Part 142: "Tetsuo Takahashi Wants an Interview" (Pt. 1)The votes still on, but
Interviews with Monster Girls, Episode 1: "Tetsuo Takahashi Wants an Interview" (Pt. 1)
Once upon a time, there was a series of porn comics that was turned into a proper manga, then an anime. Known as Everyday Life with Monster Girls, it took the world by storm, its mixture of likable characters and borderline softcore pornography making it one of the most profitable anime of its time.
This is not that animes story.
Demi-chan wa Kataritai (literally Demi wants to talk) was a completely unrelated manga released about the same time. It, too, focused on women who were also legendary supernatural creatures, but instead of a raucous sex comedy featuring members of human subspecies moving in on some guys house, it was cheerful, squeaky-clean, and focused on teenagers who just had traits of said creatures dealing with ordinary life. So when it came time to import it to the west, the translators looked at it, went lets capitalize on this completely unrelated works popularity, and dubbed it Interviews with Monster Girls. The anime made a modest impact, getting positive reviews and nominations for a couple awards it lost out on, but it hit never hit big time. It still has a small but respectable fan base.
None of whom seem to realize its a thinly veiled examination of what its like to live as a disabled teenager.
So lets fix that.
This will be a livereview of the anime. Ill be taking screenshots and describing the action while inserting commentary and drawing connections in the text; If youve ever seen someone liveblog or liveread something, this is basically that with a slightly different format. Please let me know what does and doesnt work; Im new to this and I can definitely improve.
We open a young woman humming to herself just outside a building at night.
A passerby on the sidewalk turns at the sound.
We see her face
And so does he.
She turns to face him
And we get the opening. Ill go over it at a strategic point a few episodes ahead, but its basically an extended character introduction and I think its best we let the anime introduce them at its own pace. Also, the OP is aggressively anime and I dont want to listen to it any longer than I have to.
Back to the standoff.
Or not, we jump to the same building a school in the middle of the day. Apparently theres a new teacher on the way, but shes late on her first day. Whoever speaking (the principal?) starts sniping at her for that to the silent disinterest to the rest of the room.
The guy on the right is Takahashi Tetsuo (Im using Japanese naming conventions, surname first), a high school biology teacher and our male protagonist. As the first guy drones on in the background, a generic coworker rolls his chair up next to him and asks him about demi-humans; apparently, Takahashi wanted to make them the topic of his college thesis, but his application got denied because he was just looking to be a biology teacher. The subject was too delicate and the people involved are too rare. Hes never even met one. Whyre you so interested, the other guy asks?
He says he wants to interview them, while making this face and cooing. Not a good start there, champ.
At that moment, a flustered young woman stumbles into the room and tries to apologize.
Shes a bit ranty. Apparently, the train she was going to take was too crowded, and thats why shes late. The guy who was insulting her behind her back completely changes his tune when he hears this, to Takahashis confusion. The other teacher explains that it makes sense as she introduces herself
Because Satou Sakie, a new math teacher, is also a demi-human, specifically a succubus. Gotta admit, I winced when I saw this. I winced because announcing that youre disabled to a room full of new coworkers is almost never a good idea in the real world. Ableism is just too widespread; at best youre asking to be pigeonholed and at worst you just got yourself fired. Many employers can and will get rid of you if they find that out, and the fact that firing someone for having a disability is illegal in most places doesnt even factor in. Many people straight up dont know that, or they know that the enforcement mechanisms in place are slow, inconsistent, and often expensive. And thats not counting what coworkers might do, anything from gallantly protecting you from responsibilities to hazing you out of the office. Ive seen it. Its happened to me. But were dealing with a fluffy idealistic slice of life anime right now, and it appears, in this fictional world, that may not apply.
Kinda stings, though.
Infodump time! Apparently, some people possess traits or abilities that line up with depictions of mythological creatures. These demi-humans have been persecuted up until recently, but discriminations been on the decline for a while, with the help of an entire government office specifically for demi-human welfare. They offer support to demi-humans who live with any sort of disadvantage and help them live normal lives.
Goddamnit, you can tell I was taking screenshots on my phone . I only noticed this while editing the update, so its too late to fix it. This wont happen again, I promise.
Now, being a demi-human is seen as just another aspect of ones identity. So, folks whose bodies but them at a disadvantage in society are offered support and now simply embrace those differences as part of their identity? Yeah, sounds a lot like the end goal of many disability activist organizations. Hopefully the writersll follow through on that they deliberately examine it later.
The whole schools busy preparing for some festival, a lot like in KS at the end of Act 1 (its a Japanese thing). Satous pondering her handiwork when Takahashi walks up behind her to ask her a question
And she gasps and slithers her way over to a wall. The animation is a lot better than you expect in a slice of life anime, but the facial expressions especially are reaction image-grade and Satou provides at least 30% of the best ones. Takahashi introduces himself, offers her a handshake
And shes so eager to make her escape she knocks over a stepladder, then picks it up to hold him off. She frantically starts to explain that shes a succubus and that means he cant come close to her
And he just apologizes, steps back, and resumes normal conversation while respecting her boundaries. That, kids, is how you deal with someone asking you to respect their needs and accommodations. A lot of peoples first instinct is to frantically apologize when they make this kind of mistake, and that just makes an awkward roadblock of a situation even more awkward; other people get offended and dig in, and of course that makes everything even worse. But no. Takahashi seamlessly accepts the role he played in the mixup, apologizes for it, and moves along. Either hes just that nice a guy, or hes literally done his homework on demi-humans.
As for why she needs those accommodations, well get into that later. But seriously, if someone asks you to respect reasonable accommodations like that, just do it. A lot of people will be like but why should I do x and that is rude at best, just assume a person minding their own business isnt trying to punk you or screw you over for no reason and go about your day.
Also worth noting: Satous seiyuu is superb. She could have played this scene pitiable or confrontational, but instead she went for over-the-top slapstick intensity and it worked, it took something that could have been uncomfortable in any number of ways and made it silly enough not to cut too deep while not diminishing her character or weakening the scenes impact.
It turns out that Satous noticed Takahashi watching her from a distance and is understandably nervous that hes there to gawk at the succubus something which a lot of people with visible disabilities are unpleasantly familiar with. He tries to defend himself but just digs himself in deeper, and she slides away making a face.
After a a few days later title card
He runs into her again at the sink outside the bathrooms ( why?), tries to apologize again, and she beat a hasty retreat again, dodging around another guy as he walks in the door. Hes kind of like until
The girl from the other day runs up behind him.
Apparently, that was the night before school started and she was basically scoping the place out before marching in the next day; when she saw him, she understandably bugged out. Now, though, shes a lot friendlier
And more excitable
And most of all, extremely expressive. This is Takanashi Hikari, the primary female protagonist and source of another 30% of the animes potential reaction images. Shes here to get help for a classmate. He tags along without question, asserting he can judge a students health with one look at her face.
Too bad that doesnt apply. Hikari identifies her as a Dullahan, which Takahashi identifies as a demi-human whose head and body are naturally separate. Hikari already carried her head to the nurses office, but for her body, she needed somebody way bigger.
Takahashi immediately asks if he can touch her flame. Well, at least he ASKS, and when Hikari is kind of , he decides not to. Respect her bodily autonomy, dude. Takahashi marvels that there are two demi-humans in school this year
And in the most contrived incident in the anime, a THIRD demi-human rolls by at that exact moment: a yuki-onna who apparently overheated in gym class. The classmates carrying her stretcher roar straight by them to the nurses office, and Hikaris like oh, a snow woman too, neato. When Takahashi asks her why shes being so blasé about this, she responds
That shes a vampire.
Timeskip! Hikari comes out of the nurses office to tell Takahashi both the dullahan and yuki-onna have only minor health issues and will be okay. He confesses hes surprised to meet so many demi-humans all at once.
Every piece of media about minority issues has to have this moment, the moment where any main characters who arent members of that minority make their starting position clear. Judging by Hikaris reaction here (and notice how similar her facial expression is to Satous earlier in the episode), paean to increasing tolerance or not, shes faced enough discrimination in the past to become familiar with the quiet, dismayed disappointment so many people feel when they discover someone they got along with is still prejudiced against them.
He quickly acts to counter that perception, making it clear hes been interested in meeting demi-humans for years and is just kind of startled so many stumbled into his life like that.
She accepts this and expresses her relief in a suitably anime fashion. They go their separate ways, but before she leaves, she has one last thing to say.
Demi-human, while not actually offensive, is apparently out of date and unpopular with people her age; its too clinical and not cute.
Instead, they just use demi. And thats where the demi in the title comes from.
All right, were 10 minutes into the episode and we have six pages of text and 45 images already, so we should probably reel this one in for now. But now that weve hit a natural stopping point, lets see what weve already run into in the first half of the first episode:
- Differences in a persons body resulting in discrimination
- Bodily differences as a form of identity
- Government assistance
- Workplace accommodations
- Etiquette when implementing those accommodations
- Bodily differences resulting in health issues (seriously, her introduction is shes a snow woman and she overheated)
- Concealed prejudice
- Preferred terminology by generation (see Naming disability corner)
That was a lot more fun to do than I expected. I plan on continuing this review once in a while, when I have the time and energy, but Id appreciate it if you had any input on length, picture size, picture density, whatever. Make the next round easier on me, thats a lot of images to cut into a post.