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Example illustration of two futanari variants

Futanari (二成, 二形; ふたなり, literally "dual form") is the Japanese word for androgyny or hermaphroditism.[1][2] Until 1644, the appeal of sexually ambiguous, futanari characters portrayed by onnagata actors was a popular element in Japanese drama, and there is a flourishing futanari anime and manga genre in Japan today.


History in Japanese culture

In Japanese society, interest in futanari dates back many hundreds of years, and may have roots in the worship of Dosojin, who was portrayed as a phallus, despite being neither male nor female.[1] Until 1644, when Japanese onnagata actors were required to adopt male hairstyles regardless of the gender they were portraying, actors playing characters such as female warriors capitalised on the interest in the futanari quality, which was common in both samurai and commoner society.[1]

In anime and manga

There is a specific futanari genre within hentai (pornographic anime or manga), which depicts hermaphrodite characters. Other common terms used to describe futanari characters are "dickgirls"[3] or "shemales", although these are often considered vulgar and incorrect.[citation needed] Futanari, along with "newhalf" (ニューハーフ), are more polite terms having come into recent use, with futanari tending to refer specifically to actual hermaphrodites and "newhalf" tending to refer specifically to characters with female bodies but only male genitals.[citation needed] Originally futanari referred to any character that possessed masculine and feminine traits.[citation needed]


Futanari manga appeared in the 1990s and quickly became a pervasive part of the industry, cross-pollinating every genre.[4] Toshiki Yui's Hot Tails has been described as the best known exponent of the genre in the West.[4]

There are many hypotheses as to why and how the theme of futanari came into being. The most obvious is the close relationship that the futanari fetish shares with Western "shemale" pornography. However, due to the way it is executed, futanari probably shares more in common with the yuri genre. Futanari can be seen as an extension of the lesbian theme where it is used instead of a strap-on dildo or equivalent, that is, in cases involving a futanari character and a cisgender woman.[citation needed]

Only a very small subset of futanari characters "become" futa due to male to female transformations; most are developed by other, more outlandish means, often from cissexual females. This allows story lines to take a more lesbian context which is more palatable to many readers.

Futanari may also be seen as a way in which male empathy can be inserted into a predominately lesbian scene. Obviously, one of the main difficulties that male observers have with lesbian scenes is that it is difficult for them to empathise or see themselves in the situation.[citation needed] In the futanari fetish, this becomes possible and this may appeal to a part of the futanari community.[clarification needed][citation needed]

In anime aimed at a broad audience, the gender bender or cross-dressing storylines have always been popular. Popular examples include anime such as Ranma ½, Kampfer and Futaba-Kun Change! (in which the main character changes from male to female)[5] and I My Me! Strawberry Eggs (which takes on a more cross-dressing theme).


Futanari can be “originally” females who upon arousal have a phallus emerge from their vagina or clitoris. These phallus, which are much like male penises, are lacking a scrotum and testicles, yet often will ejaculate. They can also be completely transgender, where they maintain a scrotum and testicles and a permanent phallus, or sometimes both vagina and penis will be manifested along with testicles, with the vagina beneath or even in the scrotum.

See also


  1. ^ a b c Leupp, Gary P.Male Colors: The Construction of Homosexuality in Tokugawa Japan, University of California Press 1997, p. 174, ISBN 978-0-520-20900-8
  2. ^ (German) Krauss, Friedrich Salomo et al. Japanisches Geschlechtsleben: Abhandlungen und Erhebungen über das Geschlechtsleben des japanischen Volkes ; folkloristische Studien, Schustek, 1965, pp. 79, 81
  3. ^ Jacobs, Katrien (2007). Netporn: DIY web culture and sexual politics. Critical media studies: institutions, politics, and culture. Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 103–104. ISBN 0-7425-5432-5. 
  4. ^ a b Thompson, Jason (October 9, 2007). "Adult Reviews". Manga: The Complete Guide. New York, New York: Del Rey. p. 452. ISBN 978-0-345-48590-8. OCLC 85833345. 
  5. ^ Timothy Perper; Martha Cornog. "Sex, Love and Women in Japanese Comics". International Encyclopedia of Sexuality. http://www.kinseyinstitute.org/ccies/jp.php#8d. Retrieved 14 May 2012.