Caw of Fame: Monster Musume
What’s it mean to be in the Caw of Fame? The name is a take-off on Hall of Fame, and since crows make the sound “caw…”
Well, I think it’s funny. Or at least mildly amusing.
For a series to earn this “honor,” it has to meet two criteria: the last episode has to have debuted at least a year ago, and I have to like the series. A lot. As in enough to re-watch it over and over.
Please join me in welcoming Monster Musume to the Caw of Fame!
Note: There may be spoilers, so please be cautious!
Monster Musume: What’s it About?
This series is all about Kimihito Kurusu, a conscientious young man living on his own, and his constant struggle against a lazy, irresponsible federal cultural exchange agent named Kuroko Smith. See, Japan (lucky country that it is!) has discovered that it has access to a supernatural world where liminals live. Those liminals want to visit and sometimes migrate to Japan, and it’s Smith’s job to make vet potential cultural exchange opportunities. That means she has to find places for these liminals to live while they experience the culture of Japan.
How’s this affect Kimihito? Well, Smith placed Miia, a Lamia, with Kimihito. But that’s all Smith did. She didn’t explain to Kimihito how he had government funds available for things like expanding his home for the larger bodies of the liminals. Smith didn’t explain how he could have applied for reimbursement for food while he hosted a cultural exchange visitor.
The one thing that Smith did explain is that if Kimihito touched Miia in a sexual way, he could be jailed and Miia would be sent back to her world. Forever.
Agent Smith visited Kimihito for one of two reasons. First, she might just want food (or coffee!). Second, she might remind him that if he had sex with Miia, he’d end up in jail. Cheerful, huh? Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.
All stores have to have a source of conflict, right? What I just described might make a decent story conflict all by iteself! But the real conflict, at least in the early episodes, is that Miia is absolutely in love with Kimihito, and Lamias only have a kind of passing respect for rules.
Did I mention that Miia’s beauty is only matched by her advanced (and I mean advanced) capacity for amorousness? Now that’s a source of conflict!
Monster Musume’s Characters
Monster Musume is a harem ecchi comedy. Harems are successful only insofar as the harem characters are interesting. If the harem doesn’t have vibrant and interesting character to root for, the comedy falls flat, the ecchi elements feel rote, then the series just doesn’t work. Furthermore, the main character has to be something other than a void. The more attractive the harem, the higher the bar for the main character. And let’s face it; As a genre, harem series have struggled here.
How does Monster Musume fare?
- Vibrant and interesting characters? Check!
- Ecchi elements? Check! Go ahead and give this a double check. You know, for emphasis. Especially on the Blu-Ray.
- Main character worth falling for? Check!
The characters really make this series. More of less in order of introduction, here they are.
Miia is a Lamia, which means she has the lower body of a snake and the upper body of a woman. It probably goes without saying that she’s a very well-endowed woman, but I like clarity, so I thought it important to mention that.
Miia had three very good reasons for falling for Kimihito. First, when she first arrived in the human world, she felt terribly alone. Smith was a lazy agent who didn’t take the time to acquaint Kimihito with the rules or in any way prepare him for hosting a Lamia. Miia could see the situation. All of the liminals who had been approved to come into the human world had to pass rigorous tests, so they were generally (though not always, as we’ll see!) bright. So when Kimihito dashed off, she feared he head probably gone to cancel the whole visit.
He warmed her heart (literally!) when he brought blankets for her. The one thing Smith had mentioned is that Lamias were cold-blooded, and he had seen her shiver. So, wanting her to be comfortable in her new home, he fetched blankets for her. He got points for being kind to her!
When he ran off, she thought he was going to abandon her. Nope! He wanted to get some blankets to keep her warm! Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.
Second, he fed her well. The dude has two superpowers, and cooking is one of them.
Third, at least at first, Miia had been acting under orders to bring men-folks back to the world of the Lamias, because they needed men to breed. Apparently, their evolution had taken a path that deprived them of male Lamias. It’s an evolutionary mystery that benefited our hero! But over time, the real third reason came to the forefront: Kimihito is honestly a kind man, and Miia came to love about him.
Yes, the rumors that Miia is my favorite liminal are absolutely true. I even purchased her figure and made an unboxing video about it, and I don’t generally make YouTube videos!
Papi is a Harpy, and she’s the exception that proves the rule. She’s not bright. In fact, you could call her a bird brain. It’s a terrible joke, but Kimihito made it first! Papi abducted Kimihito right in front of Miia, and it was for a crazy reason: She wanted a sponsor, because she couldn’t pass the entrance exams. Papi felt terrified that she would be incested — which was how she remembered the word “deported.”
Did our hero remain angry about being kidnapped, even after hearing Papi explain her story? Well, this is Kimihito we’re talking about. He felt sorry for Papi, and he decided to help her by the time Miia caught up with them (Miia was in hot pursuit — man, the Lamia can move fast when they’re angry!). Papi even helped save a child who climbed into a tree and got stuck. Papi’s flying ability came in quite handy! Everything looked happy until the police officer showed up and asked everyone for their IDs.
Guess who didn’t have an ID? Yeah, that was Papi.
Smith, who was responsible for Papi, arrived on scene. Knowing how Kimihito was, she’d printed ID cards for Papi, and Smith was quite happy to leave the Harpy in Kimihito’s care. Even Miia seemed okay with the arrangement, because Papi looked like a child. When Smith pointed out that Harpies are smaller to maintain the ability to fly, Miia changed her tone and personally supervised Papi. That included sleeping with her coils around the bird-brained Harpy so she couldn’t sneak quality time with Kimihito.
I almost felt sorry for Papi. I don’t think this is what she hoped for in a host family! But at least it kept incest off the table. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.
I actually felt bad seeing how badly Papi shivered in fear! Aren’t birds are probably instinctively afraid of snakes?
Centorea Shianus (Cerea to her close friends and the man she fell for — guess who that is!) is a Centaur. Smith’s irresponsibility allowed Centorea to rush about Kimihito’s neighborhood looking for her master. At first, she and Kimihito didn’t get along very well, and there was a good reason for that.
She ran over him at their first meeting.
See, she’d been on a quest, and he was walking home from the grocery store (because Miia’s a hungry liminal), and their paths crossed. By crossed, I mean she sent him flying for about 20 meters. She even had her sword drawn, which Smith wanted to overlook when Kimihito tried to call her for instructions.
Why did Centorea decide to become part of the harem? Simple! First, Kimihito agreed to help her capture a thief who stole a woman’s purse right in front of them. So far so good, right? Then he tried to ride her, which is the same as sexual assault in the Centaur mindset (he wasn’t her master and only her master may ride her). Then he pawed her breasts until her blouse burst open. He also sprayed her with water and freaked her out so bad she crashed into a wall.
Wait, didn’t I say above that Kimihiko was a nice guy? I did, and he is. He had good excuses for everything I just described. He tried to ride her because they had to chase a guy on a motorcycle, and there was no way he could keep up on foot. When she forbade it, he had to awkwardly cling to her side, which meant when she got up to a full gallop, he had to hold onto whatever he could.
And “whatever” happened to be her breasts.
To be fair, Kimihito did the best he could. But then Centorea had to perform some fancy maneuvers, and, well… Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.
The water? That really wasn’t Kimihito’s fault. The thief drove past some guys unloading water bottles, and Centorea used her sword to swat them aside. Her sword also burst one, which turned her blouse transparent. That was part of what freaked her out until she froze and ran into the wall.
You may wonder, given this disaster of a first meeting, what Kimihito actually did to endear her to him. Just this: The thief picked up Centorea’s sword and attacked. Kimihito put himself bodily between the two, and he took the sword stroke across his chest.
Fortunately, Smith was only mostly incompetent. Centorea’s sword was a blunt replica. There was no way even Smith would allow the Centaur to carry a real sword around! But Centorea realized something: Kimihito hadn’t know the sword was fake. He had expected to die. No one had ever put themselves in harm’s way to protect her before. Plus, when Smith explained that trying to ride Centorea was tantamount to sexual assault or worse, Kimihito apologized all over himself. From that point, Centorea was onboard!
Though she seriously didn’t like the idea of sharing a house with Miia and Papi!
Yet More Characters in Monster Musume
Other character entered Kimihito’s orbit, like:
- Rachnera Arachnera: As a giant spider form, Rachnera had difficulty finding a home where she could fit in. Most folks were terrified of spiders, and she actually went on the run out of disgust for her previous hosts and the inept Smith. Fortunately for her, Kimihito is a leg man, and apparently her eight legs hit his strike zone. That, and he impressed her when he offered to cover for her to help her escape when the police circled the building. Which was another sign of his kindness, because he was in the building because she had kidnapped him. Oh, and she’s really into BDSM. Seems pretty good at it, too!
- Meroune Lorelei: A Mermaid, she used a wheelchair to get around on land. Kimihito saved her from crashing into a light pole by hurling hid body in front of her wheelchair, and his willingness to sacrifice himself impressed her. In this, he demonstrated his second super power: Kimihito is indestructible. Meroune is hopelessly addicted to tragedies, and she’s actually rooting for Miia to win Kimihito’s heart — as long as Meroune herself can be the tragically discarded mistress.
Miia didn’t quite get Meroune’s addiction to tragedy. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.
- Suu: Suu is a slime. Generally speaking, she’s not terribly bright. But she can absorb the characteristics of whatever she eats, so there are times she shows bursts of intelligence. She can also identify what’s safe to eat versus what’s not. She and Papi formed a close friendship. I think she’s part of the harem because slimes generally don’t get the chance to become part of the cultural exchange, and Kimihito was kind to her. She also likes playing with Papi.
- Lala: Lala belongs to the race called Dullahan. Those are the headless horsemen from Celtic mythology. She’s overly dramatic and likes to speak as if she’s like the boatman taking people across the river Styx. But she’s really introverted, which gives lots of opportunity for humor. She became part of the harem because she’d fled every other home Smith had tried to put her into. But Kimihito already had a house modified for liminal use, and he agreed to take her in.
That’s not to mention Smith’s special forces group made up of Doppel (a shape-shifter), Manako (the Cyclops marksman), Zombina (the zombie — yeah, the names are sometimes pretty self-referential!), and Tionishia (a very feminine ogre who’s sensitive about her enormous size).
What I Liked About It
There are tons of ecchi harem comedies out there. Why did I pick this one to induct into the Caw of Fame?
Monster Musume Has Heart
Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid probably does it better, but in Monster Musume, the women come together in Kimihito’s house and make it a functioning home. It helped that the government had funded the expansion to accommodate Miia’s length. The government also paid to add a deep pool in the basement where Meroune could swim and keep her gills moist. The attic was enormous so Rachnera could spin her webs in comfort.
Then there were the different dietary considerations. Miia preferred eggs, whereas Centorea required strict vegetarian cuisine. This is where one of Kimihito’s superpowers really shone: Given the ingredients, he could cook anything. He could have taken his place among the great short-order cooks if he wanted to!
Even though the women knew they were rivals, they seemed to work really well together. Miia and Centorea acted as the leaders, which left Rachnera to conduct the family’s special operations like extracting Centorea and Kimihito from a gang trying to take advantage of Centorea’s inability to fight back. Centorea tried to follow the law, which said she could not harm any citizen. Rachnera’s interpretation of the law was slightly more loose, which turned out well for our heroes!
Rachnera couldn’t grasp that not only was Kimihito not afraid of her — he actually wanted to help her. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.
It looked like if you set aside the danger Kimihito constantly faced interacting with large and powerful liminals, the place felt warm and inviting.
Monster Musume Features Superlative Ecchi
I’ve often said that for fan service to be effective, it has to be under the character’s control. I don’t necessarily want to see an accidental up-skirt shots, especially if the character acts embarrassed. I’m not trying to kink-shame anyone who’s into voyeurism. It’s just that it’s not appealing to me.
Now, Miia opening her shirt to encourage Kimihito to get closer to her? That’s perfectly fine! In fact, it’s a big part of this show’s appeal. Miia’s insistence on getting closer to her darling (which is why even Smith calls him Darling-kun), as well as Kimihito’s initial attempts to follow the law and not touch her, were a huge part of the comedy early on.
Monster Musume is filled with moments like that. Most of the cast got a chance to shine in that regard. If you’re going to watch for the ecchi elements, try to get ahold of the Blu Ray. The animators really know how to make these monster girls shine.
Surprisingly Interest Plots
I’m not talking about the perpetual conflict over Plot versus Backstory. Though to be honest, this show argues in favor of both with equal — and compelling! — force. No, I’m talking about actual plot.
Beyond the basic mechanics of stories starting, having an interesting middle, and ending, I’m also talking about plots that let the girls’ personalities shine. In the last episodes, the plot revolved around Lala saying that Kimihito was about to die. So, all of the girls decided they’d get him out of harm’s wall — nearly killing in him the process. Rachnera, ever the practical one, was even in favor of killing him quickly, to get it over with so he wouldn’t suffer. Because as the liminals tried to save him, no one could deny he was in pain! I mean, Papi even flew him through a convenience store sign!
Miia, though, couldn’t stand it. She threw herself on Kimihito to keep Rachnera from touching him. Saying she didn’t understand why he had to die, she vowed to die with him, to be with him in the next world.
I don’t know of a scale to compare levels of affection. But it’s hard not to feel moved by Miia’s willingness to die with Kimihito, if he had to die. Fortunately, he didn’t! Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.
That was really powerful drama for an ecchi harem comedy! To keep it in perspective, Kimihito decided to set multiple death flags and walk out into traffic. Where he was hit. By a radio controlled model car.
Maybe maintaining his perspective in the face of all this insanity is his third superpower.
He used the opportunity to show everyone the power of suggestion. He also called out Lala’s bullshit and forced her to admit she was just being overly dramatic. Again.
I put shows in the Caw of Fame to celebrate what shows I like the best. I’m not saying they compete with Shakespeare. I’m not saying that they challenge the great classical works. I’m not saying that Kimihito punching a jerk in the face for insulting Miia is on par with the Battle of Pelennor Fields.
What I am saying is this: Shows like Monster Musume make me laugh. They help me forget the world for a little while. They give me a window into a place where beauty makes a difference and people helping each other makes life better. Throw in a light ecchi element, and it’s a perfect way to unwind after a tough day. Really, I can’t ask much more of a series than that. And yet, I have found few series that achieve that as well as Monster Musume. That’s why Monster Musume is now in the Caw of Fame.
Other Posts of Interest
- Reddit: [Spoilers] Monster Musume no Iru Nichijou – Episode 1 [Discussion]
- THE CHUUNI CORNER: Review/discussion about: Monster Musume
- Anime Hajime: Anime Hajime Review: Monster Musume – Everyday Life with Monster Girls