Saturday, October 3, 2015

Monster Musume

Everyone who knows me knows that I'm a fan of harem anime. It's my guilty pleasure. I've watched everything from Tenchi Muyo to To LOVE Ru and Girls Bravo. In all that time, watching all those anime, only a few have ever stood out and made a name for themselves by being more than just a cliched series about "harem protagonist #2" having multiple girls fall for him because "He's nice." Monster Musume no Iru Nichijou is one of those anime, and it's probably the cutest harem anime I've ever seen.

The story itself isn't anything new, though I feel it's done way better than most harem anime. In it, you have Kimihito, a young man living on his own. He has a very stereotypical harem protagonist feel to him, but at the same time, right down to how nice he is and how he only takes action when the plot requires it. I don't really mind that in this, because he's not the focus of the story. The girls are - and they are an eclectic bunch.

The first and most important thing to note about this anime is definitely the character design. None of these girls are human. Not only that, but they actually don't look fully human. Miia is a lamia and so she has the lower half of a snake. Centorea is a centaur and has a horse half. Papi is a harpy. Her arms are more like wings and her legs are clawed bird legs. You've also got a mermaid, a woman with more spider features than human features, and a girl who appears to be made from slime. I'm not sure who decided on making characters not look human, but I have to give them props. Not only was it a gutsy move, but it's paid off in dividend. If nothing else, it makes this anime patently different from every other anime, even the ones that deal with monster females like Rosario+Vampire.

Speaking of the girls, all of these ones are quite the characters. While you won't find any personality that is truly original, the ones these girls have do carry a certain uniqueness about them. I won't deny that I found myself greatly enjoying their antics. Even if you can tell each one was made based on a specific archetype, it's done in such a way that I don't really mind. I think it's because this show knows it's a harem comedy and doesn't try to pretend it's anything else. Too many times an anime will be a harem, but it will act like it isn't. "Oh, no. We're not just any old harem. We've got some really deep and complex plot going on in this anime. By the way, check out how this girl's obnoxiously large boobs bounce in every scene she's in." Unlike anime that try to be one thing but are really just an excuse for the main protagonist to get with every girl on screen, this one is refreshingly straightforward and simple. It is a harem anime, and it's not going to fool you into thinking it's anything but.

As is the case with most harems, the people who watch it will always have a favorite. My favorite is Miia. Miia is a lamia. In ancient Greek mythology, lamia was a Queen of Libya who became a child murdering monster feared for her malevolence. Originally a daughter of Poseidon, she eventually became the mistress of Zeus and was cursed by a jealous Hera. Similar to other female monsters in Greco-Roman myth (such as the empousai and the mormolykei), she is distinguished from them by her description as half-woman and half-serpent. Miia is pretty much the exact opposite of this woman. She's bright, cheerful, open and honest, though she does show some traits from the mythology, such as her voracious sexual appetite - several times Miia will have imagine an ecchi moment where Kimihito does the horizontal mambo with her. It is her honest personality that drew me to her. Plus, snakes are cool.

Much like Miia, all of the monster girls are based on Greek mythology. Centaurs, harpies, mermaids, cyclops, ogres, drakes... I think the only monster girls who aren't steeped in Greek myth are Suu, the resident slime girl and illegal immigrant, and Zombia-chan, whose name makes it quite obvious what she is. I actually thought this rather clever. While Japan has a habit of using other mythologies in their anime, I've not seen it done like this - taking a bunch of monsters from Greece and turning them into beautiful women with the lower half of animals.

One other thing that I feel should be noted about this anime is it's surprising gender compatibility. Harem anime are usually something that guys will watch because, well, it's about a guy getting a harem of beautiful women. Most females find this disrespectful, and while a few have broken this mold before, I don't think it's ever been done quite like this. I've been talking with a friend online, and she told me that she and her friends, some of whom work at a women's center, have been watching Monster Musume and think it's adorable. The mere fact that a group of female would watch this and think, "so cute!" instead of being repulsed, is an impressive feat. While I'm sure some women will still hate this anime because, "harems are degrading to women," I think just as many could actually enjoy this anime if they keep an open mind.

Artwork: 9/10
Animation: 7.5/10
Sound: 7.5/10
Characters: 9/10
Story: 7/10
Personal Enjoyment: 9/10
Total: 8.1/10