Content Warning: Fanservice
What’s it about? An unnamed otaku wakes after a fatal dinner of underdone pig liver to find he’s become a pig in the far away land of Mesteria. Fortunately for him, he’s found by an impossibly kind girl named Jess who can hear his every thought.
Up to my elbows in the muck of what might be the longest 22 minutes of my life I asked myself, “would I rather watch another episode of Butareba or the entirety of the infamous Vase de Noces?” Reader, I did not have an answer as quickly as you’d hope.
I do have to give Butareba one thing: it knows how to animate a pig cutely, with big button eyes and floppy little ears. The wiggly little details are right up there with Gravity Falls’ Waddles, occasionally lulling you into the false hope that you could be watching a slice-of-life farm animal show. But no, this is not some pig. This porcine pissant is an embodiment of the creepiest sort of otaku stereotype.
70% of the episode’s incessant internal monologue is horny commentary about Jess: how she should have a short skirt so that the pig can look under it and because he longs for the fantasy of a JK (joshi kosei, AKA a high school girl), how his horniest daydream is about having a tsundere little sister, how he’d like to jump this girl and “cover her in pig slobber.” It’s not just “oh ho, all men are animals; it is our little joke, do you see.” It’s basically his entire personality and, frankly, the most compelling argument for the meat industry I’ve ever heard.
And because this is such a particular type of otaku fantasy, Jess is a total doormat who’s not just okay with the relentless sexualization of the stranger bogarting Babe’s body, but flattered by it, because her sense of self-worth is sitting in Hell next to me. Even when the pig tells her not to bend to his every whim, it just feels like part of the fantasy: she’s willing to strip at the first mention that he’d like to see her naked, but he valiantly tells her not to because, y’know, it’ll be hotter if it’s something he has to work for. When the episode ends with a panty shot she tells him, in all apparent sincerity, “I’ve just shown you something trivial.” She’s a totally moldable plaything to lust after and mentor in equal measure, a vessel for husbandry.
There are jokes here that would probably work in other contexts, like a sunshiney type earnestly trying to indulge someone’s degradation kink and coming up with utterly milquetoast punishments, or someone trying to differentiate which part of their internal monologue they want heard by mentally adding sound effects. But it’s a struggle to think about who this show is for; I suppose the fantasy is to meet someone who won’t be disgusted by and will even embrace your most “perverted” thoughts, but it’s so bacon-wrapped in a patronizing sort of misogyny that I can’t imagine stomaching more—especially with an absolutely stuffed Fall menu.