Hentai (変態) is a Japanese word used outside of Japan, mostly in western countries and several English-speaking countries, to refer to Japanese animation ("H anime"), comic-book-style magazines ("H manga"), and computer games ("bishōjo games", hentai games) with explicit sexual or pornographic artwork (see Japanese pornography).
Meaning of the word
In Japanese, the word hentai means metamorphosis, abnormality, or sexual perversion. It is never used to refer to "normal" sexual activity, or to adult manga or other entertainment that is merely sexually explicit. The terms 18-kin (18禁, literally "18-prohibited") meaning "prohibited to those not yet 18 years old", and seijin manga (成人漫画 "adult manga") are used.
The English-language use of hentai comes from anime and manga fandom; compare otaku for another word altered somewhat in this transition. The English use is compared to the Japanese slang エッチ (H, or etchi, often spelled ecchi by non-Japanese), which refers to any sexually explicit content or behavior — or simply a lewd comment. Etchi is simply the spelling-out of the Japanese pronunciation of the letter H; and is believed to be a shortened form of hentai used as a polite codeword in the 1960s. (Note that even in Japan the origins of etchi are unclear — one playful suggestion is that an H is someone who always follows a G, or girl.)
Exactly how the term hentai came to refer to all sexually explicit content in American anime fandom is unknown. With the rise of the World Wide Web, however, the term was extensively promoted by pornographic sites selling access to (frequently bootlegged) erotic manga. Banner ads promoting these sites might, for instance advertise "live girls and hentai", with the latter meaning erotic manga as opposed to photographs. In addition, many people outside of anime and manga fandom had come to associate anime with a particular genre of extreme pornography (e.g., tentacle rape) which could easily be called hentai in Japanese as well.
"H" in Japan is now broadly used to refer to all sexual content or activity, so "H manga" are manga with sexual content—however, "H" and "hentai" are no longer interchangeable. Also, the term "ero" (エロ), short for "erotic", is now used more often instead of "H".
There are three kinds of anime porn: works that feature strictly heterosexual interactions, Censored page and Yuri. Yaoi refers to Censored page male pairings, and Yuri to Censored page pairings. Yaoi commonly features males of ambiguous gender in both physical appearance and mannerisms. These males are called "Bishounen", which literally means "pretty man". The traditional "Bear" of gay porn in other countries is very rare in Japan. Yaoi also exists outside of the Hentai genre, since it is a fairly ambiguous term that is usually applied to any form of anime that includes male homosexuality.
Yuri is very similar to Yaoi, except that the focus is on homosexual female interactions, and the females in a typical Yuri illustration or animation tend to be far less realistic than the males in Yaoi, as is usually the case in most forms of porn. The females in Yuri are known as "bishōjo", which, predictably, translates as "pretty woman". Like Yaoi, Yuri exists outside of hentai.
- bishōjo game and hentai game
- H anime
- H manga
- H dōjinshi
- List of H authors (groups, studios, production companies, circles)
- Animetric — hentai and anime reviews
- Hentai-Neko — some more Hentai reviews (anime, mangas, games...)
- Hentai Palm — half-free site with hentai image galleries