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The Search For Sex-Positive Hentai

Harder than you might think.

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According to Porn MD, “hentai” is the fourth most searched porn term in the world—in other words, approximately everybody alive has seen anime characters grinding. That also means that I can say with a pretty decent amount of certainty that you, dear readers, have seen some. It’s alright, friends; you’re safe here.

But what is hentai, exactly? The term itself is pretty loosely defined in Japanese as anything sexual and perverse, but in the West it has come to mean just one thing: hella nasty anime pornopgraphy. There is another term, “ecchi,” which essentially means “naughty.” Most ecchi manga and anime are sexual, but feature little if any actual nudity; tons of panties and ludicrously proportioned bosoms, mind you, but usually no tentacle penetration. In Japan, hentai and ecchi, much like anime in general, are far more popular than their live action counterparts. The hentai industry is massive, and more mainstream than porn is in the West. Rather than the seedy sex shops you might find in America, hentai is often found alongside popular anime like Naruto and Dragonball.

For all of its mainstream appeal, though, hentai is anything but inclusive; in fact, it’s pretty damn sexist. I mean, obviously pornography leans toward misogyny as a rule, but Western porn has seen a growing trend of feminism and sex-positivity in recent years. In doing research for this article, I was hard-pressed to find anything that was even vaguely respectful in Japanese porn—but more on that later.

Hentai has a reputation for being, let’s say, super yucky. The infamous octopus porn is prolific, largely due to the fact that – unlike penises, which are censored by law in Japanese porn – tentacles can be displayed in their full, veiny glory. Fear, pain, and subjugation are remarkably common elements as well, often as a driving force for the story.

Now, I am not necessarily against the existence of these genres, not wholesale at least; extreme bondage erotica can be a safe way to fulfill fantasies, and whatever makes you splooshy is totally fine as long as it’s safe and consensual—but that’s the key. It has to be consensual. The issue is that women in hentai always seem to be scared, never having any control, nor enjoying themselves in any way. Even in yaoi, the only type of hentai written for women specifically, two beautiful men usually fall into very specific feminine and masculine roles—and, once again, rape is incredibly common.

The simple fact is that most Japanese porn, whether it’s animated, illustrated or live-action—and as part of a largely patriarchal culture—is focused on male pleasure. Women are typically treated as objects whose enjoyment doesn’t matter. Even when the sex is consensual, there is a constant sense a sense of shame and embarrassment, and the girls are frequently seen frowning—often with tears collecting at the corners of their eyes.

Regardless of this generality, I theorized, there must be some more respectful hentai somewhere! To answer that, I turned to the internet.

The most obvious search, “sex-positive hentai,” yielded no real results. I moved on to Tumblr, thinking that if any community had some inclusive Japanese animated porn, it would be there. The first result was for a Tumblr titled “F**k Yeah Hentai!” with the tagline “Hentai, because girls are doing it wrong.”

Cool.

Cool cool cool.

After doing some more digging, I decided to put Tumblr back on the shelf for a while, because it was making me sad.

I then turned to Fakku.Net, which is apparently the industry leader of hentai sites—or least, they host more hentai than any one person could view in their lifetime. If you’ve ever looked at a porn website with no erotic intent, you know how ridiculous it can look, and how overwhelming it is. I couldn’t feasibly just skim through hundreds of hentai in hopes of finding something less problematic, never mind the psychological ramifications. I needed to narrow my search.

I found a list of Hentai Genres; everything from “pantsu to kao” (panties on face), to “Onara” (fart fetish), but I didn’t find anything which could be considered inclusive or respectful. In desperation, I Googled terms like “Nice Hentai” and “Sweet Hentai,” but all I got was results like “Nice Hentai Babe Tied And Grabbed” and “Sweet Hentai Teen F***d.” In other words, I was getting nowhere fast.

After hours of searching, I discovered the very small sub-genre called “vanilla hentai,” which essentially means hentai without rape, tentacles, feces, or anything else that’s too far outside of “the norm.” There is probably something to be said about the fact that non-rape is a subgenre, but whatever; I was finally getting somewhere!

I tracked down a meager list of vanilla hentai and set to work.

The first show I watched was called Women at Work. It’s about a teenage boy who gets dumped for not being manly enough, so he joins a construction crew, and bangs all of its female employees.

I definitely wouldn’t classify it as sexual assault-y, but I’m not sure I’d classify it as respectful either. Most of the woman do enjoy the sex, but there is some definite homophobia. Also, the one woman who actually looks strong enough to realistically work in construction is made out to be incredibly masculine for comedic effect.

Elven Bride started out somewhat promising: a human and an elf fall in love and decide to get married despite racial tension. Alright. We then find out that elf-vaginas are too small for human boners, so he goes on a quest for a magical lube secreted by Harpies in hopes that he can get all up in there. He meets a harpy who rapes him and becomes pregnant.

Godammit, next.

Anyone you can do… I can do Better! is about a teenaged boy who becomes the private tutor of a dumb but hot girl with huge boobs. Obviously he doinks her, as well as her even more well-endowed mother. That’s about it; this one had decidedly less dialog than the previous two. Nobody got raped, so that’s a win. Kind of.

Princess Lover seemed pretty promising at first, mostly because the animation was the best I’d seen in my search, but it got weird quick. It started out with some pretty unhealthy portrayals of domination, and pretty soon there was pee everywhere.

On and on, I subjected myself to innumerable scenes of ludicrous anime sex in search of something that was even kind of okay. I didn’t find it; all I found was reinforcements of the stereotypes.

Look, you’re smart people, I know that the simple act of watching hentai won’t turn you into yet another cog in the misogyny engine. Like I said before, whatever turns you on is totally okay, and there are perfectly level-headed feminists out there who like to get it going to animated porn—especially since no real women are harmed in the process of creating hentai.

Me personally? I’d love to find hentai where the women don’t hate everything about what’s happening to them; where normal, healthy, and consensual adult intimacy can progress without shame and regret. For now, I guess I’ll stick to Smut Peddler.

David Ochart (pronounced Oh-Chart) is a freelance writer and social media manager. He loves loving things, and he spends much of his free time advocating his favorite things with an almost evangelical fervor. He spends the rest of that free time guzzling tea and scouring the internet for gifs. He can be found at mostwebsitesites.com/DavidOchart and others @DavidOchart.

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