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What is Hentai?  Why does hentai exist? 

For the world, hentai is a form of pornography. However, in Japan, or the Japanese language, hentai essentially means any perverse or a sexual desire or act which generally will be considered as bizarre. Hentai is the short-form of the word hentai seiyuu. Hentai seiyoku means a perverse sexual desire. And the word hentai alone in Japanese means metamorphosis or transformation. The word hentai can also be perceived as a compound word that essentially describes a state of sexual abnormality concerning a person, action, or state. So how to define hentai? The word has many conflicting definitions. Sometimes, it is said that the word Nomaru is the antonym of hentai. Just like hentai, H (pronounced as ecchi) and Ero are also used for the reference of any manga or anime with a sexual context. The use of hentai is only limited to bizarre sexual situations.

A brief history of hentai

Who created hentai? The hentai history can be traced back to as long as the origins of the manga. It has been discovered that the manga has its origins in Buddhist scrolls that date back to the 12th century. These scrolls had some cartoons drawn on it. These cartoons depicted animals that were making fun of the Nobles and clergy at that time. These cartoons later developed into ukiyo-e prints. These prints would be developed faster than the hand-made scrolls. Also, these prints were made from wooden engravings. Ukiyo-e Shunga, a form of these ukiyo-e prints, were used as sex guides during the Edo period. Later, during the 20th century, the Japanese style of art adopted and mimicked some of the Western elements. Eventually, with the mixture of these styles over time, the style of drawing called manga was produced that is popularly known today.

Manga and hentai gained massive popularity after the end of World War 2. Popular manga such as the ‘Astro Boy’ was produced and appeared during this time. There were a lot of rules, regulations, and restrictions imposed on the press during the World War. After the war, as these restrictions were removed, the Japanese press was free to explore and publish every theme that was prevented due to the compulsory publication of literature related to the war. Carnal literature such as Nikutai Bungaku appeared everywhere. 

However, the reason for the blast of literature like this was not limited only to the prolonged restrictions on the press. It was also a public reaction of the ones who had survived the war. After the massive destruction during the war, the survivors of the World War were left with nothing. All they had left with was their body. Due to this, these people started giving special appreciation to their bodies, their only possession left. Also, this was the first time in Japanese history that women’s bodies were displayed in public. Etchi came into literature around 1952.

During the 1950s, Love Suicide, a genre famous before the war, saw a revival. It is correctly considered as hentai, with fetishes like the iconic tentacle involved.

About that tentacle

There exist different types of hentai. Tentacle is one of them. It integrates the traditional ideas of hentai with modern elements like science-fiction, bestiality, fantasy, and horror. The primary idea here is tentacled creatures having sexual intercourse with humans. These creatures are generally monsters and predominantly have sexual intercourse with females. It has been observed that this type of hentai often has elements related to non-consensual sex and rape. 

The appearance of tentacled creatures in a sexual context has come long before the induction of animation in pornography. While there are many early illustrations, some of them are particularly famous. One of such famous illustrations is the one from the 1814 Hokusai Katsushika novel. The name of the novel is Kinoe no Komatsu, loosely translated as The Dream of the Fisherman’s Wife. This illustration has been reworked many times by a large number of artists. This illustration might seem like rape to the viewers today. However, according to a scholarly paper by Danielle Talerico, Japanese audiences of the Edo period would have interpreted this illustration as consensual sex during their time and their point of view. 

According to another illustration, Tamatori has stolen a jewel from the Dragon King. However, he is eventually captured and has consensual sex with the King along with his army of octopi. 

The credit of the creation of the modern tentacle hentai is given to Toshio Maeda. The tentacle was first used by Tosio Maeda in 1986 to depict sexual intercourse in Urotsukidoji manga. However, the idea of using tentacles for depicting sex as a result of the restrictions imposed on depicting penises in public illustrations. 

Of all the hentai types, thetentacle porn industry was developed as a way to circumvent the restrictions on ‘obscenity’. According to Toshio Maeda, before Urotsukidōji, it was illegal to create scenes that depicted sensuality in bed. He wanted to draw erotica without creating such sensual scenes that were illegal. He created a creature having tentacles. According to him, the tentacle is not a penis. It is just a part of the creature. Hence, the depiction of a tentacle can’t be termed obscene and can’t be censored. 

Hentai Appeal

For all types of hentai, what creates its appeal is the impossibility of the acts depicted in it. The fantasy world of demons and octopuses and sexual acts that are impossible to perform and attract people towards hentai. The lack of realism and personable qualities creates a barrier between the viewer and the depicted scenes. It acts as an outlet to the darker and odder regions of human psychology. Just like advertising post WW2, hentai provides a means to shake people out of their standard thinking. It is still considered a taboo among western audiences.

Hentai has a lot of similarities with Baroque art. This type of art often used to depict sexual ecstasy. The ecstasy of Saint Therese, an art that created several controversies, is an example of Baroque art. The art depicts the Saint experiencing sexual ecstasy as an angel is about to pierce her with an arrow. It is a metaphor, perhaps.

Hentai has a reputation for having low quality, poor story-telling, and skipping frames. The unrealistic aspect is the only thing that creates its appeal. Make its point, hentai depicts little details like the cavities. The ideas in hentai are often euphemized. In hentai, the beautiful and the monstrous can co-exist. For insight, a rape scene can be beautiful depicted in hentai. It is just like Baroque art, where brutal events like death are often depicted beautifully.

Misogyny has a fair share in hentai. However, no porn industry in the world has escaped misogyny. In broader terms, misogyny itself is a sexual fetish.

Hentai is an uncomfortable topic for many people, which is justified. Depiction of sex, in the first place, is uncomfortable for many people. Hentai makes it more uncomfortable, as the depiction here is not realistic and at times, monstrous. These depictions of sex are as old as humanity. The oldest depiction of sex that can be found is about 7,200 years old. Hentai has been into the popular culture through fan service. It is no longer considered a taboo.

Conclusion

Now you must have got the answer to what is hentai porn? Hentai has been in popular culture for long now and has been influencing and getting influenced by other art forms. Next time you see one, definitely ask yourself “what hentai is this?”

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