So… I’ve been working on this post for over a month now, the majority of it comes from my initial gut-reactions from the bombastic first episode premiere but given ~recent~ events (specifically Funimation’s banning of the series from its platform) this post has undergone some edits and changes to better reflect the climate in which this show exists–which is to say a very complicated one!
1. Sex Positive Anime Is Practically Unheard Of
Despite the fact that the medium of anime lends itself towards being very horny–what with all the scantily clad, big breasted girls, shouty men with their shirts off and practically a beach episode in every show no matter how out of place. Sex itself is usually treated as a thing taboo or unattainable–at worst sex is used as a weapon against women in the form of villains threatening rape. Indeed I’m sure if someone were physically able to do the stats on it, I imagine more non-consensual sex scenes exist in anime than consensual sex. So it’s incredibly refreshing to see a series that’s not only open with sexuality but presents both men and women (and everything in between) enjoying consensual sex like adults.
2. Kadokawa has put a lot of money and effort into this series which could mean something huge for the industry
As anyone who has been to Akihabara will tell you more than half of the retail floor space of large otaku retail hobby stores like K-books, Toranoana, Mandarake and of course Melon Books are devoted to selling erotic doujin. Then there’s Sofmap an electronics department chain that has entire floors of professionally produced erotic visual novels so why should anime lag behind in representation? Despite being about a niche topic (for an anime), this show has gotten billboards, collaboration cafes, radio shows, tie in media and merch. Hence why I think Kadokawa (in all their infinite influence and money) is hedging their bets on this show becoming a trendsetter. If this show so obsessively about sex can succeed then that opens the floodgates to so many other sex-oriented series’ out there! Speaking of which…
3. Pushing The Boundaries Is Necessary For Art To Progress As A Medium
There’s thousands of years of art behind us as a human species–running the gamut of quality and quantity and effectiveness, depending on era and intent. But honestly what pushes artistic medium forward more than anything else is being provocative, its challenging the norm and its pushing boundaries of what is considered acceptable. It might not seem like it today, but some day we will look upon the ‘Interspecies Reviewers’ days as the time where anime took a risk and became the sexual content equivalent of HBO and other such live action cable programming–where (almost) nothing is off limits.
4. The Show Has Unintentionally Become An Ambassador For Anti-Censorship
The whole “Funimation’ thing is enough of a controversy to warrant a post in-of-itself, but I think what’s the most refreshing thing to come out of it all is the amount of people rallying behind it in the name of anti-censorship. I mean sure, a lot of it’s probably just people wanting to dogpile on Funimation as a company (which–fair enough–it’s a shit company) but the more people realize that companies gatekeeping art behind pathetic excuses like “company standards” is censorship that reinforces outdated notions that expressing sexuality and celebrating sex is something degenerate and lesser; worthy of scorn at best and at worst its complete removal. Also the people review bombing the show to be the 2nd highest rated anime was pretty funny–hopefully it sent a message to someone somewhere ~vaguely~ important.
5.. This Show Is NOT Hentai (a.k.a. The Hill I’m Willing To Die On)
Anyone who follows my personal twitter knows I talked passionately and at length on this subject as there’s a large number of people who are insistent that this is somehow a ‘hentai’, just because it’s about sex despite the numerous reasons to the contrary. I won’t repeat myself (you can read my tweets here: https://twitter.com/Cactus_Matt/status/1224698606638092289) but here’s why the acknowledgement of this distinction is important. Sexual anime is not hentai just like sexual movies aren’t porn–the sooner people acknowledge this distinction the sooner we’ll be able to enjoy more faithful adaptations of visual novels with narratively appropriate sex-scenes in-tact or more sex focused manga receiving full anime adaptations without fear of omitting integral parts of the story. You know, just treating art with the respect it deserves based on individual merit regardless of whether its sex-focused or not.
And that’s the list; I could’ve talked a lot more about this show, but I tried to keep this list concise enough to not make it overwhelming to those only vaguely aware of this series but not so brief that I was doing a disservice to the various facets that make this show so ‘important’ in my opinion. Maybe time will make a fool of me and ‘Interspecies Reviewers’ will be a niche blip on the anime radar and things will return to the ordinary status-quo the ecchi genre has been circling for the past few years. But if I’m right, then this is the sign of new things to come and it’s an exciting time for anime going forward–also this show is totally getting a 2nd season, calling it now.
(This post was written after 4 episodes of the show had aired on the 9th of February 2020)