Monster Musume Collection (Cert 18)
4 Discs DVD / 3 Discs Blu-ray (Distributor: MVM) Running time: 290 minutes approx.
Just over a year ago I suggested Invaders Of The Rokujyoma!? might be the series with the “wackiest harem premise” – that was before Monster Musume (or Everyday Life With Monster Girls to give it is full original title) came onto the scene. The biscuit has not just been taken but devoured and passed out through the other side again.
Having admitted to the public that mythical creatures called demi-humans – animal-people hybrids – actually exist, the Japanese government introduce the Interspecies Cultural Exchange Act to promote and encourage integration for these “Liminals” into human society. Participating demi-humans are assigned host families to live while abiding by strict rules.
One unwitting host is teen boy Kimihito Kurusu, unwitting because he didn’t sign up for the programme, but coordinator Ms. Smith arrives at his door by mistake and rather than admit it, she foists a Lamiaia (snake woman) named Miia on Kimihito. Miia quickly falls in love with Kimihito despite the prohibition on inter-species canoodling. But things are soon to get worse for Kimihito as he suddenly turns into a Liminal magnet.
It takes a little over two minutes into the first episode for Monster Musume to justify the 18 certificate granted to it by the BBFC, roughly the same time it took yours truly to wonder how it ever got licensed in the first place. Baffling still is that it has an English dub, meaning Sentai in the US saw something in this title to warrant the full translation treatment that I clearly don’t.
Harem comedies have become stale and one-note affairs for a long time now prompting a pseudonymous writer named Okayado (real name Takemaru Inui – yes, we shame the guilty here) to rectify this by concocting what could have been a socially progressive tale exploring the struggles of cross cultural integration; instead he gives us a tawdry and lascivious exercise in borderline offensive ecchi.
There may be a no sex rule between humans and demi-humans but that doesn’t stop the cavalcade of typically busty beast-babes from insinuating themselves in the most prurient fashion possible on poor Kimihito, the archetypal nice guy whose kindness acts as a kind of pheromone for the Liminals. The idea of the flirty females being monsters may appear kinky for some but even in animated form this is tantamount to Zoophilia.
If Miia’s literal orgasmic debut in episode one has you squirming in discomfort, the bar is raised courtesy of ditzy harpy Papi in episode two. A bird with a prepubescent female body, Papi’s ice cream misadventure is again too near the knuckle to be dismissed as bawdy but fear not, Papi gets to top this vulgar display in a later episode when laying an egg and needs a “helping hand”.
Kimihito’s menagerie now has a snake and a bird, next is a horse in the form of centaur Cerea, whose massive mammaries are absurdly large even for anime. Next to join is amoeba slime Suu, who barely speaks but can imitate others as well as change form; mermaid Mero, a wheelchair bound fish woman with a penchant for a Gothic Loli wardrobe and creepy bondage practitioner Rachnee, half woman-half giant spider.
Granted Kimihito doesn’t get jiggy with any of these wanton weirdoes but it is not for a lack of trying on their part, frequently trying to share a bath with him or less subtly, smothering him with their bountiful bosoms, when he isn’t “accidentally” grabbing them as per harem rules #4 that is. The only housemate that doesn’t try to seduce Kimihito is the Dullahan Lala – she wants to kill him instead, because she is a death reaper.
Frankly the ecchi/harem conventions get dull in a hurry, whilst the nudity can’t be classified a sexy or titillating in any way partly because of the animal body parts, partly because the breasts are just too large to not be anything other than stupid. Considering the inconsistency of how the Liminals are treated by the men in the street – reviled one moment, objectified the next – juxtaposed with their succubus behaviour towards Kimihito and the sympathy/empathy dynamic towards them is heavily compromised.
When it does take a brief moment to reflect on the serious issue of social discrimination, the feeling isn’t one of triumph for addressing it, rather one of disappointment because it is so low on the script’s agenda and thrown in as a token plot crisis, before returning to the smut. This is true of the lowbrow comedy, the rare exceptions being Ms. Smith’s kick-ass persona but general shoddy attitude, her MON squad (more demi-humans but with military skills) and Kimihito’s exasperated reactions.
Bouncing boobies aside, the character designs of the demi-human are quite good and unique, although the scales on Miia’s face do suggest a slight influence of Belldandy from Ah! My Goddess. Papi’s bird appearance is surprisingly accurate in detail, notable for her arms being wings and not just having wings sprouting from her back; Rachnee is the most complex design with her eight legs and is suitably creepy. Poor Kimihito however depends most of his screen time with his eyes blanked out – lucky him!
Remarkably the original manga was a huge hit in Japan which is quite frightening unless it has little bearing on this anime adaptation – either that or pseudo-bestiality is more popular than I thought. I suppose I can see the appeal of a human co-existing with mythical creatures but the problem is really with sexualising it, the ultimate example in dumbing down a potentially fertile premise.
At the risk of sounding like a prude, I can’t recall the last time I felt so embarrassed and uncomfortable watching an anime as I did with Monster Musume – probably Legend Of The Overfiend over a decade ago. If you like ecchi for ecchi’s sake then this is for you but for this writer, it could have been good – it should have been good – sadly, it just isn’t.
English Language 2.0
Japanese 2.0 w/ English Subtitles
Disc 1 (DVD):
Clean Opening Animation
Clean Closing Animation
Japanese TV Spots
Japanese BD Promos
Disc 4 (DVD):
Everyday Shorts 1-60
Limited Collectors Combo Edition (1000 copies only)
DVD & Blu-ray
Rating – **
Man In Black