The Winter 2017 Anime Preview Guide Interviews with Monster Girls
How would you rate episode 1 of
Interviews with Monster Girls ?
What is this?
Tetsuo Takahashi is a biology teacher in a world where demi-humans, monster-like mutations of humanity, are rare but nonetheless a reality. He's always been fascinated to the point of wanting to do research on them, but he's never had the opportunity to actually meet one. The new school year will change that, as he suddenly discovers that one new teacher is a succubus, and among the new students are a vampire, a dullahan, and a snow woman. It doesn't take long before he's able to get friendly with the vampire, who's happy to talk about her nature in exchange for an out-of-the sun place to hang out during breaks. Interviews with Monster Girls is based on a manga and can be found streaming on Crunchyroll, Saturdays at 12:30 PM EST.
How was the first episode?
I went into the first episode of Interviews with Monster Girls blind, expecting it to be similar in style and tone to genre benchmark Monster Musume. Imagine my surprise, then, when it turned out to be a warm and fuzzy slice of life series instead of a raunchy comedy. It's a good surprise, though; the different approach helps this series find its own niche, and it's absolutely freaking adorable. If the bombastic energy and high fanservice level of previous monster girl shows has kept you away in the past, this might be the series to turn that trend around.
Though the premise is a little light on a narrative level, it fits nicely with what Interviews with Monster Girls seems to be trying to do. The obligatory male human protagonist is a teacher, and his interest in demi-humans comes from wanting to write a college thesis on them instead of wanting to, er, cohabitate with them. This turns the fanservice dial down pretty low, and allows this episode to focus on having candid conversations about what life would be like for a girl with vampire fangs or a detached head. Vampire girl Hikari is delightfully frank about the topic, and her “interview” has a fun, laid-back vibe to it.
Hikari's relatively carefree attitude also helps to address an ongoing theme throughout this episode: the demi-human characters are more worried about fitting in than they are about getting special treatment. This is most obvious when dullahan girl Machi is talking with a couple of normal human classmates; she's perfectly all right with griping about having to carry her head around, but the other girls are understandably wary of asking her about it. Enter Hikari, who strolls right in and raises the subject directly, clearing the air for everyone else. It's a nice moment that helps to normalize the presence of monster girls in the show's world.
The only potential point of concern in this episode is succubus teacher Sakie, who plays mainly a comedy relief role thus far. The show's sense of humor is generally solid, but there's an obvious contrast between Sakie's panicked antics and the rest of the episode. One can only hope that the series will get around to developing her character a bit, because everything else here is very much on point. I still find it amazing that monster girls have somehow gone from a gimmick to a genre with real variety between different titles, but here we are.
Based on the first episode, Funimation's dub appears to be on the right track. Bryn Apprill covers Hikari's emotional range quite nicely, with my only concern being that the script occasionally tries a little too hard to make her dialogue sound breezy and casual. Cris George also sounds good as Tetsuo, and manages to capture the easygoing attitude that the character maintains during most of the episode. Perhaps most importantly, the “vampires 101” interview in the biology prep room replicates the natural ebb and flow that works so well in the original Japanese version. Terri Doty is perhaps a little too calm and collected as Machi, but the next episode should offer a more detailed picture of her take on the character. By the same token, I'm reserving judgment on Morgan Garrett as Sakie until episode three, as we only get to see her character in full-on panic mode in this episode. Overall, this seems like a solid effort that retains much of the show's natural charm.
I've said it before, and I'll say it again: I love monster girls! Okay, I love monsters in general. That doesn't mean I love all things with monsters in them, but Interviews with Monster Girls captures what I love about the monster shows that do things "right."
For me personally, stories about monsters are really stories about humanity's relationship with other people, the world, or life in general. Seeing how people react to monsters will tell us something about our own human nature, as well as the nature of whatever the monsters represent, whether that be abstract concepts/emotions, the natural world, or even ordinary people that we alienate for misguided reasons. That seems kinda lofty for a slice-of-life comedy about only slightly monstrous demi-humans, but Interviews with Monster Girls definitely falls into the latter category in small but easy-to-appreciate ways. Frankly, since the "big" ways of using monsters to represent alienated people (huge too-obvious "racism" allegories) have been done to death, the small ways are often the best ones.
If you're looking for an endearing slice-of-life series with clever jokes and a calming atmosphere, Interviews with Monster Girls is an easy recommendation on its tone and production values alone. Unlike Monster Musume, the girls of this series are more subtle and soothing characters that we're meant to get to know as people in a day-to-day setting, rather than (admittedly lovable) sex objects in an erotic fantasy. But if you're a monster fanatic like me, another secret strength of this anime can be summed up completely by just one scene (that several other reviewers have referenced below, so I'll just describe it in more detail).
Kyoko the dullahan is sitting with her regular human classmates talking about normal high school girl stuff like coursework and cat videos, when she jokingly brings up one pain-in-the-neck aspect of dullahan life. The other girls aren't cartoonishly mean or racist in reaction to this statement, they are her friends after all, and demi-humans are now accepted as part of everyday life. At the same time, their more nuanced reaction is still revealing and hurtful; they ignore her joke completely, changing the subject out of fear that they would offend her by addressing the very real fact that she's different from all the other humans around her. This leaves Kyoko embarrassed for bringing up something the other girls can't relate to, and the whole situation is bound to be very familiar to anyone who's been in conflict-avoidant friendships with people who quietly ignore the differences between people in their cliques.
However, the whole situation turns around when Hikari, a vampire, runs up to Kyoko later and asks her directly if something might be harder for her because she's a dullahan. The girls around them gasp to themselves, but Kyoko is reassured by Hikari's acknowledgement of what makes her different, even if Hikari can't relate directly because she has very different vampire problems of her own. It's a nice little social lesson that challenges us to think about what accepting diversity really means, presented in an entertaining way that doesn't distract from the show's comedic atmosphere. Check out Interviews with Monster Girls! It's a real nice little show.
In the past few years, I have grown pretty tired of monster girls. I fully admit that I was dreading this latest combination of cute girls and B-movie monsters, so imagine my delighted surprise when it turned out that Interviews with Monster Girls' first episode is really very charming. It isn't interested in making its monsters sexy or intensely “Other;” instead the demi-humans (later abbreviated to “demi”) are actual people who just so happen to have mutated genes, transforming them into otherworldly races. That this is the apparent history behind the existence of demis is a mark for the series in itself – there are no convoluted explanations about monsters having lived among us in hiding or coming from a parallel world. They're just something that happens, like having six fingers or curly hair. In part that's why the male lead of the series, high school biology teacher Takahashi, is having such a hard time finding any demis to talk to for his research – unless they're dullahans (the least human-looking of the demis thus far introduced), they look just like everyone else.
That's a fact driven home by the new math teacher, Sakie Satou, a succubus. Rather than making her overtly sexual, which would have embraced the unfortunate sexy teacher trope, Sakie hides her alluring succubus form under a sweat suit and takes care not to have physical contact with people, men in particular. Her being a succubus doesn't drive her personality, it's just one of many parts making her the person she is, and that's frankly pretty refreshing in a monster girl show. Likewise vampire Hikari is as bubbly as they come, and her frank answers to Takahashi's questions about eating and whether or not she needs to drink blood feel like she's just answering questions about whether she prefers her chicken grilled or fried. The only real indications that the demis are any different is the way no one is quite sure how to handle Kyouko, the dullahan. If you've missed anime's apparent obsession with them, dullahans are Irish spirits who carry their heads under their arms, so Kyouko at first glance appears to be a headless body. During class she puts her head on a pillow on her desk so that she can take notes, and you can see that her classmates are a little weirded out by it. That's really it, though – otherwise the demis are treated just like anyone else.
Between that, the generally likable nature of all of the characters thus far introduced, and the almost cozy look to the character designs, this is looking like it will be thoroughly enjoyable. Even the opening theme is a lot of fun with its pop-up book aesthetic, and if the adult males all look a little vacant, the girls' expressions make up for it. Even if you're tired of monster girls, give this one a shot. The somewhat silly translation of the title aside (“Demi-chan Wants to Talk” might have been a little closer), this one looks like a winner.
With this season offering both Interviews with Monster Girls and Miss Kobayashi's Maid Dragon, monster girl shows seem to have ascended from a novelty to a steady subgenre. Perhaps even more surprising than the current rise of monster girl shows is their quality - Monster Musume was a very well-constructed harem, My Monster Secret is a solid romcom, and Interviews with Monster Girls is looking to be an excellent slice of life.
Interviews with Monster Girls takes a very grounded approach to its topic. In this world, demi-humans are a rare but generally accepted part of life, with their own welfare agencies and everything. Biology teacher Tetsuo Takahashi is interested in demi-humans, but has never met one. But a series of encounters with his student Hikari Takanashi ends up introducing him to the world of demi-humans, as he learns his own school has not just a succubus teacher, but also a vampire, dullahan, and snow woman.
Interviews with Monster Girls dances lightly through this setup, establishing a firm rapport between Takahashi and the vampiric Hikari along the way. Takahashi actually looks and acts like a real adult, and Hikari has a boisterous, immediately charming personality. Her enthusiasm helps Takahashi push through his own awkwardness regarding demi-humans, leading to a standout interview segment where the two of them connect over comparing the mythos of vampires to Hikari's own lived experience.
On a very immediate level, Interviews with Monster Girls is funny and likable from start to finish. The jokes are snappy and never oversold, and even within this first episode, the main cast have already established friendships that make them inherently fun to watch. The show is also blessed with very strong character animation, which really helps bring Hikari to life, along with offering great sight gags like the dullahan Machi using her hands to shake her own head.
Interviews with Monster Girls is just well-constructed entertainment, and that's before you even get to its thematic charm. Being a demi-human isn't treated as the biggest deal in this show, but it's still a meaningful part of these girls' lives, and the show takes care to demonstrate the awkwardness that can naturally result from trying to tiptoe around the difference of others. Interviews with Monster Girls' interview-focused premise ultimately seems to reflect the show's general belief in honestly approaching others, accepting that you often won't fully understand them, and working towards greater understanding in spite of that. Overall, this one's a consistently funny slice of life with a great heart. It's definitely worth a look.
In an era where adorable monster girls are all the rage, Interviews with Monster Girls manages to be effortlessly cute and even a little heartwarming. In the version of reality where this show takes place, monsters don't come from a different dimension—rather, they're products of random genetic mutations. Think the X-Men, except these "demi-humans" (or "demi," as the girls prefer to be called) manifest as more folkloric creatures, like headless dullahans, vampires, snow monsters, and succubi. And although things have come a long way in monster welfare, there's still a long way to go in getting everyday people to accept them in society. Some, like vampires, can hide it better, but dullahans are out of luck.
Our champion is Takahashi Tetsuo, a high school biology teacher who's keen on pursuing future studies about the demi. He dreams of interviewing them, of separating myth from reality, and increasing overall understanding of demi. As luck would have it, there's four just in his school, and one of them is a sprightly vampire ironically named Hikari who's already latched onto Tetsuo as a both an ally, and a purveyor of a dark, cool room to loiter in. There's a slight whiff of flirtation, but it's all rather innocent, and plays more like your average schoolgirl fascination with a favorite teacher.
The comedy in the series is gentle, and it flows naturally within the dialogue. The slapstick that is present isn't too overt, and doesn't dominate too many scenes. It gives the series an overall light and airy atmosphere, allowing the characters to work their magic without getting too serious. There's a stellar scene near the end when the dullahan can't help but feel self-conscious about her appearance. Hikari pops by to jabber about her own vampire inconveniences, prompting other girls in the class to open themselves up as well. It's a show as much about reaching out to others, as it is about personal acceptance, and Interviews with Monster Girls does a good job of delivering its message without getting too heavy-handed. If the first episode is any indication, this will be a good show to keep an eye on this season.
Monster girls have long been a thing in anime, but the success of Monster Musume in 2015 doubtless gave the trope a big push. Based on its first episode, Interviews with Monster Girls is not going to be a raucous harem fan service series like that one or the much earlier Rosario to Vampire (which also featured a vampire, succubus, and snow woman) was. Despite a succubus character being introduced almost immediately, it is actually shaping up to be a gentle, low-key comedy about how demi-humans live in the regular world with their abnormal natures. And despite it having far from the strongest technical merits you'll see this season, it looks like it's going to work, as the first episode is surprisingly but delightfully charming.
The charm takes a little while to kick in, though, as teacher Takahashi's initial interactions with the succubus Math teacher Sakie Satou are the shakiest. Because of her inherently alluring nature, Sakie goes well out of her way to dress down and avoid physical contact, to the point that she's comically skittish around Takahashi. Fortunately his second demi-human contact, with the blond vampire Hikari, goes much smoother. Not only is Hikari vastly more but she also takes an immediate interest in Takahashi when she learns that he's into demi-humans, or “demi-“ as she says that teen demi-humans prefer to be called. Of course, some of it is doubtless a play to get access to his sun-shuttered biology prep room as a hang-out spot, but she also gives the impression that she's genuinely happy to be able to talk freely with a regular person about what she is. His initial contact with the dullahan Machi, at Hikari's urging, also looks promising, but Machi will apparently be featured next episode. Another big plus is that neither so far looks like they are going to be slavish archetypes.
There's a lot to like here in the world-building and other little details, too. Like with Monster Musume, a welfare agency exists for demi-humans, but it's apparently a far less intrusive one here. Unlike Musume, demi-humans here are more commonly mutants than their own separate races, to the point that one girl of a set of twins could be a demi-human while the other one isn't. Most vampire lore is different here; garlic and crosses aren't issues, and vampires dislike the sun because they get overheated easily rather than because it's fatal. Vampires can eat regularly with just a once-a-month blood supplement, and vampires who don't take blood at all are equated to vegetarians. The subtle animation about how the dullahan has to use her hands to turn her head is also a neat touch, and doubtless we'll learn more about dullahans next episode when Machi gets her “interview” with Takahashi.
For all those interesting details, though, I think the first episode works best because it doesn't try to force anything; it just lets things play out in a more natural fashion. That the male protagonist is a mature adult rather than a teenage boy may be a big factor in that, but regardless, it's definitely worth checking out as long as you're not expecting a fan service fest.
If you'd told me a few years ago that in the future, the most reliable anime genre for carefree, fun entertainment would be “monster girls”, I'd never have believed you, but here we are. Last year we had the candy-colored, hyperactive sex comedy Monster Musume, which charmed my brains out and gave me a real appreciation for this weird little subgenre. Now there's Interviews with Monster Girls which is sort of the iyashikei cousin of Monster Musume – lighthearted and easygoing, with the raunchiness turned down a little to let the slices of life fall gently into place.
There isn't much plot, but that's alright. The story is pretty threadbare by design – Takahashi is writing his college thesis on demi-humans, so he's going to interview the handful that show up at his school. There's a vampire girl, a succubus who shows up for her first day on the job, and best of all, a headless horsegirl, who carries her noggin around on a little pillow and has to pick it up and move it around to express herself. It isn't only clever, it's adorable, and they get a bunch of great sight gags out of it. I'm not sure what it is about monster girl shows, but they seem like they go out of their way to give the ladies a little more personality, and I really appreciate that. I want to know more about all of these characters, who are imbued with a gentleness of spirit that makes them feel layered.
I wouldn't say I'm on the edge of my seat waiting for another episode – that would be odd, given the sense of zen calm this show is run through with – but I hope this show remains a pleasant distraction for the next couple months.
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