I dropped everything to watch this. I'd had about half a dozen shows on the go, but ep.1 made me ignore them all and just marathon this show. I've finished it now, but I'm hoping for a second season.
Tetsuo Takahashi is a biology teacher who's interested in demi-humans. There are lots of them in the world. They've stopped hiding, they face much less discrimination these days and the government even has welfare programs for them. Tetsuo would love to interview some of them for a thesis, but he doesn't know any... or so he thinks. In fact, though, there are four at his school. Three are schoolgirls and one's a teacher.
1. Hikari's a vampire (hyperactive, funny, loves life, less keen on studying),
2. Kyouko's a dullahan (carries around her own decapitated head, but otherwise nice and normal) and
3. Yuki's an example of the Japanese mythological being called a snow woman (shy, worries about being a danger to others, secretly likes puns and dirty jokes).
4. As for the teacher, that's Satou-sensei the succubus (wears unflattering clothes, never lets anyone touch her, gets up at 4am in order to ride an empty train to work).
It's basically a show of people talking to each other. Tetsuo finds out stuff, which is often helpful for the girls themselves. They explore what it's like to be different. They portray the awkwardness of ordinary people painfully avoiding the obvious in conversation. They show some of the ways in which our monster girls have tied themselves in knots emotionally, often unnecessarily. You could easily call this a metaphor for the experiences of any number of minority groups and I think that emotional resonance is meaningful, but at the end of the day I think it's talking specifically about vampires, dullahans, snow women and succubi. Tetsuo is a biology teacher and he loves trying to think through the girls' powers and unique challenges. For Kyouko, he'll even call in a professor for high-level physics. This is satisfying to watch, since it's always enjoyable when a show's thinking hard about things.
You'll probably be full of questions about our heroines. How does Kyouko eat? Does Hikari really just drink blood? Do Satou's powers also work on women and/or gay men? Are the monsters ever tempted to misbehave and, if so, were they dangerous when they were toddlers with no self-control? Fortunately, though, Tetsuo will probably ask those questions and find interesting answers.
There's some one-sided romance, but it's mostly understated. Hikari likes Tetsuo, but she also likes the entire world and she's so explosively positive that it can be hard to see underneath her comedy surface. (Watch her long enough and you'll see that she's capable of deliberately hiding her feelings under bubbliness.) It's hard to say with her. There's nothing from Yuki. Kyouko falls for Tetsuo, which is stated explicitly as early as ep.2, but this then fades into the background because Kyouko's too modest and gentle to make a move. Besides, he's a teacher and they're his students. Nothing's ever going to happen. He doesn't see them that way, as is demonstrated by his blindness to potential innuendo. "Would you like to check out my body?" Completely relaxed answer: yes, definitely. You're a dullahan! The other monster girls could just be mutations or something, but a dullahan's physiology defies common sense and looks inexplicable without magic. Pretty soon they're talking high-level physics.
The exception is Satou-sensei. This could be argued to be the show's weakest element, but I think that's probably because we've seen too many characters like her in more exploitative contexts. Satou has, ironically, no romantic or sexual experience. She keeps the world at arm's length. She lives in a cottage in the woods and she worries about whether it's possible for a man to love her romantically, since he'll have been clobbered by her involuntary aphrodisiac aura and will probably just be thinking with his dick. Thus, when she does something she's never done before and simply makes friends with Tetsuo, she starts behaving like a smitten teenager. This looks not unlike a million sleazy harem shows, but I think it's deeper (and lonelier) than that.
It's a charming show. One of the most important characters, for example, is Hikari's twin sister who only occasionally appears. (They're twins, but Himari is human. Hikari wasn't bitten or anything. They were born that way.) What's cool about Himari is that she couldn't care less about Hikari's vampire nature and instead is always grumbling at her for stealing Himari's sweets, making her late for school and generally being a twin sister. It's another cool angle on the show's message of "monsters are just people, you know".
What's this show about? What's its closest real-world parallel? Maybe that's disabled people, but I'm sure pretty much anyone could empathise with what it's saying about diversity and labels. Ep.11 in particular asks some slightly uncomfortable questions. That's what makes the show resonant, but it's also, more simply, charming. I don't think anyone could fail to love Hikari. She's funny, she's delightful and occasionally she has "rewind and watch that again" facial expressions. It's not a plot-driven piece, although there's character development, but that doesn't matter. It's fun just hanging out with the gang and enjoying random conversations like the Edible Arm Rankings in ep.8. I want a second season. Maybe I should buy the manga?