Anime Underground 14 Things You Didn't Know About The Hentai Industry  

Anna Lindwasser
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In the West, hentai (otherwise known as anime porn) is a wildly popular genre that attracts anime and pornography connoisseurs alike. It depicts sexual situations of all kinds in both manga and anime mediums, with genres ranging from the more vanilla bakunyĆ« (big breasts) to the unusual omaroshi (holding in your pee for sexual pleasure). 

If you read or watch hentai (and let's face it, some of you definitely do) there might be a lot of things you didn't know about the hentai industry. For example, did you know that tentacle porn (a niche genre of hentai which involves octopus tentacles in place of certain genitals) originated because of Japanese censorship laws, and was originally inspired by a piece of classic ukiyo-e art by Katsushika Hokusai? Check out this list for more hentai facts. 

It's Not Actually Called Hentai In Japan


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Photo:  J.C Staff

While pornographic anime and manga is referred to as hentai in the Western world, that's not actually what it's called in Japan. In Japan, the word "hentai" describes any person or thing that is sexually "perverse, queer, or strange." This is why in some anime, you'll hear high school girls calling their classmates "hentai" for falling face first into their cleavage. So, what do the Japanese actually call the medium in question? Typically, it's called 18-kin (prohibited to those under 18) seijin-anime / seijin-manga (adult anime/manga) or ero-anime / ero-manga (erotic anime/manga).  

It's Older Than You Might Assume


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Photo:  Studio Deen

Erotic art, known as shunga, reached a peak in Japan between the 17th and 20th centuries. The works fells out of favor in the following century because their appeal went down with the rise of the pornographic photographs in the 19th cenutry. 

Hentai manga began picking up speed in the 1970s, though mature themes did exist as early as the 1940s. Hentai anime started in the 1980s, with the six-episode series Lolita Anime, which featured underage sex, bondage, and rape. Eroge, or erotic video games, also started to be produced in the '80s. 

There Are A Ton Of Sub-Genres


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Photo:  Kyoto Animation

Hentai is an extremely broad genre, with many different sub-genres to suit a variety of tastes. Two major categories are yaoi and yuri. Yaoi refers to anything with male homosexual content, while yuri refers to anything with female homosexual content. Typically, yuri is aimed at straight men and yaoi is aimed at straight women, as opposed to members of the LGBT community. 

Other subgenres include futanariwhich focuses on feminine-presenting people with penises, and omaroshi, which involves holding in urine for prolonged periods of time. There is also bakunyĆ«, which literally translates to "exploding breasts" and focuses on large mammaries, and lolicon/shotacon, which focuses on adults who resemble children (and sometimes, unfortunately, characters who are actually children). 

Tentacle Porn Was Created To Get Around Censorship


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Photo:  Katsushika Hokusai/Wikimedia Commons

Some of the strangest tropes in hentai didn't appear because the creators had an unusual fetish. In fact, some of them were created to get around strict Japanese censorship laws.
One trope that was created this way is tentacle porn. Tentacle porn was created because Japanese censorship laws prohibit the depiction of genitals. While many creators get around this using pixelation, this gets boring after a while. Tentacles are stand-ins for penises - but why tentacles specifically?

This might be because artwork featuring tentacle sex has been part of Japanese culture for over 200 years. For example, Katsushika Hokusai, best known for his ukiyo-e paintings of crashing waves, created a woodblock print called The Dream of the Fisherman's Wife, which features a woman making love to some octopi. Toshio Maeda, cited by some as the father of the hentai industry, was the first to bring tentacles into the industry.