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Monster Musume Complete Collection Blu-ray Anime Review

11 min read

Monster Musume Blu-ray CoverIt’s not easy living with a monster girl and it’s even worse with a half-dozen or more of them.

What They Say:
No one expected the government to suddenly acknowledge the existence of demi-human species like harpies and centaurs, but when a careless Integration Agent shows up on Kimihito Kurusu’s doorstep with an attractive Lamia in tow, he suddenly finds himself designated as a “Host Family”. This might not be so bad, except that while Miia’s top half is all girl and quickly develops a crush on her new human host, her snakelike bottom half makes that crush literal with a tendency to squeeze the life out of him! Plus, there’s also the little problem that it’s illegal for humans and non-humans to have THOSE kinds of relationships.

With woman-in-black Agent Smith always sniffing about for improprieties, things only get more hectic in the Kurusu household when bird-brained Papi the harpy and master-seeking centaur Centorea need places to roost and stable. As the house gets crowded with even more captivating cuties, can any human male survive under such tempestuous and tempting conditions?

The Review:
Audio:
The audio presentation for this series brings us the original Japanese language track in stereo along with the new English language dub, both of which are encoded using the DTS-HD MA lossless codec. The series is one that works a good balance of action and dialogue where it’s more on the dialogue side but loud and overacted dialogue and comedy. The action elements hit familiar notes with some solid placement as needed and good mix design but the dialogue is where things shine a bit more. There are several characters on screen at any given time as it moves forward and they do their best to get word in edgewise, which means fun placement, but we also get lots of big and loud moments with a good bit of projection coming from the actors on both tracks that make for a lot of fun. It’s not going to stand out in a big way but it’s a solidly and well-executed mix for both tracks that delivers a fun show.

Video:
Originally airing in 2015, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. The twelve episodes of the TV series are spread across two discs with nine on the first and three on the second while the third disc has the two OVAs and the shorts. Animated by Lerche for the main show, the series has a bright, vivid, and very colorful approach with lots of fluid motion for the high quality areas that you’d expect, notably all that nudity. The character designs are great, the blending with the detailed backgrounds fits well, and the color quality is definitely spot on in presenting something that will catch the eye and appeal to a lot of people. The encoding is spot on here in giving it a very solid look with vivid colors and keeping all the high motion elements looking crisp and problem free, making for a very happy and positive experience throughout.

Packaging:
The packaging for this release brings us a standard sized Blu-ray case with a hinge inside that holds two of the three discs with the third against the back wall. The front cover artwork is a familiar key visual set against a soft white background that features most of the main cast of characters, sans our lead male of course, showing off their designs and smiles that gives clue to their personality. It’s a very busy piece that works in one sense but ends up drawing focus in too many areas in another. It’s also a bit soft with the background color used combined with the petals that just makes it feel a little weird. The back cover is a little more traditional with pinks and whites as the main colors and we get a nice shot of Papi and Suu to the left where Papi’s panties are fully on display. The premise is well covered and we get some nice shots from the show that would work better if they were larger. The extras are clearly listed and the technical grid breaks everything down smoothly and accurately. No show related inserts are included nor is there a reversible cover.

Menu:
The menu design for this release lets the fanservice fly, especially on the first disc, where we get some good still images of the main cast. The first one in particular stands out with a soapy bathing scene that has all the assets fully on display for the first three girls. The navigation is kept to the left with a busy piece of pinks while doing the selections in a white pill form with yellows, pinks, and blues thrown into it as well. It’s not garish and it does work in its own way with the nature of the show but it just feels like too much when something a little simpler and cleaner might have worked better. The navigation is quick and easy to use both as the main menu and as the pop-up menu during playback.

Extras:
Sentai delivers on the extras in a big way here with a lot to like. The release has a very good selection to choose from with the clean opening and closings, the various TV Spots and promotional videos, but also some fun with about eight minutes of music video material that highlights various characters pretty well. The big extra for many fans are the shorts that are included on the third disc alongside the two OVAs. There are about 54 of them or so done up in chunks of four that are pretty quick hit little “in the life of” pieces with camcorder style approach. Fans will be thrilled to have more but after the first dozen or so it just got to be too much for me and I kind of tuned out on it.

Some early solicitations included dub outtakes but those are not included with this set.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Based on the manga series by Okayado, Monster Musume is a summer 2016 anime series animated by studio Lerche. With a popular manga that began in Monthly Comic Ryū back in 2012 that has gotten its twelve volumes out in Japan and a North American release through Seven Seas Entertainment, there was a lot of anticipation for the show when it was first announced. With its focus on monster girls and the cutiefication of monsters in general with a hapless male lead, it has all the right ingredients to be a success, though whether it can move beyond a short term thing and become something more remains to be seen. But with seven volumes of material, there’s more than enough for this show to mine to flex itself.

The series takes place in a world where there are certain creatures of myth that are actually real, and have only been revealed to be so a few years ago. This means things like centaurs, snake girls and more are all in the real world. To help cope with this to some degree, a cultural exchange program was created so that the various species could interact with each other. Enter Kimihito, a young normal male high school student that got put into one such program and has found himself amid all of these young women that are interested in him because he’s the odd and unusual one. While it can go for your basic comedy in many ways, it also goes for your very pervy comedy as we see Kimihito waking up in bed with Miia next to him, a rather fiery redheaded young snake-woman. She tightens her grip on him but he basically gets her off by squeezing the end of her tail in a really erotic way. It nearly kills him with how she tightens, but the pervy nature is strong with this one.

While Miia is living with Kimihito, they’re also watched from time to time with a coordinator, a purple haired woman named Smith that ensures that the exchange students aren’t hurt or taken advantage of by humans. There’s some frank prohibitions between species, especially since Miia’s a representative and her being made impure would cause all sorts of complications – and it’s against the law. The show covers a lot of the foundations of how this world works in the first half of it with the way that Miia and Smith bring their various aspects to the table and it works well because even when it gets pervy, there isn’t a rushed feeling about it and the exposition itself is minimal. It teaches the viewer in a decent way while still leaving you asking the same questions, such as how does Miia use the toilet. But all that goes out the window when we see just how intent Miia is in seducing Kimihito.

Though the world hasn’t ended with the introduction of monsters into it, there are still plenty of people that stop and stare as one might imagine. Such is the case when the two go out on a date since it’s such an unusual site. Some changes we do see are some stores changing to accommodate monsters, which means wider aisles and higher ceilings, though the first one they come across is a lingerie store of course. And Miia takes full advantage of that until she gets weirdly upset about panties. We also see how Miia gets laughed at by others that aren’t properly respectful, which turns things dangerous at times – for both Kimihito and Miia. Having them escape to a love hotel is pretty much expected once we saw Smith forbid such things, and it just provides a lot more opportunity for silliness and sexiness, which is a hugely defining aspect of the show.

And that’s not a bad thing. I love fanservice. I love sexuality. I’m a big fan of hentai and the soft core shows like this that won’t quite go the distance for obvious reasons. The show sets up a solid foundation here with a lot of things you have to overlook when it comes to real world elements but you’re more than fine with that because that’s not the point of it. Hell, you’ll even overlook the fact that there aren’t any other guys in the series other than some token extras in the backgrounds once in a while because this show is all about pleasing the male viewers (and a number of female viewers) with lots of scantily clad women in various forms and shapes. I can totally work with that because if done well, which a lot of this is, you can easily get into it. I’ll even give a pass to the way the show forces in some kind of larger “plot” in the last couple of episodes to try and give it a bit more weight, a tactic that’s just clunky at best with shows like this.

What doesn’t work for me, and it’s because of it adapting the manga and adhering to that structure, is the way that it introduces the girls. The original work and by extension the anime is so intent on introducing us to so many characters so we can get big wacky group hijinks underway that it ends up becoming an overstuffed mess where you don’t actually get to engage with the characters. It makes me long for the way the Urusei Yatsura show worked where while we had a lot of characters early on it didn’t really expand big for a while and kept a lot of characters in supporting roles. What this show needed, and others like it, is something I’m sort of scared to say. It needed to be adapted like the original Sailor Moon anime in that there’s a lot of anime original episodes between the character introductions so that we get to know each of them, invest in them and their stories with how they are and how they connect, so that when it is a big group of characters nobody really gets lost.

With this series we start off with Miia and it’s easy to like her and the way she is. When we get the birdlike Papi in the next episode with a more childlike nature about her it does give Miia a chance to be a little parental for a bit but mostly it’s about Papi or Miia’s overreactions to losing Kimihito. When we then introduc Centorea as the centaur and then Suu as the slime and then quickly move into so many other characters like Mero and Rachnera – all of which end up living with Kimihito – it becomes a mess as they get their stories and then are just part of the pack. The get their quirks and then that’s it, they just react to the latest addition, such as Lala the Dullaan or a range of other characters that become support for Smith out there, like Zombina or Tionishia. The more characters introduced where they get an episode to dominate and then to be a part of the whole it just turned the show into more white noise.

On the plus side, it just meant a lot more boobs to look at. Not much ass, though, because that’s where the creature side was often utilized. As frustrated as I am by the way the characters are introduced and lack of good stories or characterization for them, I was delighted with the visuals and the awkward sexuality that comes into play because of it, particularly as some are very forward in dealing with Kimihito. The quality of the designs is great, there’s some creativity when it comes to how their clothes work, and putting them into this house where it gets built and added onto in order to meet their needs makes for some good fun. It all works in context and looks weird without it, but when you remember that the whole thing is just a silly sexy romp you kind of overlook those kinds of details and just enjoy the run of it in this regard.

In Summary:
While I didn’t go into Monster Musume with high story expectations I did go in with a certain level of fanservice expectation and the show met that pretty well. We get a good range of girls that our lead has to deal with and there’s lots of sexiness, silliness, and over the top action from time to time in order to show a very flimsy bond that exists between them all. It’s light material that will play better if you don’t marathon it and just enjoy it for the good work that it is and the kind of high-quality anime level fanservice it wants to partake of. The set is pretty solidly put together with plenty to like there with a good bu, great looking encoding, and some very good extras that will bring a big grin to most fans faces. If you’ve been waiting to own this since it first came out then you’ll be pretty pleased.

Features:
Japanese DTS-HD MA 2.0 Language, English DTS-HD MA 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Music Videos, Japanese TV Spots & Promos, Almost Every Day! Shorts, Clean Opening Animation and Clean Closing Animation

Content Grade: B
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: A
Packaging Grade: B
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: A-

Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: July 25th, 2017
MSRP: $69.98
Running Time: 350 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen

Review Equipment:
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

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