Cute… porn?

Before I start today’s post I want to add a (late) disclaimer on the term hentai and my usage of it. In Japan hentai can refer to sexually explicit manga or anime, but it denotes that this material is of an unusual, perverse or extreme nature.  The usage of the word hentai to signify the entire genre of what the Japanese call ero (erotic) manga, not just the really weird stuff, is a Western appropriation of the word and that’s how it’s being used in this blog. For more info on terminology and some interesting history, see here.

This week’s topic, peripheral media, was troubling me a bit because from what I’ve discovered about hentai so far it is itself on the periphery of anime.  Last week when trying to find out whether there were any celebrities or famous figures in the hentai world it became clear that hentai exists primarily on the internet and it was difficult to pin down any ‘major players’ so to speak. 

I delved a little deeper though, and discovered ecchi, a word adopted by fans and consumers of Japanese media to denote a sub-genre within adult anime. Ecchi as an adjective can mean ‘naughty’, or as a verb mean ‘to have sex’, and when applied to anime refers to content that is not sexually explicit. It is the softcore porn of hentai and these productions hint at sex as opposed to depicting it. 

Many ecchi fans use tumblr to share and view content, for example Cute Ecchi: “Ecchi and cute anime girls. No nipples and/or genitals”. It seems to me that ecchi is a response to the grossly explicit hentai out there, which frequently portrays scenes where girls are being debased and exploited. Women (or rather I should say girls as most of the subjects don’t look a whole like like women) are still the focus of ecchi, but the images are a little bit more palatable, the misogyny is not as heavy, and the viewer can use their imagination a little, which is rendered unneccessary for really graphic hentai videos.

While one article says that the “fantasy world of demons, octopus, and other sexual hijinks that are impossible to perform” is part of the appeal of hentai, I’m relieved that there is an off-shoot of this phenomenon that is comparatively conservative. Call me a prude, but some of the hentai I’ve seen seems unhealthy and potentially damaging. Just as real life porn can leave people with unrealistic expectations about sex, the way women are depicted in hentai makes the feminist in me pretty damn angry because of the potential it has to affect viewers’ psychology.  Seeing fans sharing ’nicer’, tamer content is a good indication that many others also can’t relate to hentai’s hardcore characteristics. 

carteles-ecchi-desmotivaciones

Me? Perverted? I only imagine beautiful things… 

 

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2 comments

  1. A good, well written treatment of a potentially risky topic there Jess, and you do a good job of explaining your reservations about it. I wonder if there are aspects of hentai that could be seen as comparable to (or even overlapping with) erotic fan fiction that tends to get self-published online? Although I would certainly be careful investigating it. Hell I’m not even sure how comfortable I feel suggesting it. Was this a trap?

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  2. I completely agree with the above comment, interesting take on a risky topic. As a female I also find the entire concept of hentai as a confusing take on pornography. Essentially it depicts women in a compromising way however it’s slightly less confronting because of its animated nature? Who even knows? I remember this guy in my class in high school used to watch it in computer class as if it was ok because it was animated…. but really it’s just creepy! I look forward to reading more of your posts 🙂

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