Why We Think Hentai

Are So Damn Good!

In this scene from the highly regarded anime Kite, the plot is advanced as we learn just how badly the protagonist Sawa is treated by the bad guys. There are also some neat touches -- the gangster has a gun in his hand because he hears an intruder, when he learned it's just another member of the gang, he continues to fuck Sawa, pushing her up and down like a toy as he talks while she looks helpless.

Hentai are interesting because they have plots and because they aren't constrained by the cheap budgets and incredibly stupid writing that's characterization of live-action porn. There are some practical reasons and some cultural reasons why this is so -- it's no accident.

To put it simply, the budget for most live-action porn confines their sets to motel rooms, roadsides and offices (if that much). Hentai, because it is animated, doesn't have this limitation. It's just as expensive to draw a space station as it is to draw a cheap hotel room. For that reason alone, hentai have it ALL over live action porn.

However, I think there are some cultural differences between Japanese and U.S. that also give hentai a great advantage over U.S. adult films. Simply put, the Japanese are capable of presenting sexual elements in a story in a direct and unembarrassed way, something that's very hard for U.S. or European filmmmakers to do. When there are strong sex scenes in a U.S. or European film, they tend to BECOME the film.

That is, in a hentai the bad guy may in the course of the story rob a bank, steal a car, kidnap, tie up and rape a woman several times, and kick a puppy dog, and it's all part of the story. A U.S. film would go like this: the bad guy robs a bank, steals a car, kidnaps, TIES UP and RAPES a WOMAN -- OH MY GOD! YOU MEAN, RAPES HER WHILE SHE'S TIED UP??? SWEET JESUS AND MARY!!! THIS IS TOO FUCKING MUCH ...

Frex, take the well-known, well-regarded anime Kite. Kite is the story of Sawa, a young woman whose parents are killed by a crooked cop who secretly runs a criminal gang. He "takes the young girl in" and trains her to be an assassin, also molesting her very thoroughly. When the story starts, she's in college and is a very, very good assassin. She falls in love with a boy assasin and the trouble begins.

It's considered a very gritty noir anime, and it shows up on a lot of video store shelves and may even have been on some of the cablechannels that show anime, like Showtime Beyond.

But that's the CENSORED version released by Media Blasters, which excludes all the sex scenes. The DIRECTOR's CUT is a little hard to find, because it leaves in all the protagonists' sex scenes, including the one where the bad guys' chief goon has her tape gagged and her wrists tied behind her back while he fucks her senseless. (There is a full version available in Japan which includes scenes not available in the U.S., I suspect because they contain flashbacks to Kite's molestation by the crooked cop when she was much younger.)

Now the scenes in the Director's Cut are from a mainstream anime, but I gotta tell you, they're fucking raw, rawer than most hentai. Sawa is just a slip of a woman -- one of her favorite infiltration techniques is to dress and act young so her victim won't be worried about her, then blow him away (Sawa's large, well-developed breasts and shapely butt don't show in those scenes, somehow, though they're very evident in the sex scenes. Guess she's good at disguise.) And the goon is a huge guy, your typical no-neck thug with a big, thick body and a matching cock, and when he fucks her he really has to work to get his cock into her, but you know what? He does. So most of this sex scene consists of totally explicit images of a bound and gagged Sawa writhing and mewling helplessly while this huge cock is crammed into her again and again.

Still, in Kite the sex and bondage are just part of the story, establishing very clearly what a bunch of rotten scum the bad guys are so it'll be much more rewarding when they get their comeuppance.

And just as anime have no trouble integrating strong sex scenes into their storylines, so hentai have no trouble integrating strong plotlines into their sexual fantasy elements.

No sex, please, the plot is developing. In "Necromicon" there's plenty of sex and some bondage, by there are also scenes like this which serve only to advance the plot or build characterization. Bizarre, eh?

Take, well, almost any hentai, but we'll settle on "Mysteries of the Necronomicon." If you rent it hoping for wall to wall sex and bondage, you're going to be disappointed, because there is a truckload of plot between sex scenes. They have a story, to tell, dammit! And while it DOES have explicit sex scenes and naked bondage, it doesn't stint on the plot. It's like they care if the story is worth watching.

This ability to subsume the sexual elements into the story (and vice versa) and just enjoy them as part of it makes hentai a lot more entertaining than American adult movies, which tend not to have a plot at all in any event. The Japanese cultural attitudes make it easy for them to integrate a strong sexual theme in to an adventure, mystery or horror story, whereas it's very rare for that to happen over here -- the only U.S. person who's done it successfully is a writer, John Norman.

In fact, American porn producers seem to be oddly in concert with mainstream anime fans -- the plot, characterization and setting are totally unimportant so long as you have the explicit sex. It creates an expectation that if a video has explicit sex scenes, it can't be a real story.

This expectation great confusion among mainstream U.S. reviewers who can't seem to grasp that to the Japanese, explicit sex scenes are not innately objectionable elements that "ruin" the rest of it. This is especially true of anime fans who seem to resent the intrusion of sex into their fantasies. One reviewer of Kite who had seen both versions said he considered it a hentai trying to be a mainstream anime. But considering the widespread acceptance of both versions by a lot of other mainstream anime reviewers, it's rather obvious that Kite IS a mainstream anime, it just that the Director's Cut version doesn't fit easily into the precepts of most anime fans.

As a result of the Japanese animators' more mature approach to sex as a dramatic element, hentai are sexy, fun to watch, and often have enough characterization and plotting to be engaging on their own account. There may be better reasons for watching them, but I cannot imagine what they might be.