Interspecies Reviewers the TV anime was a fun and thought-provoking series, but it only seems that way if you are in a certain contextual zone. The executive summary is not too much more than that a fantasy RPG-type universe group of adventurers got a side gig as brothel reviewers, and crowdfunded their escapades using some funky bulletin board distribution system powered by centaurs.
Fantasy Brothel Yelp was not what I had in mind when I first watched this, and it suddenly dawned on me why this is such a gripping concept for me. It’s basically the same reason why I blog anime: I want to wax poetry about a fairly niche interest and talk about it with like-minded folks. Some of the very early anime blogs and tumblrs are not too far from what makes up sample review entries on Interspecies Reviewers, or Ishuzoku Reviewers.
Early on in its broadcast run, Ishuzoku Reviewers kicked up some storm because of the explicit content and how some TV stations and streaming services dropped it. There was a satellite/cable only, uncensored version of the show being broadcasted. It wasn’t really uniquely racy content-wise, at least what you see. The subject matter, however, is quite explicit. I mean, to use memes to explain, this is not some Virgin softcore, skinnymax-style. This is about Chads going around having sex with prostitutes of otherworldly natures, many times per episode. They talk about not even just the physics of the thing, not just the various kinks, of course some being off-limits in general. Put aside even the kinks that are forbidden in their fantasy worlds. There are just some pretty bread-and-butter brothel talk that is just not appropriate anywhere but within the association of sex work patreons. If it isn’t obvious, know this is not appropriate material for TV generally, anywhere. The meta-ness of the story made any of its explicit content worse than it actually looks like. People trying to understand it from the manga alone probably has no real grip on its explicitness.
Without the bounds of reality, Interspecies Reviewers plays out some really funky fantasies (like the Eggs episode or the Undead episode), as well as some borderline Twilight Zone concepts (slime magician, large quantity succubi), but obviously it is light-hearted and for laughs. It does do some things tongue-in-cheek, nodding at its own fantasy being fantastic, and the real world being entirely different in some aspects. It also demonstrates an open-mindedness that can exist in that fantasy vacuum about gender, about the marketplace, and about the circumstances of those who ply the trade.
It’s in this context that we see some really progressive and also regressive takes, all in the pursuit of pleasure. But of course, it’s important to never forget the underpinning and the cultural space in which Interspecies Reviewer can be an acceptable work, that it is light-hearted enough to be taken as late-night anime and taken-at-value enough to not get too riled up by the fact that even if this is fantasy, it only exists in a society where a very developed, a very real, and very accessible sex industry thrives.
And that is a totally different topic, one I’m not interested in reviewing (but like the Dragonkin who became a wizard at the end, definitely interested in knowing more of). Frankly, it’s very difficult to even participate beyond the borders of that country anyways. If I were to write about it, it would to extend the thought I’ve had and shared with some folks about exporting things like theme cafes and maid bars, which is already very Galapagos-y to survive outside of Japan. It’d die on contact without great care. The rest of that service industry is a huge iceberg a mile deep and a mile tall, and I don’t know even the shadow of it.