the characters are pursuing therapy for potentially lethal obsessions, we don’t find out about that in the manga. It would certainly seem to be warranted.