- Genre : Slice of Life, comedy, supernatural, awwww
- Episodes: 12 (+ 1 ova)
- Studio: A-1 Pictures
As a biology major, Tetsuo Takahashi has always had a professional interest in Demi-humans. Their numbers still rather low in common society, there hasn’t been that much reliable research published on the subject and many are still clouded in myths and misconceptions. Imagine his delight at finding out that not only did three new demi-human students enroll at the high school where he teaches, but the newest member of the faculty also happens to be a succubus! In an effort to improve the quality of information available on the subject, Tetsu begins to schedule a series of interviews with the girls to base his latest research paper on. He soon realizes that the lessons these girls have to teach him go way beyond biology.
I struggled a bit with this description. Fact is, whenever you try to simply describe this show, it always comes off sounding a little creepy. Maybe it’s my cynical nature coming out. Once in a while you have to relearn not to expect the worst all the time. Lucky for me, I had some monster girls to remind me.
I would like Interviews with Monster Girls to be my boy/girlfriend. It has everything I’m looking for in a partner.
For one, it’s cute:
Since I like to blame everyone else for my mistakes, I’m going to attribute at least part of my knee jerk reaction towards this show, to the visuals. They are freakin adorable. Ok they’re moe. You know the drill, pleasantly rounded, ultimately interchangeable designs. Very *shiny* girls with soft slightly limited colour palettes. Decent animation but not enough movement to make it impressive. Possibly among the more consistent in quality but honestly, these types of visuals are starting to be pretty par for the course.
But still striking:
Or at least they would be if it weren’t for Tetsu. Male characters in this style are much less frequent but they have been done before in several shows. The assortment of male students here was nice in that they were just as detailed and distinct as the female character models but the adults really stood out. Both Ugaki (a police detective and friend of Sakie the succubus) and the vice-principal are considerably older than the average characters in these shows and they have drastically different body types. This was already pretty interesting. As for Tetsu, in a show about monster girls, his design might be the most unusual. He’s muscle bound and somewhat stocky, with pleasant rather than traditionally attractive features. He looks really nice. I’ve rarely seen this design archetype at all, let alone in a protagonists of what could be considered a harem show.
I was pleasantly surprised by this departure at first but soon realized how important the design choice was to the overall character and what he represents. Good job anime production team, you are smarter than me…
It knows how to take it easy
As a slice of life, this show doesn’t have a sweeping adventure arc, or even an obvious closure. It follows along the various girls’ lives as well as Tetsuo’s as they all adjust to high school and their new realities. But there is a thorough line to the show, an important message it consistently conveys and stays true to, until the very end.
It shares my values:
It’s easy to imagine that the show would stray into inappropriate territory. Teenage girls developing crushes on older, kind teachers is a common trope, mostly because it happens all the time in real life. And Tetsu is a prime candidate, heck I had a crush on him by episode 2…I still do. But the show is sensitive to these things and careful not to blur the lines. It even addresses issues of impropriety head on having the main character announce in conversation with another teacher that he could never reciprocate a student’s crush because for one he couldn’t see high school students as anything other than children and even if that wasn’t so, it’s just not acceptable for a teacher to pursue such a relationship ever. I was literally giving a standing ovation in my living room. See now, was that so hard other shows…. Good job anime writing team, sometimes there or obvious things which still need to be stated clearly!
It is so kind:
Cactus Matt did a fantastic review of this show a few weeks back. Read it after you finish mine. I don’t want to follow him… In any case, as I noted in his comments, it easy to see the “Monster Girls” in question (it’s important to note that they are never referred to as monsters in any way throughout the series. The official term is demi-humans, but all the cool kids know it’s demi-chan!) as an analogy for different races and the tension this implies. However, I quickly came to see them as a metaphor for people living with genetic or general physical challenges.
Some of them are clearly identifiable from a cursory glance but others seem completely normal and wouldn’t be identifiable unless you got to know them well. However, they all have to contend with special requirements that can imply quite a bit of adjustment both on their parts and for those around them. It’s a complex reality that has many levels to it, difficult to completely understand if you’re not directly affected by it.
In this, interviews with monster girls spared no effort to explain and show as many facets as possible without ever mocking, belittling or even pitying it’s subjects. The care put in to presenting the girls as both different and normal is undeniable and in my book, admirable.
Little, delightful touches of kindness and acceptance are scattered throughout as if it was the most normal thing in the world. Hikari, a vampire, was born with bright light blonde hair unlike the rest of her dark-haired family. Both her father and sister lighten their hair, so she looks a bit more like them. Machi a dullahan has to carry her head in her arms, so the school gives her special permission to wear a backpack (instead of the regulation shoulder bags) and everyone is a little ashamed they hadn’t thought of it sooner. It’s these small attentions that add up to a huge difference in a person’s life and the show is teeming with them. As the series progresses, it abandons early moe cliches for attempts a true humanity and I found it endearing. Good job animators, those tiny gestures and looks you’ve added in speak volumes, more loudly than any dialogue could.
And while striving to represent some very important and very real issues, the narrative points out that certain challenges are not a mere question of specialized equipment, or restrictions (although those are very present). There’s also the particular isolation you have to deal with when you are marked as different and mysterious. People want to be nice but they’re not sure how to approach you. To pretend you’re the same as everyone else is to deny who you actually are and not entirely practical. At the same time to limit you to your differences is hurtful and discriminatory. Finding a balance is tough for everyone and the show carefully explains that without ever scolding or preaching.
What it illustrates are people coming to realizations at their own pace. How friend groups form and evolve and integrate people that are different. Everyone needs to open their minds a little. And you make mistakes along the way. You say stupid things, you assume ridiculous fantasies. Interviews with Monster Girls knows that these things will happen. The point isn’t to be the perfect open minded all accepting friend to humanity right off the bat, it’s just to try. As long as you do that, you did good. Good job voice actors, your palpable chemistry made those interaction feel so real.
I mentioned above that Tetsu’s character designed played a complimentary role in establishing his personality. I didn’t actually forget about that. Well maybe I did for a little while but I remembered now! Tetsu is a personification of the show itself. His temperament mirrors the tone of the series and his goals and motivations seem to parallel the plot’s. Essentially, Tetsu is an open-minded individual who really cares about his students, all of them, and wants to make the world more hospitable for those that may have a bit of a disadvantage.
As far as I’m concerned, he’s a hero. But these girls don’t exactly need saving. They’re fine. Like any teenage girl, they’re going through that slightly scary time when you have to adjust to life, but they would have made it without him. An episode even addresses the idea that in being too available to them, Tetsu has robbed them of the opportunity or developing a larger support group. A notion that really troubles him (and also a fantastic point to make, bravo show!).
Tetsu is a refuge. He has a dorky smile that makes him look trustworthy, a disheveled look that pegs him as approachable and easy to talk to, and big strong arms that can protect you. I trusted Tetsu immediately and he never betrayed me. And as such, I trusted the show with the very delicate subject matter and it didn’t let me down.
And there’s more…
Man I still have so much I want to talk about. It’s sweeter than outright funny. However, it still had a generous enough amount actual jokes to ensure that I would laugh at least once an episode. The idea that a dullahan’s neck is actually a wormhole between her head and body, and the detailed explanation if it, was just fantastic. The repeated theme that a succubus’s power to arouse the opposite sex has devastating effects on their lives and limits their prospects within society to a pathetic few, was treated with such gentleness and respect. Real life parallels are easy to draw. It really made me wish we would give each other the same consideration.
So what did I think? I really liked it. I wish this show was a person and I knew them. I would probably be like Sakie and trip over my own words all the time and make an idiot of myself. Worth it!
Interviews with Monster Girls made me smile and if another season is announced, it will make me dance!
Favorite character: Sakie
What this anime taught me: I love shows that finish on a fireworks scene and also, if you don’t know something, just ask.
I hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, violence, or insanity to anyone, but they’ve always worked for me.
Suggested drink: Vampire’s kiss
- Every time there’s an actual interview – take a sip
- Every time Machi gets shy – take a sip
- Every time Hikari jumps on anyone – take a sip
- Every time Sakie gets skittish – take a drink for her
- Every time anyone says Demi – get some water
- Every time we see Yuki’s feet – take a sip
- Every time Sakie mentions she’s a succubus – take a sip and realize how heavily it weighs on her
- Every time Machi has her head in a brace – take a sip
- Every time Himari is protective of her sister – awww
- Every time Himari is annoyed by her sister – giggle
- Every time Sakie is an enormous dork – raise your glass