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A Western work influenced by Ero guro

Ero Guro Nansensu, frequently shorted to Ero guro, (エログロ ero-guro?) is a wasei-eigo term that describes a literary and artistic movement from 1920s and '30s Japan.[1] Ero guro puts its focus on eroticism, sexual corruption and decadence.[1] While ero guro is a specific movement, many of its components can be found throughout Japanese history and culture.[citation needed]

The term is often used incorrectly by western audiences to mean "gore"—depictions of horror, blood, and guts. In actuality the "grotesque" term implies malformed, unnatural or horrific.[1] Items that are pornographic and bloody are not necessarily ero guro, and ero-guro is not necessarily pornographic or bloody.


Ero guro nansensu, characterized as a "prewar, bourgeois cultural phenomenon that devoted itself to explorations of the deviant, the bizarre, and the ridiculous,"[2] manifested in the popular culture of Taishō Tokyo during the 1920s.[3] Writer Ian Buruma describes the social atmosphere of the time as "a skittish, sometimes nihilistic hedonism that brings Weimar Berlin to mind."[3] Its roots go back to artists like Yoshitoshi, who, besides erotic shunga, also produced, in the mid-1860s, woodblock printings showing decapitations and acts of violence from Japanese history. Ukiyo-e artists such as Utagawa Kuniyoshi presented similar themes with bondage, rape, and erotic crucifixion.[citation needed]

Ero guro's first distinct appearance began in 1920s and 1930s Japanese literature. The Sada Abe Incident of 1936, where a woman choked and castrated her lover, struck a chord with the ero guro movement, and came to represent that genre for years to come.[4] This and other activities and movements were generally suppressed in Japan during World War II, but re-emerged in the postwar period, especially in manga and music.[5]

Over time, the ero guro movement's influence expanded into parts of Japanese theatre, art, manga, and eventually film and music.

Later influences

Ero guro is also an element of many Japanese horror films and pinku eiga, particularly of the 1960s and 1970s. Examples include Teruo Ishii's Shogun's Joys of Torture (1968) and Horrors of Malformed Men (1969) and Yasuzo Masumura's Blind Beast (1969), the latter two based on the works of Edogawa Rampo. A more recent example of ero guro in cinema is Sion Sono's Strange Circus (2005).

There are modern guro artists, some of whom cite Erotic Grotesque Nonsense as an influence on their work. These artists explore the macabre intermingled with sexual overtones. Often the erotic element, even when not explicit, is merged with grotesque themes and features similar to the works of H. R. Giger. Others produce ero guro as a genre of Japanese pornography and hentai involving blood, gore, disfiguration, violence, mutilation, urine, enemas, or feces.

Examples of well-known guro mangaka include Suehiro Maruo, Shintaro Kago, Jun Hayami, Toshio Maeda, Henmaru Machino, Horihone Saizō, and Waita Uziga.

The modern genre of tentacle rape began within the category of ero guro (although it has much older roots in Japanese art; see The Dream of the Fisherman's Wife), but was so popular that it is now usually considered separately.

In music

Visual kei bands frequently have a concept or theme relating to ero guro, some calling it a subgenre of visual kei. The band Cali Gari was heavily influenced by Erotic Grotesque Nonsense.[6] Western visual kei fans mistook this theme as a description of their "genre" and linked it with other visual kei bands.

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Silverberg, Miriam Rom. "By Way of a Preface: Defining Erotic Grotesque Nonsense". Galley copy of the preface for Erotic Grotesque Nonsense: The Mass Culture of Japanese Modern Times. December 12, 2005.
  2. Reichert, Jim; Reichert, Jim (2001). "Deviance and Social Darwinism in Edogawa Ranpo's Erotic-Grotesque Thriller Koto no Ōni". Journal of Japanese Studies (Journal of Japanese Studies, Vol. 27, No. 1) 27 (1): pp. 113–114. doi:10.2307/3591938.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Buruma, Ian (2003). Inventing Japan, 1853–1964. New York: The Modern Library. pp. 67–68. ISBN 0-679-64085-1.
  4. Johnston, William (2005). Geisha, Harlot, Strangler, Star: A Woman, Sex, and Morality in Modern Japan. New York: Columbia University Press. pp. 11, 114, 160. ISBN 0-231-13052-X.
  5. McLelland, Mark. "A Short History of 'Hentai'".
  6. Bounce Di(s)ctionary Number 13 - Visual Kei. Retrieved November 19, 2008.


External links

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