The first few minutes of Monster Musume, which makes its DVD debut this week from MVM, are all you need to get a handle on the show. A busty redhead with the lower body of a gigantic snake wraps herself around the teen protagonist, who gets a faceful of boob for good measure. Being cold blooded, she needs him to warm her up, the girl declares, enthusiastically crushing the boy in her coils. As the life is slowly squeezed out of him, he frantically massages the – as it turns out, highly erogenous – tip of her tail until she… um… relaxes.
You can’t say Monster Musume doesn’t know how to make an entrance.
The sexy serpent is Miia, a lamia of legend. Her quite literal crush is Kimihito Kurusu, although she rarely refers to him as anything but ‘Darling’. An average Japanese student whose parents – like so many anime mums and dads – are conveniently out of the picture, Kimihito has become the semi-reluctant host to a whole bunch of monster girls foisted upon him by bone idle woman-in-black Agent Smith. Yes, it’s a harem comedy. No, we don’t hate it for once.
Joining the jealous Miia as her darling’s houseguests are Papi, a bird-brained harpy occupying the petite-girl-liable-to-wear-a-school-swimsuit niche in the harem comedy ecosystem; Centorea, a horsey lass with a highly developed code of honour and even more developed bust; and Suu, a sexier than average example of that perennial Japanese videogame favourite, the slime.
As the series progresses, even more pretty participants in the Interspecies Cultural Exchange programme crowd into Kimihito’s place. There’s Mero, a well-mannered mermaid with a penchant for tragic romance; Rachnera, a scary spider lady who likes using her webs for bondage; and Lala, who like Durarara!!’s Celty is a headless Dullahan. And that’s not even counting the bevy of hot monster chicks that our hero runs into on his travels – it’s basically like a demented artist has rampaged through the D&D Monster Manual feverishly drawing tits on everything (except for the poor old orcs, who just look like pigs and behave like boors).
So, why isn’t Monster Musume joining Sekirei and its ilk in harem anime hell? For one, this is a show with a big personality – it’s exuberantly silly, inventively sexy and pretty darn funny. Thanks to his increasingly blasé attitude to bizarre and deadly peril, even Kimihito is a cut above the insipid milksop who usually fills the male lead role in this sort of series. Monster Musume doesn’t just take refuge in audacity; it lays down an Axminster and makes the place a home. Having kicked off with a scene designed to raise eyebrows and drop jaws, the rest of the 12-episode series and its accompanying pair of OVAs keep up the boob-jiggling pace with aplomb.
The other major plus is how much fun Monster Musume has with its own set-up, asking at every turn how its fantasy cast might actually interact with the real world. Thus Mero, being a mermaid, needs a wheelchair to get around on land. Amoeba-like Suu becomes snarky after accidentally absorbing polluted water, while Rachnera gets ‘drunk’ on caffeine like actual spiders do. Any anime that hits on ‘because snakes are poikilotherms’ when coming up with reasons for a cute girl to snuggle with our hero gets props from us.
Monster Musume’s original manga started a new craze for monster girl tales, several of which – Interviews with Monster Girls, A Centaur’s Life – have garnered their own anime adaptations. Having seen Miia and friends slither, swim, flap and canter their way through a dozen episodes of cheerfully ecchi comedy mayhem, it’s easy to see why this good-hearted harem show is a winner.
Release: 2 April 2018
Age Rating: 18