In the mid 20th century Japanese police began confiscating pornography, including the first animated porn movie in the country made in the 1930s. Once thought to be lost, the film resurfaced in connection with the shooting of Tarantino’s blockbuster Inglorious Bastards in 2009. It had been gathering dust in a warehouse, hidden in a stock pile of old nitrate film. However, this first film, now legendary, remains an exception.
Japan has a long history of erotic art, and the word “hentai” has changed meaning over the years. After the appearance of animated films with pornographic content in the late 1960s, hentai, which previsously described many forms of sexual “perversion”, became the term used to describe pornograhic animation. Erotic manga are simply comic books with sexual content.
However, Japanese hentai/ manga comics have a particular style, often depicting young women and boys in sexual and sometimes violent circumstances. Yet, these drawings are fantasies without victims. A new sensibility about child safety is, however, clashing with Japan’s tradition of liberal attitudes towards sex. So should hentai / erotic manga be banned?
That is the subject of the documentary Manga Erotica (2000):
To follow up, a psychologist and a group of women analyze hentai in a video debate.
Here is a video lecture by Jonathan Clements on Manga Erotica/hentai in Japan (50 min)