#1 Cute monster girls
I remember coming across Monster Musume a long time ago. I found its manga online, read the tags and description, and really didn’t think it was for me. I would have skipped it then, were it not for the character design that immediately grabbed my attention.
Monster Musume takes place in a world where humans and monsters are learning to coexist, so an exchange program is set up that main character Kimihito accidentally becomes a part of. He is to take care of a growing number of people, all of them famous fantasy monsters turned into cute anime girls. Miia is a snake girl with a lower body that is meters long, Papi is an excitable but ditzy harpy, Centorea a proud centaur knight whose sword has been exchanged with a prop out of safety concerns, and there are more additions to the cast later down the line.
Each character is fantastically designed, made to look cute and sexy, but also have a humorous side to them. These are designs that are instantly recognizable and very appealing. I was happy when I picked up that manga years ago and I was even happier in 2015 when I learned we were getting an anime version of it.
#2 Cute and funny
Monster Musume is really solid in the comedic department. Kimihito is a straightforward harem character, a helpful and friendly guy who wants the best for the girls, yet is also very overwhelmed by their energy and romantic interest in him.
The show gets a lot of mileage out of the monster-related jokes and mixes these in with more familiar ecchi harem shenanigans. It is particularly good at snappy visual jokes, especially when they involve the slime girl character Suu. It’s also confident enough to push those harem jokes far and the personalities of the cast allow them to do so without it ever getting too weird.
#3 Sexy times are banned
Despite Kimihito being charged with taking care of a number of female monsters, his government contact for the exchange program is quick to remind him that there are important rules in place.
The girls are not allowed to go outside without his presence and he must make sure that they never harm humans or humans harm them, both of which are fair enough. However, the last rule states that sexual relations between monsters and people are forbidden and that puts Kimihito in a bind. His generous, caring nature is quick to endear him to the girls and they are a lustful bunch, which causes a lot of “accidents” to happen around the house.
The “no sex” rule is a fun addition to the typical harem setup and especially cruel because there appears to be no shortage of consent between the characters. Centorea feels she is, through the customs of the Centaur people, already bound to Kimihito, and Miia was there first and already had a romantic bond with him. When the girls start to lose their self-control, Kimihito can do little more than run and hide. Fail to do that and he may find himself at the center of a diplomatic controversy between the two people.
#4 Uncensored fan-service
Like so many other anime before it, Monster Musume first aired on TV censored, which I found to be a lackluster watching experience. With the release of physical copies, the show is now available uncensored and that improves things a bunch. After all, why would anybody watch a harem show with lots of fan-service, when there is nothing to see at all. We know what titties look like and we know bras in these kinds of shows are about as reliable as rural internet connections, so just put them out there in all their glory already!
Joking aside, full nudity makes a lot of sense in the context of the show’s story and it looks a lot more natural when animated. The sexy designs work well and Monster Musume has some great directing when it comes to erotic scenes, so much so that I’ll even admit they were already pretty dang good when the censorship was still in place. Them being uncensored now is the cherry on top, not the entire cake.
There is no doubt in my mind that Monster Musume is in the upper echelons when it comes to fan-service anime and it was totally worth waiting for the uncensored versions to release. Newcomers and veterans of ecchi alike will want to check it out.
#5 The MON squad
The first half of the show is mostly concerned with character introductions and fun storylines involving the girls, but the second portion has a bit of a mysterious bend as Kimihito begins to receive threatening letters presumably written by a monster.
For cases like these, the government has a military special ops unit consisting entirely of monster girls, which specialize in resolving crimes committed by monsters. While they don’t get nearly as much screen-time, the stories with the MON squad, short for Monster Ops: Neutralization, are always good for a laugh and show us an aspect of Monster Musume‘s world that is interesting to think about and could actually work quite well in a more serious, action-oriented spin-off.
While the mystery story features a lot in the second half of the anime, the conclusions are often still comedic and it’s not long until the girls from MON get involved with the harem antics as well.