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Hentai - the burden of a genre

maefdomn

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I don't think hentai is a bad think, I don't think it's something to be proud of either. What I'm sure of, is that it's a huge brake to the expansion of the genre in the west.

Lets first think about the compatibility of adult content and story telling. What is the point of having adult content in a story ?

The most missused and incorrectly argued answer is that it adds something to the story, that it deepends your comprehension of two characters' relationship.

This can be true, don't take me wrong, but it almost never is. The example I like to take and which is the only example I can actually think of is Katawa shoujo. Why is the "hentai" in Katawa shoujo not a problem and actually blends in (at least half of the time) as a spontanious love act rather than a randomly dropped porn scene just here to satisfy or "reward" the player.

Two things in my opinion. First, there is no emphasis put on the sexual act itself, no awkward positionning, no zoom in on the penetration, no attempt to satisfy weird fetishes, and the list goes on. What Katawa Shoujo's erotic scenes portay is a simple love act, as natural as it may be. Second, it's the lack of sound. Gosh do these girls moan a stupid amount of times for absolutely nothing. The text is what should have the reader's attention, not his right hand and his ears.

This is something I believe any adult could read and understand without being shocked by nudity or sex.

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All this goes in the favor of my point, Hentai scenes are here simply for horny readers. Is that a bad thing ? I don't have the right to judge.

But how will the external audience react to Visual Novels which they are unfamiliar with (often associated with eroge due to its density in the genre). They will simply call it porn games.

Of course that is a simplistic summary of the genre, and we can all testify that it doesn't sum up to simply this. But try to prove your point when 90% of the current Visual Novels have around 3/4 of their computer graphics being hentai, that the characters (being a great majority of females - sorry otome readers) all have very advantagious attributes and all look like the could be heroines of an ecchi manga.

On top of this you have a strong majority of the audience who supports the genre in keeping its adult content, which we could witness with the uproar for a sexual content patch after Sekai had announced an all-ages release of Grisaia.

Adult content is not very well percieved overall, and if you want to spread a genre, you have to adapt your content to the target you aim for, and not try and adapt them to what you think they should like. Because yes, Visual Novels will stay porn games for people who do not know them if that's what we keep displaying.

Maybe it's a change in the mentality of the community itself that may help "Visual Novels becoming popular in the West". First thing would be to actually want it.



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If VNs became mainstream, it wouldn't be a genre I'd like anymore.  Western culture is exactly what I'm trying to escape from when I play VNs.  Adapting VNs to appeal to the mainstream would suck out the essence of what I play VNs for.  And yes, that includes the heroines with "advantageous attributes" who fawn over a male protagonist and the accompanying ero-scenes.  I consider the rising prominence of VNs on Steam as much a threat as an opportunity--and ironically even Peter Payne of JAST USA has said as much.

 

Besides, romance novels have the same sort of smut in them as story-driven eroge.  Eroge aren't really pushing the envelope there.  It's just that for whatever reason, people are more tolerant of smut in text format than VN format.  I don't see anyone clamoring for "all-ages" versions of Danielle Steele novels.

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While yes, a lot of games bring sexual content for the sake of appealing to some people, there are still games where it is relevant. SnU is an example of that, even though it's debatable. Another example would be Subarashiki Hibi, and while I haven't read it yet, I know two guys who did it and are huge fans of the VN, both say that unless you read the H-scenes, you'll get extremely lost later on. 

 

Now, I do agree that people will keep seeing VNs as porn games while the industry supports the use of sex scenes as a reward for the player, but I don't think that's an absolute evil. Grisaia's h-scenes were needed for the plot? Not really, maybe some were a plus but I wouldn't call all of them needed. The thing is, I'd say that they fit how the characters should behave considering their personalities. I mean, look at Amane, what else would you expect? However, if you take a look at say, Ayakashibito, there are lots of h-scenes that could surely be taken out and the story would still flow perfectly, maybe actually even better, though I won't go into too many details not to spoil those who are yet to read it. In this case, the h-scenes indeed were unnecessary and actually I've seen lots of people choosing not to read the VN because of the kind of sexual content and amount of it that they would face, which is a pity since it's a really good VN imo.

 

I'd say that porn for the sake of porn is a "bad" thing, just like anything done for the sake of doing so can be more harmful than anything to a story. If there is a reason for them, such as strong personality or scenario influences (see the examples above for some), it should be fine and I'd honestly prefer the games with the sexual content instead of an all-ages version.

 

And as for spreading the genre, I don't think some of them having sexual content will still be that harmful in a few years. Sure there will be lots of "porn games" out there but also lots of "visual novels" as well. I don't blame those who want their porn if the game offers it, honestly, I'd rather get the whole package even if it sucks. 

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If VNs became mainstream, it wouldn't be a genre I'd like anymore.  Western culture is exactly what I'm trying to escape from when I play VNs.  Adapting VNs to appeal to the mainstream would suck out the essence of what I play VNs for.  And yes, that includes the heroines with "advantageous attributes" who fawn over a male protagonist and the accompanying ero-scenes.  I consider the rising prominence of VNs on Steam as much a threat as an opportunity--and ironically even Peter Payne of JAST USA has said as much.

 

This. A part of me wants to see VNs get popular simply because I like them, and in my opinion it's part of human nature to want to share what you like with other people. But honestly when I think about it, I think I would prefer them to remain niche. The relative popularity of anime has had adverse effects on the anime community in my view. I hate the the current anime community. So judging off of that experience, I think I'm happier with VNs being obscure. 

Besides, romance novels have the same sort of smut in them as story-driven eroge.  Eroge aren't really pushing the envelope there.  It's just that for whatever reason, people are more tolerant of smut in text format than VN format.  I don't see anyone clamoring for "all-ages" versions of Danielle Steele novels.

 

I think beyond that for westerners at least, its seeing anime-looking characters having sex that bothers them. I bet 9 chances out of 10 all the people who criticize VNs as "porn games" watch porn with real people. Ironically, I think eroge can be argued as being more ethical than traditional pornography. The traditional porn industry is to some degree exploitative, whereas hentai really isn't harming anyone at all. 

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