Surely this edition’s topic needs no introduction… so here it is. Hentai.
Hentai (変態) is abbreviated from the phrase Hentai Seiyoku (変態性欲) which means sexual perversion, in other words, weird fetishes. The actual kanji that makeup Hentai, “変” and “態”, aren’t necessarily related to sex. “変” when can be interpreted as change or strange and “態” can be interpreted as condition or form. The word Hentai in Japan can be used to describe things that are related to sexual perversion. A typical anime example will be if a male character is called a hentai, that would simply mean they are a pervert. What the west refers to as Hentai is mainly just known as 18 Prohibited “18禁”, or Seijin Manga (成人漫画) which means Adult Manga. Ero (エロ) anime and ero manga are also used in Japan to describe anime and manga with sexualized content, however, these terms are less official.
▍History of Hentai in Japan
In the Heian period (794 – 1185), the term Shunga (春画) was used for erotic art. After the Heian period, the shoguns suppressed shunga which led to its decline. Shunga production further plummeted in the late 19th century with the growing popularity of pornographic photographs.
After WWII, under the Allied Occupation of Japan, Japan’s sexual restrictions underwent massive changes. Whilst media censorship was still somewhat heavily regulated, almost all restrictions on sexual expression were lifted early in the occupation. This sudden release brought on a sort of sexual liberation which rekindled the interest of Shunga and the sexual exploration opened many new doors to hentai seiyoku.
Eventually, Hentai Seiyoku became an umbrella genre for everything outside of the normal scopes of sex. As time went on, individual genres became their own topics such as S&M and lesbianism for male audiences (Yuri). Over time, Hentai was abbreviated to “H” or ecchi (as pronounced in Japan), however, the meaning shifted to from being a term for sexual perversion to a term that simply stands for lewdness. This could be the reason why Hentai is interpreted as drawn pornography in the west, but there is no documentation as to when exactly and how the term came to be what it is today. One thing is for sure though, Hentai is definitely a western term despite its Japanese origins.
▍Modern Interpretation (West)
So after all the history, what is hentai? The term hentai has grown to become its own porn category which covers any pornographic content which is animated or drawn. Under the hentai umbrella, there are your typical pornographic categories as well as categories that are “not so typical” in porn.
As always, if there is anything else you want us to explain, let us know in the comments!