The image of women being unwillingly violated by octopi dominates the Western perception of hentai (pornographic anime and manga). Our fascination with this small niche of Japanese erotica probably says more about the West than it does about Japan.
Twisted as it might seem, the depiction of tentacled lady-botherers is just a creative extension of popular themes in “straight” porn: dominance and restraint. Although young women are the most common victims, the guys have not been left out – tentacles have also found their way into gay porn.
This slippery type of bestial erotic expression has roots in classical Japanese art. One of the original pieces of octopus porn was made by Katsushika Hokusai around 1820. Although the legendary ukiyo-e artist is most famous for his landscapes, he was also a prolific producer of shunga (erotic art). In ‘The Dream of the Fisherman’s Wife’, a naked woman is graphically ravaged by a pair of octopuses.
The modern revival of octo-filth was partly inspired by the censors. Japanese decency laws, which demonstrate much less imagination than Japanese pornographers, don’t allow portrayal of the penis. Unable to draw more conventional tools of penetration, hentai artist Toshio Maeda violated his heroines with tentacles instead. This ploy earned him fame and reignited interest in the genre.
Although these images remain repulsive (albeit intriguing) to the majority of people, tentacle sex might be re-entering mainstream art. In 2001, Masami Teraoka’s ‘Waves and Plagues’ exhibition included a modern reworking of the original Hokusai piece.
- Tentacle Porn (The Emperor)
Loads more background, peppered with interesting links
- ‘Secrets of tentacle porn revealed’ (Eros Zine)
Entertaining article approaching the genre from a cultural perspective
- Toshio Maeda (Sake Drenched Postcards)
Interview with the tentacle hentai mastermind
- Tentacle rape (Wikipedia)