A discussion between the human Stunk and the elf Zel about who's best out of a 50 year old human and a 400 year old elf lead to them both tasking their closest friend, beastman Bruise and halfling Kanchal to write reviews for the two. Deciding to post them on the information board in a whim, their reviews turned out to be surprisingly popular -- you can read the information on the board for free, but you also pay for a printed copy you can take with you -- which eventually lead to a booming (and surprisingly well paid) new profession for our band of heroes; reviewing brothels and the kind of girls you meet and have sex with there.
Along for the ride is the angel Crimvael, who, due to his broken halo, can't return to heaven until it has mended itself.
I don't often gel with kneejerk reactions to shows and their concepts, but I have to admit I can understand why people would be cautious about this. The prostitution industry in our own world can be sketchy as hell, depending on where you are, the worst examples being downright depressing studies of human abuse and trafficking. And even beyond that, we live in a world where just the idea of having sex to someone who we're not married to, or at least in a relationship with, can be various degrees of frowned upon. So, before you go into this review at all, you should ask yourself this: how interested are you in reading a review about a group of men going around having sex with various girls in brothel-like settings, and then writing about their experiences there. Because if your answer to that is a resounding "Hell, no! Why would I even want to do that?", you might as well just stop here. Pretend this show doesn't exist.
That said; in doing that, you would actually be missing out on a show that turned out to be surprisingly entertaining and well thought out. Granted, I wasn't sure what to expect myself, so color me surprised when the show turned out to be pretty sex positive in a way that should make anyone in on this feel quite comfortable, save one or two exceptions that the show itself even points out can be a bit questionable. At least in what one could expect or should be allowed to do to a human.... well, humanoid being. We'll get into that a bit more later, though, because at the root, the sex industry in this fantasy world does take the girls' safety very seriously; mistreat the girls, and you're looking at a lifetime ban from that establishment -- the one that lets you live out a weirdly scripted "rape" fantasy in particular has a very distinct set of rules about how it works, as it's more about role play than someone actually raping someone else. S&M without all the latex, basically.
Interestingly enough, the only time in this show where a participant's security is not catered to, it's a very special brothel where you can hire some time with a group of real-blooded, low-rank succubus, and whoever chooses to enter has to sign a contract agreeing that any customer taking permanent damage or even dying is their own responsibility, and said brothel is not to be held accountable for anything bad that happens inside. In fact, the only reason our "heroes" survive throwing themselves to the girls like pieces of meat to ravenous wolves... is a timely intervention by a rather large group of orcs.
In fact, one of the reasons that Interspecies Reviewers is such a positive surprise is because of how well thought out it is. Aside from delving into the various aspects of the different races you find -- be that elves, catgirls, cowgirls, demons, slime girls, harpies and much, much more -- most of them have distinct personalities that probably only feel a bit more porn-y due to them working in the sex industry. The races do get a bit shoehorned, in that cowgirls and harpies in the industry are referred to as generally submissive. Then again, our recurring female non-sexworker character in the show, Meidri, is anything but. She's a harpy bar maid working at Ale & Eat, a local bar and eatery. She often loudly berates the guys about their perversions, Stunk in particular, but otherwise doesn't tell them what they should or shouldn't do, and the only times she gets violent is when the guys -- again, mostly Stunk -- steps over the line in various degrees. The time she gets the most angry is when our group of certified geniuses visit the golem brothel -- which sort of functions as a "build your own sex doll" store of sorts -- and make themselves a perfect copy of Meidri herself, but with different personalities, and quite frankly, she got all the right to be upset about that. All that said, she'll still post their reviews on the wall when asked, and also provide printouts to whoever asks for that. Given that Stunk and Zel are capable of great physical feats -- with some limitations, granted, but almost nobody can survive the low-ranking succubus brothel, so I'm not going to hold that against them -- I'm not really all that bothered by her railing on Stunk when he steps over the line.
And it's actually kind of hilarious watching what the show can get away with when it comes to imagery. While you won't be seeing any sexual organs directly (sans boobs, if you think they count), the show can be rather creative at times. We even get a rather imaginative barbeque scene when Stunk, Zel and Crim go visiting the lands of the Salamander, whom in this show exhude so much heat that our boys can actually eat bbq food right off her body. And then they bring out the sausages -- as in actual sausages, not their penises. Due to their body heat, however, Stunk and Zel wouldn't be able to enjoy their services -- their penises would've been barbecued to a crisp if they tried. But surprisingly enough, Crim -- due to his heat resistance from being an angel and all -- had a really enjoyable time with her. Then again, Crim has it in him to surprise people. While he identifies as male, at least according to the show, he actually comes with the sexual organs of both men and women. And while the show doesn't come out and say it, he's acting like this is the standard for all angels, so take of that what you will. Other examples can be found in when the lads visit a myconid brothel and the audience gets a large serving of mushrooms being... eaten, or when they visit a high-ranking brothel staffed with fullblooded, high-ranking succubi, and Crim's experience was quite efficiently symbolized with the help of a bottle of mayo.
Even more amusing is how the show sometimes bends your expectations out of shape. When our band of brothers visit a cyclops brothel and are told that they specialize in sizes, rated in cup sizes, you'd think they were talking boobs. But nope, turns out the pride of the cyclops is all in the size of their one eyeball, and Kanchal, who asked for the biggest one, ended up with a girl who could stare into your very soul. And that's not even taking into account the revelation that our boys were actually hired to do that job for a change rather than deciding where to go, and why they were hired to do so. If you've read this far, I can only assume you're on board with seeing this show, so I won't spoil that revelation for you, other than saying it was actually kind of adorable.
For all the years I've been doing this, I also don't think I've ever seen a show that so much nails the concept and purpose of a review. I've seen and heard of my share of content creators taking their petty little revenges on reviewers because of some bad press, but I've also seen my share of franchises that sort of depend on bad press to trump up attention -- there's no such thing as bad publicity, or so they say. But much like I try to when I write these, the importance of a review isn't as much the score as making sure you point out all the aspects to a show and stay true to your own subjective self, because it's up to the reader to read the review and decide their own preferences and counter-subjectification, if need be. For an in-show example, Stunk and Crim's displeasure of the fairy brothel not allowing for large penis sizes proved to be a boon for the brothel in question, because it attracted a lot of people who were insecure abouth their own more reserved sizes. And even more importantly, it can bring to light some of the more problematic aspects of some of the other cultures, like how the demon people are all about contracts to the point where it's basically a fetish, so it goes to say that doing proper business preparations is alpha and omega when dealing with them, because they'd be equally happy either way. Knowing is half the battle, after all, and the best skirmishes is one that benefits both parts, which also has the added bonus of clearing out misunderstandings. In the end, it's the information provided that's important, not the number -- or number of stars, if you will -- at the end that carries the most weight. Interestingly enough, the people who read the review often comments on a score of 7 out of 10 being a "high score", which is quite frankly the funniest thing I ever heard pertaining to reviews in general, as too many people will only consider top marks worth following, and by rating something as 7, I might as well have rated it 3. The law of averages sure have been bent rather savagely upwards in our own society, which puts a rather unfortunate precedence, no?
So, before I go into the more technical aspects of this show, I'm going to talk a bit about the things in Interspecies Reviewers that made me feel a little bit uncomfortable. The aforementioned "rape fantasy" brothel is one of them, albeit that particular aspect was still lessened a bit by the fact that we're made aware that said brothel is there to fulfill a specific need, albeit rules are still in place to protect the girls. Basically, you sort of choose a play that puts the customer in the dominant role and then you play out the kind of fantasies that the brothel's costume room can cater to. And the episode is actually rather amusing since they bring Crim along, who just can't deal with being dominating, much less villainous, and hearing the others get lambasted by the prostitutes for bringing in someone as innocent as him to their "rape" dungeon actually got a laugh out of me, as did Kanchal's displeasure of ending up with a "victim" with terrible acting abilities.
More problematic is the thing that goes down in episode 10, which both the best and worst aspect to the whole thing in one single package. The boys visit the capital where the archmage Demia lives. See, in addition to working on and providing most of the magical applicants of this world -- and there's a really neat conversation between her and the demon leader Death Abyss that covers why this world don't have to worry about STD's or unwanted pregnancies -- this brothel basically works in that you hire a decoy body of Demia herself for three days, wherein you're free to do anything you like with her. If you don't think that sounds too bad, let me emphasis the key word here: "anything". As the show outright states, if you wanted to, you could spend those three days torturing said clone to death, as long as you didn't do that out in public. In fact, several people have, according to one of her. And honestly, the only thing that saves that particular aspect after the show brings it up is how Kanchal looks positively repulsed by the mere thought of it, and this is the guy who were by far the most invested in the roleplay dungeon mentioned in the last paragraph. Thankfully, all of them -- Stunk and Zel in particular -- chose more productive ways to have their three days. Stunk basically mused on how it all felt like having an actual girlfriend, which is probably a difficult thing to have for adventurers who spend a lot of their time on the road -- while Zel chose to take advantage of Demia's status as the arch mage to get an education on advanced magic in addition to that sweet, sweet sex. And the reason why you get three days is because said body basically dissolves into sparks of light, presumably rejoining Demia herself -- so that if you come back again, the clone you'll get will still have the memories from your last date. How that pertains to if you chose to take the "torture to death" route, I'd... rather not dwell on.
There is also an episode that deal with some rather odd fetishes, like the one where patrons go to an aquarium to see various girl species lay eggs, although that one is more like a strip show than an actual brothel, as you don't get to have sex with any of the girls there. In fact, trying to get too frisky on stage will see you quickly dealt with, if not necessarily thrown out outright. Then again, since this show by and large deals with nonhuman species, you could call the whole thing a fetish show -- the aforementioned golem brothel aside, there's also how sex with a fairy would work. And on a more bizarre note, the show refers to the sex workers as "succu-girls", because as the show puts it, if you trace the lineage of a girl far enough back, you'll definitely find some succubus blood in there somewhere.
It's also worth noting that some of the races, like the halflings, looks a bit too much like children, which can and probably will make some people uncomfortable. The show does point this out, although I'm not sure I can say that this makes it more right. In addition, Crim also does look a bit young to be a part of this, although part of the joke regarding him seems to be that despite this, he's packing the biggest tool out of all of them, even the relatively well endowed Stunk. Meidri's reaction to this information is probably one of the more priceless reaction shots in the entire show.
The language on display in Interspecies Reviewers, including the ones in the opener and ender songs, is also remarkable in how direct it is. As one would expect from a show centered around sex, there are more references and metaphors than one could ever shake one's stick at, and the characters in the show engage in more good-natured ribbing than what I'm accustomed to seeing. One of the lizard guy regulars in the Ale & Eat regularly gets ribbed for being a virgin, but all those instances leads up to a great joke in the last episode that I only understood because I know of a certain urban legend that originated in Japan.
On a technical front, Interspecies Reviewers is actually animated pretty well. Fanservice shows in general don't often get the full treatment when it comes to animation, but despite the show's highly cartoonish style, it just looks really nice. And even outside of the walls of a brothel, there's just such a wonderful diversity in races -- heck, even when the egg-laying episode tried pulling a bait-and-switch on you by showing the silhouette of a sexy female body, only to then have her turn out to be a crocodile woman who is more crocodile than human, I found myself laughing at the absurdity of it all. Even some of the beast races looked like proper beast races, like the catgirls and the hyena girl you meet, the latter who is apparently often hired by men who drink a sex-change potion to experience sex as a woman would, but aren't comfortable with having a man doing it. There is also a lovely diversity in how the various races approach women, as the reason the whole reviewing business got started to begin with is an argument between Stunk and Zel over who is the best sexual partner. Stunk prefers them looking young and pretty, so he has no problems doing it with elves well into their hundreds. However, as it turns out, living for that long will make your mana either smell or just feel bad, which is a negative for most of the species, as elves have a keen sense for magic, and most of the other races have a much keener sense of smell than humans do. And so, said 50 year old human actually won the initial review battle, much to the surprise of Stunk.
Even more impressively, while the general attitude is that while miss Mitsue isn't super popular because she looks a bit older than most other succu-girls, regardless of actual age, she is indeed honestly loved by Zel to the point where she's his choice for the new year's first lay is her. The other girls are also seen interacting with her a lot, and respect her for being a veteran at the job, and while she might be involved in a few jokes about her looks, she isn't specifically being treated as a joke by the show itself. In a weird turnaround, when the guys went to the genderswap brothel, Stunk once again picked an older elf girl, who looked a bit put off when she entered the room and noticed Stunk's nonhuman friends, who wasted no time going into full "he wants to sleep with that?" mode. You can tell she isn't super happy to hear it, and it sort of brings into perspective why Elma -- the elf girl from the very beginning of the show -- is happy to see Stunk; he's obviously happy to be with her -- well, he's obviously happy to be with a lot of girls.
By and large, Interspecies Reviewers have proven to be among the better sex positive shows out there. I'm still a bit leery on the topic of prostitution itself, but admittedly, that has more to do with how this world is treating its prostitutes rather than how Interspecies Reviewers are treating them... for the most part. It's got some infectious opening and ending themes that perfectly encapsulates the kind of fun Interspecies Reviewers want you to have if you'll let it. And much like My Wife is the Student Council President once did, it carries a weird respect for sex, realizing that people are going to have a lot of different approaches to the topic, and we should all feel comfortable with picking the one that suits us the best as long as all parts involved are in agreement.
We have a new record in openly sexual fun -- crass, direct, but inviting and respectful, and probably the raunchiest show ever not classified as hentai. — Stig Høgset
Recommended Audience: Being a fantasy wherein "adventurer" -- a more romantic way to say "mercenary", basically -- is a job, the show does have certain levels of violence to its name, and some of it tends to lead to blood splatters. There isn't a whole lot of it, however, and I have a sneaky suspicion that this isn't going to be most people's main contention about this show anyway.
Version(s) Viewed: Digital source
Review Status: Full (12/12)
Interspecies Reviewers © 2020 Passione
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