by Paul Jensen,
How would you rate episode 4 of
Monster Musume: Everyday Life with Monster Girls ?
There are normal character introduction episodes, and then there are character introduction episodes in Monster Musume. This series never seems terribly concerned with inventing convincing reasons for new girls to arrive at Kimihito's house; they just kind of show up and move in whether they're invited or not. Suu the slime girl continues this trend by casually appearing in a stew pot one day. This is why it's important to wash your dishes, kids.
Most of this episode is devoted to the main characters' attempts at dealing with the slimy intruder, a task that proves far more difficult than most video games would lead you to believe. Suu's ability to change shape on the fly makes her tough to pin down, and Centorea's replica sword isn't up to the task of carving up a watery blob. The good news is that she doesn't seem to have any hostile intentions, even if she does have a habit of accidentally drowning her new roommates. The idea of handing Suu over to Smith and her henchmen eventually comes up, but Papi isn't about to rat out her newfound video game partner. The rest of the gang eventually warms up to the idea of keeping Suu around, but Smith's sudden arrival at the house suggests that they may not have the final say in the matter.
As a character, Suu seems neither here nor there. It's tough to pin down an entity whose primary motivation is finding a steady supply of water and appears to be learning the whole “talking” thing as she goes along. Suu does begin to exhibit something like a personality in the second half of the episode, though it's difficult to tell how much of that is just her imitating Papi. For the time being, she occupies a slimy middle ground between series mascot and actual character. The good news is that Suu's various physical traits and abilities make her one of the most unusual and interesting monsters in the series. Her partial transparency makes for some neat visuals, and her endless thirst for water creates an intriguing contrast when we learn that too much of it could cause her to dissolve forever. Suu's figure also changes depending on how much water she's carrying, which feels all too appropriate for this show. If the previous episode was light on truly bizarre monster girl antics, Suu is poised to fix that issue single-handedly.
Monster Musume continues to walk a fine line on the fanservice front, but the show's willingness to poke fun at itself goes a long way toward keeping things fun instead of uncomfortable. The best line of the week comes from the ever-beleaguered Kimihito, who protests in vain that there's no demand for scenes of a guy getting harassed by a slime monster. The series is clearly aware that it's not the most respectable title on the market, so owning up to that fact gives it the freedom to go all-out. The more willfully absurd it is, the more likely it is to get away with things that would never fly in a more straight-faced show.
In an encouraging turn of events, there's also some genuine character development on display this week. Up to this point, the girls have been largely defined by their unusual physical traits, which is understandable given how much they stand out from the average anime character. In this episode, however, Papi manages to break away from her bird-brained archetype through an attempt to go the run with Suu. The stunt is certainly in line with her “act first, think later” approach to life, but it also shows a sense of loyalty and a desire to protect the people (and slimes) she cares about. Her rapport with the neighborhood kids also deepens Papi's character and shows that there's more to her than just comical interactions with her housemates. It's an encouraging sign for future episodes, and I hope to see the rest of the cast get the same treatment.
Part of me still expects Monster Musume to burst into flames at any moment, but I'm finding myself less and less surprised when it manages to keep the wheels turning for another week. It's utterly comfortable in its self-indulgence and doesn't seem to have any serious ambitions beyond being an entertaining oddity. With a seemingly endless supply of attention-grabbing characters and a self-aware sense of humor, it seems perfectly capable of outliving the initial novelty of its premise.
Monster Musume is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
Paul Jensen is a freelance writer and editor. You can follow more of his anime-related ramblings on Twitter.
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