Ishuzoku Reviewers (Interspecies Reviewers)

For those wishing to reform society to become a healthier, happier place for family life, few things are more discouraging than hearing that prostitution is the world’s oldest profession. Perhaps true, revealing an unruly lascivious bent in human nature, though it’s much easier and more straightforward to find some spots than others, e.g., easier in Angeles City, Macau, and Tokyo than in most of the United States. Thus, when the manga-based series Interspecies Reviewers (Ishuzoku Reviewers in the original) premiered early this year, running its 12 episode course just in time to avoid any COVID-19 delays, it was bound to be divisive—though, honestly, as much within the human heart as among the mass of viewers. For anyone who generally disapproves of prostitution, yet can’t resist an occasional peek at RockIt Reports, thinking “If only...” this may be the anime for you.

Human adventurer Stunk inhabits an architecturally Middle Ages world, where dungeons piled with treasure are guarded by menacing monsters, and cities are peopled by a variety of intelligent species, some wielding magic, living alongside one another, earning his keep by fulfilling quests posted on tavern walls for rewards in gold. Though a skilled fighter, employment is uncertain in this fantasy-style universe, and much of what he does make goes to companionship at one of numerous legal brothels popular with quest takers. The establishments are run by succubus girls (succu-girls); while sex work is restricted to members of their race, longtime interbreeding mean members of virtually all kinds carry succu-girl blood, and are represented.

One night, over fare at the tavern Ale & Eats, Stunk and Zel, an elf, reach an impasse in a lively debate over two whores. Seeking to reach a decision, they enlist the halfling Kanchal (Kan) and the beastman Brooz to pen tiebreaking reviews of a human succu-girl, 50 years old, and an elf, 500 years young. When that‘s settled, Stunk and Zel rescue the angel Crimvael (Crim) from a monster during a walk in the woods. Crim can’t return to Heaven until his halo heals, so he decides to join their party. After posting the reviews among the quest bulletins back at Ale & Eats, patrons flock to pore over their research, and Stunk is happily surprised with a sack of gold from Meidri, the harpy barmaid who can’t stand how gross men are, as remuneration for the evaluations bringing the bar increased traffic. A newfound source of income acquired, the party begins moonlighting as regular reviewers for prostitutes of all species, and even innocent, inexperienced Crim is roped in. The others don’t realize he has ”both parts” hidden between his legs, leading to elements in his reviews that confuse those not privy to his secret.

In each episode, after Stunk and three others, sometimes including a less frequent reviewer, visit a brothel, we hear their review, with its rating from 0-10 of 10, and see highlights. What is this anime? Visually there are some traits of ecchi, but right off, Interspecies Reviewers violates key laws underpinning the broadcast anime universe. Characters can not only have sex, it happens in every episode. Crim, timid and a virgin at the beginning, is a little like an ecchi protagonist transported to a hentai, and it feels like something important’s been violated when he gets to bed women for a modest sum and with almost no preliminaries, when the protagonists of harem series like To Love