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Art

11.25.2015

[NSFW] Supreme X Toshio Maeda: A Quick And Dirty History of Hentai

Looking for the perfect gift for that distant relative who never seems to leave the house? You know, the one who wears a crusted-over sweatshirt to every family function, regardless of how deeply your grandmother wrinkles her nose? Because she wrinkles it, and she wrinkles it hard. And then she looks at you.

And then she prays.

Well, Supreme just might get her to smile again, if only because it might convince him to change clothes. Their newest collection is dedicated to that anime marathoning, basement dwelling, gentle hearted introvert in you. Well, maybe not in you. You love yourself. Probably the guy next to you, though.

Their newest collab is with none other than Toshio Maeda, the godfather of hentai. He’s the sole reason why tentacles went from weird, stupid not-arms for try hard octopi who couldn’t get evolution right…to, uh, this. As any internet dwelling denizen of 2015 knows, “tentacle,” “octopus,” and “squid,” are no longer safe search options. (As if they ever have been).

But there’s more to hentai than lengthy human x cephalopod trysts. In American parlance, like what’s seen in the Supreme collection, it’s basically just animated porn. But we’re also talking everything from aliens to monsters to deer and demons using every appendage they have to get busy. It’s a wild, wild world, kiddos.

Badass tentacles.

And glimpses of that world are now being featured on sweatshirts and tees, ones designed by the same people who dress the likes of hot skater boys the world over. How did something so apparently bizarre become such a prominent part of pop culture?

Hold our hands, and hold on tight. We’re going for a ride.

Hentai goes back. Way, way back. During the Meiji Period of the late 1800’s (1857-1912 to be exact), Japan was busy getting its sexual education on. Theorists like Freud became a part of the national conversation, and a book called Psychopathia Sexualis (you can guess what it’s about) was translated from German to Japanese. It’s Japanese title? Hentai Seiyoku Shinrigaku, meaning “the psychology of perverse sexual desires.” Damn. Japan went on to develop a significant publishing industry devoted to “abnormal” sexuality, all under the blanket term hentai.

The sex scene exploded post WWII. With the once proud nation having been turned to nuclear ash, the body took on a special sort of meaning. People had nothing left but their skin, and that skin took on a special sort of eroticism all its own. Pre-war bans on “grotesque imagery” had been lifted, and artists were free to explore these new ideals through various works. Advertisements featuring the female body became increasingly common, where they once would’ve been considered obscene and inappropriate.

Sexy. And very uncomfortable looking.

Born on September 17th, 1953, Toshio Maeda is a child of these sexy, sexy times. He’s clearly an open dude. On his website, he calls himself the “tentacle master.” He’s a hentai hero, an erotica ace. He’s credited as a pioneer of the “tentacle rape” genre, which–for those of you who don’t Google cartoon porn because watching real-life porn makes you think about the potentially sad lives of the performers–is exactly what it sounds like. Check it.

I hope the cartoon ladies are having a good time?

No matter what you think of the popularity of something that does technically glorify sexual violence, hentai is a beautiful art form, and Maeda is the master, self-proclaimed or otherwise. We can’t wait to see the Supreme collection at the skate park. Maybe there will be a super-meta video where tentacles grow out of skateboards and penetrate a bunch of models.

Images via Tumblr, Toshio Maeda, High Snobiety

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