The Winter 2020 Anime Preview Guide
How would you rate episode 1 of
Interspecies Reviewers ?
What is this?
How was the first episode?
Clocking in, improbably enough, as this season's second demi-human fanservice vehicle, Interspecies Reviewers envisions a fantasy world filled with magic, mystery, and plentiful brothels. Therein, horny and adventurous patrons can have sex with any number of mystical creatures, from the standard elves and catgirls to creatures beyond imagining. Into this world of fantastical fornication, our protagonists Stunk and Zel stride bravely forward, determined to bone and then review every species on the planet.
Having already reviewed the catgirl-focused Nekopara, the distinction between that series and Interspecies Reviewers felt like night and day. Nekopara's characters are all underwritten archetypes; Interspecies Reviewers has genuine characters who share genuine banter. Nekopara's worldbuilding falls apart the more you think about it; Interspecies Reviewers actually revels in its fantasy world, and is centered on a genuinely under explored element of fantasy. Nekopara's jokes are “this character is acting like a cat”; Interspecies Reviewers uses its strange premise merely as the setup for its gags, and moves on to craft genuine jokes from the interplay of its characters, and the fanciful absurdity of its narrative progression.
It also helps that everyone here is having such a good time. While a lot of fanservice shows play into one-sided power fantasies, the fact that this show is all about sex workers in an apparently prosperous, enlightened society means both the patrons and the prostitutes are thoroughly enjoying themselves. And the show certainly doesn't skimp on the fanservice -this episode was overflowing with “wait for the bluray” stickers, which didn't prevent it from displaying more skin than anything I've seen in recent memory.
Interspecies Reviewers also has relatively solid production values; lots of rich color work, fairly dynamic storyboarding, and limited but generally sufficient animation. Even the over-the-top character designs fit well for the show's resoundingly sex-positive ethos. On the whole, while Interspecies Reviewers is likely not compelling enough purely as a comedy to succeed if you're not here for the fanservice, if you are looking for a particularly horny anime, Reviewers seems like a fine time.
So let's get this out of the way first: if you're normally averse to heavy fan service shows and/or the notion of debating the merits of prostitutes gives you a negative gut reaction, stay well away from this show. These elements are pervasive – in fact, they're basically the main subject matter – and the series gleefully embraces them rather than making any apology for them. I will not be surprised if this ends up being a very polarizing series.
I was initially leery about this one for a very different reason: the art style for it shown in promo art did not appeal to me at all. However, that quickly proved to be a non-factor. Background arts is actually a stand-out effort, with highlights including a bed shaped like a cat's paw, and while the character design style is style is still far from my favorite, it offers some interesting variations on anime norms (catgirls have paws for hands and fur up to their elbows, for instance) and feels right for the lighter tone that the series takes. The animation quality is also surprisingly good for this kind of series. That the episode required ample censoring for its fan service elements probably goes without saying, though there's actually only one scene showing sex in the act. In fact, raciest part of the episode is its closer.
The story content is almost entirely what you'd expect from the name and premise: two horndogs debate the merits of different types of prostitutes and sample various brothels. Their tastes wildly diverge: the human prioritizes appearance (the 500-year-old elf is a favorite because she still looks young and cute), while the elf prioritize age and the feel of their mana. (An elderly human prostitute is a favorite because at least she's less than a century old.) They drag into their perversity an androgynous-looking angel whom they assume is male but actually secretly has both sex organs; whether this is the norm for angels or not is not made clear. That aspect doesn't come into play before the episode ends, with Crim instead filling the role of a more submissive type and also the innocent getting their first exposure to the sex trade, but perhaps it will down the line. Among the mildly-interesting world-building details is that prostitutes here are called “succu-girls” under the premise that basically everyone has at least some succubus blood in them if their ancestry is traced back far enough.
On the whole, Interspecies Reviewers looks like it will be entertaining for those who can tolerate its trashiness and aren't bothered by its irreverent look at prostitution. It can be dirty fun if not thought about too deeply.
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