With an extensive manga production, the Japanese artist Hiroaki Samura (1970) is known worldwide for Blade of the Immortal, a manga that chronicles the adventures of Manji, a cursed samurai who needs to kill a thousand bad men to regain his mortality. Blade of the Immortal (Fig.1 to 5) was published from 1993 to 2012 in Kodansha’s Monthly Afternoon magazine. The work has won several awards, the most important being the Will Eisner Comic Industry Award, in 2000, for Best Edition of Foreign Material in the USA, and the Media Arts Award, in 1998, promoted by the Ministry of Education of the Japanese Government.
Love of the Brute
Unlike Blade of the Immortal, Love of The Brute (人でなしの恋 Hitodenashi no Koi) (Fig.6) is an almost unknown work by Hiroaki, with few copies and, therefore, difficult to be acquired, except through digital copies found on the website of hentais and blogs. Love of the Brute is composed of a series of pencil illustrations with a theme focused on sadomasochism (Fig.6 to 13). The illustrations were published from 1998 to 2006 and appear in Japanese erotic and pornographic magazines such as “Tokyo H” and “Manga Erotics F“, and in youth and art magazines such as “QuickJapan” and “Comickers“.
Bordering on Murder
In 2012, the illustrations were collected in a book published by the Izumi Comics. What stands out in this work by Hiroaki Samura is how its illustrations seem to confirm Georges Bataille’s question: “What does physical eroticism signify if not a violation of the very being of its practitioners, a violation bordering on death, bordering on murder?” In each image that makes up the book Love of the Brute, we see how Hiroaki Samura creates degrading situations, in which female characters are subjected to various and unimaginable forms of torture, which remind us of those described by Sade in his novels, such as 120 days of Sodom (Fig.14 to 21).
Contemporary Horror Films
The absurdity of how bodies are represented surpasses the believable, at the moment when the violence practiced on them refers much more to imaginary situations than to real ones (Fig.34 to 36), as can be seen in the way the human anatomy is twisted and torn, similar to what we see in contemporary horror films, which would refer, according to Tamaki Saito, in his article Otaku Sexuality, to “an utterly imagined space with no correspondent in the everyday world, a space of perfect fictionality”, difference between reality and fiction that Hiroaki Samura himself confirms in an interview: “Authors separate fiction from reality even more than people realize. The stuff drawn in there isn’t some sort of desire of mine, and it’s not supposed to inspire anyone out in the world to do anything like that. I have unfortunate things happen to my characters when the story calls for it”.
By combining the absurd with the erotic and the grotesque through violence, we could link Love of the Brute to the ero guro nansenu, since, in a way, pleasure, pain, laughter and horror are mixed up in an extreme eroticism, in which the body is celebrated in representations of humiliation and murder.
As some people tend to accuse the book of being misogynistic and fetishistic, one way to overcome this interpretation is to see how the initial and final illustrations reframe the central images (Fig.35 and 36), at the moment when the first points to a situation of stability, in which a group of young ladies play in circles and socialize, so after all the violence suffered by the female characters, we have a supposed return to the first state, with the difference that the representation of the female body, when it given through a articulated doll pierced by nails, it marks the impossibility of recovering what has been definitively lost: innocence and playfulness.
Disorder and Excess
In this sense, Love of the Brute can be seen as a work that at the same time seems to glorify the violence suffered by its characters, condemns it, showing it as disorder and excess, which breaks limits and tears apart reason.
What do you think about Samura’s violent manga work? Leave your reaction in the comment box below…!!