First Look: Interviews with Monster Girls

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Alternative title(s): Demi-chan wa Kataritai
Manga Adaptation by A-1 Pictures
Streaming on Crunchyroll

Premise

After being the stuff of legends for centuries, demi-humans are on the long and arduous path towards integration in human society. Dedicated to distinguish truth from myth, biology teacher Tetsuo Takahashi would love to write his PhD on these “demis”, but has never met one in real life. That all changes when his new colleague outs herself as a succubus and one of his students introduces him to a girl without a head.

Aqua’s verdict: Demi-Decent

Well suck my blood, this season finally spat out a surprise in the positive sense of the word. Monster girls, that is mythological or folkloristic creatures who look like cute schoolgirls, have been the hot shit du jour in certain deplorable corners of the anime fandom for a while now, but the trend to me never seemed massive enough to warrant a quirkier or more subversive take – à la Log Horizon, KonoSuba or Grimgar for that whole “trapped in a different world that may or may not be a video game” shebang we all know and hate. Turns out I was wrong. Interviews with Monster Girls is hardly revisionist, but it does take the concept some very interesting places. What if vampires and dullahans turned out to live amongst us, and all the stories depicting them as blood-sucking, soul-stealing horrors were just the result of prejudice and an all too human fear of the unknown? What if being a ‘monster’ was just another part of your identity – like a gender, an ethnicity or a sexual preference – that people value and deal with each in their own way? Interviews with Monster Girls is at its very best when it is essentially the humanities equivalent of science fiction, so heck, no wonder it resonates so well with a guy who’s on a seventh year of college on his own volition.

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Granted, virtually any take on the monster girl fad would tickle my fancy more than ‘what if you could fuck a snake’, but Interviews with Monster Girls is applicable enough to hit all the right notes. It helps that director Ryou Ando has a decent eye for subtle quirks and movements – especially in the adorable opening – blowing a lot of energy into the show’s predictable, yet entertaining cast and fairly straightforward narrative structure. You make take that title at face value, though, as there’s no action here, or even really any of the comedy you’d expect to constitute the main attraction of a show like this. All the thought’s gone into worldbuilding, which while undeniably interesting, leaves even the ways in which it is presented with a lot to be desired. For every delightfully understated scene depicting Machi’s struggle with people treating her, errm, affliction like an elephant in the room, there’s an extended sequence of Hikari answering a bunch of questions she wasn’t even asked because hey, I guess we needed to find some way to sneak this little tidbit of vampire trivia in here somewhere. Yet clumsy as it may be, eventually Interviews with Monster Girls is a pleasant watch, mostly devoid of all the disturbing deviancy premises like this generally promise and blessed with a cast and staff who know how to bring inherently wordy and uneventful source material to life. Should it figure out how to burst its comfortable bubble of quirky classroom conversations, we could be looking at one of the few shows this season worth seeing through to the end.

Jel’s verdict: As Advertised

Interviews With Monster Girls is a show about interviews with monster girls. I don’t know what I was expecting. OK I do know – I was expecting to this to be hot garbage, riding on the dirty coattails of trash like that other Monster Girls show. I can at least say with confidence I was wrong there, and this might have been the most surprising debut of the season. This particular Monster Girls show makes me feel bad about calling the girls monsters. it explores the challenges of being a demi-human in a human world with a surprising amount of detail and subtlety. Also the main character is a adult man who does not seem to want to have sex with the potential harem of cute girls asking to talk to him, and sadly that low bar already elevates this show above most of the competition.

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Probably my favorite little moment in the episode is when someone asks the Dullahan girl a question and she pauses for a brief moment to grab her head and shake it back and forth as she answers no. It was a perfectly natural gesture, and a detail that really shows how well thought out this world seems to be. That bring me to my biggest issue with the episode though: most of these details are told to us directly as the main character literally interviews one of the girls. We always preach “show don’t tell” here at the Glorio Blog, and had there been more moments like the bit with the Dullahan girl I’d probably be a lot more excited about this. Instead we got something a bit more slow and dull than I would have liked. I think it’s still worth another episode, especially in this awful season, but whether or not the show can overcome its format remains to be seen.

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