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Ero guro nansensu (erotic-grotesque-nonsense)

Related: pink film (film genre) - Edogawa Ranpo (writer) - Teruo Ishii (director) - Japanese exploitation

During a brief period in the Roaring Twenties, Japan not only came close to democratic government, but an East-West cocktail of libertinism, characterized as ero, guro, nansensu (erotic, grotesque, nonsense), set the tone in metropolitan cultural life. --NYTimes.com [June 2005]


Ero guro nansensu is a Japanese style in fiction, literally meaning erotic grotesque and nonsense.

Origins in the 1920s

In the late Taisho period and early Showa period, an artistic movement called Eroguronansensu, lit. erotic grotesque and nonsense, occurred influenced by decadence works of Europe. These words were used because they had an air of a new and modern feeling. Until the 1950s, pornography were still very limited in production. Open sexual expressions were permitted in novels and manga but a strict control was applied on pictures and movies. During World War II, pornographic materials were banned altogether. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pornography_in_Japan [May 2005]

The secondary focus of the course will be the dominant form of aesthetic modernism in Japan in the interwar period; the erotic, grotesque, nonsense (Japanese: ero-guro-nansensu). Roughly contemporaneous with the excesses of Weimar art and culture in Germany, the erotic, grotesque, nonsense genre influenced the various media of photography, graphic design, painting, poetry, soft-core pornographic literature, and detective fiction. Since the erotic, grotesque, nonsense was imbedded in the rapid expansion of Japanese imperial and colonial power into Asia and the Pacific after WWI, the course will negotiate Japan's imperialism by treating the themes of primitivism and Sinophilia in the erotic, grotesque, nonsense. These were most prevalent in the strains of erotic, grotesque, nonsense influencing Japanese peripheral modernism (photography, film, painting) centered in northeast China and Manchuria in the early and mid-1930s. --http://www.unc.edu/depts/asia/descriptions_fall.htm [May 2005]

Eroticism and horror:
Horror literature contains a lot of veiled eroticism. It is comparable to pornography in that the aim of the writing is invoke a specific set of emotions, in the former sexual arousal, in the latter fear mingled with disgust. Fear is the primary aim but ideally there can be a sense of ecstatic cosmic awe or eroticism. Chinese and Japanese vampire and succubus tales are unmistakably sexual. The horror element allows the story to circumvent the societal taboos. The female vampires are often beautiful, underage women whose temptation is greater than any man, even in religious orders, can resist. It is interesting to note that Lafcadio Hearn was the first translator of “Clarimonde,” Theophile Gautier’s voluptuous tale of vampire lust and the seduction of a young monk. This pattern appears in Asian horror as well. Another factor common to the horror culture is horror’s role in the rites of puberty. Horror and ghost tales frequently describe seduction and first sexual experiences, especially of young men. They can be victims of supernatural beings with lust as their fatal flaw. Fox maidens and vampire creatures are frequently seducers and destroyers. Horror may be a way of dealing with the anxiety of sexual experience, the loss of bodily fluids and strength. Sex is a loss of control, a surrender to the dark forces of the body, a plunge in the abyss, an intimation of death.

Ero-guro :
Japanese shorthand expression for erotic-grotesque. It has been common among avant-garde manga artists, but actually dating back to early Showa (1920’s and 30’s) era’s mainstream decadent art. It also applied to a school of anti-Marxist literature, ero guro nansensu bungaku, or erotic, grotesque nonsense literature and later to film-making and even anime. See also Garo, Hanawa Kazuichi, Hanawa Waichi. --http://www.angelfire.com/sk3/asianhorror/e.html [May 2005]

In manga

Ero-guro is a genre of Japanese pornography and hentai involving blood, gore, disfiguration, mutilation, urine, enemas, or feces. The term is gairaigo derived from the English phrase "erotic grotesque", and is frequently shortened to simply guro.

Examples of well-known guro artists include Waita Uziga and Toshio Maeda.

The modern genre of tentacle rape began within the category of ero-guro (although it has roots in older Japanese art), but was so successful that it is now usually considered separately.

A similar western example would be the snuff film. However, ero-guro is primarily drawn or animated, and does not involve the death or mutilation of real living humans.

Some more extreme examples of guro include images of people with their limbs removed, often through force; creative uses of chainsaws; and other violent imagery, including rape, suitcase girls (dismembered women packed in suitases), and death. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ero-guro [May 2005]

Ero-guro-nansensu (Spanish)

El ero-guru (también denominado en algunas ocasiones como ero-guro-nansensu, erótico, grotesco y sin sentido), una abreviación de los términos erotismo y grotesco, se hizo muy popular en los movimientos literarios y artísticos de la década de los 20 y 30 (ésto es durante el periodo Taisho y principios del periodo Showa). Quizás la figura más representativa de este movimiento sea Edogawa Rampo (1894-1965), un autor muy popular especializado en novelas de misterio y terror.

--http://es.geocities.com/eiga9/glosario.html [Jun 2005]

Taisho Tokyo

Inventing Japan: 1853-1964 (Modern Library Chronicles, 2003):

Here's a piece of the chapter on "Ero Guro Nansensu," about the 1920s.

So what went wrong? Why had this freewheeling Japanese Weimar spirit been brought down--though not out--by about 1932?

--http://faroutliers.blogspot.com/2004/05/buruma-on-ero-guro-nansensu.html [May 2005]

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