In a world where succubi, dullahans, snow women and vampires walk among us, how do teenage “demi-humans” – or as they prefer to be called, “demis” – survive high school?
Currently streaming on Crunchyroll, Interviews with Monster Girls is a cutesy, slice-of-life anime about what it’s like to be different from everyone else around you. And not just different like, ‘oh, I have many deep feelings and have read Vonnegut, so not one of my peers understands me.' Different like, ‘my head isn’t attached to my body, and my neck is a flickering blue flame of exposed nerve endings.'
Our narrator is Tetsuo Takahashi, a high school biology teacher who has wanted to meet and interview “demis” for years – all in the name of research of course. As luck would have it, when school returns in the new year, there are three new demi students enrolled at the school, plus a maths teacher who is a succubus, Sakie Sato.
One of the students, the bright and energetic Hikari, is a vampire; the shy Machi is a dullahan, whose head is detached from her body; and the timid Kusakabe is a snow woman, whose body emits ice and cold air when she feels negative emotions.
Interviews with Monster Girls has a True Blood vibe – stay with me – in the sense that it’s set in a version of our world where supernatural creatures have come out of the metaphorical closet. And, like True Blood, Interviews with Monster Girls uses the idea of demis to explore the prejudices and lack of understanding that minorities in our own society face.
Perhaps what this series does best is, yes, exploring the difficulties that come from being different; but dealing with subtler conflicts, instead of a plotline that depicts the demis being outcasts, ostracised or bullied. The other kids at their school aren’t obviously bigoted – at least not that the viewer has seen yet.
Rather, the human kids don’t always know what’s appropriate to ask someone who is different, or what terminology to use, or how to help people who are differently-abled. It’s those kind of conflicts that the show does a good job of exploring.
The most uncomfortable part of the show so far is the extent to which the premise could veer into a ‘harem’ anime. While Takahashi doesn’t appear to have an ulterior motive behind the friendship and support he provides his students – aside from wanting to learn about their lives – all three of the teenage demis have a crush on their teacher.
Even more uncomfortably, some of the questions Takahashi asks the girls during their ‘interviews’ are completely unacceptable (for example, equating drinking blood and sexual desire while talking to his 14-year-old vampire student). It’s all a bit typical of the monster girl genre.
For the most part, the tone of the series is cutesy, comedic and enjoyable. At the time of writing, there are seven episodes currently streaming on Crunchyroll, and the best of those has been (by far) episode seven. It introduces a few new characters, and what might actually be an ongoing subplot – always a welcome addition to slice-of-life shows, which can lose momentum after a few episodes.
And now, for episode eight…
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