Disorder Reviews: Monster Musume (2015) + UPDATE: Thoughts on the Commodification of Women

Rate this Disorder Reviews review

  • I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Little Women

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • The Taming of the Shrew

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • American Psycho

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Final Fantasy X-2.5 ~Price of Eternity~

    Votes: 0 0.0%

  • Total voters
    4

Martintox

Mister Disorder
Legacy
Apr 3, 2020
16,010
76
53
Martintox Presents: Disorder Reviews

Rating System


----

MONSTER MUSUME: EVERYDAY LIFE WITH MONSTER GIRLS


Director: Tatsuya Yoshihara
Script: Kazuyuki Fudeyasu
Music: Hiroaki Tsutsumi, manzo
Initial Airing Date: 7 July 2015 - 22 September 2015
# of Episodes: 12

----​

It's often argued that the analysis of media as a reflection of social norms is a primarily western phenomenon, one which extends from an "unreasonable fascination" with sociopolitical schools of thought such as feminism and intersectionality. While this claim mainly serves to shut down conversations on the topic as opposed to expanding on the debate, it's perfectly correct as a statement of fact: The United States' origins as an immigrant nation, combined with its tumultuous history of territorial conquest justified by the principle of "manifest destiny" (to say nothing of segregation and other social injustices), has made it an ideal setting for thought and writing of the sort. Non-Western countries, rather obviously, have had very different experiences and perspectives in that field across history, and have thus developed values of their own -- it would be naive to think otherwise. However, it would be just as naive to say it's bigoted to discuss foreign media from an outsider perspective simply because of this cultural difference; a tradition has no intrinsic value based on the sole merit that it is a tradition. I feel that fans of Japanese animation take advantage of Americans' fear of cultural insensitivity to deflect criticism of shows that present dubious values; unfortunately for them, I'm a second-wave feminist, not a filthy intersectionalist.

Truth be told, if I merely wanted to look into Japan's stereotypical depiction of women's role in society as well as in relation to the male sex, I could have reviewed plenty of other anime instead of Monster Musume, some of which could be seen as even more egregious (Rising of the Shield Hero, which I may also review in the future, comes to mind). However, this show's approach is particularly interesting. In short, student Kimihito Kurusu inadvertently becomes part of an exchange program in which he must shelter various human-animal hybrids under the legal condition that he cannot procreate with them. Coincidentally, these liminal creatures are all female, and include a lamia, a slime, a mermaid, a harpy, a centaur, and so on. This is as far as the story goes: much of the series consists of Kurusu's attempts to help his guests integrate into society, as well as resist their persistent sexual advances. In terms of visual/audio presentation, it's your average mid-2010s anime through and through -- thus, the main appeal is the protagonist's predicament.

Although Monster Musume did not invent the concept of the monster girl in anime, it may well be one of the most popular examples of its usage. Many Japanese animated series that focus on relationships of the such have a tendency to make each member of the leading couple the near polar opposite of the other; since these shows (which are not limited to harem anime like Musume) are often meant for men, what results is that the male protagonist is more down-to-earth, whereas the love interest holds a whimsical or fantastical element that serves as the catalyst for the rest of the story. The "manic pixie dream girl" is a well-known instance of this idea, but what matters is that the two are metaphorically worlds apart, and it is primarily the female of the group that initiates the bridging of this gap. Although Monster Musume does not even go as far as to present an overarching romantic arc, given the supposedly comedic element of the premise, this dynamic is still present, as the multiple members of the proverbial "harem" ferociously vie for Kurusu's attention.

Beyond serving a mere narrative purpose, this type of contrast between characters makes it easy for a male viewer with little experience interacting with women to latch on to the narrative without feeling threatened by notions of responsibility or the such. In this sort of depicted relationship, the female is always proactive and willing to satisfy the male: case in point, much of the humor in Musume centers around the monster girls' sexual desire for Kurusu, who has the obligation to overcome his urges for fear of reprisal. It's worth noting that the protagonist himself does not display particularly misogynistic or otherwise exploitative behavior, but even so, an implicit statement is made: while the man understands the negative legal consequences of procreating, the women do not. The former is portrayed as a voice of reason, as well as a victim (albeit in a comical sense) to the desires of the naive and overeager females.

A stereotypical male anime fan would find such an idealized relationship (where well-endowed women do all the leg work in building it) profoundly appealing, as it would require little intervention on his behalf. Even when a female character asks something of the leading man, there are few meaningful stakes to these demands. Furthermore, if Kurusu's predicament serves as a set-up for many jokes, so can the emotional twists and turns of his partners; for instance, if one of them believes she has let him down in some form, her ensuing response of despair is meant to draw a humorous reaction, all the more so if this anguish is disproportionate to the cause of this possible disappointment. In sum, there is little danger in a hypothetical rapport of the sort, and a devoted viewer might find this unrealistic lack of risk as a sign of these fictional women's "superiority" to real women. When asked about the appeal of monster girls, some individuals on the internet may answer: "There's monster girls in real life, but there, the monster is on the inside."

It would be hard to consider Monster Musume outright malicious in its intentions, since it draws its comical elements out of the absurdity of its premise and the predicament of the main character (putting aside all the imagery clearly meant for sexual stimulation), but given its success as well as the presence of its characters in "waifu" discussions, it exemplifies in its own special way how media overseas can still reflect subtle forms of male insecurity. It would be condescending to believe that Japan don't know better, but it's certain that they have a long way to go when it comes to discarding these outdated social ideas. If the country that brought us the feminist landmark that is Neon Genesis Evangelion is also able to badly misinterpret it, then it is no wonder that it would continue pumping out shows like Musume.

----

PERSONAL RATING: **
RECOMMENDATION RATING: **½
LETTERED RATING: C-


----​
 

Sneed's SeednFeed

Elite Member
Apr 10, 2020
267
97
33
Country
Azerbaijan
This reminded me of my dad's flashbacks about the Iraqi invasions, and how every once in a while he said he's glad that he's muslim and didn't succumb to alcoholism for that would make him truly wretched.

Sadly, Monster Musume is both the alcohol and Saddam raining bombs on Shias at the same time and the wretched are those that have to tolerate anime's insistence upon reality, the dogmatism of which is worse than any religion's.

Thank you for ruining my day, I hope you gargle cinammon and syrup.
 

SupahEwok

Malapropic Homophone
Legacy
Apr 3, 2020
3,159
1,047
118
Country
Texas
Just watch porn if you're feeling this desperate. At least porn gets on with it.
Anime does strange things to the brain. At some point those who partake, known colloquially as "fucking weebs", find a perverse sensual pleasure in the condition known as "blue-balls" that they experience vicariously through the protagonist. It is notably strange, given that one wouldn't think that the "fucking weebs" needed an anime to feel blue-balled at all.
 

Latif

Senior Member
Apr 13, 2020
35
31
23
Country
Arabicastan
Interesting, I do find your feminist reading to be accurate but I like to add that a major herald and propagator of misogyny within our contemporary era is capitalism; it intentionally targets men of weak will and spirit with the promise of a world, an ideal, where they as a man is valued, dominant, and agent. It objectifies and turns women subservient not because of the mere idea of a slave-woman, a doll by which sexual fantasies is projected unto, is inherently appealing to men but rather as a consequence of the initial promise of agency. It turns on them , saying "Go on, leave us, without us you are not a man, woman do not find value in you, and you will never experience sex/eroticism! Your life will remain incomplete!"
But, in the extreme case, is remaining a virgin such a deplorable thing? Of course not, men and women throughout history embraced celibacy as a means of spiritual agency and enlightenment, embracing life in more than its physicality through asceticism, but in capitalism you cannot sell such things. Sure, you can print half a dozen bibles and be exploitative in offers of "indulgences", but nonetheless, you cannot find the kingdom of heaven on earth, nor can our materialistic understanding of science can grasp the ideas of soul, self, and ego. These things cannot be sold since it involves introspection and self meditation. There was an attempt, but such commodification never aspire above the feeble attempts of cults. So what can be commodified? It has to be a material or exists within physicality to be sold but it must be associated with an abstract or ideal to be an exceptionally successful commodity. For example, you cannot sell "love", you cannot grab a kilo of love and offer it as a commodity but you can sell the promise of love, such with the absolutely heretical "Valentines Day"; chocolates, perfumes, dresses, movie tickets, you name it. It has the promise of love without actually giving the empty soul what it covets but that is the perfect breading ground for capitalism because it can 'sell' coveted abstracts/spirituality with material objects, thus infinite loop of consumption is created.

It's no wonder why obese Asian Cartoon obsessed kafirs find the opposite sex repulsive; they've been constantly feed a coveted desire until the sin of coveting reached its peak. Truly they become the lowest of Allah's creatures.That is the true irony; through the normalisation of sex via commodification it transformed it to a thing most alien.
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: Sneed's SeednFeed

SupahEwok

Malapropic Homophone
Legacy
Apr 3, 2020
3,159
1,047
118
Country
Texas
But, in the extreme case, is remaining a virgin such a deplorable thing? Of course not, men and women throughout history embraced celibacy as a means of spiritual agency and enlightenment, embracing life in more than its physicality through asceticism, but in capitalism you cannot sell such things.
No, I'm pretty sure in capitalism you can still buy and sell child sex slaves.
 

fOx

Elite Member
Apr 13, 2020
439
291
68
Country
United States
Interesting, I do find your feminist reading to be accurate but I like to add that a major herald and propagator of misogyny within our contemporary era is capitalism; it intentionally targets men of weak will and spirit with the promise of a world, an ideal, where they as a man is valued, dominant, and agent. It objectifies and turns women subservient not because of the mere idea of a slave-woman, a doll by which sexual fantasies is projected unto, is inherently appealing to men but rather as a consequence of the initial promise of agency. It turns on them , saying "Go on, leave us, without us you are not a man, woman do not find value in you, and you will never experience sex/eroticism! Your life will remain incomplete!"
But, in the extreme case, is remaining a virgin such a deplorable thing? Of course not, men and women throughout history embraced celibacy as a means of spiritual agency and enlightenment, embracing life in more than its physicality through asceticism, but in capitalism you cannot sell such things. Sure, you can print half a dozen bibles and be exploitative in offers of "indulgences", but nonetheless, you cannot find the kingdom of heaven on earth, nor can our materialistic understanding of science can grasp the ideas of soul, self, and ego. These things cannot be sold since it involves introspection and self meditation. There was an attempt, but such commodification never aspire above the feeble attempts of cults. So what can be commodified? It has to be a material or exists within physicality to be sold but it must be associated with an abstract or ideal to be an exceptionally successful commodity. For example, you cannot sell "love", you cannot grab a kilo of love and offer it as a commodity but you can sell the promise of love, such with the absolutely heretical "Valentines Day"; chocolates, perfumes, dresses, movie tickets, you name it. It has the promise of love without actually giving the empty soul what it covets but that is the perfect breading ground for capitalism because it can 'sell' coveted abstracts/spirituality with material objects, thus infinite loop of consumption is created.

It's no wonder why obese Asian Cartoon obsessed kafirs find the opposite sex repulsive; they've been constantly feed a coveted desire until the sin of coveting reached its peak. Truly they become the lowest of Allah's creatures.That is the true irony; through the normalisation of sex via commodification it transformed it to a thing most alien.
But can't sex be a spiritual experiance as well? If our body is a temple, surely we should invite as many people in as possible, so as to spread the good word?
 

Latif

Senior Member
Apr 13, 2020
35
31
23
Country
Arabicastan
But can't sex be a spiritual experiance as well? If our body is a temple, surely we should invite as many people in as possible, so as to spread the good word?
Maybe maybe not, since the right of judgement is reserved to The Lord not a mortal being such as I; I may offer wisdom, advice, or even warnings but the path to enlightenment is a path Son of Adam ought to walk with their own volition.

Nonetheless, that does not diminish my critique of capitalism and its shameless exploitation,
 

Worgen

Follower of the Glorious Sun Butt.
Legacy
Apr 4, 2020
1,552
434
88
Gender
Whatever, just wash your hands.
That would have been a much more interesting show if they got rid of the main guy, he was the most boring bore that bored a bore while boring a whole to boreville to meet with the bores in the moores with additional bores. But, the girls were actually fun, give them a Azumanga Daioh type show thing together.
 

Martintox

Mister Disorder
Legacy
Apr 3, 2020
16,010
76
53
UPDATE: a few thoughts on the commodification of women

With so much discussion taking place not only in this thread, but across the entire forum, I must stress that this review of Monster Musume is not merely supposed to address its stereotypical representation of women -- there are plenty of other shows and movies that are not only more egregiously misogynistic, but also much more enjoyable than any harem anime. The great problem underlying Monster Musume and other shows of its kind is that they, along with most contemporary Japanese media, serve as a vehicle for the commodification of women, something that is not only reductive to the female sex, but also outright dangerous to the moral fiber of men if approached without caution. If the point of harem anime is to offer cheap sexual thrills by presenting a scenario where a male character (often portrayed as devoid of personality so that viewers can identify with him easily, assuming they do not feel personally attacked by his blandness instead) benefits from the advances of multiple women eager to take the initiative in building a relationship, then we can easily see that most animes, mangas, or Japanese video games operate on a variation of this idea.

As @Latif has very astutely pointed out, there is nothing wrong with lacking interest in an intimate relationship, let alone being a virgin. While many people find value in love, sex, and marriage, none of those are necessary in leading a satisfying life. However, the concept of love is deeply rooted in society, and nearly ubiquitous in art throughout history. The easily influenced will have little problem believing that they must abide by the conventions of society, and therefore find a partner with whom to lose their virginity so as to be a decent member of their community. In other words, social norms tell us that romance is something to be actively pursued. Thus, companies engage in aggressive advertising so as to prey on men who are insecure enough in their lack of a relationship to buy products that are meant to "solve" this problem. However, this solution is generally a shallow substitute that intentionally amplifies this self-doubt -- if the point really was to fix this issue, the money would stop coming in. On the contrary, it's preferable that such a man form a bond with this substitute, so that he'll continue to buy the product in order to keep the illusion going. The "waifu" phenomenon is the logical conclusion of this insidious business practice: Japanese media offers the fantasy of a loving woman for the express purpose of encouraging its audience to spend more money for the same "experience". Fate/Grand Order has grossed over 4 billion dollars by exploiting men who have developed a sense of commitment to a given female character, regardless of the fact that the idealized woman whom they desire does not exist in any physical capacity.

What's even worse is that some of these people are well aware they are spending money on something that does not even remotely resemble a true romantic relationship; it's here that we properly touch upon the commodification of women. The use of slang such as "best girl" and "your waifu a shit" is indicative of a consumer that sees women as products that can be compared, put into categories, and assessed critically. "Tomboys are better than MILFs." "Flat is justice." The "fuck, marry, kill" game. Such people don't want an actual relationship anymore: they indulge a fantasy where they pore over every detail of what they consider the perfect woman, and derive sexual gratification from all sorts of disturbing scenarios (I'll limit myself to pointing out the fascination over completely non-sexual parts of the body such as armpits; I feel any decent forum would give me a warning if I were to give a more graphic example). They make a fetish of just about anything they can imagine, because you can idealize and fetishize anything that you don't actually experience. Some will go as far as to flaunt their warped sexual desires as a badge of honor; they find it better to dream, because reality will never meet their unrealistic expectations. After all, to such individuals, "monster girls are better than real girls because the monster's on the outside."

If you find this unconvincing, all you need to do is remember the recent trend that consists of associating restaurant chains with different types of romantic/sexual partners you won't actually see in real life (e.g. "Femboy Hooters", "Tomboy Outback", etc.). Furthermore, the Wendy's mascot became a fairly popular "waifu" for some time in the mid-2010s. By that logic, women are as much of a commodity as fast food.
 
Last edited: