Men, Women, and Tentacles (Part Two)

For my own personal convenience, I am going to divide the enormous body of animated pornography three primary types. Since each of these types tends to follow a set narrative pattern, I will call them “stories.” The first, and I think the most common, story revolves around the trope of the osana najimi, or childhood friend. The second type of story, which I am going to refer to as the “self-fulfilling harem,” places a number of presumably heterosexual women together in an attempt to teach a sexually inexperienced teenager how to please her boyfriend. The third type of story is saturated with the occult. It usually involves demons trying to take over the world, and these demons can only be defeated by the martial and sexual efforts of a young woman.

The basic osana najimi story is as follows – a young man once made a promise to a girl when he was very little. His promise usually involves getting married or simply meeting again someday. Now in high school or college, the young man remembers the promise, but he has trouble remembering the girl. Suddenly, he meets a girl who he suspects is the one to whom he made the promise that has been guiding his life. But how can he be sure? By sleeping with her, of course. Sometimes the young man meets a host of girls instead of just one, and he must sleep with them all to discover his true love. The osana najimi story is centered around the erotic experience of the young man, but this character is often far from a marauding avatar of an imagined patriarchy. He is often presented as round-faced, puppy-eyed, innocent, and too shy for his own good. The heroine is also less of a buxom porn star than she is a friendly girl-next-door type who is just as shy and innocent as the protagonist. Said protagonist will usually be accompanied by a more sexually experienced friend, either male or female, who helps him peek at an undressed woman (who is more often than not getting steamy with herself in the shower) and thus gain the erotic courage to approach the girl of his dreams.

Despite the strong sexual content of this type of story, its narrative focus tends to be on the romantic instead of on the pornographic. No matter how much sex any of the characters engage in during the course of what is usually a twenty-five minute running time, the most time and attention of any encounter will be devoted to the finale, which involves the protagonist finally bedding the heroine. Although this final sex scene tends to be more erotically intense than previous scenes, it is set apart by the pair’s repeated confessions of love for each other, as well as by the willingness of the young man to please the heroine. Although the heroine is objectified to a certain extent, she is also respected by the protagonist for her personality (which, granted, tends to be of the male-projected Mary Sue variety) and generally treated like a human being with her own interiority. It might therefore be possible to understand the osana najimi story as almost a male-centered shōjo story, albeit one with more than its fair share of exposed breasts and panty shots.

In the self-fulfilling harem story, a sexually inexperienced girl is in love with or is dating a boy whom she wants to impress favorably once they progress beyond kissing. She therefore attempts to educate herself, often with the vigor and energetic determination of a shōnen character who wants to be the very best (like no one ever was), but fails due to her lack of experience. Another woman, who is either related to or living with the heroine, peeks in at her labors and offers to help her. Before long, more women are drawn into the situation, either because they are in love with the heroine or, more often than not, in love with the boy the heroine wants to date.

This sort of peanut gallery of attractive young women parodies harem anime like Tenchi Muyo and Ah! My Goddess; but, in the pornographic version of the story, there is little need for the male around whom the women gather, as they are more than capable of sexually fulfilling themselves with all manner of vibrators, sex dolls, bondage equipment, and roleplay scenarios. It seems like the only function of the male character, who is often shown on screen only briefly, is to assure the viewer that all of the members of his harem are in fact heterosexual. Of course, the explicit alternative, as presented in OVA’s like Viper GTS, is that the male protagonist has sex with each member of his harem individually before having his way with all of them at once. Nevertheless, in either case, it is generally the female characters who get to have all the fun, regardless of whether a male is actually present.

Finally, the occult story is perhaps the most attention-grabbing type of animated pornography outside of Japan. Several titles have become cult favorites in the West, like Wicked City, Legend of the Overfiend, and La Blue Girl, but these are more than adequately covered in Susan Napier’s Anime from Akira to Howl’s Moving Castle, and so I will use the 1990 OVA series Devil Hunter Yohko to illustrate my own discussion of occult pornography. I chose Devil Hunter Yohko because it’s one of the softer titles in what is an unabashedly hardcore genre (see, for comparison, the equally cult title Bible Black). It was also one of my favorite series when I was in high school in the late nineties, the reason being that I was enthralled with the character Mano Yōko, who I thought was absolutely awesome with her red dress and her huge sword.

Yōko is what cinema theorist Carol Clover refers to as a “phallic virgin” in her discussion of women in horror films. A phallic virgin is, in short, the last girl standing in a slasher movie. She usually has a masculine name, stereotypically masculine traits like mechanical or martial abilities, and the equally stereotypically masculine ability to keep a cool head in a crisis. This character is a virgin, untainted by heterosexual contact with men, and can thus serve as the viewer stand-in character for a male audience. In an essay called “Busty Battlin’ Babes,” Sharalyn Orbaugh identifies anime characters like Major Kusanagi from Ghost in the Shell as phallic virgins as well. The phallic virgin in anime is thus an action heroine who can boast sex appeal and kick-ass fighting abilities, both of which make her attractive to the male viewer, who is able to feel both for her and through her.

What happens to this phallic virgin, and the male identification that tags along with her, in an openly pornographic anime? As I mentioned earlier, occult porn tends to be more hardcore and transgressive than other genres. The essential plot of occult stories is that demons are trying to take over the world, and someone must stop them. That someone can be male or female; but, if he’s male, he’s going to have at least one female sidekick or major love interest, since women are at the center of this story as well. As in shōjo narratives, the women of occult-themed animated pornography hold a mystical power that allows to defeat the superhuman forces that threaten them. In pornographic narratives, however, the various battles and power plays are represented by sexual activity. Some of the staples of occult-themed pornography are the intensely sexual and carnivorous older woman, the futanari (the girl who can grow a penis or penis-substitute), and, of course, tentacles, which were original developed as a countermeasure against censorship laws that forbade the graphic depiction of human genitalia. The heroine must battle her way through obstacles such as these either with her weapon or with her body in order to save the world from disaster. Alternately, a male hero must find, protect, and then have sex with the magical heroine in order to release the magical healing energy that will protect humanity from a host of sexual demons. As in many mainstream anime, only a woman has the ability to save the world, and it is often her sex that is the key to her power.

Part One
Part Three

5 thoughts on “Men, Women, and Tentacles (Part Two)

  1. All of the screen shots were taken by me.

    The first two are from a three-part OVA from 1999 called Kiss yori (released in America as A Heat For All Seasons), which I chose because it’s one of the more generic examples of the osana najimi genre.

    The second two are from another three-part OVA (this one from 1995) called Nageki no kenkō yūryōji, which might be translated as “The Lament of an Otherwise Healthy Girl” (but was released in America under the title F3: Frantic, Frustrated, and Female). I chose this OVA because, even though it doesn’t fit the conventions of the genre perfectly, it is so fabulous in so many other ways that I couldn’t not include it.

    Devil Hunter Yohko (Mamono hunter Yōko) is a six-part OVA series released over a six year span from 1990 to 1995. I acquired the pin-up of Yōko as a result of my internet magpie habits, so I’m not sure where the image originally came from. Let’s say it came from the “Art Gallery” special feature of the new American DVD release of the series, then (because it is definitely there, along with many other such images).

    Any of these anime can be acquired from an online store called The Right Stuf, which often features deep discounts on older titles. Which might explain why all of the OVAs I’m discussing are from the nineties…

    I should also mention that the Orbaugh essay is included in a collection called Gender and Power in the Japanese Visual Field, which is excellent reading if your library happens to have a copy.

    1. Thank you so much! But there is still a lot of work to be done on this topic. At a certain point, my, er, research started to get a bit repetitive, and I think probably someone working out of Japan could engage a project like this on a much deeper level…

      By the way, I browsed through your site a bit (thank you for linking!), and it occurred to me that you might really appreciate the work of this Japanese artist:

      http://matsuifuyuko.com/works/index.html

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