At Night, I Become a Monster takes a hard look at bullying [Review]

At Night, I Become a Monster
Which form is the true Adachi? Pic credit: Yoru Sumino

I haven’t read or watched I Want to Eat Your Pancreas, but I love how Yoru Sumino handles the themes in At Night, I Become a Monster. The cover is creepy without going overboard.

And watching Adachi struggle to toe the line while learning about Yano is very satisfying. I wish there were more of a resolution, but I enjoyed the ending.

If you enjoyed the class dynamics in Another, At Night, I Become a Monster will tide you over until Another 2001 comes out.

At Night, I Become a Monster
Adachi can become a monster, but why can’t he stand up for Yano? Pic credit: Yoru Sumino

What is At Night, I Become a Monster?

At Night, I Become a Monster focuses on classroom dynamics, bullying, accountability, and Adachi transforming into a monster every night. There’s some info dumping and surprisingly no pictures, but there’s a clear distinction between night and day.

Adachi doesn’t know why he turns into a monster at night, but for the most part, it doesn’t bother him. This is because he no longer needs to sleep; his monster form can change its size, is very strong and fast, and most people run away if they see him.

But when he forgets his homework, Adachi sneaks into school so he can do it once he turns back into a human. Things are going well until he realizes his classmate, Yano, is in the classroom.

And she identifies him despite his monster form looking nothing like his human form. This chance encounter will change their lives, but not necessarily for the better.

Yano is the class “Whipping Post,” and interacting with her during the day is out of the question for Adachi. But he can’t risk her spreading rumors about him, so he agrees to meet with her during the “Midnight Break.”

A time when the guards will look the other way for students to sneak into the school. Adachi has never heard of this, but he goes along with it.

Unlike most of his classmates, Adachi rarely bullies Yano, but he doesn’t do anything to stop it. He even spends time justifying the class’s actions due to Yano’s speech patterns and inability to read the room, and she grabbed a book from another girl’s hand and threw it out the window when it was pouring!

And sadly, we never learn why she did it. Finally, however, Adachi tries to confront Yano on some things, and he apologizes for his role in her harassment.

But Yano shrugs it off. She doesn’t want to talk about things that happened during the day on Midnight Break.

But she does reveal that she smiles to hide her fear. And to Adachi’s shock, he realizes that she smiles differently at him.

What defines a monster?

Despite most of the harassment happening during class, teachers never take action. For example, there’s no mention of a proper punishment for Yano destroying another girl’s book, and it’s been months since that incident occurred.

The school nurse gives Yano some advice, but it doesn’t help her. And the abuse is slowly but steadily heading into violence.

The class feels justified in everything they do to Yano. And Adachi is there to watch it unfold. The hate for Yano is so bad that when someone picks up Yano’s eraser by accident, the class turns on them, and the girl is forced to deface Yano’s notebook to get back on the good side of the class.

Adachi tries to help, but Yano slaps the girl’s face in front of the rest of the class. Everyone is upset with Yano, but no one confronts her over it.

Which is one of the most frustrating things about this book. No one is trying to understand Yano, and at this point, no one will care if Yano gets hurt.

The school is responsible for protecting the students, but no one is trying to help Yano. Until Adachi finally realizes that his form doesn’t matter.

He’s always been a monster. But, unfortunately, doing nothing doesn’t mean he isn’t blameless.

And when he returns Yano’s greeting and talks to her like a normal person. It feels right, and there’s plenty of room for a sequel or an adaptation.

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