Monday, April 24, 2017

Interviews With Monster Girls: For The Discerning Degenerate

 



Okay, I know what you're thinking. Or at least I can probably roughly approximate what you're thinking.

It probably runs something like this: "Jim, you're a total degenerate, & you never shut up about how much you like monster girls. This is obviously some degenerate ecchi shit. Why should I waste my time with this bullshit when I know it's just gonna be some borderline porn like Monster Musume?"

Yes, I am a degenerate, and yes, I do love monster girls. Unconditionally. And for less-than-Christian reasons. Here's another part where I get to say "however."

However. (I really do love that part, like you guys don't even know)

This is not an ecchi (softcore porn) show. And really, that makes me love it even more.

Shocking, I know.

Actually, back when Monster Musume was airing, a friend and I would talk about how we both thought that the show would be much better served by being a straight-up romance between Kurusu and Miia, with the rest of the girls being friends that they had adventures and hijinks with. I don't even think Miia is best girl and I think that the show would've been better as a romance with her as main squeeze. It would have much more potential to be a more serious affair, and we very likely would've gotten a lot more character development and more interesting subplots out of the show than what we currently get through the manga and anime. Although I will say that I still like it. It's fun, and that's the most important thing to me. Also the gratuitous tiddie, but anyone who watches or reads Monmusu knows what we're all there for, so that can be set aside to talk about it's other merits and detriments.

Kukuruyo (who has a wonderful non-ecchi monster girl comic currently running on his site, Monster Girls on Tour) actually brought this up on Twitter in a conversation I and a few other people had recently. The monster girl genre has kind of been tainted by Monmusu blowing up like it did. I mean I'm not gonna lie, to my understanding it was pretty much always this weird fetish for lonely nerds on the internet (coughcough). But thanks to the popularity and visibility of Monmusu, everybody who hears someone like my stupid ass talking about monster girls immediately starts to drift into lewd thoughts. And they're more than justified in that. That really is kind of the long and short of it, barring a couple of shows and manga that happen to feature monster girls, but don't make the sexual aspect the key thing. Kukuruyo recommended Hyper Police, which I've yet to check out (I've been watching Konosuba shaddap), but from the wikipedia article it sounds very interesting and, according to Kukuruyo, it's not some ecchi softcore porn shit. So the genre would be greatly served by some people coming out and using monster girls as a feature in the world, but not making it all about da tiddie.

ANYWHO, back to the point of this post. Jesus, I need to work on my bloviating...

Interviews with Monster Girls is not an ecchi show. Actually, surprisingly enough, they go to great lengths to NOT put ecchi shit in it. They kinda fail in this in the last episode, but one character is a succubus and they go to the pool, so what are ya gonna do? But the vast majority of this show does not use the monster girls for lewd purposes, for which I commend them. Like I mentioned earlier, we in the monster girl [fandom? community? movement? philosophy? I'm too drunk for this?] need some content creators to come out and use monster girls as a feature in their created universe, but not devolve into complete ecchi degeneracy.

This show, I believe, does so admirably.

Now you might get conflicting opinions. Not everybody is into slice of life anime. Kukuruyo mentioned that he thought that the show was boring as fuck every time the vampire girl left the scene. I disagree, but Kukuruyo is entitled to his opinion, and taking that point of view into account I can even see where he's coming from. But, once again, I disagree.

I think that this is an excellent drama show that builds its characters admirably, and focuses squarely on the point of the show without wavering one little bit. That point is: What if demi-humans just suddenly sprang up, were rare, and had to deal with living in a largely human world? The show actually attacks this concept with a rare ferocity, and they don't get bogged down in side plots and, likesay, ecchi fanservice shit.

It would probably help if I actually described the general plot of the show at this point, so you can get an idea of where I'm going with that defocused drunken rambling above.

So okay. In this world demi-humans (effectively monster girls) have begun springing up all over the place. Oddly enough, it's a genetic mutation this time, they're not off in some mythical land of monster tiddie like in Monster Musume. So two humans can have a child that winds up being a vampire, with no supernatural interference whatsoever. They're also incredibly rare. Rare like the dullahan girl (look it up, it's actually a mythological creature) who features as one of the main characters of the show is one of only three dullahans that exist on the planet. Other variants of monster girl are more common, but not to the extent that they are in other media featuring the concept.

So now we come to the main character. Tetsuo Takahashi is a biology teacher for a high school. Yes, the plot of this show DOESN'T center around a young virgin who's constantly caught between a bunch of demi-humans that want to tickle his pickle! You may need to sit down for this. I know that's a shocking revelation. But Dude (he will heretofore be referred to as "Dude" because I'm drunk and fuck trying to spell out his name every time, and he also bears a striking resemblance to The Dude from The Big Lebowski, in attitude if not appearance) is a high school teacher, in his early to mid 30's, and is fascinated by the concept of demi-humans.

IN AN ACADEMIC SENSE, YOU FUCKING PERVS.

He actually majored in biology because he wanted to study them and expand understanding around these creatures. Unfortunately, he couldn't find enough demi-humans to interview while in college, so now he finds himself teaching high school biology. Fortunately for him, his high school has recently admitted several students who are demi-humans (or "demi's" as they call them colloquially), and he finally has the chance to learn more about these fascinating beings straight from the horse's mouth. He can record their "lived experiences" I guess you could say.

He meets a vampire, a dullahan, a Yuki-onna (snow woman), and a succubus, and proceeds to ask them all kinds of embarrasing questions about their various natures, and even performs (consensual and non-lewd) experiments on them to gain a deeper understanding of their natures. So the main focus of the show is this guy trying to understand them, as well as them dealing with living in the human world.

So on to the characters, which are the real point in any slice of life show worth its salt! I've already described Dude, so I'll forego that character and tell you about the monster girls he interacts with.

Hikari Takanashi is the vampire. They do a bit of subversion on the classic vampire tropes, and Hikari's not exactly your typical vampire due to that. She loves stinky foods like garlic, isn't afraid of crosses, can walk into sunlight without bursting into flame, although she's pretty sure a stake through the heart would kill her. Mostly her vampirism just makes her thirst for blood, hate the heat, and avoid direct sunlight whenever she's able. She also has this adorable tic where her teeth itch, and she needs to chew on somebody to get rid of it. Ordinarily she gnaws on her sister's arm, but she also takes a liking to the snow woman because her constantly cold skin agrees with Hikari's vampire nature. She's very energetic, a total loudmouth, and also a little bit of a prankster. It's easy to see why Kukuruyo thinks she's the most interesting character in the show. She's high energy, and I could very well imagine some image edits of her wearing a MAGA hat floating around, though I've yet to find any myself. Although maybe that's because I haven't looked, but anyway.

Kyouko Machi is the dullahan. Unlike Lala in Monmusu, Machi can't attach and de-attach her head from her body at will. Her head is permanently de-attached from her body, and she has to carry it around in her hands, put it in a sling when she's in the bath, and attach it to her chest with a harness whenever she eats. She's very self-conscious, but that doesn't stop her from making friends and interacting in as normal a fashion as possible with the other students in the school. She also enjoys having her head cradled securely by others, which leads her to develop a crush on Dude, which thankfully doesn't go anywhere. Because not only is Machi not best girl, she's also a high school student, and Dude is like 15 years older than her, and that would be creepy. Like, really creepy. And Dude takes measures to ensure that she gets the net with that.  But Machi is a total sweetheart, and she is very self-conscious about her status as a dullahan, which makes her incredibly adorable.

Yuki Kusakabe is the snow woman. Yuki is very timid and shy. She's read a bit about snow woman mythology, and what's more she's had experiences with her powers that lead her to believe that she might be dangerous to other people. So she's kind of a shut-in, or at least anti-social, until she runs into the rest of the demi's and starts developing friendships with them. Most of the stories about Yuki-onna are very sad, and Dude uses these to understand how her powers manifest so that he can help her overcome her social anxiety. She actually runs into a bit of trouble with a pair of gossips at her school when she turns a boy down because she's afraid she might accidentally freeze him to death, and the resolution to that is greatly satisfying. IN JAPANESE. They fucked the dub up on that point, but I'll get to that.

Sakie Satou is the succubus. Being a teacher, she's set apart from the rest of the demi's in the show, and that immediately puts her ahead of the pack in the running for best girl, but her attitude is what really sets her apart and speaks to the level this anime went to avoid devolving into ecchi fanservice bullshit. Obviously if you have a succubus character, you're going to want to show off how alluring and sexy she is. Well, they specifically avoid that. In this world, succubi have a pheromone effect that drives men crazy. This is transmitted to these men by sight & how much skin they show. How that translates to an olfactory sense that would be necessitated by pheromones, I don't know. Don't ask me, I just write up the "reviews". Maybe it's released constantly by their skin, and the more skin they show, the more pheromones they let off, but that's just rampant speculation as it isn't adequately explained in the show. Maybe they go in deeper in the manga, but I kinda doubt it.

Taking at least two paragraphs because this really is the most interesting character in the show, Sakie understands that she exerts an effect on men that she literally cannot help. That's precisely how she was born, and she can't exactly change her biology. So, in an effort to curb this, she takes measures to decrease the effectiveness of her pheromone effect. This is why I've taken to calling her "Conservative Succubus Lady". She places a heavy emphasis on personal responsibility. I should mention that in this world, succubi are called "dream demons", and they have the ability to basically give guys wet dreams if they fall asleep near them. So in an effort to curb this, she lives miles outside of town in what is effectively a cabin in the woods, because if she lived in an apartment complex the dream shit would get way out of hand far too quickly. She also reduces the amount of skin she shows by wearing a tracksuit everywhere, making herself less alluring and showing off as little skin as possible. This, of course, doesn't stop horny high schoolers from ogling her, but she does what she can to reduce the effects of a condition that she can't really help.

She also has a bit of a romantic subplot with Dude, because he also goes to extreme lengths to not let her pheromone effect...well, affect him. She thinks he has a low libido, which means that she can try to get romantically involved with him without worrying that he just likes her because she's a succubus and holy shit she's so hot she touched my hand I am incapable of thinking with my big brain because my little brain has COMPLETELY taken over. Meanwhile he is completely 100% susceptible to her pheromone effect, he's just really good at hiding it until he gets around a damn corner and almost has a heart attack because oh my god this is the most beautiful woman I've ever seen in my life.

This leads to a couple of funny moments and more than a little sexual tension, but what's more important is how she reacts to all this. She actually begins to fall in love with him. Not only because it seems like he likes her for her rather than her pheromone effect, but because he takes all of these demi students under his wing and basically becomes a kind of father figure to them. It's a bit more complex than I'm representing it as here, and it seems to be on a slow burn. I was expecting them to be dating by the end of the first season, and they weren't, so I'm hoping for something better in the second season. If this is slow burning, then they're burning it super slow. But hopefully we can get some actual romance out of these two next time, and if they handle it properly then the slow burn will be absolutely worth it when these two finally hook up.

But the central point of this show is this guy trying to understand these creatures he's fascinated by (once again in an ACADEMIC SENSE), and him helping them learn how to live in the human world. He really does become a kind of dad or uncle (uncle would probably be more appropriate, seeing as how all these girls already have fathers) figure to these girls, and it's sweet to watch them come to understand themselves better through his good-natured fumbling. This also leads to plenty of comedic moments wherein he's taking a scientific interest in their problems, works the issue out in his head, then says something that sounds completely horrible when taken out of the context that only exists in his head, and gets accused of being a perv by all these high school aged girls.

All in all this is a very enjoyable show, and I hope you all will take the time to go watch it. If you're into a more serious, less degenerate show that has monster girls in it, I think you'll find this one well worth your time. Now...I should probably get back to that fuck up with the dub that I mentioned earlier.

Originally I watched the dub first, then went and watched the sub. I was at work, and it was easier to listen to the dub than have to pause my work to pause my phone, or divert my attention to read subtitles. So I broke my general guideline of watching the sub first. Turns out this wasn't that big of a deal. There is actually only one single discrepancy in the dubbed version. But it's kind of a big one, and I might as well inform you guys of it now before you go find it and think I'm recommending you some ol' bullshit.

As I said previously, the snow woman turns down a boy that wants to date her because she's scared that she might accidentally hurt him through the unfocused use of her powers. A couple of gossips start talking shit, and the vampire girl takes it into her head to call them out on it. She does, very bravely in my opinion, and in the Japanese version everything is fine and the encounter proceeds apace as you would expect.

In the dub, however, she gets accused of being; and I wish I was joking; a "social justice warrior". This kinda fucking broke me when I was watching it. I had a bit of a freakout, because I was damned sure that this was not the translation of that line from Japanese, and what's more this is blatant politicization of something that really doesn't need to be politicized. A girl is being bullied because of how she was born and how she's dealing with it, the bullies get called out on their lack of understanding, and everybody kind of moves on. But to drop that specific phrase into the dialogue of the bullies carries a distinct political message on the part of the localizers which I can't ignore.

This is blatant entryism and an attempt to corrupt something that is good on its own without this American political bullshit thrown into it. They specifically gave this line to the bullies in an attempt to associate anyone who used that phrase in a derogatory fashion (like the bully in the show did) with people who are intolerant of others who are different, when that is simply not the case. Social justice warriors have a distinctive ethos that they cultivate, and the people who oppose them aren't just a bunch of intolerant a-holes who dislike people because they're different. So that is a big, BIG strike in disfavor of the dub.

But the Japanese version contains none of this, and having watched both versions I can say with full confidence that that one line, which takes up maybe a second of screen time and is then forgotten, never to be brought up again, is the single discrepancy between the Japanese and English versions of this show. So if you can get past that and don't like watching subbed anime, you'll be more than happy with this show. If you can't...then you might have a little bit of growing up to do.

Just saying.

But the show is very good, I had an immensely good time watching it in both versions, and if you're the type of person that likes a good slice of life anime that happens to include monster girls in a non-lewd capacity, you very likely will too.

I will take this time to mention that the show isn't out on DVD yet, however RightStufAnime does have the manga available. Which, if the manga is anything like the show (I haven't read it yet, but it's on my list), I feel totally comfortable recommending it to people. So if you're interested in picking that up, I do have a RightStufAnime affiliate account, and there is an ad on the left side of the website. So if you're interested in getting this manga I would appreciate it if you would click the link on the blog, and then go buy whatever you want. I'm gonna look into picking this up once I get a decent income, and given the quality of the show I would encourage you to do the same.

It's good shit, fam, and you won't be wasting your time by watching this show or (presumably) reading the manga. I'll read the manga and let y'all know if it's shit, but given the quality of the show I seriously doubt that it is.

In any event, that's about my peace on this. Thank you all for your time, and I hope you'll come back for the next post.

Here's a link to the first issue of the manga, if anyone's interested:

http://www.shareasale.com/r.cfm?u=1495988&b=866986&m=65886&afftrack=&urllink=www%2Erightstufanime%2Ecom%2FInterviews%2Dwith%2DMonster%2DGirls%2DManga%2DVolume%2D1

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