«

»

Tokyo Transmission – Season One Review: Monster Musume no Iru Nichijou

002 TT-MonsterMusume

Hey guys! Welcome back to my review of Monster Musume as I mark my first full coverage of an anime for the Badly.Network. I have more shows lined up to talk about over the course of the year and I hope to bring you readers my opinion in a way that both entertains and informs you as we move on through 2016. Enough about me though, let’s wrap up Monster Musume and how it all ended up, let’s finish decoding this Tokyo Transmission.

Season Synopsis

monmuso010Monster Musume no Iru Nichijou (Monster Musume: Everyday Life with Monster Girls?)
Genre: Harem, Ecchi, Comedy, Fantasy, Romance, Seinen

Season one of Monster Musume is half an introduction of its extensive cast and half beginning to look deeper into the world the show has created for itself. With an enjoyable cast of different monster girls being introduced through the season, on the surface Monster Musume is a show about the reality of monsters living peacefully in an environment built to accommodate human kind, and often only human kind. This theme often takes a back seat to the different advances of each of the girls on the male lead as they all become a test case experiment for the peace between human and monster kind, when Kurusu, the harem leader, must pick one to become his wife.

The first episode takes it’s time to establish that there are people like the main character Kurusu, who are living with Demi-Humans, a term used to describe various half-human half-monster races, in accordance to a inter-species peace treaty. This introduces us to our first monster girl main character, a Lamia, or snake girl, named Miia, who lives under his care thanks to an inter-species coordinator named Smith, accidentally taking her to the wrong address, but after he shows her kindness, Miia wants to live with Kurusu instead. Miia is not alone for long however, as she soon needs to share Kurusu with Papi the harpy girl, Centorea the centaur, Suu the slime, Mero the mermaid and Rachnera the spider. Each character has their own dedicated introduction as the cast develops over the show, with each character having their own reasons to living with Kurusu and ultimately falling for him during their stories.

Along with the introductions and escapades of the girls joining the Kurusu harem, there also emerges a sense of plot with the introduction of Smiths personal demi-human squad, the MON girls. The MON girls include Manako the Cyclopes, Zombina the Zombie, Tionishia the Ogre and Doppel the Doppelganger, as they fight against demi-human crimes to help maintain the peace treaty in situations when humans can’t intervene. They join the cast as side characters from time to time as the show expands into the world beyond meeting the main cast in the latter half of the season, and help to drive the narrative when Kurusu starts receiving threats on his life in the mail.

monmuso014With the plotline of the threatening letters allowing Kurusu to get to know the MON girls, as he dates each of them in an attempt to draw out his pursuer, this lets Kurusu not only see more of the demi-human’s social interaction in the world, but forces his hand to better understand all the established characters. The season ultimately draws to a close leading up to the confrontation of the Lala, a Dullahan and the writer of the letters. In the end this largely turns out to be a joke as Lala, being a Dullahan, is trying to reap Kurusu’s soul because all the monster girls bring him so close to death constantly, and she’s unable to figure out how he survives them. Lala later joins the main group, but ends up largely staying on the sidelines as she’s not technically part of the main harem group.

The season closes having introduced a wide range of colourful characters and varying storylines through the world of Monster Musume, many of them all focused around one or several characters of the episode in order to explore its large cast, and the aspects of Kurusu living with them. While I couldn’t find out for sure if the anime plans to continue, it sounds possible with rumors flying around the internet, and with the manga currently ongoing.

Review

monmuso017The first season of Monster Musume having been now completed for a short while, is parts a light hearted comedy and soft core ecchi with a full harem of women openly trying to grab the attention of one lucky / unlucky guy, and part touching on more serious themes of acceptance, racism and judging people based on who they are, not what they are. With the emergence of the demi-humans and their integration into human society, the show doesn’t simply throw this dramatic change under the rug. As you might expect, a whole series of half monster races joining normal society has its own set of challenges, and while Monster Musume doesn’t go TOO deep into, well, deep thought territory, it makes an effort to highlight this beyond simple being an ecchi show. It’s a surprisingly nice contrast as the light hearted ecchi portions of the show are pretty constant, as the general tone of the show is really about cute monster girls chasing after Kurusu as they both fight off the other girls, and highlight the difficulty and changes they face in many situations being monster girls in a human society. When the more plot centric threads begin to show however, it feels fairly well paced, giving us some level of intrigue and thought to put into the series as a whole instead of it purely being about the worried life expectancy of Kurusu.

monmuso015Most episodes of the show revolve around either one or two characters in focus, sometimes the draw being the reveal of a new species in the world of Monster Musume, or just the antics that the main cast get up to in certain situations. It’s not exactly a deep storyline, but it is a fun show to watch, as it’s more a comedy ecchi than anything else. While I don’t typically watch many of these types of genres, there was enough going on in the show to interest me to keep going, both in the development of the season and its content.

In terms of the show’s theme tying back into personal acceptance and racism, this is highlighted best by the last character introduced into the main harem cast, the spider girl Rachnera. While all the monster girls have their own reasons for meeting and staying with Kurusu, Rachnera clearly has the sadder story as she has the much larger body of a half human and half spider monster, making her not only frightening, but elicits the most negative of reactions from much of human society. After being abandoned by her original host family, she eventually joins Kurusu after he admits he sees her as any other female, and not a monster. Upon arriving home with him, even the other girls start treating her differently due to her nature, but later accept her as one of the group when she forces them to admit they were just hiding their own feelings on the matter. Most surprisingly, the other girls spend most of the series almost killing poor Kurusu with their actions, hence the joke with Lala’s existence in the group, but in one of the later episodes Kurusu confronts Rachnera and says that she alone has never hurt Kurusu in any form, because she has to live her life tip toeing around others perceptions of her as a monster, something the other girls have never had to live with quite as strongly. These themes run through the show occasionally without feeling too blatant or on the nose, and give a little more depth to something that would normally come off as just time killing ecchi, it’s by no means a serious discussion starter, but it breaks from the mold and gives the show a little more purpose in its existence.

monmuso011The introduction of the MON girls as part of Smiths demi-human task force gives the plot a little room to develop, as generally the main cast don’t leave the house much without reason. Kurusu manages to get dragged into enough situations that he ends up involved in some of their work, or they simply choose to inconvenience the poor guy. Beyond their initial feelings for Kurusu, the main girls are given further incentive when Smith chooses Kurusu to represent the human race in the next step of the peace treaty, by choosing one of the cast to marry. This does further the story in terms of the girls trying to win over Kurusu, but ultimately I can’t help like feel this will end as so many harem stories do, in some kind of cop out. Kurusu is clearly reluctant to pick any one girl over the others, and short of marrying them all, it seems like it probably won’t end well for everyone, or if it does, it will feel….like a stretch at best. Who knows, I’m just guessing here, but the whole storyline of his marriage feels like it will end poorly from a story telling perspective. Ultimately though, Monster Musume is a fun show, and despite it dabbling in some more serious undertones, it remains a comedy ecchi and manages to contrast its tones well.

Aside from the lately introduced plot threads of both the letters and the marriage experiment, the first season of Monster Musume is really about introducing a large cast while having fun in the world its set up. This isn’t a bad thing, as many similar harem / ecchi shows tend to focus on characters interacting as much of the entertainment, rather than a solid storyline, but to its credit, Monster Musume throws in enough ideas and crumbs of plot to give it a better sense of progression than simply having the girls fawn over Kurusu for thirteen episodes.

Characters

monmuso013I won’t spend much time talking about anyone I covered in my review for episode one, but as this is a largely character driven series there is still many people to cover, so I’ll provide a little more context to those to drive the show forward. Firstly we have the main harem girls, ranging from the more loli types like Papi, to…well…a sentient slime, there is a girl for most interests somewhere in the cast, this is still a ecchi after all.

Each member of the main harem brings something to the cast, with Papi being like the little sister type character who is often forgetful and air-headed, but the most fun loving of the cast. Centorea is the most noble and prideful of the girls, acting the most protective over Kurusu as she sees herself as a knight, ready to defend against any danger. Suu is the most mysterious, as she’s listed as an unknown species of monster. This often leads to her surprising people with her actions the most as she changes her body and mindset depending of the circumstances. Mero initially seems to be the most normal of the group, despite often coming off as having a sense of royalty in her actions, but is later discovered to be obsessed with love tragedy to the point of actively wanting someone else to marry Kurusu so she can be the mistress, or for Kurusu to die on his wedding day. Lastly we have Rachnera, who despite struggling with being the scariest looking girl in the group, is the most mature and level headed member of the team. Rachnera is also pretty much the most useful, being able to handle almost anything with intelligence, though she has a big S&M streak and loves to torture her victims to pleasure.

monmuso012Each of the girls gets pretty equal screen time aside from some arriving later than others, though of the group it did seem like Mero got the least interaction, even though she wasn’t the last to appear. Honestly it felt like she was maybe the weakest of the group, due to being fairly normal despite her love of tragedy, with Rachnera coming in as the surprise strongest team player. Lala doesn’t seem to really count as a member of the harem, since other than living with Kururu at the very end of the show, she seemingly just disappears at times or doesn’t interact with the cast very often. The MON girls don’t get a ton of screen time over all, but they pop up occasionally throughout the latter half of the show to give us character outside of the Kurusu harem spectrum, as well as being able to drive the story when needed. The MON girls themselves range from the loud and cheeky Zombina, the strong but clumsy Tionishia, the shy and withdrawn Manako and the Mischievous Doppel, and while the MON girls don’t feature nearly as much of the main harem, they show up to add variety just enough to be a part of the cast, without simply overcrowding the screen.

Voice and Art

monmuso016I watched the anime in Japanese as I don’t believe there was any sort of dubbed version at the time of me watching for vocal reference, that aside however, you can chose whichever version you want, but this was reviewed in the original Japanese. Joining the previously mentioned voice cast, we have Ari Ozawa as Papi, Natsuki Aikawa as Centorea, Mayuka Nomura as Suu, Haruka Yamazaki as Mero, Sakura Nakamura as Rachnera and Ai Kakuma as Lala. Each of the actors do a good job portraying the varying personalities of the girls, and help bring each to life since the show mainly comes from the characters interactions. Along with the main cast we have the MON girls, voiced by Rei Mochizuki as Zombina, Momo Asakura as Manako, Yurika Kubo as Tionishia and Saori Onishi as Doppel. Both voice work and animation remains pretty constantly good across the show, I didn’t find anything especially wrong on both fronts as I watched through the series. Monster Musume does exist in both censored and uncensored versions, so whichever one you want to watch is up to you, but there is enough ecchi in the show that it does seem like you may of well go all the way with it if you’re going watch the season.

Continuing on from my last review, the end credits do of course, make sense now. Despite not becoming apparent for a while, the end credits are dedicated to the MON girls and Smith, and although it has a very different tone to the opening, this does make a lot of sense in a way. With the opening being so happy and colourful, and the ending being a darker rock type outing, it reflections the differences of the two groups, as the harem cast generally live in this happy bubble through the show, while the MON girls are the group that deal with some of the slightly darker notes set in the show, plus it gives a shout out to the almost two sides Monster Musume offers in tone. Both the opening and ending are solid ones, and when an anime music start and end title doesn’t feel unbearable at the end of the season, you know it’s done its job.

Conclusion

So as we sum up the season we once again ask the most important question of, did I like it? Yeah, I did. Monster Musume on the whole isn’t the kind of thing I watch, but I liked my time with it. It didn’t overstay its welcome and constantly introduced new things to keep it feeling fresh with honestly, very little storyline. I’m not saying I’m dying for season two, but I would watch it if another season was greenlit. So on the whole, yeah it’s a fun show, and if you want a comedy ecchi that kneads in some more serious undertones without going into them too deeply, I recommend giving it a go.

Thanks to you readers for stopping by with my first full review on the site, I look forward to bringing you more anime reviews in the future. You can find me lurking around the Badly.Network as I post about Games and Anime in the coming weeks, or even swing by and watch me stream some games on my Twitch channel under Drenik74. I’m still kind of new to being active in forms of social media, but I’ll be around somewhere if you feel the burning need to say hi.