In Defence of – Monster Musume
Title: Monster Musume no Iru Nichijou (Everyday life with Monster Girls)
Author: Okayado (Pen name of Takemaru Inu)
Content: 11 Manga volumes (+ 4 in a spin-off) 12 episodes + 2 OVA
Studio: Lerche (Persona 4: The Animation, Assassination Classroom, Danganronpa: The Animation
Synopsis: The Japanese Government has passed a bill that allows Monsters to live with Humans with ordinary families like foreign exchange students. Kimihito Kurusu ends up sheltering multiple Monster girls and attempts to fend off their love.
The Problem: It’s a harem, a harem about Monster Girls, a Harem about Monster Girls that is incredibly perverted.
Monster Musume was a really odd pick up for me. Why? Because I honestly hate harem series so much (OK, Love Hina will always be a treasured memory but that’s another story). The almost cringe worthy paper-thin plot of a Dorky Guy who somehow has all women in the nearby area lusting for him while he gets into a bunch of shenanigans that just so happen to strip the girls of their clothing. But then I thought I’d try Monster Musume. I’d just finished off a binge on Re: Zero and finished reading the recent Prison School volume and was looking for something easy and mindless to get into and this seemed harmless enough.
Let’s get things out of the way straight away. Monster Musume is one of those Harem series that you’ve been warned about. However, rather than the stock girls (Best friend Tsundere, Rich Blonde Drill Haired Girl, Loli etc.) you’ve seen over and over again this series instead brings us with beautiful Monster Girls, from Lamia to Mermaids to Cyclops to Zombies, almost every Monster fetish has been brought to life here. A Humanoid Monster series isn’t out of the ordinary of course, we already have 12 beast, Rosario Vampire and Assassination Classroom (Remember when Korosensei was considered the best husbando? I do…) are all well known however Monster Musume did something that really clicked with me.
It dealt with racism. In the story, the Japanese Government has passed a law that allows Monsters to come across and live with humans as part of an ‘Interspecies Exchange Accord’, however, there still seems to be a lot of hesitation, as a particular addition of ‘No Monster can harm a human’ and vice versa. (A sub-law is included to prohibit sex between interspecies too).
The law is incredibly strict to the point that all Monsters have to be aided by a human and being alone can suffer the wrath of the Cultural Exchange Security Squad, a team of Men In Black that appear whenever needed. The law has been shown to be easy to work around on numerous occasions as a recurring duo of characters is shown to go out of their way to degrade, humiliate and even assault some of the girls, with the guise that they’ll be fine as the government assumes that the monsters are in the wrong.
Even the treatment of some girls is assumed to be dangerous almost immediately with the first girl: Miia being introduced as an after-thought by the government as she is ‘delivered’ to the wrong house and almost immediately abandoned by them to the first male they find. While this works out in the end, you can’t help but sorry for Miia. The series also comes to terms with some of the girls overcoming their own self-doubts in a world where they are always perceived as ‘odd’ and some to the extreme. An Arachnida girl ‘Rachnee’ has a lengthy story arc in which she cannot trust humans due to her original host family abandoning her and her second host family abusing her, it reaffirms the fact that humans can still be one of the cruellest species, more so than any actual monster species.
While this is a harem series all of the girls are charming in their own way, with their own quirks they stand out from the usual harem series where each character can be interchanged with another from another series. The series opts to go with the plot of the Girl’s life in the human world rather than anything grand such as saving the world or piloting mech. Thanks to a vibrant cast and a fun, if simple plot the series does manage to stand out amongst the legions of harem series out there, at times showing the very best and the very worst of the human species and how they are perceived to those who are different. This actually helps the harem aspect a lot as normally there is very little reason for the girls to fall in love with the hero.
Monster Musume is different in this regard as Kimihito is usually the first human to actually reach out to them, this is backed by random monster girl ‘facts’ to try and push this such as Lamia coercing men to be brought back to be shared amongst other Lamia, or Centaurs using males in a way to breed (as Male Centaurs are unlikeable).Personally, my favourite was Mero the Mermaid’s ‘Tragic Love’ obsession, as she is obsessed with Hans Christian Anderson’s ‘The Little Mermaid’ (as all Mer-folk are) and aspires to have an end similar to Ariel’s (the novel not Disney).
Unfortunately, the series ultimately doesn’t stray too much from perverted hentai mode and this is certainly one that you don’t want to be watching with family around, while the clause that states sex shouldn’t happen the first episode has a rather disturbing image that still haunts me to this day.On the other hand, it’s wrong to simply write off Monster Musume as just another harem. The gags come thick and fast and it feels more on par with the likes of Keijo or Prison School as a slightly deeper narrative is at play here. The main character is genuinely nice (he did let a random monster girl into his house, after all) and its refreshing to see that sex isn’t a plot device (although it does come dangerously close)
Personally, I feel that if you want a fun title and can put off the titillation Monster Musume is worth a shot. A nice palette cleanser in between some of the heavier series. It’s not going to be on your top ten anime but it doesn’t ever try to be. PS: Miia is the best girl. Because why wouldn’t you want the body pillow of her?