The Summer 2020 Preview Guide
Monster Girl Doctor
How would you rate episode 1 of
Monster Girl Doctor ?
What is this?
After years of fighting, humans and monsters finally came to an accord and now live together peacefully. This means that the world has had to adapt to suit both species, and doctors like Glenn and Saphentite treat a wide variety of patients. The two usually run their own rural clinic, but when their mentor, octopus woman Dr. Cthuly, asks for their help with the regular arena fighter check-ups in the city, Glenn doesn't feel that they can say no. It turns out that Dr. Cthuly may have been testing them when one of the top fighters, centaur Tisalia Scythia, complains that she's been sustaining losses with no obvious physical ailments. Dr. Glenn is going to have to think outside the doctor box on this one, and Tisalia may not be thrilled with his conclusions.
How was the first episode?
Say what you will about Monster Girl Doctor (and believe me, I will), but you can't accuse the show of failing to deliver exactly what's advertised on the tin: Our heroes, Dr. Glenn and Dr. Saphentite, are doctors, and they do in fact work for girls of the monstrous persuasion. Saphentite herself is a monster girl, a big ol' snake lady with a not-so-subtle crush on the good Dr. Glenn, who is himself a very plain human boy. In this premiere episode, the two use their medical expertise to help a centaur named Tisalia with some hoof issues; this means we've got a monster girl that is also a doctor working with a doctor who attends to monster girls, and we even get to see them work their magic on another monster girl. So, if one's single measurement of quality is whether or not a series' title is an accurate description of what it is about, then sure, points to Monster Girl Doctor.
In every other way, though, this premiere falls flat, with the biggest problem being the show's visuals. This anime makes use of CG animation to give life to its characters inhuman forms, which is something we're seeing a lot more of these days, but Arvo Animation (and the studios working with them) are no Studio Orange, unfortunately. To put it briefly: Monster Girl Doctor is abysmal looking. To be more specific, the characters all look ugly and move with all of the life of a bunch of drunkenly puppeted plastic dolls; the color and lighting work in practically every scene is muddy and eye-straining; and the boring direction means that the whole episode is little more than a random mishmash of center-framed close-ups or profile shots, consisting of little more than characters awkwardly standing around while they wait for their precious few frames of animation.
Animation is hard, whether we're talking 3D work or the traditional hand-drawn stuff, and I try look for more than just a show's aesthetics when I'm putting together a first impression like this. Unfortunately, there just isn't anything else that Monster Girl Doctor has to offer. The characters are such tired clichés, there is absolutely nothing interesting going on in terms of plot or medical mysteries, and the dialogue is awful — this is the kind of show where two supposed childhood friends will have a conversation where one of them looks the other dead in the eye and says “Not only are we childhood friends, but we also went to school together, and now I work with you as a doctor! Also, please use an informal name for me, because we are childhood friends, as you know.” So if anime's script is bad, and its fanservice is bad, and its visuals are actively making the experience of watching it worse, what else even is there to consider? I'm no doctor, but you don't need a medical degree to see that Monster Girl Doctor is dead on arrival.
Do you like monster girls? If so you've probably already watched this episode, and almost certainly read all of the light novels before this came out. If not, well, there's not much for you here. As somebody who's not interested in treating the Monster Manual like a Playboy, I came away from this premiere pretty cold. Which is a shame, because despite my lack of pre-existing affection for the subgenre, I was actually hoping there would be something interesting to see here. No, not like that. I know what you're think from the review image but no.
One of the things I like to pick apart in fantasy fiction is fantasy creature biology. I like to understand how the living, breathing mystical beasts of a fantasy show's world do their living and breathing. How do dragons make their fire? Do mermaids prefer fresh or saltwater? Does an orc crap in the woods? It seemed like a show about a physician specializing in monsters would be rife for these kinds of nerdy observations, but Monster Girl Doctor's priorities lie entirely below the belt, and not just because this premiere hinges on a centaur woman's hooves. We open on our potato of a doctor checking a Minotaur woman for breast lumps, and of course she moans and moos through it all, which sets the standard for the rest of the show's medical scenarios. Dr. P. Otato is all business when he's at work, never flinching at the suggestive noises and come-ons from his busty patients, but the camera knows what you're (presumably) here for and zooms into monster cleavage and lips whenever possible. And that's not even mentioning Saphee, the protagonist's smitten medical partner who takes every opportunity to snuggle up the way only a snake can.
That snake part is actually one of the more glaring problems with this premiere – any time her tail moves without the rest of Saphee on screen it's obviously and awkward CGI, and that's emblematic of this episode's lackluster animation. Outside of a couple of (ahem) money shots everything here moves stiffly or not at all. I imagine it was especially taxing trying to feature multiple centaurs with how infamously difficult horses are to animate, but it's a problem for characters of every species. It's not terrible, but it hampers any attempts at comedy or cheesecake. Combined with the knightly blond centaur and amorous naga it makes the whole affair feel like an off-brand Monster Musume without any of the charm.
All in all there's just not much to recommend unless you're into monster girls, in which case you're probably not reading this because you're rewatching this premiere for the fourth time. But for everyone else, this likely won't do much for you.
Monster girl anime have been something of a slow-burning trend over the past few years - never dominating any given season, but turning out consistently reasonable productions, and even some highlights like the original Monster Musume. Monster Girl Doctor offers a natural twist on this trend, combining the appeal of horny monster girls with a medical mystery angle reminiscent of shows like House. So how does this latest demihuman hornball production fare?
So far, I'd unfortunately give it just below a passing grade. Monster Girl Doctor certainly possesses some strengths, with the greatest among them likely being the initial chemistry between Dr. Glenn and his lamia partner, Saphee. As we learn through some clumsy exposition, Glenn and Saphee have been friends since childhood, and their trust in each other added some charm to what would otherwise be a pretty bland premiere. That said, Saphee's feelings for Glenn have mostly just been fawning adoration and cliche jealousy - if their relationship is the core of this series, it'll need to demonstrate more distinctive appeal than it's currently showing.
Monster Girl Doctor's aesthetics are similarly hit or miss. On the plus side, the base designs of this world's many demihumans are intricate and unique, with Saphee in particular possessing a very striking costume. Unfortunately, that complexity of a design comes at a cost - this premiere is extremely limited when it comes to animation, relying heavily on clumsy CG, and at times simply wobbling a character's motionless head around to simulate genuine movements. I can make do with a stiff production, but Monster Girl Doctor's animation frequently sank below stiff and into actively distracting.
On the whole, Monster Girl Doctor is far from terrible, but also neither distinctive nor well-executed enough to demand viewing by any but the most dedicated monster girl enthusiasts. If you're hungry for more centaurs and lamias, this seems like a perfectly watchable production; otherwise, you can probably skip it.
This is one case where I have read the source material (at least the first novel, anyway), so I can say up front that the first episode accurately represents the content, attitude, and tone of the novel – both for better and worse. Also, if the first episode is not to your taste then there is no point in watching more, as the content of this episode is quite typical for how at least the first few episodes should go.
In other words, yeah, expect to see a lot more of monster girls making sexual reactions to the examinations of Dr. Glenn, who is of course doing it purely innocently and clinically. (That Dr. Glenn –unlike most male harem leads – does not get flustered by this in the slightest is one significant point of difference with other harem or harem-like series.) Also expect to see a lot more of the lamia Saphentite getting jealous and possessive over this. That will not stop many of Dr. Glenn's inevitably-female patients from taking a romantic interest in the good (and usually oblivious) doctor, so “Sapphee” is definitely going to have her work cut out for her to keep Glenn to herself.
The most interesting aspect of this episode is also the most interesting aspect of the source material: the way that distinctive biological characteristics of each monster race play into Dr. Glenn's evaluations. Minotaurs have different physical indicators of pregnancy than what humans do, and problems with hooves can have subtle effects on how a centaur moves, especially in a combat scenario. When reviewing the source novel, I described this title as a cross between Monster Musume and Interviews with Monster Girls, and in this respect the series leans more towards the latter. The influence of the former, which the original author has admitted to (he has commented about listening to the soundtrack for Monster Musume while writing this), can be seen more in the monster girl selection: the main girl is a lamia, a centaur is already involved, a mermaid is next, and a harpy will come up soon.
The thing that bothered me the most about this episode is the visuals. Although the designs generally stay true to the novel's illustrations, something felt a bit off about them from the very beginning, and it took me a while to pin down what: I think the heads are a bit too small in proportion to the bodies. Sapphee's tail also seems to have no fixed length, and the height she is compared to Dr. Glenn varies more than circumstances would dictate. The animation quality is not the highest, either; the production makes some effort to capture the distinctive movement styles of both Sapphee and the centaur Tisaria, but it still takes shortcuts. The overall visual effect is also a bit drab despite what should be very colorful designs, but the fan service aspect is light enough so far that it should not be a barrier. Overall, the first episode does just enough right that it can be a fun view, so I can give it a mild recommendation.
If Hxeroes wasn't your fanservice cup of tea, you've got options. Monster Girl Doctor, based on the light novels of the same name (which I haven't read, although they are available in English) is another boob-heavy fanservice show, only this time featuring a cute young human doctor named Glenn who seems to primarily treat monster girls, all of whom are instantly attracted to him. In this episode he gets hit on by a cat girl, a centaur, and a lamia, while also feeling up a minotaur. Ah, the life of a doctor in fiction.
Oh, wait, he's not “feeling up” the minotaur, he's actually giving her a breast exam. I hate to be the one to break it to you, but breast exams are in no way conducted the way the show depicts and they certainly aren't sexy events – it really looks much more like Glenn's groping the woman. That makes the opening scene both inadvertently entertaining for those of us who have had breast exams, but also absolutely lets you know what you're in for with this show – almost all of the exams Glenn conducts are framed as moments of sexual pleasure for the patients, even shoeing a centaur, and that in some ways undermines the whole “doctor” aspect of the show. It does, however, play nicely into the fantasy of what being a doctor might be like, or it would if it could decide on which approach it wants to more fully embrace. The horse-shoeing scene is a prime example of this: Tisalia, the centaur in question, has never had her hooves trimmed or shod, and while she's nervous, the whole thing is a strange combination of sexual (how lamia doctor Saphentite ties her up and gags her) and semi-realistic with how Glenn tends her hooves. It didn't really need the sexy bits, honestly, because having a centaur be afraid of being shod, which involves nailing a hot metal horseshoe to her hoof, would have made the point really well.
Basically this episode feels like a mishmash of sexy doctor tropes, vapid fantasy, and harem romance, and it doesn't really apply its genres evenly. There are aspects that work well, like the various creature designs and the fact that the blacksmiths are cyclopes, not dwarves like in most fantasy, and Glenn himself is blandly sympathetic as a protagonist. But the plot feels bumpy and the animation isn't all that great. I appreciate that Monster Girl Doctor is trying to do something different with the monster girl romantic comedy, but right now Hxeroes is looking like the better bet to get your fanservice fix in the opening days of the summer season.
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