It Has Never Been So Good to Be a Hero: The Epic and Sexual Journey of Ishuzoku Reviewers
Sometimes there are anime that not only break expectations, but offer new approaches, by satirizing certain clichés by adopting an unusual approach. Ishuzoku Reviewers is an example of how an anime can go beyond certain limits imposed by censorship, without being criminalized by it.
Ishuzoku Reviewers (Japanese: 異種族レビュアーズ) before becoming a 12 episodes anime, was a manga written by Amahara and illustrated by Masha, published on the Dragon Age website, since August 2016. Seven tankōbon volumes have been released by Fujimi Shobo (Fig. 01 to 12).
The anime adaptation was produced by Passione, running from January to March 2020. The anime's plot could resemble the typical RPG adventures, with heroes of different species (humans, elves, gnomes) fighting monsters in a fantasy world, if it were not that the characters are nothing more than people whose insatiable libido leads them to frequent brothels where females of various species are found.
The story begins when a human named Stunk and an elf named Zel, avid brothel goers, discuss which species of "succu-girls" (サキュ嬢, succ for “sucubus”, because they’re all halfbreeds of succubus demons and whatever species those succubus bred with), legally working humanoid prostitutes, are the best. To do this, they create a ranking, which they rate, accompanied by a review of each species they have had sex with. The anime thus follows the heroes' journey through the brothels while the specificity of the succu-girls' services is shown to us (Fig. 13 to 22).
At first, because the anime has a theme centered solely on sex, a lay viewer could confuse Interspecies Reviewers with hentai. However, there is a clear difference between hentai and ecchi, the genre with which we could classify the series. If ecchi and hentai are used to describe anime or manga with sexual content, the former is distinguished by the absence of explicit sex while the latter seeks to explore its presence not only by showing sexual organs and penetration, but from perverted perspectives. Ecchi also differs from hentai when referring to works whose approach to sex is smooth, playful and comic. Some ecchi are reduced to doing fan-service while others, such as Shimoneta to Iu Gainen ga Sonzai Shinai Taikutsu na Sekai, manage to, at the same time, be comedies and support a social critique of false morals, advocated by the control of what can or cannot be said.
Ishuzoku Reviewers can be interpreted as a satire on typical RPG adventures insofar as the plot does not progress towards an epic journey, in which the heroes must defeat a dragon or any evil entity. There is a Maou (Demon Lord) to be defeated and other quests to be achieved – our heroes are adventurers (bookensha) after all, but all that is merely incidental to the plot. In the anime, there is no evil to be fought, but only the libido that the characters seek at all costs to satiate by frequenting the brothels. In this sense, there are a lot of sex scenes, but as the anime is produced in Japan, its creators strategically knew how to deal with censorship, by replacing images of a penis with equivalents, such as mushrooms or beams of light, or simply simulating frames in which the sexual organs do not appear.
However, even when avoiding censorship, the Ishuzoku Reviewers series was attacked by the conservative niche of the channels where it should be shown, in this case, Funimation, which removed the anime from its streaming catalog, considering the content inappropriate. The reaction of the anime's fans was immediate: they got together and organized a campaign to make the anime occupy the top 5 of MyAnimeList, even occupying 1st position for a day, in opposition to Full Metal Alchemist Brotherhood, which has taken that place for years now, just because (allegedly) the MAL directing board are great fans of the series.
Click HERE for the manga art of the ero-guro genius Jun Hayami's poetic obscenity