Review/discussion about: Monster Musume
I am attracted to beautiful women. A bit of an avant-garde statement, I know, but it is true. I love the curves in their figure, the lushness of their hair, and the succulent, full lips that rest on their faces. It is genetics; it is in my nature to look at a woman I find stunning and have my instinctual desires start to churn.
Recently, though, it has been a bit…weird. Lately I find myself saying, “I like a woman with a long, scaly, and red tail.” Sometimes I tell others, “A girl who can decapitate herself is the one for me.” And other times it is, “If I can sit on her back and she can still gallop through town, count me in.” My friends are bewildered and my browser history is ashamed. Of course, my newfound fetishes emerged thanks to Monster Musume, an anime about lamias, Dullahans, and many other women of the fantastical and mythical variety. It sounds odd – crazy even – but if loving monsters is wrong, then I do not want to be right.
At its core, Monster Musume is nothing more than an “ecchi”, comedic anime. It does not have deeply philosophical themes that challenge the mind nor does it have a complex plot filled with intricate patterns. But because it does not focus on the latter details it can strictly focus on the former, allowing it to constantly exist in its own element.
One such element is the branching out that occurs. It is understood that there are specific women who obtain the majority of the attention. These “haramettes” are (in order of appearance): Miia, Papi, Centorea, Suu, Lorelei, Rachnera, and Lala. For the most part, the girls are given fair distribution; the amount of scenes they receive is proportionate to their point of inclusion within the show. Arguably, Miia gets too much and Lorelei does not get enough, however since Miia is the “main” girl and Lorelei is a mermaid with a niche interest, these differences make sense contextually. Monster Musume does not stop there, though, choosing to showcase a variety of other monsters. Cyclops, giants, and doppelgangers are prominent, and to a lesser extent dragons, dryads, and dogs. Obviously the anime centers on the main cast instead of the side cast, but having more monster girls outside of the staple offerings makes the situation more reasonable rather than a set of special circumstances that just so happen to revolve around Darling. In fact, due to the interspecies mandate, having a range of different monsters coincides with the literal societal shift.
Granted, “monster” is not entirely correct. The women are a combination of a female human and some known creature. Indeed, if each girl was completely genetically monstrous, the anime would tread into shady territory. The anime understands this distinction, flip-flopping between normal and unique “ecchi” content. Clichés like the girls falling into erotic positions or wearing skimpy bikinis are present; tried and true but not necessarily welcome. It is when Monster Musume focuses on its unique element – monsters – that the door is held wide open. One scene has Miia, a lamia, getting help with shedding her skin, arousing her and the audience in the process. Another scene has Papi eating ice cream like it was fellatio because her wings cannot hold the dessert. Another still has Zombina the zombie lop off her breast, forcing Darling to stitch and to play with her body. It is undeniably ridiculous but that is the edge Monster Musume has: the ability to tap into unknown and unheard-of fantasies.
But the show, like the women, is two halves: one part perversion and one part hilarity. Similar to its “ecchi” brethren, the comedy finds strength when it incorporates it with the monster qualities of the women. Meaning, while overreactions and misunderstandings are standard fair, when Suu becomes Godzilla after consuming chemical waste or Centorea eats carrots that cause her to go into a longwinded speech about taste bud sensitivity, the latter moments are inherently funnier since they stick with the show’s shtick. Furthermore, the “ecchi” and the comedy are not mutually exclusive. Darling ogling at Rachnera’s long legs and Lorelei disguising herself as a bodacious maid to fit her dreams are designed to make the viewer smile in more ways than one.
The rest of Monster Musume’s features are also a dream in that they are there but not really. A subplot of marriage is mentioned to string events together but is never at the forefront. The “world building,” or cultural information pertaining to the monsters, is provided as single sentences during speaking or as separate snippets at the end of each episode instead of explained throughout the season. Ideas like be kind to others, do not be ashamed of who you are, and so on, have their heart in the right place but are not explored outright. In other words, what surrounds the anime’s “ecchi”-centric, comedy-dominant, monster-filled center is fluff, stuff that means little to the show and therefore the audience. But this fluff acts as a cushion for the anime, allowing the lewdness and the laughs to rest in a figurative comfort zone. Scenarios can get heavy – Miia getting kidnapped, Centorea getting cornered, etc. – but the show makes sure to spin the situation back towards its roots – the man who kidnapped Miia is found to be a woman after she is stripped (“ecchi”) and Rachnera appears to terrify the evildoers attacking Centorea (comedy). In this way, no matter where the anime veers, the path it takes inevitably leads back home.
So, does Monster Musume question the self or invest in time travel? No, it does not. However, it having some solid “ecchi” and comedy, mired in a monster motif, is definitely difficult to deny.
Monster Musume, perhaps surprisingly, is quite strong when it comes to its art and its animation.
Art within the anime is top-notch. Lighting and camera angles in particular are given a lot of attention. The latter is especially noteworthy, considering the size of the monster girls; their bodies are often concealed to refrain from showing them (production resource management) but also as a means to maintain emphasis on the women and their human selves. It is a strange notion, considering that the main appeal of the anime is the monster aspect, but the decision is twofold: attraction (since looking at Papi’s chicken legs constantly is not provocative enough) and reconfirmation (reminding the audience that, at the end of the day, these are still females). Smaller details such as changing the time of day, moving between Darling’s comical and sincere face, and first-person perspectives make the anime dynamic in its presentation and therefore higher in its execution.
Monster Musume also includes a large quantity of styles. Minimalist portraits, overly detailed paintings, and creepy depictions intermittently pop up throughout the season, spicing up the package once more. The styles are mostly used for comedic purposes, but the constant switching keeps the show on its toes (or contextually, its tails, talons, and hooves).
Luckily, the anime refrains from switching to overt censoring. Many shows opt for steam or magical light beams to mask the nudity on screen, but Monster Musume cleverly constructs its scenes in ways to maximize assets and minimize hiding. Nipples are often missing, hands cover genitalia, and objects living in just the right spots conceal anything that is slightly too forward. Some scenes do use the noticeable black cloud that is common in the medium, but it is rare and reserved for those over-the-top shots. More often than not the anime leans on the camera once more, showing the scene but cutting off part of it, leaving the rest up to the imagination of the audience (and the BDs).
The character designs are likewise imaginative, unique to say the least. Miia the lamia, Lala the Dullahan, Centorea the centaur, Rachnera the spider, Suu the slime, Papi the harpy, and Lorelei the mermaid. When looked at closely, each character’s design corresponds with their monster origin and personality: Miia is clingy, Lala is delusional, Centorea is honorable, Rachnera is dominant, Suu is childish, Papi is dumb, and Lorelei is tragic. That is to say, their respective designs already inform the viewer what type of person each girl is.
Individually, they look the part. Miia’s extremely long and scaly tail, Rachnera’s spider body complete with skull and six red eyes, and Papi’s blue wings make it easy to distinguish what monster they happen to be, but it is the small details that add up. Centorea’s wears a ponytail, Lala has a scythe-like hair-do, and Lorelei’s fingers are webbed, indicating how intricate the designs truly are. And perhaps most important of all, each woman is attractive, with faces and bodies that simultaneously please the audience and question their sanity.
Actual animation remains above average for nearly the entirety of the show. Breasts jiggle, characters fly, and hair moves, breathing life into the cast onscreen. But as it was with the character designs, it is the smaller details that give the anime strength. Tails wag, eyes shine, and waters lap, putting the show, like the events, in a constant frenzy.
It seems unfathomable that anyone outside the women of the main cast would be more interesting. After all, they are half-female-human and half-monster. Arguably, though, it is Kimihito Kurusu who stands out the most. Technically he does not stand out at all – most people do not even know that Kimihito, otherwise known as Darling, Master, or Honey, is his actual name – but that is precisely what makes him so special. Kimihito is the epitome of self-insert characters. Besides his name, he is: incredibly strong, impossibly kind, and inviolably resilient. He is a virgin, he accepts everyone for who they are, and he has a past that is not exactly the peak of popularity. Plus, he can cook. Everything about him is meant to make him this dull, generic mass that anyone can relate to. The main purpose is to allow the viewers to take part in the stereotype Kimihito’s character is named after, specifically self-inserting themselves into his position so that they can feel as if they are the ones receiving the affection of the women. But Kimihito is extremely bland; he has no outstanding qualities whatsoever. Most self-insert characters, despite what they are intended to evoke, have something unique about them to differentiate their existence from within and without their show. Yet Kimihito does not follow this trend. In a certain sense, his unbelievable amount of plainness makes him a nonfactor, which in turn makes his character surprisingly clever. His palpable blandness accentuates the women, highlighting their bizarreness beyond what it already is. This keeps the spotlight on Miia, Lala, and the rest, his presence a shadow in the night. The result is more of what makes Monster Musume itself: more “ecchi,” more comedy, and definitely more monsters.
Monster-wise, the women are obviously attractive, their personalities and mannerisms designed to get the audience wanting. In fairness, that is not their entire directive. Indeed, a peculiarity about them exists. Dichotomies can be drawn between their monster origin and their personalities, much like their character designs. Miia is the sweetest person when dealing with her Darling but vehemently venomous when anyone gets in-between her and him. Lala the “death god” is only so due to her “chuunibyou,” thereby making her the least dangerous of the troupe. Centorea’s dignified self makes her the most prone to shyness. Rachnera’s teasing reveals how much she understands other people. Suu and her childishness is merely a ruse for her aggressive outbursts. Papi may be dumb but nobody can beat her motherly instincts. As for Lorelei, she might exude an air of royalty but her extramarital fantasies are unladylike to say the least. These dichotomies demonstrate that the women consist of more than singular traits, their individual dualities playing off one another to bolster both their persons and the grander motifs.
However the women represent more than dichotomies; the peculiarity is a bit more complex. It is easy to surmise that each woman represents some sort of sexual fetish. Miia has embracing, Lala has mastery of head (so to speak), Centorea has massive breasts, Rachnera has BDSM, Suu has licking and sucking, Papi has youth, and Lorelei has a handicap. Together, they are a diverse collection, offering “something for everyone”…which almost does not make sense. Asking a random heterosexual male if he would prefer sleeping with a voluptuous woman or a snake, nine times out of ten that man will choose the former. Monsters, by their very definition, are not meant to be mates or even lovers. They are scary, creatures that possess otherworldly, nonhuman aspects. So these women having something for everyone when they would seemingly having nothing for anyone is a stark contrast.
And like any strong contrast, it reveals something important. In this instance, the peculiarity: “it is what is on the inside that matters most.” While cliché, this sentiment rings true here in Monster Musume more so than normal. The women are a lamia, Dullahan, centaur, spider, slime, harpy, and mermaid, mythical beings whose outer appearances can be difficult to stomach. But it is their courage, their passion, and their heartfelt feelings in everything they do, from trying to cure Kimihito’s sickness to protecting him from imminent doom, that make them beautiful. Looks are likewise important – their female human halves are part of the allure – however the monster girls emphasize that a relationship based on love is not one that is wholly concerned with the superficial but instead based on what lies beneath the skin and the scales, windpipe, fur, carapace, goo, feathers, and gills.
The opening theme for Monster Musume is delightful. It is extremely catchy, upbeat, and downright fun. The beginning is serene and slow, then immediately gives way, with up-and-down techno sounds that invite happiness just as the anime does. The various vocalists work in unison and individually, creating that harem yet singular feel. The intermittent “Woo!” that can be heard, the change in tone in the middle, and the back-and-forth lyrics add together to make a dynamic track that perfectly fits the show, a killer piece that wonderfully captures what the anime is all about.
The ending theme goes metal, bringing the rock and the roll. The contrast with the OP works well, giving the piece a tougher vibe that the show does not normally exude. The hard guitar, drums, and screaming start the piece in a scary place, appropriate given the monster motif. Here as well, the vocalists switch on and off to mirror the group in question, but when the choir backs up the singular vocalist (Smith), it reaches a triumphant tone that matches the triumph that M.O.N. strives for. Ending the piece with a chant and a cool disc jockey is icing on the cake.
The remainder of the soundtrack is not as sweet but it gets the job done, containing simple tracks that encompass everyday life. Considering the official title of the anime in English is Everyday Life with Monster Girls, such a musical direction only makes sense. Flutes fill the air during leisurely time to make the scenes more homely. Funky sound effects for the funny moments to increase the laughs. And slow, sensual tones for those equally sexy escapades to get the audience in the mood. Altogether the tracks fit their respective occasions, increasing the effectiveness of the scenes they are heard in even if they are not memorable as standalone pieces.
As a side note, the sound effects are also effective, with a myriad of noises incorporated into the show. Spring lengthening, scythe wielding, and hoof clomping can be heard, as well as thread stretching, goo glopping, feather rustling, and wheel turning. These sounds correspond with a specific monster girl, subtly adding depth to their character.
Voice acting is not-so-subtle and instead superb. While moaning is a common denominator, each woman provides an excellent performance for the character given. Specifically, Sora Amamiya as Miia has a precious way of speaking but she can roll the “R” when needed, with her going through a wide range of emotions and inflections throughout the season. Also, Ari Ozawa as Papi gives a killer rendition, with nobody’s cute way of speaking being able to match her cadence and therefore making Papi cuter in the process. And Yurika Kubo as Tionishia deserves a special shout-out, her squeaky voice accentuated further due to the size of the character she plays, making her less fearsome and more adorable. But to reiterate, everyone involved gave it their all, clearly elevating the strength of the anime.
Suffice it to say that I liked this one. A lot. Obviously part of it is how sexy it all ends up being. Miia wearing a nurse’s outfit, Lala using her tongue while getting groped, and Centorea’s huge bust are instances that I look back on (frequently) as successfully arousing me. But despite how provocative the anime was, it also had some amazingly endearing moments. Using the same women: Miia dreaming about her future with Darling and their child, Lala getting scared and hiding, and Centorea blushing to the max when her hand was held put the stupidest grin on my face. It is unbelievably cute to watch these and similar scenes, but I think it has more to do with these women, who society sees as weird, finding happiness that made me happy as well.
I laughed so much watching this one, too, with every episode having some scenario that induced an audible chuckle. Papi is more or less a birdbrain, but her accidental sexual innuendos and her constant carefree attitude was always hilarious. Suu likewise, since she refused to stop smiling no matter what happened to be going on around her. Smith also had her moments, usually when she acted nonchalant with her job and her duties, which, coincidentally enough, was all of the time. The only segment that is a blemish on the anime is Papi’s egg laying bit. Not that the topic was gross but that it placed too much attention on the director dude, changing the focus from the “ecchi,” comedy, and monster girls and onto this perverted guy. Despite being a lead-in to Rachnera, it felt too out of place considering how much it diverted from the show’s normal happenings.
Thankfully it is a small segment and is quickly forgotten amidst the anime’s other events. Miia pressing her face up against a window and growling angrily, Lala quaking in her boots and the chair following suit, Centorea nearly feinting while pretending to check Darling’s temperature, Rachnera tying up a lesser devil, Suu trying to rehydrate herself, Papi dropping her phone down her shirt, and Lorelei getting fired up for immoral love were all moments where I could not help but laugh or smile. Alongside the countless times I exclaimed “Hot damn!” or shook my head saying “This show…,” it was easily a fun ride from start to finish.
Monster Musume is undoubtedly a strange show. Its combination of monsters and sex seems like a huge turnoff when given a precursory glance, but the high amount of execution in its “ecchi” and comedic elements is rather impressive. Furthermore, the characters are meaningful, the artistic direction is intelligent, and the voice acting is divine. Overall, the anime champions the notion that while women are certainly beautiful, monsters are, too.
Story: Good, “ecchi” and comedy are its forte, using the monster motif to its advantage with it never deviating from its established norm in order to strengthen said “ecchi” and comedy
Animation: Great, lighting and camera work are well done, the minimal censorship is a boon, the character designs are very nice, and the actual animation is always above average
Characters: Good, Kimihito is the epitome of self-insert characters, highlighting the monster girls well, which in turn demonstrates their dichotomies and fetishes, as well as the simple message of “it is what is on the inside that matters most”
Sound: Good, great OP, good ED, fitting OST, nice sound effects, and above average VA performances
Enjoyment: Good, sexy, hilarious, and endearing for nearly the entirety of the season
Final Score: 8/10
Thanks for taking the time to read my review. If you want, take part in the discussion below!