Update: We proposed the content of episode three could have been a contributing factor to Funimation dropping the show. However, that episode was already subtitled by Funimation.
While it is still entirely possible Funimation may have dropped the show after censoring and producing that episode (for example, if they feared similar content in the future), it is more likely that if that content was a contributing factor, then they would not have produced episode three at all- censored or otherwise.
This does not rule out the content of future episodes, but we felt the update was necessary for true accuracy- even on speculation.
Funimation have announced they will no longer be streaming or dubbing Interspecies Reviewers, as the show “falls outside of [their] standards.”
For those unfamiliar, Interspecies Reviewers is a 2016 manga by Amahara (published by Fujimi Shobo), and later animated by studio Passione in January 2020.
Interspecies Reviewers series sees a fantasy world where prostitution is legal. Human Stunk and elf Zel are passionate about reviewing the “services” at various brothels, and the fantasy species there-in.
On paper, the show could have been an “ecchi” show (literally meaning “naughty”, a subgenre of anime with sexual fan-service). Funimation later picked up the licence to stream and dub the show, by simulcasting the first episode at roughly the same time as its Japanese debut on January 11th.
The anime itself was revealed to be all but outright pornographic, more so than the manga. The show contained frequent and graphic sex-scenes, and genitalia or insertion with genitalia (even censored) being the only thing not shown. Comments on western social media were surprised that the show was practically hentai (anime pornography).
One Angry Gamer reported (reader discretion is advised due to the images used) that while Funimation stated the show would be uncensored, the final broadcast had even fully clothed women were censored (albeit over the outline of prominent nipples that could be seen through clothing).
Streaming groups in France and Taiwan (Wakanim and Bahamut’s Insane Animation respectively) also broadcast censored versions of the episode, with the latter promising to provide a stream of the uncensored version behind an age-gate. Some broadcasts had the screen entirely blank for some scenes, with only the Japanese text “Please Enjoy This Scene Without Visuals” being shown.
On February 1st, one user of r/Anime noticed the show had seemingly vanished from Funimation’s website. While we could find the show’s listing while searching as of this time of writing, the page for the show itself leads to a 404 error.
When the Reddit user contacted Funimation regarding the show, he received the following email reply:
“Hello Funimation User,
Thank you for contacting Funimation Support. We appreciate your business.
After careful consideration, the series was removed from the service as it falls outside our standards. We have the utmost respect for our creators so rather than substantially alter the content, we felt taking it down was the most respectful choice.
Please let us know if you have any other questions or concerns.
An almost identical statement was also issued to Anime News Network, on January 31st.
Fans of the show have been outraged with Funimation [1, 2, 3, 4, 5], as they still wanted to see the show. Others were shocked Funimation did not know or were unable to know what the show would be like, even from the content of the first episode, or during negotiations with Passione.
It should be noted that in a later episode, a “halfling” is shown. Due to the character’s physique, and scenes of a sexually graphic and explicit nature, Funimation may have feared broadcasting even a censored version would result in accusations of distributing child pornography.
That episode broadcast in Japan on January 25th (according to Wikipedia). Considering the timing of when Funimation rescinded the licence (January 31st at the latest, based on their statement to Anime News Network), it may have at least been a contributing factor.
What seems most surprising is how there have been no complaints in Japan. Back in 2015, Shimoneta: A Boring World Where the Concept of Dirty Jokes Doesn’t Exist received complaints from the Japanese Broadcasting Ethics and Program Improvement Organization (BPO).
The show involved a world where lurid and sexual materials, actions, and even words were banned. The main character Tanukichi Okuma gets caught up with “terrorist” group SOX, who spread pornography and act in a perverse manner as a form of protest. Suffice to say, the content of that show pales in comparison to Interspecies Reviewers.
Image: Interspecies Reviewers (via Anime Planet)