Futanari(ふたなり?, seldom: 二形, 双形, literally: ‚dual form‘, 二成, 双成, literally: [to be of] two kinds), is the Japanese word for hermaphroditism, which is also used in a broader sense for androgyny.
Beyond Japan the term is used to describe a commonly pornographic genre of computer games, comics and animations, which includes characters that show both primary sexual characteristics. But in today's language it refers almost exclusively for characters who have an overall feminine appearance. In that case the term is also often abbreviated as futa(s), which is occasionally also used as term for the works itself.
In Japanese society, interest in futanari dates back hundreds of years, and may have roots in the worship of Dosojin, who was portrayed as a phallus, despite being neither male nor female. 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.
In anime and manga
There is a specific futanari genre within hentai (pornographicanime or manga related media), which depicts hermaphrodite characters. Inside the Japanese language futanari originally referred to any character or person that possessed masculine and feminine traits. As the genre got more popular in the '90s it is now usually used to name the genre, to define the characters and to refer to works that depict hermaphrodite characters, specifically, women with both male and female genitals. Inside the English language they are also often referred as shemale, despite the fact that this term is technically inaccurate, is not of Japanese origin and is often seen as vulgar. While the English speaking community adopted the more polite term futanari (or short futa [ふた]), the Japanese community adopted the English term newhalf (ニューハーフ), with futanari tending to refer to hermaphrodites and newhalf tending to refer to women with a not very feminine appearance (e.g. tomboy) and only male genitals.
Futanari manga became popular in the 1990s and quickly became a pervasive part of the industry, cross-pollinating with multiple genres.Toshiki Yui's Hot Tails has been described as the best known example of the genre in the West.
^ ab(German) Krauss, Friedrich Salomo et al. Japanisches Geschlechtsleben: Abhandlungen und Erhebungen über das Geschlechtsleben des japanischen Volkes ; folkloristische Studien, Schustek, 1965, pp. 79, 81
^Jacobs, Katrien (2007). Netporn: DIY web culture and sexual politics. Critical media studies: institutions, politics, and culture. Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 103–104. ISBN0-7425-5432-5.