Dullahans and Dating: Notes on the Physically Different in Interviews with Monster Girls Episode 2

Warning: Contains spoilers!

In Irish folklore, the dullahan is a headless human, robed in black and holding his head to see from vantage points that no human could see from. He was also a harbinger of death: one word from the dullahan, and you die.

Episode 2 of Interviews with Monster Girls features high schooler Kyoko Machi, a modern-day dullahan and one of only three in the entire world. Sweet, easily flustered, and simply wanting affection, her personality doesn’t match what you’d expect from a traditional dullahan.

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Physically, she’s more of a match. Kyoko has inherited the dullahan’s headlessness, and with it the need to constantly carry around her own head. This one attribute distinguishes her from the other demis at school, who still look human.

It’s also what makes friendships difficult. Humans and even other types of demis tend to act surprised or uneasy during an introduction. Except for the ever-supportive Hikari and now Takahashi, everyone else is afraid of mentioning the elephant in the room—though other topics are okay.

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The focus of this episode is communicating and empathizing with others who are physically different from “normal” people. There are so many thoughtful details included. Kyoko has to drop everything and crouch on the street if her mom calls her, because her bag can’t be carried on her back. She has to place her head in certain positions so she can sleep and bathe properly. She develops motion sickness during her “experimental” date with Takahashi because he’s not used to balancing her head. The yuki onna, perhaps in a misunderstanding, immediately leaves as soon as she sees her.

The one light amongst the students is Hikari. She listens to Kyoko when she confesses about her love interest,  pointedly asking her why her dullahan nature would exclude a normal romantic life. She understands that Kyoko, a sweet dullahan who quite literally relies on others to hold up her head, just wants to be friends with her classmates and coddled by a boyfriend.

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Now, Kyoko is learning how to make that happen. The vehicle is her teacher (and now her crush) Takahashi, who tells her some solid advice about communicating what other classmates can and can’t ask about. He emphasizes that her classmates are having a tough time figuring out how to talk to her, and that they don’t necessarily dislike her. In the second half of the episode, he goodheartedly goes on a date with her, set up by the devious Hikari.

Although the date takes up a lot of the episode, Takahashi seems more of a background character, letting Kyoko and her likability be the focus. No matter how different she might look, she’s just like other girls—many, many anime girls included—who develop crushes on their teachers, and still others who are teased for it incessantly by their friends.

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6 thoughts on “Dullahans and Dating: Notes on the Physically Different in Interviews with Monster Girls Episode 2

  1. edsamac says:

    I like how you point out that Takahashi is the ostensible protagonist, and yet at the same time is pretty much a background character. The show is taking an episodic approach to introduce each of the heroines, but it’s really Takahashi who plays the role of “not sticking out in order to make the girls stick out”. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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