5 Reasons ‘Interspecies Reviewers’ is the Most Important Anime of 2020

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)

7 thoughts on “5 Reasons ‘Interspecies Reviewers’ is the Most Important Anime of 2020

  1. I’m going to be totally honest in that I had no desire to watch Interspecies Reviewers. It isn’t the kind of anime I’m interested in. However, Funimation and other companies making the decision to remove it after they began airing has both baffled me and caused me quite a bit of concern about censorship of anime going forward. It’s taken a long time for viewers outside of Japan to have as much access to legal anime as we do and there are still plenty of shows that there is no legal way to view. For the companies that have begun opening the door to anime to people around the world to essentially dictate which stories can and can’t be seen outside of Japan, this can only lead to a return to the majority of viewers choosing piracy (which clearly isn’t an outcome anyone producing anime wants nor is it an outcome that the same companies creating the problem want).
    As I’ve mentioned in my own blog when discussing censorship, they need to stop removing content and simply correctly label content. If viewers know what content is coming, they can make an informed choice about whether or not that content is something they want to watch.

    Liked by 4 people

      1. Oh, I agree. But there are those who don’t see it that way.

        I don’t think we can call it censorship. That term only applies when the government instigates it. When a private company does it they will assert their own free speech rights and point to “market forces” as the reason.

        It is the main reason I am a bit sad that anime has gone mainstream in the US.

        Like

  2. I’m all in favor of sex positivity.

    Sex negativity is why even nonsexual nudity is often illegal and frowned upon. You can either try to get people to disassociate sex from nudity or you can try to get them to disassociate sex from negativity. Either one works for me and the latter might be more likely to happen.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I have seen no more than 1 episode of this show; it’s just not my thing. Still, I agree with a lot here, but not everything.

    1. I agree that sex-positivity is something we could use more of in anime. I was curious about the show for just that reason, but it didn’t really deliver. Depending on where they go with the angel character, it feels more like sex propaganda (if they’ll be learning the joy of it all) or back-room jokes with a lot of winking going on (if they’ll be the embarassment fetish object). I was disappointed with episode one and didn’t watch more. That said, I do think they did some things well, so watching that episode wasn’t a total loss.

    I’m basically undecided on that point.

    2. Maybe. I feel we’re currently in a retro phase, and with the waning of the moe boom, they’re trying out ecchi again. Shows like Tsugumomo or Yuuna had a very oldschool feel to them (especially the OVAs), and they also revived Cutie Honey (though I couldn’t watch that). This is a different type of show for sure, and quite a bit more explicit, but in the end I think it’s just experimentation – throw everything at the wall and see what sticks.

    For what it’s worth, I was recently pondering what the most under-appreciated shows of the decade were and was re-watching R-15. It felt a lot more porny in 2020 than it did back then, when it was surrounded by Oretachi ni Tsubasa Nai or Yosuga no Sore. I think we might just be seeing a santised bubble burst.

    So, yeah, maybe things are opening up again, if it’s Kadokawa behind the show (I didn’t know that).

    3. This show may be opening up a certain market segment again, but I don’t see it pushing artistic boundries. Anything in the follow-up episodes, that wasn’t apparent in the first one? Maybe I’m biased here, because it’s not really my thing. We tend to be more perceptive with stuff we love.

    4. I didn’t follow the Funimation debacle. Something about gender swapping? Not sure. It feels disengenious. What did they expect? I mean I was hoping for something less mean-spirited (my perception), but I certainly wasn’t surprised by what I got instead.

    5. Only people who haven’t seen hentai can call this hentai. Just looking at where the camera points should be enough. It’s a strange camera that retreat’s from the genre focus…

    (I tried responding for once, instead of just reading, since it’s a new site and all.)

    Liked by 4 people

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