Of all the guilty pleasures out there, one of the foremost has to be the harem anime. For those unfamiliar, a harem anime is one in which there is a male lead character with a supporting cast comprised almost entirely of girls who want to get with him. What could be a guiltier pleasure than this? Well, what if all the girls were monsters?
Three years ago, the world collectively discovered that the monsters of ancient legend were more than just myth. To foster interspecies peace, a cultural exchange program was conceived to integrate these new species into the human world.
Now, humans and monsters of all sorts live together, with a set of strict guidelines:
- Humans and “extraspecies” may not harm one another (for one reason or another, intimate relations fall under this umbrella regardless of consent)
- non-humans may not go outside without their hosts without special permission
- The exchange student who has lived with the host the longest is ranked highest (Or so they’d have you believe)
Harem anime tend to fall into two major categories: Action, or Slice of Life (or a mix of the two). Monster Musume is the latter; choosing to cover character development (and fan service) over writing plots about assassination or any other action premise. Primarily, episodes will either introduce us to a new girl or develop the relationship between the main character and the girls; with a lot of the moments being what I call “comedically sexual,” where the shamelessness is so stark that one can’t help but find it silly. With that said, there are a handful of unadulterated (ironically enough) erotic moments; and though there is no explicit nudity, I cannot recommend this anime to anyone who is particularly sensitive to sexual tension.
Our hero: Kimihito Kurusu
Kurusu is a simple young man who led a quiet life until a Lamia was mistakenly brought to him as an exchange student. Too kind-hearted to turn her away, Kurusu actually takes her in and allows his home to be remodeled to accommodate her. It is this same kindness that throughout the span of the series, expands the number of girls under his care from one to a hefty six, each with their own personalities and host of dangers that miraculously never manage to kill our protagonist. Despite all of this, he does his best to protect and serve his exchange students.
Due to both the rate at which monster girls gravitate to him and his open-mindedness, Kurusu has been selected for a new experiment: if a human and an extraspecies can marry, the currently flawed exchange bill will be amended to solve a handful of glaring issues. The question is: will he even survive long enough to make his choice?
Miia the Lamia
Being a Lamia, Miia is inclined to seduction, though she often expresses this in a more clingy and flirty manner rather than an overt one. She has lived with Kurusu the longest of all the girls (and in fact is the only girl living with him at the beginning of the anime), and is dead-set to be his humble home maker; even if she is terrible at it. Miia also has tremendous strength, and can lose control of it when emotionally compromised; it really is a mystery that this has yet to kill our main character. However, despite having caused him more harm than anyone else, Miia is also the most directly affectionate to Kurusu, who she only refers to as “Darling.”
Papi the Harpy
A true testament to the term “bird brain,” Papi’s memory is so fleeting that it will reset every three steps she takes. Though she does not aggressively work to better herself for Kurusu, she is kind and has strong maternal instincts; however, her bone-headedness can cause Kurusu occasional harm, particularly if she is carrying him while flying.
She has taken to calling Kurusu “Goshujin,” which most closely translates to “master.”
A noble, if not somewhat clueless centaur; Centorea (or Cerea, as she likes to be called) is a proud warrior who considers herself to be Kimihito’s knight. Having been born into an honor-bound warrior culture, Centorea understands little besides honor and knightly behavior, often finding it difficult if even possible to outwardly express her romantic feelings; notably, this manifests in an innocent and embarrassed manner as opposed to a stonewall or “tsundere” one. Much like Miia, Centorea’s strength is much more than that of a human, and has reactions to being startled that are suitable to someone who’s body is that of a horse. Suitably enough, she calls Kurusu “Aruji-dono,” translating to “m’lord.”
Suu the Slime
Not all species have been recognized by the inter-species exchange bill; one such species is the slime. Suu’s body is, as one would assume, entirely composed of slime, and can change consistency at will; this is so that she can change form as well as consume and digest her prey. Though she is not inherently malicious, she has been known to take other characters’ heads into her body, nearly drowning them; and will also assault others for moisture by any means necessary should she dehydrate. When she is first introduced, she is like a small child, mentally speaking; however, she does learn quickly through experiences and evolves to become (somewhat) less child-like.
Suu likes to refer to Kurusu as “Master” plain and simple.
Meroune, or “Mero”, is a mermaid, and as such, is incapable of moving freely on land, confining her to a wheelchair; however, this is thankfully not her gimmick. As it turns out, the old folk tale The Little Mermaid is actually the ultimate mermaid fantasy: tragic romance. Rather than wanting to be Kurusu’s wife, Mero wants one of the other girls to marry him (typically Miia, as she’s the only one to confront her about the issue), with her acting as his mistress. There is some concern as to her possibly “accidentally” killing Kurusu, leaving her with a broken heart and fulfilling her fantasy in that manner, but she has not shown intent to actually act on this. Mero calls Kurusu “Danna-sama,” which translates to “beloved” or “honored patron.”
Rachnera is an arachne, making her generally feared by humans. This hatred has caused her to be untrusting of others, and even though Kurusu proves to her than not everyone is a bad person, she chooses to stay in the shadows; she claims this is to perpetuate that she is in control, but in reality she is still afraid of being rejected. Despite this soft, scared side, Rachnera (or “Rachnee” as kurusu calls her), is quite forward; in fact, she’s way into S&M and makes no hesitation to tie up Kurusu or the other girls for her little game.
Despite being quite large and having razor-like claws, she is not only the most level-headed of the bunch, but is also the only girl not to cause our hero significant bodily harm.
Though she is afraid of rejection and doesn’t often show affection for our hero without the use of silk ropes, she has taken to calling him “honey” rather quickly.
Simply put, Monster Musume is a beautiful anime. There is a strong sense of timing and flow in the animation as well as art-style changes when the situation calls for it. This stands to reason, having been made by studio Lerche, makers of anime such as School Live! and Assassination classroom, which both have very strong animation and expressiveness for characters as well as beautiful backdrops. This is made more impressive considering that each girl has to carry themselves in a way that would make sense for her species while also showing off some personality; all of which is done quite well. Even the music is great, boasting two of the best OP/EDs that I have heard in a long time, not to mention the character songs (which, though not featured in the anime, definitely should be looked at). Artistically, Monster Musume does not disappoint.
Though some may dismiss Monster Musume for its overt sexuality, it is enjoyable throughout due to strong characterization and writing. The comedy is strong, the tension is strong, and most of all, the interaction is strong; making for an anime that is just generally a good time. Unfortunately, the show is only 12 episodes long; and with six girls, there is very little time with which they indivudually gets to shine; as a result, it leaves a bit of a desire to see and learn more about each; fortunately (or unfortunately) enough for those in the know, during the show’s run, a short animation starring one or more of the girls would be put up daily on nico nico douga that showcased some personality; unfortunately, each of these was only available for a single day, though they may be released in the future and likely have been already archived by a savvy monster girl lover.
From what I hear, there is not enough manga content to make a season two yet, so monster girl lovers the world over may have to wait a while for their next fix. However, merch has been selling at incredible speed, meaning that once enough content is ready, it would be foolish not to pull the trigger on another season.
Otherwise, the slice of life formula works well in the anime’s favor, and allows for the exotic species’ of the girls to compliment the otherwise simple story to make the mundane into the incredible.
Also, if you’re so inclined, here’s an official waifu quiz if you don’t know who to root for yet.
Monster Musume no iru nichijou
Hurts so good
This anime is not for everyone, but it's a sure knockout for its target audience, even if your favorite girl doesn't end up with as much screen time as you'd like.
If you like harems, monster girls, or are just lacking in an overwhelming sense of shame, Monster Musume may just be for you.