Can focusing too much on a single goal be a bad thing, even if a person’s intentions are good? That question sits at the center of this episode, starting with a tense encounter between Tetsuo and the vice principal. The boss suggests that Tetsuo’s work with the demi-humans is causing him to neglect his other responsibilities, as well as making the girls too dependent on one person for help. This conversation sends ripples throughout the school, and just about everyone thinks long and hard about their own views on the subject. With Tetsuo starting to question his own methods, it’s up to Hikari to get the other demis together and assure him that he’s doing the right thing.
I didn’t expect Interviews with Monster Girls to deal with this topic so directly, but I’m glad it did. This episode helps to address an issue that’s been lurking under the surface of the series for a while; it often seems like Tetsuo isn’t so much a teacher as a special counselor for his three demi-human students. The good news is that the show manages to deal with this issue in a way that plays to its strengths. This series tends to do well when it puts a couple of characters together in a room and lets them have a candid conversation with one another. It seems like a simple thing to do, but that direct exchange of ideas allows the show to cover some interesting and occasionally complicated ideas. It’s good to see Tetsuo do a little soul-searching of his own, and I appreciate the way the vice principal is portrayed as a reasonable person doing his job instead of as a shallow antagonist.
Letting the human students have a discussion of their own is also an interesting move, even if it feels like the choice of characters is determined solely by who’s already had a speaking role. Regardless of how they end up sitting at a table together, the four of them are able to address the topic of communicating with someone who’s fundamentally different from you. We’ve seen some of these points before, especially when it comes to thinking of demis as both regular people and unique beings at the same time. Still, the discussion touches on an important idea: even if you want to make someone feel included, there’s not always an obvious way to make it happen.
The demi-humans are perhaps the most predictable in terms of their viewpoints, but this is partly because we know more about their personalities. Their most important contribution to this episode is not so much their conversation about how to help Tetsuo, but rather the video that they end up sending him. Sure, it’s overly sweet and drags on a little too long. Even so, it makes for an emotionally compelling scene and does a nice job of pointing out the effect Tetsuo has had on the people around him. The girls’ monologues are also very much in character, whether it’s Yuki talking circles around herself or Machi having a thought-out message ready to go. Hikari steals the show, however, acting as the driving force behind the video in a way that suits her character well. For once, it’s the demi-humans who find a way to help Tetsuo.
Apart from some minor hiccups, this is a strong episode. It captures that frank and open spirit of discussion that made the series so charming early in the season, and it doesn’t shy away from dealing with some reasonably deep topics. Sure, it goes out of its way to tie up everything with a neat little bow, but it puts in enough effort to earn that tidy conclusion. With at least one more episode left to go, Interviews with Monster Girls may find it difficult to come up with a finale that tops this week’s story. As problems go, that’s a pretty good one to have.
Interviews with Monster Girls is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.