photo from Wikimedia Commons
Before there was photography, there was drawing. Before there was the Internet, there were magazines. And, before there was pornography…. er, there never was a time before pornography.
Drawing little dirty pictures is as old as the art of drawing itself. There was a funny sketch (pun intended) in an episode of Family Guy that had a cavewoman discover a collection of dirty drawings (female stick figures on stone tablets) amongst her husband’s belongings. A nagging fight ensues, and the caveman admits to ownership of the smut. In today’s world of technological wonders that get adult material into the comfort of your own home faster than you can say “porn”, one would be silly to get nostalgic for the art of drawing. High-definition cameras, 1024-by-768-pixel resolution at 132 pixels per inch (ppi), face-to-face talking, there are just so many ways one can get ‘in the mood’ with their computer.
Why then, the success of anime pornography?
The art form of anime (an abbreviated pronunciation in Japanese of “animation”) has been around since the mid teens, although it didn’t really catch international attention until the 1970s. The now legendary Osamu Tezuka, (the “God of Manga”), introduced his style of animation to the world when he created Astro Boy in 1952. The style was distinct, and much different than anything Walt Disney had been doing in America. Martin Webb, of the Japan Times, describes the unique Japanimation characteristics as having “exaggerated physical features such as large eyes, big hair and elongated limbs… and dramatically shaped speech bubbles, speed lines and onomatopoeic, exclamatory typography.”
Somewhere along the lines, somebody recognized the possibilities of cuteness in these exaggerated physical features and began to exploit them in compromising ways. The result was a new form of animation, and a new form of pornography called Hentai. Hentai is a Japanese word that, in the West, is used when referring to sexually explicit or pornographic comics and animation. More specifically it refers to those of Japanese origin such as anime, manga and computer games. However, in Japan it can be used to mean “metamorphosis” or “abnormality”. The word alone has a negative connotation to the Japanese and is commonly used to mean, “sexually perverted”.
In researching for this piece, I checked out some anime porn myself and tried to understand why any person would find cartoon sex appealing. A few guesses came to mind, none of which (it should be noted) can be qualified or supported by years of psychological study. Perhaps it is something as simple as proportions—when working in animation, it is easy for the artist to make the model as busty and skinny and booty-ful as he likes. There are no boundaries as to what type of body can be thought of. Even though the idea is to make it all appear as real as possible, the dimensions of the stars of Hentai are understood as nothing shy of exaggerated or maybe it is in the innocence of the characters.
The oversized eyes add round mouth create a virginal appeal to the girls and someone who is looking to tap into their kink for younger woman may be attracted to this signature characteristic of Japanese animation. There is also something adolescent and pure in the outfits most of these Hentai characters wear—a lot of knee-high socks, short skirts, school uniforms, and childhood clothing is found to be the style of choice. I also note that the Hentai girls don’t really look any one specific race or nationality. While we understand them to come from Japan, the girls don’t look Japanese. They also don’t look white, but instead reference our social conscious of what a cartoon alien may look like. So, for someone searching to find the anti-human, Hentai may be the way to go. Finally, I noticed how submissive all of the Hentai girls were. In a Freudian analysis of men who prefer to dominate the women they are with, Hentai taps into that section of one’s psychological desire.
While pornography may be an escape from reality for anyone who engages it, animated pornography is the uber-escape. It places the viewer in an entirely made-up world and presents him or her with the anti-human. A perfectly proportioned, exotic, young, submissive, figure donning uniforms of innocence seems to be the right formula for millions of adult-viewers.