Education is important. As human beings, we are constantly learning new and amazing things about the world we live in that change the way we see our lives in the vast expanse of our universe.
In the midst of this discovery, we have to ask ourselves increasingly complicated questions.
Is this planet all we’ll ever know?
Is there life beyond our own out there?
Is there any truth to the legendary monsters of yore?
If there is, are they cute girls?
Such is the world of Interviews With Monster Girls, a rather charming anime released earlier this year.
Our hero, Tetsuo Takahashi, is a biology teacher at Shibasaki High School, where human students are living alongside recently discovered demi-humans (usually referred to as demis).
It just so happens that Tetsuo has a real affinity for demis, and as a biologist wants to know more about them. So who better to give scientific answers than teenagers who probably don’t really know where they fit in the world, right?
Luckily for Tetsuo, there’s a whole host of perfect interview candidates at Shibasaki. We first encounter Hikari Takanashi, a lively vampire easily identified by her shock of blond hair and mischievous attitude.
She is soon joined by Kyoko Machi, a shy red-headed dullahan…
…and Yuki Kusakabe, a snow woman, the extent of whose ice powers is that her sweat freezes when she’s nervous.
There’s also a non-student demi, Sakie Satou, the most powerful succubus in Japan who also happens to be a math teacher.
Together, our hero and heroines seek a better understanding of demis for the betterment of all. Isn’t idle curiosity grand?
One of the best things for me about the series, aside from the absolutely wonderful artwork and animation, is the focus on the science of the demi-humans. Light as the overall tone may be, there are many questions that arise when using them as a plot device. How does a dullahan eat? Do vampires really hate garlic? How can Sakie possibly be so adorable? Who IS Best Girl???
The series is so pure and innocent it’s practically an anomaly in the grand crazy world of anime. The animation and art remind me of modern anime movies, with soft warm colours and bright, airy exchanges between characters.
That’s not to say the series never gets emotional. It’s been posited that Interviews… is something of an allegory for disabilities or chronic health conditions. I’ll leave this article by Peter Fobian to elucidate; but think about the special needs, as it were, that our heroines require.
Kyoko needs help in her daily life – a pillow to lay her head on during class, a harness for when she’s eating; Yuki is bullied because she doesn’t want to get too close to people in case she freezes them; and Sachie has to be extremely careful about what she wears and does in case pupils are exposed to her pheromones.
It very much becomes clear that these young ladies really just want someone to treat them with respect. Curiosity may be Tetsuo’s main motivation, but he genuinely does care for his students, and maybe that’s all they really wanted – a friend to talk to in the big wide world that doesn’t quite understand them.
Also interesting is the fact that the main character himself is a full adult. Too many series go straight to the standard shonen high school boy as a hero, so it’s nice to see a responsible (27-year-old, beefy) adult be in the limelight for a change.
Despite this high praise, the series isn’t without its problems. A few plot threads go completely unanswered, like the sudden appearance of the succubus-specialised police investigator and his sidekick, a young man named Kurtz, who is supposedly the ultimate weapon against succubi. This statement is never clarified – is he an incubus? Secretly a girl? Does it matter? Then why bring it up?
Still, such issues are few and far between, and not really deal breakers. Overall, I thought Interviews… was funny, cute and generally pretty great. Full marks.
One of the most pleasant slice-of-life series I’ve had the fortune of watching. Interviews With Monster Girls is smart, funny, thought-provoking and well worth watching.