On Hentai: It's all a matter of perspective

As any anime fan will discover sooner or later, there's a genre of anime that is simply called, "hentai." Hentai anime in simpler terms could be defined as animated pornography. It is this genre that gives the non-anime person a sour face when someone mentions anime. Some may cringe and say, "oh,those dirty cartoons." Sadly, that's how many view those regardless of being an anime fan or not. Anime is slowly digging out from that stereotype and showing that hentai is only a small portion of what anime has to offer. Does hentai deserve such a dirty rep or are people who view hentai perverts? Not necessarily.

Being an anime fan for over a decade now, I've had opportunities to view various types of anime. Yes, hentai has been one of them. Granted, a good portion deserves its rep as being digustingly pornographic with the only goal being to show sexual encounters, but that is not the goal of every hentai title. Some hentai have deep and complex plots where the story is more important. They end up classified as hentai because they do show some sexual encounters or reveal some skin where common society usually doesn't see it. I've been surprised on several occasions by the artistry of a series or the plot or character depth in a title labelled as "hentai."

I'm not going to say that you should go out and get a hentai title to see for yourself unless you're prepared to view it with an open mind. I don't openly recommend hentai since the majority is exactly what it is...pornography. I'm merely saying, don't turn your nose up at it or label someone a pervert or "bad" just because they do watch or support hentai. Granted, some who like this genre are indeed perverts, but many may just be taking in a bigger picture of anime and trying to see other aspects anime has to offer. And as I said before, not ALL hentai is pornography. There's nothing wrong with the human body in its natural state. It can be a beautiful form just as a shimmering dolphin leaping in front of a sunset. Many societies and perhaps religions will say otherwise, but let your own mind decide that. Don't give in to stereotypes all the time. They're likely exaggerations or misinterpretations of what really is or flat out a way to control how you think.

Hentai is a bold form of expression that often reveals ideas or events that many of us aren't comfortable with. Be it because of your society's influences on you or your own personal beliefs or experiences, negative, sad, or dismal things are not something many of us want to view. We only want to see happy, funny stuff and endings that end the same way right? We want to see stuff that makes us feel good in the end or move us in an emotional way (usually positively). Some hentai, like horror movies, takes the dark side with gloom or destruction. Some stuff is unsuitable for younger viewers, I agree, but it doesn't need to be constantly condemned or berated. The less ignorant one is while growing up, the better prepared one can be for the reality of life. I personally wish I was made aware of more stuff as a child than I was and several events of my life could have turned out differently. It's called finding out too little, too late. Ignorance causes us to make lop-sided decisions in life. In real life there's light and dark right? Apparently in anime, this is the same. Hentai often has a message for its viewers just as much as any other anime may have, it just does it in a very different manner.

Another common theme in hentai is that the genre belittles females and makes them helpless little beings controlled by males. This is something that is widely used in this genre. One has to understand that in traditional Japanese culture, the female thought of differently than the surging modern views seen in America. This is changing somewhat nowadays, but the general concept is still there, that the man is the dominant, working sex and the female is there to care for him and his family. (I can hear the males reading this now going "heck yeah!" and females wincing in disgust). But this is how many cultures are. Only now are societies & cultures realizing that this doesn't have to be. Both sexes have strengths and weaknesses and when equalized are a balancing, successful force. The sexes have something to learn from each other whether they're aware of it or not. But, I'll stop with that little ramble since I could write volumes on that alone.

Anyway, hentai does often portray females as the weaker sex and is generally geared towards a male audience. A female wishing to view hentai must have an open mind about it and be able to digest such. Ironically, several genres of anime portray very strong female characters that are perfectly capable of holding their own or even surpassing their male counterparts. I'm not sure why there's such a contrast and can't relate it to traditional Japanese culture, but it is rather fascinating and invigorating to see that anime is being fair overall.

As one surfs anime sites, many will quickly condemn hentai. Even servers, (especially the free ones) will also ban such material. Unfortunately it is not acknowledged as being an art form or another type of expression. People are too quick to judge and give in to stereotypes. My message is simply this: don't judge something until you've seen or have been informed about both sides of the story.