The Summer 2015 Anime Preview Guide
Monster Musume: Everyday Life with Monster Girls
How would you rate episode 1 of
Monster Musume: Everyday Life with Monster Girls ?
Monster Musume starts out like many harem shows—the male protagonist wakes up in bed, only to find himself staring at a woman, her breasts smashed against his body. She moans something in her sleep and tightens her grip around him.
Except this time, that grip is a snake wrapping itself tighter around its prey. And the girl is a lamia, a half-snake half-human named Miia who's been assigned to live with him, now that humans are allowed to interact with demi-humans. When he tickles the tip of her tail, hoping to find a "weak spot," she moans again, leading to one of the episode's most bizarre and memorable (but perhaps not in a good way?) scenes. As he basically jerks off her tail, she cries out in ecstasy, and announces that she's orgasming.
It's a hell of a way to start off a series, especially in a genre that's usually so saturated with similar setups (minus, of course, the manual snake stimulation). But unlike your usual harem, there's something delightful and laugh-out-loud humorous about Monster Musume. Feel what you want about "sexy monster girls," but there's a playful absurdity in having the source of lustful energy be a snake-woman. Her breasts may be voluptuous, and her face may be beautiful, but as her serpentine body writhes around a bathtub or skitters down a sidewalk (jean skirt and all), there's a disconnect with reality that helps place the scenario firmly in the comedy camp. Another typical harem scene, the "date" that almost always involves lingerie (or swimsuit) shopping, gets a humorous twist when the main character learns that Miia's panties are an adhesive triangle that stick to who-knows-where.
That's not to say that Miia exists only as a joke, though. In fact, the episode is quick to address that, while the setup may be absurd and fantastical (surely humans can't have intercourse with snakes… right?), Miia is a respectable character with very human emotions. Her feelings are hurt when two strangers make fun of their relationship, and rightfully so. We may chuckle at the thought of a snake coiling coquettishly around a hapless man, but to scoff at a non-traditional relationship in a world where humans and demi-humans are supposedly equal strikes too close to parallels in reality.
This delicate balance between absurdist comedy and thoughtful character romance goes a long way in making the first episode enjoyable. It helps push the show beyond "just another harem anime," all while giving it the leeway to use the premise as a playground for tawdry hijinks. If the rest of the series is anything like the first episode, I think it'll be a fun ride.
Monster Musume is available streaming at Crunchyroll.
Well, I think this settles that harem shows just aren't really for me, because if they were for me (and I was into monster girls), I'd probably have been all over this. This first episode was well-produced and full of sexy setups and absolutely charming, basically everything you could ask for in a fanservice show. I'll be ducking off here, but if you're looking for something heavy on the fanservice that actually succeeds in all those other thorny aesthetic/writing categories, Monster Musume is a fine production all around.
The story here is a shamelessly transparent setup for “cute monster girls crush on main dude,” which is probably as it should be. The government revealed the existence of monster people three years ago, our protagonist (Kimihito, or “Darling”) has been chosen as a sort of foreign exchange host, and the buxom half-snake Miia now takes every opportunity to jump on his lap like a happy puppy. This first episode runs through a gamut of classic fanservice scenarios, opening with a “why are you in my bed” scene that ends with climax on one end and near-asphyxiation on the other, proceeding to a very aggressive bath scene, and moving on through a lingerie shop/changing room sequence and even a love hotel. Monster Musume knows what it's about, and does not stop to sweat the details.
All of that would be pretty standard fare for a fanservice show, but what really makes Monster Musume work is the combined tone and execution. On the writing front, this show is one of the happiest fanservice shows I've seen - everyone's getting naked, but it's positive nakedness, and that really helps the show feel both less creepy or exploitive and just much more fun. Darling keeps getting tail-yanked into sexy situations, but he's clearly not that opposed to the arrangement, and Miia herself would happily jump his bones the moment he offered. The issue keeping these two apart isn't hesitance or wacky misunderstandings, it's an arbitrary law, which allows the show to set them up as already liking each other. And the show moves quickly through its gags, and the comedic timing is pretty on point, even if the jokes aren't exactly fresh. The tone reminds me almost of Rumiko Takahashi-style wackiness, but it's actually even more positive than that. Turns out people enjoying themselves is actually pretty sexy!
As far as aesthetics go, Monster Musume looks great on all fronts, offering a strong combination of silly faces, style digressions, and top-notch animation. The animation in particular really helps bring Miia's snakiness to life; apparently Monster Musume nabbed some of the animators from Yatterman Night/Yozakura Quartet, and that really shows in sequences like Mia's early tail-grabs, or Darling's dramatic episode-ending punch. Overall, Monster Musume offers sexy monster girls in as polished and upbeat a package as you could hope for - it's not going to redefine the harem genre, but it does its harem thing with energy and a smile.
Monster Girls? Yay, I love monsters!
Oh wait. No. I didn't mean...I don't love monsters. Not like that!
Just kidding. Of course I knew this show was coming. I feel like I've been told "monster girls are going to be a thing" for three or four years now and it never really quite happened, at least not in anime. (The manga sells gangbusters in America, apparently.) So when I heard Monster Musume was on its way, I was fully braced for impact, and this first episode was everything I'd hoped for and more. Those of you who know my taste might be scratching your heads at this, since I'm no friend to most fanservice shows. Well, that's because a stunning number of fanservice shows are weirdly sexless, self-serious, and built on shaming desire. (Or they revolve around a fetish like lolicon or siscon that has too-unfortunate real-world parallels.) Not so with Monster Girls. The show has a ridiculous premise (beautiful demihuman monsters are living among us and they're real horny!) and it just rolls with it. It's perverse, goofy, and completely devoid of shame.
Miia the lamia (snake-woman) is living with an ordinary guy named Kimihito (which kinda sounds like a joke name meaning "self-insert"), and they have the hots for each other but are forbidden to mate by interspecies law. Cue the myriad disturbing logistics of living with an anthropomorphic anaconda. Cue the many confused boners. The show knows exactly what it's supposed to be, and that makes it incredibly entertaining. (And there are harpies, centaurs, and all sorts of other sexy abominations heading his way in future episodes!)
The other thing that makes Monster Girls work as a comedy where other fanservice comedies stumble is in its eagerness to push the envelope without punching down. Instead of being predicated on the mistreatment or exploitation of women, the jokes here are all based in cognitive dissonance. Miia lifts her busty body out of the water to coyly invite her darling into the bath, and it's all very steamy...but then we cut to an underwater shot that shows her fluidly-animated snake coils whipping around in the soapy water, and it's this whiplash between softcore and horror movie that creates some good laughs. The show is constantly juxtaposing Miia's topless come-hither look with her eight-foot, scaly, rattling creepshow down below. Poor Kimihito is going to get stiffies every time he enters the reptile house for the rest of his life. ("Snakes. Why did it have to be snakes?") Most importantly, the show's not afraid to ask gross questions like "How does she use the toilet?" "She's cold-blooded so what does that entail?" "Wait, they make lamia-friendly panties?!" (It's adhesive peel-away cotton for her cloaca-front-thing. No, really.)
Of course, while I had a filthy good time with it, I can't speak for all female anime fans, especially those normally averse to boob shows. The comedy is not going to work for everybody, and anyone uncomfortable with explicit sexual content in their comedies should steer clear. (Miia orgasms from having the tip of her tail beat off in the opening scene, and while she is sexually aggressive, she also has the demure "you can do anything you want to me darling" thing going on. Speaking of sexual aggression, Kimihito is constantly an unwilling victim to her advances, though not because he isn't into it, but because he doesn't want to be arrested by the interspecies fuzz.) This is still a 100% tasteless sex comedy, but it doesn't punch down, its conceit is uniquely ridiculous, and it's pretty nicely animated and directed! So Monster Girls is A-OK by me.
I hope the show ends with the interspecies police sanctioning a legal marriage between Kimihito and Miia. They smooch on the altar, tenderly consummate their union, and as he looks deeply into her narrow pupils, she smiles, crushes his bones with one swift tail-flick, and swallows him whole. Monster Girls. What a time to be alive.
Review: Harem series where most or all of the harem members are inhuman girls have definitely been done before (see Rosario to Vampire, amongst others), but not quite like this adaptation of a manga series which is already mostly officially available in English. Normally the girls still have a base human form even if they are devils or vampires or whatever, or at the very least can assume a human form, but Monster Musume throws a wrench in those works by making the first girl decidedly not humanoid. In fact, she's a lamia, a mythological creature which is a human woman from the waist up but a giant snake below that. And the first episode wastes no time in showing how much that can complicate matters.
The poor man stuck in this predicament is Kimihito Kurusu, who apparently became the accidental host household to a lamia named Miia, who had mistakenly been assigned there as the representative of her species in a cultural exchange program. (In this setting the monster races became publicly-known as part of a treaty signed three years earlier.) She quickly took a shine to Kimihito when he showed that he wasn't going to reject her outright because she was half-snake, and as a result has quickly become very lovey-dovey, calling him “Darling” and cuddling up to him in bed for warmth (because she's cold-blooded, you see). The first problem is that her “cuddling” can unwittingly involve strangling and constricting Kimihito nearly to death, which he escapes in an early scene only by exploiting the fact that the tip of her tail (like with the Deviluke girls in To Love-Ru) is an erogenous zone for her. The other problem is that Miia is hot to trot even though the law strictly forbids cross-species mating in these host situations. It also forbids humans from doing harm to monster races and vice versa, which becomes an issue when they get harassed while out on a “date.” Then there's also the ever-vigilant eye of Smith, the Woman in Black who's essentially Miia's case worker and an interspecies enforcement officer. (And yes, the Men in Black reference here is certainly deliberate.) Despite all of the problems, Kimihito does seem to care for Miia, even though she overwhelms him.
The idea here is kind of creepy at first, but once past that it does offer some amusing and at times thoughtful twists on the standard harem gimmicks, such as what all Miia can do with that snake tail. It also includes some interesting background details; for instance, the one scene showing a breakfast table loaded with eggs, because eggs are a common meal for snakes – and thus, by extension, lamia as well. The technical merits aren't bad, either, and director Tatsuya Yoshihara, who previously shined with Yatterman Night and Muromi-san, manages the material well.
Monster Musume is still a harem-series-in-the-making, complete with a load of nipple-free fan service, so if that's not normally your thing then even the interesting gimmick here may not be enough to make it watchable. For those who normally enjoy harem series, though, this one offers an entertainingly novel variation.
Having read what is available in English of the Monster Musume manga, I can assure you that while this has 100% fewer nipples, it also has not been censored to hell and back, which is frankly what I was expecting. Actually, it's a fairly faithful adaptation, and while you aren't likely to enjoy it if raunchy boob shows aren't your thing (they generally aren't mine, but I don't object to them existing), if that is a genre you like, this seems like it may be worth checking out.
This first episode introduces us to hapless harem hero Kimihito, who has had a lamia exchange student named Miia forced on him by a mysterious woman calling herself Smith. Smith is a coordinator for the monster/human relations program, and since the existence of demi-humans was revealed to the public three years ago, she's been helping to place willing monster girls in human host families. Unfortunately Kimihito didn't sign up to be a host, but Smith's ears turn off when it comes to the word “no.” She's remodeled his house to fit Miia's needs and as long as he feeds Smith and doesn't schtupp Miia, everything's hunky-dory...from Smith's perspective, anyway.
Like most harem shows, Monster Musume puts an everyday nice guy with a sexually and romantically aggressive female, and Miia is way more into Kimihito than he is to her. Unfortunately differences in their anatomy are helping her to not get the message – in an attempt to free himself from her coils (a lamia is half-snake), he touches the tip of her tail, which turns out to be a very sexual spot for her, so instead of freeing himself he brings her to orgasm. That's the kind of humor this show trades in, and while as these things go it is fairly non-explicit, it also may make some viewers uncomfortable.
The real draw here is that Miia is a monster girl, and this episode pays attention to what that means in her daily life, interactions with Kimihito, and also in the outside world. It's only been three years since people learned that lamias and other demi-humans were even real, so when Miia goes out on the town, she's met with everything from fascination to derision. In a quite well done part of the episode, she encounters a couple who think that she's both gross and funny, and they loudly make rude comments and laugh at her. It's a surprisingly emotional point in a show otherwise filled with jokes about how she (and Smith, I suspect) want Kimihito to sleep with her, and it implies that this is not strictly a fluff piece and will have serious moments.
Generally speaking, this episode (plot aside) is well presented, showing rather than telling and pulling off ecchi content without resorting to light bars, black bars, or magic sparkling fog. The variety of monster girls will be increasing (Papi the harpy and Cerea the centaur are coming in next week), and you can bet that Kimihito's troubles will be as well. It's not necessarily going to win over any fans not already fond of the genre, but within the ecchi harem field, this really is a decent offering.
A few years ago, the government passed the Interspecies Exchange Bill, which meant humans and demihumans (meaning monster girls) could finally coexist. The world now has multiple species of demihumans living among us, although the rules are strict – humans can't hurt demihumans (so the old RPG rules are right out) and vice versa.
Kurusu Kimihito didn't sign up to be a host family for a Lamia (a girl with a snake for… legs, I guess. They're called ‘naga’ in most videogames) but when busty, chirpy Miia was delivered to his door, her assigned government worker just decided to leave her there since she took such a liking to him. Now the two live in “bliss” together, going on dates, sleeping in, taking baths, and getting to know one another across the species divide. Now all Kurusu has to do is avoid two things: having sex with her – which is, naturally, prohibited under the law – and, you know, getting murdered by Miia's hyperactive snake tail.
Monster Musume is based on the hit manga of the same name, and while I'm not usually down for fanservice fests like this one, the sheer absurdity of it all won me over. The show is preoccupied mostly with Miia's enormous boobs, but it spends a lot of time doing what I'd hoped this show would do, which is ask all those practical questions that inevitably pop into your head when confronted with a situation like this. How much remodeling does Kurusu have to do to accommodate a girl with an 8-foot anaconda tail hanging off of her? When they're getting intimate, how does he avoid being suffocated by her wrapping coils? How the hell does she use the toilet? Kurusu is basically in a constant state of near-death because the snake lady loves him too much, and she can't stop nearly strangling him to death. There's just enough of that stuff in here to complement the neverending fanservice, and I found myself laughing a lot.
The show doesn't take itself particularly seriously but it isn't a straight-up parody either (nor does it seem like it's trying to satirize fanservicey harem shows) – it just knows the premise is goofy and goes with it. The idea that the government agency is there specifically to stop Kurusu from banging the snake girl is really dumb (they have to establish that yes, she does have lady parts compatible with his equipment) and a lot of this episode's comedy revolves around the idea that they're not supposed to get down, which is kind of lame, but I'd imagine they'll take their foot off the gas on that idea once they introduce yet more monster girls (next episode: a harpy and a centaur!). I'm hoping the show doesn't focus on Kurusu's harem to the point where we never see much of the world at large – they show a demihuman idol band with a chipmunk girl at one point. Let's see more of that stuff – I'd like to know how weird this premise can get!
The production values are only so-so (I do like that they're listing key animator credits for the individual girls in the eyecatches – it's a nice touch) but it's a glossy, bright and generally attractive thing. Harem stuff is really stale these days – all I ever ask is that if they're going to do these genres and use these plot devices over and over and over again that they mix it up sometimes and at least try to get a little creative. It isn't going to win any awards for sophistication – this is still a show primarily about boobs - but Monster Musume is just crazy and goofy enough to get a thumbs-up from me.
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