I've lamented before about the sorry state of many of Seven Seas' licenses, of how they tend to pick up otaku-bait harems and other fanservice-driven titles.
I am sorry to say that today's review is no exception. Hell, if anything it might be one of the worst titles I've come across from this company.
MONSTER MUSUME (Monster Musume no Iru Nichijo), by Okayado. First published in 2012, and first published in North America in 2013.
Kurusu Kimihito is an ordinary boy (aren't they always?) living in an extraordinary world. A few years back, humanity and liminals (half-animal women) came to an accord, and now the monster girls of every shape and size have incorporated into human society, with legal rights and protections of their own. As part of an exchange program, Kurusu has taken in Miia, a lamia (half-snake) girl who is as clingy as she is lustful. Along the way, Kurusu takes in the child-like, ditzy harpy Papi as well as the proud, formal centaur Centorina. All of them come to love Kurusu, but the treaty forbids Kurusu from acting on any impure thoughts. At least, that's what Kurusu thought, so what's this about using him as a test-run for human-liminal marriage?!
I have seen my fair share of fanservice-heavy manga before, as well as my fair share of harem series, and my expectations for both remain remarkably low. Monster Musume achieves something remarkable in its ability to scrape the very bottom of the harem genre all while achieving gross new heights in blatant fanservice. It's one of the trashiest manga I've ever read.
There are so many questions I have about this universe, all of which go completely unanswered. Why are all the liminals women? Why does a snake girl even NEED panties? Where do all these species come from - are they all from the same place, or different nations? Do they come from Earth or some other dimension or planet? Why do the vast majority have boobs bigger than their heads? There are just so many questions, all of which will never go answered because the mangaka is far more interested in having monster girls take off their tops and hump some dull stand-in of a man.
Kurusu is one of the blandest harem leads you'll see on the shelves, which says a lot considering the towering examples of boredom the genre is known for. He has no personality whatsoever, being only mildy nervous and mildly pervy, who someone wins all these girls over by his stunning ability to be generically nice. Forgive me for launching into a rant, but I will never understand for the life of me why the foundation of so many harems seems to be unspecific, superficial courtesy. These girls are never drawn to the guy because they share some personal interest, share a mutual lust for one another, or because the guy is particularly smart, talented, or charming. Nope, all it takes to get into their pants is a few 'please's and 'thank you's, garnished with a few generic words about friendship, and all the while the girls will be so amazed because NO ONE has ever been THIS NICE to them in their ENTIRE LIVES! As with so many elements of the harem genre, it's just another form of wish-fulfillment for guys who have never had a relationship with anyone that wasn't a hug pillow, for those who want all the rewards of female affection without making any sort of effort to attract or ensnare them beyond the barest of human decency. Oh wait, I forgot the one thing Kurusu does that keeps them near: he gropes them! Apparently regardless of species, the easiest way to win a liminal's heart is to grope her breasts until she achieves orgasm. So there you go - he's a master groper!
Anyway! Back to the characters! The girls surrounding Kurusu are just as dull and plain as him. Those couple of descriptors I used in the Plot section? Yeah, that's all the character development any of them get. Miia is horny and jealous, Papi speaks in the third person, mixes up words, and barely can keep a thought in her head, and Centorina speaks like a LARPer trying too hard. They are all brought together by Agent Plot Device, better known as Ms. Smith. She's there to spout exposition as needed and to torment Kurusu while mooching off of him. She's meant to be comic relief, but the attempts at comedy are just as lame as the romance. The only other attempt at comedy comes from the translation, which is chock-a-block with lame, groan-inducing puns. The sad thing is that this is actually an improvement on much of what I've seen from Seven Seas before. They've had a bad habit of leaving in honorifics and such untranslated, so I'll take full translated puns over 'fu fu fu.'
Monster Musume is lazy and dull. The only inspired thing about it is the fact that it's about a harem of fantasy creatures instead of moeblobs. The characters are shallow, dumb, and clichéd, and the plot ignores all the plot potential of such a universe and settles instead on plot the same old well-worn harem route.
Monster Musume has some of the grossest art I've come across. It's not gross in that it's loaded with blood and guts, but instead in how fragrantly it flaunts its shockingly uncensored fanservice. We're not talking about a few ridiculously sized boobs or a panty shot here and there. It's more like that you can't go four or five pages without somebody's bared and realistically detailed breasts being shoved into frame. The only reason there aren't that many panty shots is that only one of the girls can wear panties in the usual manner. Okayado manages to turn something as innocuous as feeding a harpy girl a popsicle into an improbable and grossly unsubtle semen joke. Papi in particular is the source of the most uncomfortable fanservice in the whole volume, as she is the token loli character. Thus, when she starts stripping or shoving her taint into the frame, you fear that at any moment Chris Hansen will start peering over your shoulder. Honestly, the only thing that keeps this from being hentai is the lack of actual sex. I can't believe this got away with an "Older Teen 16+" rating, because this one of the most sexually explicit and exploitative manga I've seen in general release.
The worst part is because there's so little plot to this volume that the fanservice ends up driving the story forward. This isn't an instance of fanservice distracting from the plot, this is fanservice BECOMING the plot. It's not help that beyond the fanservice, the art is exceedingly plain. The designs for the girls are unremarkable, since more attention was lavished on their breasts than their faces. It is rather convenient that the girls are just humanoid enough so that their faces and breasts are unaffected, and most of the animal parts consist of extraneous things like ears and tales. Expressions are broad as possible, and the girls blush so frequently that you'd think they were stuck in a sauna. Backgrounds are rare - after all, who needs backgrounds when you can just fill the panel with more tits! Better still, make sure to make the panels really big so you can fill them border to border with nipple!
The story was bad enough, but the artwork takes this story to exploitative new lows. I suspect this guy got his start with hentai doujin, and frankly I wish he had stayed there.
There are a couple of (mercifully unexplicit) color pages in the front. The same cannot be said for those in the back, like the couple of pages where the girls compare their assets, or the character profile which mostly serves to define the girls' cup sizes. The only interesting extra was the preview they included for another Seven Seas title, A Centaur's Life. It's a stark contrast to this volume, as the artwork's noticeably better, puts more effort into its universe (mostly in that there are monster boys as well as girls), and the tone is far more gentle and casual, like something out of a shoujo magazine.
If you really want something with monsters and lots of huge shiny tits, there are loads of hentai manga to be found on the internet. I guarantee you that no matter how strange or kinky it may be, it will be better drawn and better written than this travesty.
This series is published by Seven Seas. This series is ongoing in Japan, with four volumes available so far. 1 volume has been published so far, and is currently in print.
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