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Hentai (変態 or へんたい) listen (help·info) is a Japanese word that, in the West, is used when referring to sexually explicit or pornographic comics and animation, particularly those of Japanese origin such as anime, manga, and eroge. The word hentai is a kanji compound of 変 (hen; "change", "weird", or "strange") and 態 (tai; "attitude" or "appearance"). The term is used as a shortened form of the phrase 変態性欲 (hentai seiyoku) meaning "sexual perversion". In Japanese slang, hentai is used as an insult meaning roughly "pervert" or "weirdo".
The English use of hentai is more similar to the way the Japanese use the slang term エッチ (H or ecchi), which refers to any sexually explicit content or behaviour. The Japanese seldom use the term hentai to refer to pornography in Japan. Instead, terms such as 18-kin (18禁?, "18-prohibited"), meaning "prohibited to those not yet 18 years old", and seijin manga (成人漫画?, "adult manga") are used. Less official terms also in use include ero anime (エロアニメ), ero manga (エロ漫画), and the English acronym AV (for "adult video").
The earliest association between anime and adult animation occurred prior to the 1972 release of Fritz the Cat when American distributors attempted to cash in on the publicity garnered from the rating by rushing out dubbed versions of two other adult animations from Japan, both of which featured an X rating in their advertising material: Senya ichiya monogatari and Kureopatora, retitled One Thousand and One Arabian Nights and Cleopatra: Queen of Sex, respectively. However, neither film was actually submitted to the MPAA, and it is not likely that either feature would have received an X rating. One Thousand and One Nights was the first erotic animated feature film, and at 130 minutes, it remains one of the longest animated films.
The Lolita Anime series was the first hentai original video animation (OVA), released in 1984 by Wonder Kids, which mainly focused on underage sex, rape, and bondage. Cream Lemon, which contained many themes found in hentai today, was released later that year by Fairy Dust and contained some in-depth storylines and classic (late 1970s to early 1980s style) artwork. The Brothers Grime was a three-video cartoon-pornography series produced by Excalibur Films in 1986, 1987, and 1988, using titles primarily from the Cream Lemon series, the most popular of Japan's erotic anime before Urotsukidoji.
Following the tentacle scene in Guyver: Out of Control in December 1986, the Urotsukidoji anime series by Toshio Maeda was released on OVA beginning in 1987 and released in America in 1992 by Anime 18. It is most famous for being viewed as the first in the tentacle rape genre, though only one scene in the first OVA actually contains any tentacle rape. Tentacle rape was not present in the Urotsukidoji manga, but was featured in a series that he would publish years later called Demon Beast Invasion. Demon Beast Invasion created what might be called the modern paradigm of tentacle porn, in which the elements of sexual assault are emphasized. Maeda explained that he invented the practice to get around strict Japanese censorship regulations, which prohibit the depiction of the penis but apparently do not prohibit showing sexual penetration by a tentacle or similar (often robotic) appendage. Maeda went on to create La Blue Girl, which departs somewhat from its predecessors by lightening the atmosphere with humor, lightly parodying the tentacle rape genre.
In November 1994, A.D. Vision released their first title, The Legend of Lyon, under its hentai label, Soft Cel Pictures. A.D. Vision put out 19 Soft Cel Pictures releases during 1995 and 12 through the first half of 1996, some of which were rereleases of previous A.D. Vision Films titles in their unedited form. Soft Cel Pictures shut down in 2005 and most of its titles were acquired by Critical Mass.
Critical Mass was created in 1996 when The Right Stuf made a deal with Manga Entertainment to release an unedited edition of Violence Jack, which they deemed too intense for their normal line. Critical Mass has since released a large number of hentai titles. Most of their titles are associated with The Vanilla Series, a series of hentai titles produced in Japan by Digital Works which are tied-in with eroge games of the same title. When Central Park Media went bankrupt in the year of 2009, the licenses for all Anime 18-related products and movies were transferred to Critical Mass.
Censorship is practiced differently in Japan and in the USA, due to their different laws. Japanese law discourages showing of genitals in hentai, while the United States is more concerned about forbidding the display of sex acts involving people under 18, so the characters in hentai have to look 18 or older. Hence, there are censoring mosaics in Japan, and scene removals and different ages of characters in America. While not featuring the censoring mosaics of the original Japanese version, the US release of La Blue Girl was edited during the initial VHS release and all scenes featuring Miko's companion Nin-Nin engaged in a sexual act were removed, probably to avoid the charge of pedophilia, in spite of the fact that the character is not a minor but a dwarf ninja. For similar reasons, the age of the heroine was also altered: initially stated to be a 16 year old high-schooler in the original Japanese version, she is an 18 year old college student in the US version. The DVD release contains this edited version. In the UK, the British Board of Film Classification refused to classify it, thus prohibiting its distribution.
As with other forms of Japanese pop-culture media, publishers of erotic media target material to specific demographic groups. For manga, the most typical divisions are:
Hentai that features mainly heterosexual interactions occur in both male-targeted (ero) and female-targeted ("ladies' comics") form. Those that feature mainly homosexual interactions are known as yaoi (male-male) and yuri (female-female). Both yaoi and, to a lesser extent, yuri are generally aimed at members of the opposite sex from the persons depicted.
Yaoi commonly features males of ambiguous gender—in both physical appearance and, frequently, mannerism—called bishōnen, literally "beautiful boy". Some feature biseinen ("beautiful man"), males of more adult or masculine appearance than bishōnen. Less common are bara—larger, often heavily muscled and sometimes hairy males, the yaoi counterpart of the "bear" in gay pornography—as well as oyaji (meaning "daddy" or "uncle"), featuring middle-aged and elderly men; these types are mainly found in material aimed at gay men, which may be called bara or 'men's love' (ML), and is considered to be distinct from yaoi. Yaoi also extends beyond the hentai genre, since it applies to any anime/manga material that includes male homosexuality, except for that actually aimed at a gay male audience. In Western usage, yaoi is distinguished from shōnen-ai (literally, "boy-love"), in which two males merely express romantic feelings for each other without actually having sexual relations; however in current Japanese usage this term most commonly refers to pornographic shotacon for men. Women interested in Yaoi are called "Fujoshi" (腐女子), a pun which translate loosely as "rotten girl" or "rotten woman".
Yuri is very similar to yaoi, except that the focus is on female homosexual interactions. The characters in yuri are typically "bishōjo", meaning "beautiful girl" (this term is not specific to yuri but is applied generally to depictions of attractive women for a male audience; for example, in the term "bishōjo game"). Shōjo-ai ("girl love") is a western term for the female equivalent of shōnen-ai; in Japan these works are also called yuri. Yuri may be aimed at (presumptively heterosexual) male, heterosexual female, or lesbian female audiences.
In Western fanfiction circles, hentai-based works are popularly referred to as "lemon", based on a more popular hentai anime anthology series called Cream Lemon. Fictions referred to as "lime" are ones in which the characters do everything short of having sexual intercourse with each other.
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