, Volume 13, Issue 1, pp 17-31

Peek-a-boo, I See You: Watching Japanese Hard-core Animation

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Abstract

This essay proposes a phenomenological approach to the viewing of Japanese hard-core animation (widely known in the West as “hentai”), a type of erotica frequently characterized by detailed, unusual and fantastic depictions of sexual activity habitually intended for sexual arousal. Pertinent instances of Japanese traditions of erotica and visual representation, as well as Japanese animation and its industry are briefly reviewed. The main theoretical focus is on the experience of viewing such animated material and is mostly informed by Western notions of pornography and film viewing, particularly Vivian Sobchack’s work on the phenomenology of film.