With its third volume, Amahara and Masha’s breakout hit Interspecies Reviewers really feels like it’s hitting its stride.
While the first two volumes (see Vol. 1 and Vol. 2) were highly entertaining, erotic and, at times, surprisingly thought-provoking, Volume 3 feels like a noticeable step up with regard to a sense of developing narrative and overall worldbuilding.
And, with the trouble the TV anime adaptation has had getting broadcast even in late-night time slots in its native Japan… the manga may well end up being the definitive way to experience this delightfully bawdy series. Let’s take a closer look at this third volume.
Some NSFW content ahead! Like, right ahead. Immediately after the jump. I warned you.
Interspecies Reviewers, Vol. 3 continues with its core conceit of the main cast travelling to a variety of “succu-girl” establishments, partaking of the carnal pleasures therein, then writing multi-perspective reviews on them for publication in their favourite pub.
So far, everyone seems to have been benefiting from this. The pub’s manager, winged woman Meidri (who, we learn in this volume, is not the owner) has been getting a steady stream of new clients who want feeding and watering while browsing the latest edition of the Yoru no Gloss reviews. Ostensible protagonist Stunk and his merry band of “adventuring” companions are getting paid well for their work. And the various succu-girl joints are getting a ton of new business following the gang’s reviews.
Much of this third volume takes a closer look at the nature of running such an operation, regardless of whether it’s about fucking monster girls or reviewing video games. Specifically, it examines the challenges and benefits broadening your audience via a wider distribution network can bring — here ably provided by the centaurs of the Transportation Unit — along with the real meaning of reviews.
This latter aspect is particularly interesting, because it mirrors both some conversations I’ve had with people I know, and broader discussion about the role of critics on the Internet at large.
In particular, a chapter concerning an especially horny incubus demonstrates that, for some people, negative reviews are not enough to put them off trying something they feel like they will enjoy. That’s certainly a philosophy that’s true here at MoeGamer, as you’ll know well if you’ve been following for any length of time — so it’s pleasing to see this perspective acknowledged in a work like Interspecies Reviewers.
Elsewhere, the madame of the fairy brothel the group visited in the first volume notes that ultimately, the numerical scores the group provide to various establishments are completely irrelevant; so long as each reviewer is providing accurate information and honest opinions with acknowledgement of their own personal biases, that’s all that really matters. Everyone has their own personal preferences, after all, and an arbitrarily selected number doesn’t change that fact. If the text is solid, whoever is reading the review can make their own mind up, numbers be damned!
Fan favourite Crimvael once again gets some time in the spotlight this time around — this time expressing some concern over how they are going to continue making rent if they are continually disappearing from their “real” job working at the pub to go and bang an increasingly adventurous assortment of succu-girls.
Crim’s clearly torn somewhat; in this volume, we see a somewhat more assertive young angel than we’ve seen in previous chapters, but they’re still a little uneasy about the overall morality of what they’re doing, and especially conscious of their chipped halo, which is increasingly becoming a central focus of the overall unfolding plot.
In one of the later chapters, the group attends a wedding between a human and a salamander girl he rescued; the pair subsequently fell in love, despite their vast difference in body heat making them completely unable to touch each other. Here, we learn that interspecies marriages are particularly encouraged among the people of “this world” (as the overall setting for Interspecies Reviewers is referred to throughout this volume) because they tend to attract divine blessings and miracles.
Crim, being an angel, witnesses the truth behind these “miracles” while they’re taking place, only to discover that the angels performing them — those that Crim one day hopes to rejoin once they repair their halo — are jealous. There’s an obvious subtext here: while some may draw meaning from strict adherence to a particular dogma or even come to define themselves by it, witnessing how “the other side” lives, just for a moment, can be enough to make you question your life choices.
Elsewhere, Interspecies Reviewers, Vol. 3 continues to provide commentary on various types of sexual encounter through the group’s continuing shenanigans. In particular, a visit to an establishment that specialises in “alcohauns” — perpetually drunk leprechauns — highlights the fact that while an inebriated shag might feel good in the moment, you’ll almost certainly regret it in the morning with at best a bit of a headache and at worst no memory whatsoever of the fun you supposedly had.
Similarly, a visit to an aquarium-themed store, where the group are able to magically possess any of a wide variety of sea creatures and mate with their “peers”, highlights a few things. Firstly, Stunk in particular comes to recognise the fact that seeing through someone (or something) else’s eyes allows you to see beauty that might have been invisible to you in the past; secondly, it’s sometimes fun and healthy to explore particularly depraved fantasies if it’s clear you are keeping things firmly in the world of fantasy and not actually hurting anyone; and thirdly, spending too long in a fantasy world having artificial experiences divorced from reality can ultimately leave you feeling a bit starved and unsatisfied.
There are some nice callbacks to previous chapters, lending the whole thing a greater sense of coherence than in previous volumes. This also helps with the worldbuilding in this volume; we learn a lot more about the various ways different species do business with one another, and how they often subvert expectations and stereotypes with the way they really are.
This is, of course, a positive — if somewhat predictable — message to be able to take from the whole thing; where Interspecies Reviewers differs from other series where “friendship and tolerance is the real treasure” or equivalent is in the nature of the relationships depicted herein: Stunk and crew aren’t necessarily trying to befriend different species, but their willingness to try jumping into bed with each and every one of them shows admirable open-mindedness.
And a chapter involving “Dream-Eaters”, where each of the cast are provided with a custom fantasy based on their strongest desires, demonstrates that this isn’t necessarily just about “love ’em and leave ’em”; some of these encounters have stayed with the group long after they took place.
Unsurprisingly, Crim seems to be the one with the strongest feelings in this regard, having developed some very genuine-seeming affection for the hyena girl he spent some time with in the Gender-Swap Inn back in the first volume. But it’s clear that each of the others have their own feelings, too — even if they don’t necessarily want to acknowledge them.
With this third volume, Interspecies Reviewers shows it has what it takes to go the distance; at this point, it’s more than just the initial (admittedly appealing) gimmick of “bunch of guys fuck monster girls”. The gradually unfolding overall plot doesn’t distract from the comedic silliness the series has been known for up until this point, but there’s also a strong sense that writer Amahara and writer Masha have some genuine affection for “this world” and the many varied peoples that inhabit it.
I’m looking forward to seeing where this series goes next — and hopefully the trouble the anime has had won’t put a dampener on things! In the meantime, if all this seems like something that appeals, be sure to support it however you can.
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