The Armpit of the Internet

Will 3D Hentai Kill the Human Porn Star?

By Michelle Lhooq


Collages by Sam Dwyer.

Poke around the cum-stained corners of the internet’s vilest porn repositories, and you’ll find that it doesn’t get much filthier than cartoons. Freed of the body’s physical limitations, animated porn stars can keep guzzling demon dick long after Sasha Grey succumbs to lock jaw. Thanks to its ability to fulfill all taboo desires, hentai (the Japanese word we used to describe all kinds of cartoon smut) has always skewed kinky and now that it’s entering the realm of hyper-realistic 3D animations, it’s only bound to get weirder.

3D hentai is still relatively niche. A Google search only yields 8 million hits, while regular hentai generates 26 times as many results. This won’t be the case for long, because unlike the frozen faces of their two-dimensional counterparts, the computer-rendered porn stars of 3D hentai look positively fleshy. And when their asses jiggle, even their buttcracks cast a shadow. Anyone can see why this is an improvement.

Our attraction to digital verisimilitude is nothing new. Mainstream video games, CGI films, and even advertising have long been aiming for OCD-level attention to detail. Cartoon porn is just catching up. As the adult film industry grinds to a halt again from yet another HIV scare, it’s easy to see why these digital avatars could easily replace frail disease prone adult actors. Honestly, I can’t wait to never see another awkward porn star faking an orgasm.

As for its content, 3D hentai is rife with the same demon rapes, tentacle fucking, and barely disguised pedophilia found in its 2D equivalent. And while you might chalk up these fetishes to our degraded modern condition, one of the earliest and most well-known erotic cartoons is, in fact, a woodblock from 1814 called The Dream of the Fisherman’s Wife, which depicts a woman with her legs spread wide, getting pleasured in all her welcoming orifices by an octopus. In other words, creepy sex isn’t a new phenomenon. Weird shit has always lit up our proverbial fires.

In fact, hentai is actually short for hentai seiyokuto, or “perverse sexual pleasure.” According to Mark McLelland, a Japanese cultural historian and Associate Professor at the University of Wollongong, the term was coined in the 19th century to describe abnormal sexual behavior, and in the 1920s, thanks to Freud’s brand of psychopathology, the definition had shifted to mean any kind of sexual disorder. By the time Japan’s postwar period rolled around, the word was used to describe all non-normative sexual preferences, similar to what the word queer means today. Nowadays, hentai is the domain of manga fanboys all over the world, including this adorable French-boy next door.

Conventionally speaking, not much changes when hentai transitions from two dimensions to three. Websites still have thumbnail galleries, videos, and paywalls. Some advertisements are grotesque: “Blood, sperm, broken pussies, pain, nightmare, tentacle monsters fucking innocent teen girls with their many dicks!” And some come in broken English: “Is the 3D girls porn of your interest? Than why are you waiting for a permission, click here and let yourself enjoy the pretty damn good amount of 3d girls porn with the hottest teens.” Common tropes still include insatiable virgins with monster papayas abiding faithfully to the Madonna whore paradox. 3D cartoon porn even has its own A-list stars.

The biggest difference between 2D and 3D hentai is the latter’s hyper-reality and how we perceive what we’re jerking off to. Even though computer-rendered cartoon porn aims to look lifelike, its masturbatory appeal lies in the fact that these massively endowed stars are actually superhuman, therefore more virtual, more expressive, and more pliant than their human colleagues. Their eroticism doesn’t lie in looking completely human, but rather in their surreal strangeness. The tension between naturalism and fantasy teases at a certain sense of un-canniness that is so fucking weird it becomes, perhaps unintentionally, funny.  This particular aesthetic of 3D hentai reminds me of certain types of wacked-out internet art, like Wendy Vainity’s creepy animations, or the discombobulated talking heads of Ian Cheng’s virtual models. It also helps that both Vainity and Cheng have a great sense of humor.

Because of its fucked up, violent, and taboo themes, 3D hentai is already facing all kinds of censorship. Second Life, the online community where user-generated cartoon porn has proliferated, had its adult community confined to a red light district in 2009. When I wrote to Professor McLelland asking him to elaborate on his research, he refused, saying that in Australia, where he is based, “even talking about this stuff is potentially illegal.”

Nevertheless, the beating off goes on. Very soon, the Oculus Rift, the world’s first virtual reality gaming headset, will be released and like clockwork, someone has already developed a cartoon porn game for it. The game is called Custom Maid 3D and it’s mostly about leveling up so you can peel off your maid’s clothes. Needless to say, it’s way more boner-inducing than Diablo.

@MichelleLHOOQ

The Armpit of the Internet is a biweekly column exploring the most odorous and crust-ridden corners of cyber culture.

Previously: Here's Whats Happening on the Internet's Most Racist Forums

Comments