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by Theron Martin,

Monster Girl Doctor

Novel 1

Monster Girl Doctor Novel 1
Ten years after the end of a lengthy war between the human and monster realms, the city of Lindworm has become a shining beacon of hope for peaceful human/monster interactions under the oversight of a dragon. Human doctor Glenn Leitbeit and his lamia pharmacist/assistant Saphentite “Sapphee” Neikes operate one of the few clinics in the city that specializes in servicing monsters. This gives Glenn the opportunity to help a wide variety of female monsters with an assortment of problems, from a minotaur bothered by sensitive ears to a centaur having trouble with her arena fights to an ailing mermaid to a flesh golem whose arm has been knocked off. Attracting the amorous attention of his patients in the process is just an innocent side effect for the romantically-naïve Glenn, somewhat to Sapphee's consternation.

Isekai stories may be the predominant trend in light novels right now, but monster girl stories have also been rising in popularity, especially as harem variants. Crafting a series around a doctor dealing with monster medical problems is a pretty neat idea and provides a ready-made excuse for the male protagonist to interact with a wide variety of monster types and set up a harem-like situation. Couple that with some creative world-building, and this seems like a scenario primed for success. Sadly, the novel's execution actually ends up being a disappointment.

One of the main problems is that the novel's effort to play up sexy elements can feel forced and doesn't always fit comfortably with the concept. The patients Dr. Glenn deals with are exclusively female, and the story insists on playing up any potential salacious angle to Dr. Glenn's examinations – though of course he isn't arousing his patients intentionally. The effort falls flat as an attempt at humor, and emphasizing it for sex appeal distracts from the more intriguing aspects of monster biology, such as how mermaids can transition from breathing with lungs to breathing with gills, why horseshoes might become a necessity for a centaur living in an urban environment, or how early signs of pregnancy might manifest differently in various monster types. By comparison, the harem elements like a character repeatedly talking about a marriage meeting or the lamia getting jealously possessive feel like too-standard shenanigans. They don't offer anything fresh, but they don't rise above a mild level of annoyance either.

In other words, Monster Girl Doctor wants to be both the sexy Monster Musume and the more clinical Interviews with Monster Girls. Writer Yoshino Origuchi cites the former as a major influence (even listening to CDs from the series while writing this), and I wouldn't doubt that at least some influence comes from the latter too. However, those two entirely different approaches clash with each other.

The setting poses another significant problem. The peaceful blending of humans and monsters in a city rebuilt specifically with that in mind is a worthy idea, especially the notion of flooding abandoned slums to give homes to aquatic monsters and styling the site as a tourist attraction. However, its portrayal is much too idealized for something that has only existed for less than a decade. Even with a creature as powerful as a dragon heading the project, the scale of developments seem improbably fast, especially without the use of magic. Lingering problems with prejudice aren't mentioned until the late stages of the novel, and even then barely as an afterthought, which seems equally improbably a mere decade after a giant war. Origuchi doesn't seem to have thought through this aspect of the setting. The exact technology level is also hard to pin down, as while it seems medieval in some senses, some of the medical techniques described are more in line with modern medicine. The youth of Dr. Glenn given the breadth of his knowledge also seems improbable, but that's such a standard shortcoming of light novels that it can be overlooked more easily.

The novel can be broken into four parts. The first primarily concerns the centaur, the second focuses on the mermaid, the third deals with the flesh golem, and the fourth nominally focuses on the lamia, at least to the degree of delving into her backstory with Dr. Glenn. While the first two parts are independent, previous characters make cameos in the third part and then everyone gets thoroughly involved in the fourth part, which involves a monster-oriented smuggling/slavery ring. Various setting and background details are liberally sprinkled throughout, though the story does not indulge on details much and could stand to filter them in more. The actual writing flow and quality is fairly mundane with little verve, but it impresses more when delving into specific details. As a protagonist, Dr. Glenn is a typical bland self-insert beyond his single-minded focus on his duties as a doctor; as is typical for a harem story, the characterizations of the girls get far more attention.

Sadly, the same can't be said for the production effort by Seven Seas Entertainment. It opens with the standard glossy art pages featuring various monster girls depicted in color, with occasional black-and-white illustrations throughout the volume. However, its 265 pages of story are littered with numerous errors. I marked ten grammatical mistakes and two additional cases of characters clearly being misidentified (one as the wrong speaker, one as a character being referred to), and that was only after I started noticing that there were enough errors to be worth starting a count, so there may have been more. Granted, all of these are minor annoyances rather than anything that interferes with appreciating the story, but the quantity of them definitely reflects an unfortunately lax editorial process.

Overall, Monster Girl Doctor provides decent entertainment value if you can filter out the rote harem and fanservice elements. Those reading it primarily for that appeal may also be disappointed, as they aren't interesting enough to carry the story on their own.

Overall : C+
Story : C+
Art : C

+ Interesting monster biology and setting details
Clashing story focuses, some worldbuilding elements don't add up, numerous grammar errors

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Production Info:
Story: Yoshino Origuchi
Licensed by: Seven Seas Entertainment

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Monster Girl Doctor (light novel)

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