Hello again, while I was preparing to write other articles, Ishuzoku Reviewers just kept popping up whenever I read a thread on some sites, or a discussion about other Anime or even while I was organizing my files, it was there. I wanted to talk about the show later on but it wasn’t until recently that the itch became more frequent and I think now it’s just the right moment to do so. Let’s dive into one of the most controversial, divisive, and lewd Anime of the year. Just a fair warning, this review will contain spoilers and NSFW images, you can skip to the last part to see my final thoughts or use a terminal RSS reader to avoid some of the images. Having said that, let’s talk about Ishuzoku Reviewers.
About the Show
Ishuzoku Reviewers (異種族レビュアーズ) is an ongoing fantasy sex comedy manga. The adaptation was announced last year, June 2019 and aired during the 2020 Winter season. Anime consists of twelve episodes, there were two broadcasts, one censored and the other one uncensored (I’ll be reviewing the BD release).
In a world where many different humanoid species exist and prostitution is legal, there exist various brothels for each kind of species with “succu-girls”, who have succubus blood running through them. As each species has different opinions on how each succu-girl works for them, various brothel visitors have become reviewers, rating their experiences with various succu-girls and posting them in the local tavern. The series largely centers on a human named Stunk, an elf named Zel, and an angel named Crimvael.
Ishuzoku Reviewers is one of the best shows I’ve seen in a long time and I mean it. Just from the first episode, you get your usual opening lines which are similar to the premise I wrote before, and the OP starts and it blows out any preconception you might have about it. A catchy homage to Village People with explicit nudes and lyrics are just innuendos about ejaculating it’s unbelievable but it is real and you are watching it. From here and on the show will surprise you more and more. Every episode built upon the last one and you get more outlandish, explicit and interesting situations and characters that you might not expect from a story on this genre.
One of the strongest points this show has is its world-building. As an example, in the first episode where we are introducing our main characters, it is on a casual conversations where we begin to understand the diversity of tastes that this world offers and how it shapes most of the brothel industry. Elves prefer young creatures preferably ones with clean mana given how long their lifespans could be and humans just want to fuck someone or something who satisfies our primal senses. This is just from the first ten minutes and this is also the trigger for the main premise of the show which is reviewing all the species that are available to satisfy any kind of desire you want. Every single species has its preferences and ways to engage with the sexual acts and every single one of them is laid out in every episode. Those details only appear maybe on fanfics or mentioned briefly on other works. Because the show focuses on such specific topic, it’s able to create a vast and intricate world that rivals any other serious fantasy setting.
I want to address something that bothers me and that is the general perception of the show. In any thread, discussion or even in some other reviews, most people call it “hentai” or “hentai with comedy” or simply porn. I strongly disagree. Eroticism and sexuality should not be taboos that cannot be portrayed in any kind of media. This a niche fantasy setting centered around sexual relationships between species and it treats that seriously, even as a comedy. Why reduce the good writing, gorgeous animation, voice acting, production to just call it hentai. The show had a purpose and it succeed. I don’t think the adaptation could have work without the explicit sexual scenes, even when it aired censored (the director even recommend watching the uncensored version). If it toned down any of that, nobody would talk about it, it will be just another run-of-the-mill ecchi show and we have dozens of those. Having animated sexual imagery is not enough to call it hentai, the same way we don’t call movies with sexual scenes or topics, porn.
Another of the noteworthy aspects of Ishuzoku Reviewers is that the show is the perfect example of an adaptation standing on its own and even creating more than the original source. The eternal debate between Anime vs. Original Source (be a manga or LN) is often a misguided debate, even if you know a show is just a giant ad For the magazine that publishes the original source or it’s an auteur production, there’s more than simply putting images on the screen. Anime needs a vision, what you want to portray and how will you do it. There are times when you can make a 1:1 adaptation and be moderately successful, or you want to make your own thing and fail horribly (Kuma Miko). Ishuzoku Reviewers falls into the expanding the source category, where it doesn’t just sit on a 1:1 adaption but it takes advantage of the media to create a more thorough story. If this was like any other ecchi adaptation, you know exactly what you will encounter: Half-assed animation, censored imagery, maybe one or two nipples per episode, cardboard cutout characters and constant reminder that the original source is where you will get the whole picture. Thankfully this is not the case.
What is a story without its characters? The main cast of Ishuzoku Reviewrs are our eyes and sometimes other senses into this world. Everybody has a time to shine in this show and everybody fits perfectly in their role. To me, the most important character is Crim (the angel) because he is the surrogate of the audience. He is thrown out into this world that he might know something about but it’s lead by some adventurers into a part of the world he doesn’t know. At first he is reluctant but cannot resists his primal urges and begins exploring alongside Stunk (human) and Zel (elf) the vast amount of species to fuck. He learns about their quirks, cultures and sensitive points, nevertheless he also learns about himself, what he likes and doesn’t and what makes him eager to visit another brothel. And that’s us too while watching the show, where there’s a point when you ask yourself “I wonder what outlandish species they’ll fuck next” is just the same as Crim becoming one of the horny adventurers. We spent most of the time with Stunk and Zel, but other side characters appear too to bring their view and tastes and it creates a rich storytelling device where we get to see the different worldviews of other species. As I said, no one is wasted and all of them add to the brilliance of the show.
There are just a couple of things I didn’t enjoy as much with Ishuzoku Reviewrs. The first one is specific, and that is Mitsue’s character. I don’t hate her, and I understand her comic relief purpose, but I don’t want to see old lady’s tits (I hope you did not find this review by searching that). I get the joke but sometimes it was just too much and it was one of the few moments of the show that was painful to watch. My second, less important grievance is that it kinda stumbles during the last two episodes, maybe it was after the whole debacle of being canceled on several TV broadcasts and reaching a point where the source material has been exhausted and thus we have the weaker moments of the show.
Ishuzoku Reviewers is one of the best pure fantasy Anime aired in the past few years. I’m not talking about Isekai, nor RPG fantasy, this is a story that takes a fantasy setting of a niche topic that is often overlooked in the genre, expands it to create its own universe, rules and characters and all of it is interesting, entertaining, erotic and informative in a way that no other show has accomplished before. This is lightning in a bottle situation and the ecchi genre will not be the same. The bar has been raised (or lowered) and there’s no going back, no amount of censorship or watering down will erase what Ishuzoku Reviewers has accomplished. Of course I recommend the show while I know it’s not for everybody but it’s worth watching. It is available where Anime is, maybe you can also support by buying the physical release.