Erotism and Pornography In Urotsukidoji: Legend of the Overfiend by Toshio Maeda
Urotsukidōji: Legend of the Overfiend (Chōjin Densetsu Urotsukidōji) is a Japanese animated feature film based on the manga written and illustrated by Toshio Maeda, published in Manga Erotopia magazine from 1985 to 1986. One of the features that made Urotsukidōji famous was its use of tentacles as a substitute for penises. However, Toshio Maeda used tentacles for the first time in an experimental story entitled SEX Tearing published in Special Young Comic magazine in 1976. By drawing tentacles instead of penises, Toshio Maeda managed to circumvent Japanese censorship, which prohibits the representation of sexual organs, unless these come with black stripes preventing their visualization.
The Tradition of the Tentacles
Thus, due to such circumstances, Toshio Maeda recovers the tradition of tentacles from Japanese culture in a very similar way to what ukiyo-e artists, for example, Katsushika Hokusai, Utagawa Kuniyoshi and Yanagawa Shigenobu, did when interpreting the story of Princess Tamatori. As Kimi Rito observes: “The seed of the expression that once shocked the world from that same period of the ukiyo-e master Hokusai has fully blossomed into modern gekiga master Toshio Maeda’s Legend of the Overfiend (Urotsukidouji, Wanimagazine/FAKKU); that is to say, the expression of a girl being assaulted, having her every hole, both inside and out, mentally and physically filled by tentacles.” (RITO, Kimi. The history of hentai manga: An Expressionist Examination of Eromanga. FAKKU, 2021, p. 6).
Urotsukidōji narrates the story of Amano Jyaku, a demon in human form who is banished to Earth and whose mission is to find Chōjin, a god from the demon world who is hidden in the body of a man. However, Chōjin is also sought after by a group of reptile-like demons. Throughout the narrative, they come up with various plans to capture Chōjin, all of which always fail.
Urotsukidōji was adapted into anime in six series of OVAs (Original Video Animation) released between 1987 and 2002. The first series, titled Legend of the Demon God Urotsukidōji (Chōjin Densetsu Urotsukidōji) (1987–1989), was released as part of a video anthology distributed by JAVN (Japan Audio Visual Network). Later, the three OVAs were edited into a single feature film known as Urotsukidōji: Legend of the Overfiend. This version had cuts, which resulted in the rating "R15" in Japan. In the United States, the VHS version was released in 1993 with the rating NC-17. An uncut English version of the first OVA, known as The Perfect Collection, was released outside of Japan.
Horror and Sex
The anime alters the plot considerably by suppressing the humor and emphasizing the combination of horror and sex. The animation creators also preferred to condense the story and explain how the three worlds connect: the human world (Ningenkai) is united with the demon world (Makai) and the man-beast world (Jū jinkai) by the rebirth of the Super God (超神, Chō jin), who will bring balance to these three realms. Jyaku Amano's goal now is to find Chōjin, who lives inside the body of Tatsuo Nagumo, to ensure the coexistence of these three worlds. Amano faces, with the help of his sister Megumi and his subordinate Kuroko, several demons, who plan to destroy Chōjin.
Differences Between Manga and Anime
In addition to the plot, there are noticeable differences between the character designs in the manga and anime. While Toshio Maeda composed his characters from more realistic traits, the anime's director, Hideki Takayama, opted for a design more consistent with what was done in the anime market at the time. In the manga, the sex scenes are favored by the perspective variations of the panels, which makes them erotic, since the drawings explore nudity from the angles in which the bodies are positioned, whose genitals are often overshadowed or are absent due to the impositions of Japanese censorship. In the anime, however, the images, being in motion, end up making the sex sequences closer to pornography, which is evident when we watch the uncensored version distributed on VHS in the United States.
But there is one more change in the adaptation from the manga to the anime that alters the proposal of the two versions. The demons, conceived by Toshio Maeda, look like anthropomorphized lizards, whose tails and tongues, both shaped like penises, are used to rape young women. In the anime, demons no longer look like lizards and have multiple tentacles that are used to immobilize young girls and penetrate almost all of their orifices. In the manga, for example, the sequence in which Akemi is raped by the demon disguised as a teacher is interspersed with panels showing Nagumo's reactions or panels in which we only see details of her face and body.
Strategically, Toshio Maeda seeks to impact the reader, when he dedicates only one full-page panel, to showing Akemi as if she were looking out of frame while being penetrated by the devil's tongue. In the anime, the same sequence is conceived in a very similar way to what was done in pornographic films, by alternating long shots, mid shots, close-ups and extra big close-ups. All these shots are brought together to create a montage that takes the viewer to an experience very close to that of watching a porn movie.
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