Did you know that centaurs, mermaids, and harpies really exist, and they’ve been living in secret in Japan? Monster Musume features a Japanese government that has formally acknowledged the existence of liminal species. To foster goodwill between humans and liminals, Japan launched the Interspecies Cultural Exchange Act, which allows liminals to live with host families and learn about human culture. Monitored by the government, liminals abide by rules that include non-violent interaction with humans and most importantly, absolutely no sex! However, the latter rule proves difficult to follow as Kurusu Kimihito finds himself surrounded by a harem of sexy monster girls.
The first volume of Monster Musume introduces readers to Kimihito, who was accidentally chosen as a host family after a government agent—the loopy Ms. Smith—delivers a lamia named Mia to his house. The snake girl falls head over tail for Kimihito, taking every opportunity to get him hot and bothered by rubbing his face in between her large breasts or coiling him up with her tail, unaware that she is cutting off his air supply. Adding more girls complicates matters, as a good harem story should, because Mia sees the harpy Papi and buxom centaur Centorea as romantic rivals. All three women vie for Kimihito’s affections without much concern for his personal safety. In a final twist, Ms. Smith arrives with news that Kimihito has been chosen for a new pilot program that will allow humans to marry a liminal.
Volume two picks up after this bombshell as the girls use lingerie and sultry moves to seduce Kimihito into marriage. However, this plot is dropped immediately when a slime girl invades the house. Suu, as she is eventually called, lacks a physical form and comes with her own set of challenges. As a slime, she feeds off water, which can change her body type, but she must avoid large volumes of it or… she’ll be killed? Absorbed? Turned into a 50-foot-tall monster? Unfortunately, the book isn’t very clear on this subject. After a few bumps in the road, Suu is welcomed into the family, but not before Ms. Smith arrives to dump another girl into Kimihito’s lap. This time, she’s a mermaid.
Rather than explore the challenges and sociological ramifications of integrating two species, Monster Musume is all about titillation. Okayado has packed both volumes with enough nudity and sexual humor that it barely falls short of hentai. Given its adult content, I’m surprised that publisher Seven Seas gave it an Older Teen (16+) rating. Okayado doesn’t shy away from sex and adult humor and makes use of every situational opportunity to elicit arousal. For example, consider the shedding of Mia’s snake skin: one can almost hear the cheesy saxophone soundtrack as Mia moans, blushes, whimpers, and wiggles while Kimihito removes her dead skin. There’s also a popsicle scene that I won’t describe in great detail, though I will say that it is absurdly shameless. Okayado loves to depict women in wet shirts, which would explain their sudden clumsiness when placed in close proximity to water; never one to let a cheap thrill pass by, you can expect to see a girl in a drenched, tight, and opaque blouse whenever the liquid is present.
Suu’s arrival heralds a higher level of tawdry eroticism. When Papi accidentally spills water on herself—again with the water!—Suu immediately jumps on top of the harpy and proceeds to lick, suck, and tongue the water from the other girl’s skin. Naturally, Mia and Centorea get wet as well and the slime girl goes to town on them both, their apparent orgasms represented by a falling flower petal. Nudity isn’t an afterthought in Monster Musume; it’s a promise. Although this is fine for the mature-looking Mia and Centorea, the youthful appearance of Papi and Suu can be a little risque.
Is Monster Musume worth recommending? The story is unoriginal and the characters have boilerplate personalities, though it has its moments. Ms. Smith provides a number of laughs and the introduction of a mermaid to the group dynamic raises all sorts of questions. I even liked the artwork, ridiculous as the characters’ proportions may be. Monster girls come with their own set of artistic challenges and Okayado shows a deft hand in drawing scenes and action that account for their unique appendages. However, these first two volumes are not without concerns. The writing (or its translation) can be painfully corny and the sudden loss of the marriage plot suggests that the author doesn’t have a solid direction for the series to come. There’s also the question of whether a book that includes so much nudity should be rated for teens. It’s not my place to say what is appropriate for individual readers, but Okayado’s artwork and plot lines are more than a little outrageous. Although there are worse things out there, the sexual content is cause for hesitation.
Given its content, I’d be surprised if Monster Musume could maintain a complaint-free existence in a teen library collection, and it may be best to play it safe and catalog it for adults. Unless patrons are clamoring for sexy monster girl comics, however, there would be no harm in passing on this title.
Monster Musume, vols. 1-2
Vol. 1 ISBN: 9781937867904
Vol. 2 ISBN: 9781626920033
Seven Seas Entertainment, 2013-2014
Publisher Age Rating: OT (16+)