Anime Meta-Review


Glossary Entry : Hentai


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    Abstract:   In Japanese this is "perverted" and it's definitely not a compliment. In western fan circles it describes material with explicit sexual content. I'm using it in the original sense.

This is the top level of erotica, being generally explicit. This can range from an anime with explicit sex to complete pornography. I also suspect many sub-cultures, such as the japanese computer game players, may label things differently. Hentai means perverted in japanese, and you will hear it used in anime itself.

Hentai presents a problem to most reviewer types, both because it makes it harder to push anime in cultures that see animation as being suitable for kids (or where anime already has a reputation as being only hentai). Also because it forces them to confront their own interest and because, sadly, a lot of it is really bad. On the other hand the power of anime is the wide range of topics it covers, and it is no suprise that sexuality and erotica is one of these area's. It would be very worthwhile if someone would review all Hentai and seperate the good from the bad, but I'm not interested enough to do it since I suspect the vast majority is probably worthless and/or distasteful. While I don't have any problem with honest depictions of sexuality some of the more extreme forms of Hentai are better ignored.

After some thought on the issue i've decided to spell out my own position, and usage of this term. The full description is in this document but i'll give the summary here. I use the term hentai for material that gains it's power through shock, breaking of taboo's and the perversion of sex and humanity. With this limited definition I don't feel the need to review it. The only exception is when the title is `infamous' or being agressively marketed. Please see erotica for the other side of this position.

There's lots of Hentai material on the web, but the Hentai fans are even less intelligent/tasteful than most of the material. There is an average FAQ to give some more info and a Hentai section at the anime turnpike but neither of these give any promise of quality. I recently found the group HentaiFreefree (no, I don't know what it means) who take the position that hentai should be seen as a valid, albeit adult, genre. I'm pleased to say there is also an Australian Mirror.


Words by Andrew Shelton, Web by Ticti, Last Compile: Wed Aug 5 12:39:50 WST 2009