«

»

Tokyo Transmission – First Impression: Monster Musume no Iru Nichijou

001 TT-MonsterMusume

Hello readers, and welcome to my first Anime Review! You’ll come to know me, hopefully, as Drenik in the coming months as I bring to you my flavour of writing in Tokyo Transmission, covering an episode one first look of a show, before ending the fortnight with a season review. As I dive into the strange and wonderful world of animation, I plan on exploring what the world of anime has to offer, and hopefully, give you readers some insight into what’s coming out of Japan. Without too much further ado, let’s dive into a recent anime that’s been well received in some of the more adult circles of watchers. Let’s intercept some Tokyo Transmissions, as I bring you…Monster Musume no Iru Nichijou.

Premise

monmuso001Monster Musume no Iru Nichijou (Monster Musume: Everyday Life with Monster Girls?)
Genre: Harem, Ecchi, Comedy, Fantasy, Romance, Seinen

Three years ago the world learned of the existence of demi-humans, half human half monster creatures that peacefully integrated into society thanks to the Cultural Exchange between Species Pact. Fast forward to present day as the hapless Kurusu Kimihito has become the care taker of one such demi-human, the Lamia girl Miia, thanks to a mix up as part of a demi-human exchange program.

Fortunately or unfortunately for Kurusu, Miia is a beautiful half human female, half snake that wants nothing more than to show her love for him, but due the inter-species laws any intimate relations between species is strictly illegal. Can Kurusu manage to control Miia before they both end up in trouble?

Episode Synopsis

monmuso002Our show starts with Kurusu waking up in bed only to find Miia wrapped around him for warmth, which proves to make escape difficult when she doesn’t want to get up, only wrapping tighter despite his protests. After exploiting one of the more sensitive parts of her snake like body, Kurusu starts to go about his morning routine as he starts to reflection on the remodeling changes made to his house to accommodate Miia as a Lamia, and the differences in daily life. It doesn’t take long for Miia to make another advance however, as she drags him into the bath with her to experience “mixed bathing” with him. To her confusion however, Kurusu still manages to resist her advances and slip away with the aid of the cold shower head.

With some time to himself, it’s revealed that monsters and humans now co-exist in everyday life thanks to a pact called the “Inter-Species Exchange Bill”, which has integrated the two worlds together as they seek to learn each other’s cultures. Before he can finish cooking breakfast however, his culture exchange coordinator, Smith, shows up to remind him that while the species are now openly aligned in today’s society, both are strictly prohibited from hurting each other, or having sexual relations, explaining why Kurusu has been keeping a level of distance from Miia so far.

monmuso003Despite Smith’s warnings, she seems to take pleasure in pushing Kurusa’s willpower as she sends the two of them out on a date, loosely disguised as a field trip to show Miia around the city. As the two explore the town it becomes more apparently that the world is still getting used to the reveal of new species like Miia, and after finding an all species store, Miia is excited to drag Kurusu into a lingerie store to model clothes for him. After escaping the initial embarrassment in the store, the pair run into a couple of thugs who begin to laugh and tease them as couple, calling Miia a freak. After losing her temper Kurusu ends up taking a blow to prevent an inter-species brawl and drags Miia away from the gaping crowds of onlookers, and end up hiding at a Love Motel.

Miia reveals how she’s been afraid that Kurusu has only been nice until now because he has to respect the laws of the inter-species bill, and that humans still don’t see her as anything more than a monster, which is partly why she’s been so heavy handed with approaching him for acceptance. Before Kurusu can respond however, Smith and her inter-species police burst into the room and remind them that her job is to enforce the rules of the bill, and she would find out if anything happened. On the way out, they run into the thug couple who once again begin to harass Miia for being a Lamia, until Kurusu punches the two of them through the door, knocking them out. He later explains that he was never acting in front of Miia and while she may be unable to fight humans, nothing is stopping him from some human on human violence to stick up for her. The episode ends as Miia once again tries to seduce Kurusu before being saved by Smith, as Kurusu comments this is how his life is going to be now with a resigned sigh.

Review

monmuso006The story revolves around Kurusu, the care taker of a lamia named Miia after being “volunteered” for the Demi-human Exchange Program by the Co-ordination agent Smith when she takes Miia to the wrong house. Kurusu, and most of the world, is still adapting to life with Miia and the other demi-humans, as she often causes him trouble with her affection and needs, such as crawling into his bed in the cold mornings and nearly crushing him to death for his body heat due to her cold blooded body. It doesn’t help that Miia is openly in love with Kurusu and she tries to show him as much whenever she gets the chance, unfortunately any human / demi-human relations are strictly illegal under the “Cultural Exchange between Species Pact”, and if caught, Miia will be deported immediately.

A large chunk of the episode focuses on telling a comic story through Kurusu’s many misfortunes with Miia as he tries to keep her either getting too imitate or simply crushing the poor guy with a grip stronger than Gabe Newell’s fist around our wallets during a steam sale. All while Smith both teases him to break the rules and reminds him about the ramifications of doings so.

Characters

monmuso004Our main protagonist, the ever lucky / unlucky primary protagonist Kimihito, Kurusu (Majima, Junji) is fairly standard harem character material as anime’s go. He lives with his family in an unnamed part of Japan who happen to be conveniently away for the show, who’s more or less a pretty average guy that appears to be unemployed. Kurusu is our window into this world, an average mold to make the primary viewer base relate to the show on some level, as the demographic for Monster Musume seems primarily targeted towards a male drawing.

As characters go there’s nothing wrong with him, he’s core to much of the fun in fact, but he mainly exists to react to his many female advances and play the straight man to the majority of the shows comedy. He serves his role well to provide entertainment for much of the comedy, but it would be nice to see if his character goes anywhere more throughout the show.

On the other end of the spectrum, Miia (Amamiya, Sora) is introduced to us as the primary love interest of our main character, Kurusu, and the first glimpse of the titular monster girls the viewers can expect to see from Monster Musume. Miia is a, literally cold blooded, Lamia with a strong fondness for eggs. A half human half snake women, or a Naga for those of you who know their mythology, living with Kurusu due to an human / monster exchange program, accidentally in his case, as part of the on-going integration between the two societies.

monmuso009Miia is possessive of Kurusu and rarely lets him leave her side, often to his dismay given her overpowering strength, but shows herself a caring and kind hearted girl who freely wears her heart on her sleeve, perhaps without enough restraint at times. At time the episode shows that beyond simply liking Kurusu, part of her drive lies in the desire to be accepted, not only by Kurusu, but humanity in general. This causes her to act out with more emotion at times when she feels like Kurusu may be pushing her away due to her Lamia body.

Lastly we have Smith, Sumisu (Kobayashi, Yuu), seemly the only fully human female in the cast, though she doesn’t appear to be part of the Kurusu harem. Technically the primary Antagonist of the first episode, given that Antagonist can simply be a character stopping the Protagonist from reaching some kind of objective or goal, Smith is a member of an government agency that supervisors demi-human / human relations, though she mainly seems to follow Kurusu and Miia around to torment them and eat their food. As Kurusu’s Inter-species Exchange Coordinator, she’s basically a cock block in human form, and takes pleasure in teasing our main characters and their exploits, as well as slacking on her own responsibilities and pushing them on Kurusu.

The World

monmuso005The world itself is kind of a giant “what if” for the demi-humans and how they function in society, the title of the show is basically asking that question on arrival. How would humans react? How would monsters function in human society? What changes would need to be made to accommodate the different species? This theme is the general tone that seems to take place outside of their house, the premise is not exactly unique to the show but it works into the world fairly smoothly and makes the ramifications of Miia’s existence have some meaning in the story of the world.

While we don’t see any other demi-humans in the first episode, it does seem to play with the themes of humans being the primary danger to the monsters instead of the reverse, as well as a sense of displacement in a new environment for the monsters. While Miia is trying to integrate to a new environment, she is still seen as a freak to the humans on home turf, and with the laws in place she’s on thin ice when it comes to any kind of retaliation to abusers, as humans and demi-humans aren’t allowed to harm each other, often giving her little room to defend herself under harassment, often forcing Kurusu’s hand to play the guardian.

monmuso007Going even further into this concept, the show clearly carries some undertones of a message about racism, as the monsters are treated like second class citizens by some of the less accepting characters that appear in the episode. While physically different, Miia has the same mentality of any other human anime girl in the same role you would expect in this kind of show, but with the added differences of her snake like body, reinforcing a message of accepting people for who they are, and not what they are.

As far as the art and animation go, the show looks very nicely put together, with a lot of your standard character focus and ecchi shots you’d expect from, well, an ecchi. The show balances a good pace of drawing out a comic scene before jumping to a punchline or gag, then sliding back into a comfortable pace for the story itself. The character designs are enjoyable and fun, with Miia balancing looking pleasing to the eye for the ecchi content, without ever losing the monstrous appearance to her character.

While the other characters of the Kurusu harem don’t make an appearance, they are in the opening credits and basically all the advertisements (like the cover of this article), and each character has been designed with the same kind of attention. Each sporting a unique monster type and colour scheme to add that visual pop to contrast the plain Kurusu, and bring out the light hearted tone the show maintains overall.

Voice and Art

monmuso008The voice acting on display is great across the board as well, with the vocal talents of Junji Majima, Sora Amamiya and Yuu Kobayashi bring Kurusu, Miia and Smith, respectively, to life. Each of the cast have worked on a range of productions in the past, so regular watchers of anime may of heard the works of at least one of the actors before. Majima’s rapid changes in attitude work well to deliver the best of Kurusu’s range in character, often switching between deadpan reactions to outbursts of protest to deliver much of the humor. While Amamiya brings Miia’s character to life with a much more emotional display as she drags Kurusu into all kinds of trouble and personal injury. The characters work well off each other to make the entertainment work effectively in the setting of the show.

On an aside, the opening and closing credits do service to the show to really bring out the tone and charisma of the characters in the opening minutes. To some the intro and ending may not mean much but personally, I really enjoy a good opening when I sit down to a show I enjoy and a boring introduction can really snap you out of it, I’m looking at you second season of Tokyo Ghoul.

The opening video is catchy and warm, showing each of the titular monster girls and giving the audience a warm welcome to the show before everything kicks off. The closing confused me a little to be honest, it was good and all, but it was tonally very different to the opening, and featured none of the main characters. It was good too but didn’t fit in nearly as smoothly as the bubbly atmosphere we started with.

Conclusion

So after all this, we’re left with the most important question of all, is this worth watching? Personally I would say yes. After the first episode I was curious to watch more and see where the story goes, with characters left to introduce and the set up being well established, I would keep going with the now completed first season.

Monster Musume is first and foremost a light hearted harem / ecchi anime, with some decent comedy and an interesting concept of that “what if?” question being applied to the world the characters inhabit. If this sounds like something you’d enjoy then chances are, you probably will.