You can call it gross and creepy.
You can call it a disturbing kink that is specific to Japan.
I call eroguro a thematic and aesthetic choice to express the fragile, filthy and transient nature of being alive.
Horror is a big part of my life. I have read comics, watched films, looked at illustrations and played many games that fit into a horror category. Gradually I began to realise some of the reoccurring visual elements and themes I liked had a name.
Ero means erotic. Guro means grotesque.
Guro means both grotesque and gore in this definition. So it's fairly broad definition and Japanese toss 'guro' around a lot for anything gross.Mood music.
It involves all the elements of horror from body horror to psychological torment. It can ranges from tame and nuanced all the way to extremely explicit images. It's obviously is about sadism and masochism in it's depiction of pain. It is also macabre in it's portrayal of death and may overlap with certain dark 'witchy' aesthetics in general.
The only place I can discuss extreme concepts is here on my blog. I would like to warn anyone that I will not hold back here. This is often a fetish and may make most people uncomfortable.
As I grew up I gravitated towards horror out of a morbid curiosity that beckoned me further into the mouldy pit of depravity. Comics, games, books and films just anything that could scare me. I just looked for more thrills. It's interesting. Horror just is.
So I have been into eroguro for a long time, unconsciously. I used to draw naked characters bloodied or cut up and not think too much about how other people might have perceived it.
I think it's important to clarify a few things, I am not an apologist for the outright abusive fantasies some people depict. In this post I am trying to define the boundaries of what I think is interesting. I argue that eroguro has merit for how it combines pain and violence with sex.
A friend once told me the eroguro images he had found were deeply disturbing because of the sexual nature of them. So I understand to many people they just don't want to even see them.
Well, if you wanna get specific yes it is mostly shown as a combination of gore and eroticism. What does that mean exactly, is it just a sick fetish that turns suffering into a kink? Yes and no.
I believe eroguro is erotic because it focuses on fragility of the human body. When a character has bruises or slight scratches it becomes sensual not always because they are suffering, but because we are reminded of our mortal shell. We can be wounded and can be healed.
These exterior wounds only slightly express our interior agony. How can we express our heart is hurting, without the existence of skin deep wounds. It doesn't have to glorify self harm to imply this.
How often do I clumsily get bruises without even noticing, or scratch myself up?
The bruises and scratches represent the impact the world has on our insignificant bodies.
Another lesser shown aspect is drawing visible veins on characters. When you stare hard enough at your own blueish blood flowing through translucent skin, if you think too much about it it may make you shudder. By contemplating the veins on your hands, you can witness your fragile inner workings and mortality.
Apparently certain ethnicities don't have visible veins, so it may be a trait of white people or pale skinned people. I had someone remark on my hands in that way and I became self conscious yet also proud of my lineage. This trait is exceptionally beautiful on men, as prominent veins evoke a softness on otherwise masculine, rough hands.
It's akin to having blood taken from you. You may feel like you are about to faint by thinking too much about your delicate flesh. Eroguro is like that nasty dread of being in a hospital or clinic sometimes, yet it has some sensuality to it.
Often people depict sickly and bandaged characters. Helpless and broken and needing to be nursed back to health. IV drip tubes, bandages and needles in veins evoke that familiar urge to faint or look away at the insertion of anything into the body. Is it wrong to be attracted to a character in this state? Does that rather emphasise our shared humanity? It depends on the intent.
It is that feeling of seeing a wound on someone else. Don't you instinctively feel that horrible cringing pang, a response to seeing bruises and wounds?
It is a human instinct that unites us all and can chill us to the bone. If you are a sensitive human, you will always have a visceral reaction to seeing real blood, in my opinion.
I believe this is the more purer side of what eroguro can express, and is personally the main reason I will defend it. A tenderness that reminds us our bodies are delicate.
By showing rawness and organs we are reminded of our true ugliness. We are also reminded of our shared humanity when seeing the redness of blood.
When I was young, I was given a large Manga history book by my parents. They were unaware however, that the book contained far worse material than Osamu Tezuka's Astro Boy. As I flipped past the shonen and shoujou genres I was greeted with pages of hentai, horror and downright eroguro.
Since all my possessions are boxed up, I couldn't find the book. I distinctly remembered one image of a character licking the eyeball of another, a kink I have seen a few times and you can easily find if you google. It really stuck with me a long time, because it was described by the author as a 'horror manga' but it outright depicts a character moaning in response to this repulsive act.
Eroguro is all about the abhorrent.
Even in its filth, it expresses appreciation for the bizarre and beautiful contents of the human body. No organ is safe from being probed, sliced and modified if it is depicted artistically. I see a lot of people drawing skulls cut open with brains protruding, it doesn't have to be realistic.
I see artists who push this to the limits. As in the album art below, with barbarous nude girls deliciously ripping lumpy entrails out of a corpse.A good playlist
Eroguro is puke, I often see characters retching depicted in a sick cathartic way. Heaving up bile with tears in their eyes, gasping for a breath while at the mercy of their body rioting against them. Being tortured by their own body. It's beautiful isn't it? Their faces pleading in a desperate flush, enduring the acidic release of sweat, tears and vomit.
The body rebelling, the body malfunctioning. Sickness, slaughtering, spewing, shitting, you name it. It's all fair game.
A big theme of eroguro is to see how far the body can go and what lies within.
In the nitro+ visual novel called 'sweet pool' a character attempts to try and get boba pearls out of a metal can, but just repeatedly destroys his tongue till it's lacerated. He remains playful and seductive in the way he's responding to this disgusting act.
Some people could say this isn't necessarily sexual, but it's all in the characters demeanour and Japanese media depicts characters who blissfully seek out pain constantly. Anytime someone reacts joyfully to their wounds it is so strange. It is a taboo thing to relish mutilating himself over and over.
It reminds me of the kids in high school that would tie string around their fingers and see how long it would take for it to turn blue. While snickering all the while.
I used to cringe within myself, yet watch the spectacle out of the corner of my eye. It's a perversely mischievous phenomenon that only happens when teenage boys are in the same room together. Yet I couldn't stop watching their charades.
Maybe this was a significant puberty moment in the life of a exceedingly awkward high school girl.
The lack of awareness of their own body or perception of pain is unsettling, but their numbness or enjoyment of pain makes this familiar heat surge up. Yet it is their body and their decision.
Mutilating themselves just for the heck of it has always had this gut reaction for me, it is weirdly interesting. It is even worse if they are hurting another character.
With every bruised and bloodied anime girl illustration I see, it evokes a loathing of not just others, but themselves. A pent up rage filled disrespect for human life. I agree this fetish becomes especially vile and frightening when phrased that way.I love DJ Technorch in case it's not obvious.
Pain is a nice outlet for an internal frustration and anger. This isn't an excuse for self harm or to harm others. If people can express pain in a drawing, it's far better than going out and acting on it.
Many strange pseudo-sexual things like furries and eroguro just come out of place of repression. Although it isn't just a Japanese phenomenon, in all of our stressful societies people are put in little boxes. It's easy to develop an existential discomfort about their place in the world, and discomfort with the body as well.
I think gore especially can express a fear and hatred of sex, it encourages perceiving ourselves and others as meat sacks. Eroguro is a mingling of not always attraction but on the contrary, a self loathing and repugnance of physical interaction with others.
Rising frustration and unsatisfied lust leads to all sorts of fantasies. Living in this constant frustration and fed up with the complexities of finding potential partners, isn't it easier to just have sex with a fleshy Lovecraftian abomination. Just imagine those tentacles all over, it knows what it's doing.
Guro is just made for us freaks in that way. Normal people will still be put off by the depiction of any sort of gore. Whether or not it's from a character or even just a disembodied nightmare object, like in Song of Saya seen below.
As a reviewer on Steam deftly put it, Song of Saya evokes the feeling of wandering around deeply within some female genitalia. Which is a fair point. The gore is us and we are the gore. It is intentional that the veiny red hellscape the protagonist is trapped in mirrors his rage at the world and repulsion of the human form.
After all, maybe I hate myself. I hate my own inability to find any normal semblance of intimacy in the real world. That repugnance is why I've gravitated to horror and sexualised violence.
The body is inherently pulsing, throbbing and lewd, so why not go further huh?
Eroguro is usually about exploring sheer violence and depravity. Many comics and illustrations fan the flames the sick urges that makes someone want to hurt or be hurt. Violence and sex can get really intertwined can't they. Eroguro is a safe space to draw and write about these fantasies, without actually acting on them in real life obviously. Hey I would say it's better than kiddie porn.
Body modification definitely falls into euroguro, an example being to amputate a character down to them being a 'nugget'. I read this h*ntai called 'Doku Doku GRAVESTONE' by Uziga Waita.
He emphasises not only the abuse of his sister, but mutilating her to the point she can't have autonomy over her body. I think this is more horrific than a singular guro illustration that is just for visual interest. Suzu looks at her mutilated body then back at her psychopathic brother, so in shock that not even a scream can come out. This comic is so memorable because of its disgusting power fantasy plot. The protagonist relishes destroying Suzu's mind, controlling her, depriving her of humanity in the most wretched sort of hen*ai imaginable. Maybe it's not the best example for defending it, but this author draws nothing but guro.
By the same author, there is an even more extreme h*ntai called 'Dr. Nyuujirou no Yuuutsu'.
From my experience most h*ntai is messed up. It is filled with violence towards mostly women, often it depicts ra*e and all sorts of non con abuse. It all falls into the bucket of the most vulgar and aggressive sort of guro, I'm not defending that.
This time the poor main character endures a lot of sexual humiliation and has her body amputated yet again. It has a depiction of an eye being penetrated. Now, I have seen this sort of depravity in many gore comics but something about how this was presented shook me to my core. For the first time in my long history of reading horror comics, I said...
What the actual fuck dude.
There was something unforgivably deplorable about how her helplessness was depicted. She had no arms and legs to resist at all. She was made a complete object out of all the holes in her entire body. At the heart of darkness, there exists a thirst to defile others. They explored a character stripped of all her dignity. I guess that's what I find interesting, even if it's repulsive to me.
Translation reads: 'Do you get it, you are Marine-chan. You are just a meat hole'
It's worth reading, but not for faint of heart obviously.
Psychological torture has a big role too, although maybe that is a different kink in its own. The idea of such debauchery forcing someone's mind to break, even in how heinous that sounds, personally has a seductive appeal to me. Sadists would love to the see someone shivering and deprived of individuality, completely at their mercy. Hey, I watched 120 Days of Sodom and it ain't that bad fellas.
Other examples of the most extreme eroguro I've read involved characters that are so mutilated, stitched up, rotting away with skin flayed off their corpse and ready to die yet some guy comes over and welp, zips down his pants. I'm not a big fan of the depictions of maggot ridden bodies, but it is a big part of the aesthetic.
Another comic involved a girl who has massive pore like holes appear all over her body. All the comments on reddit responded as if puking, but I thought it was fantastic just for how memorable it is and how I too, wanted to puke. It was nasty but super interesting. It was more akin to Junji Ito than any of these other horrible comics in my humble opinion.
If you want to read the anthology with those stories, 4278 is the secret number ;)
Back to the visual novel 'sweet pool', the main character struggles with lumps of living flesh being expelled from his um, nether region. Given that it is a yaoi game, we well know what's in store. The game seems to play up the blood as something that accentuates the roughness of the anal sex he endures. It may just be called a horror game with sexual content, but that's eroguro. It's combined right there.
There is a naughtiness that entices me to keep reading or playing this material. It isn't necessarily fapping material but rather an exploration of two guttural feelings that mix well together.
One of my fave artists has a lovely simple line style. Their work sent me over the edge into cherishing my (unpopular and rare) pairing from Fate/Zero. It wouldn't be a blog post by me without rambling about best boys.
Without these pictures, I might not have ever developed these simmering feelings. They usually drew tame things but at their weirdest, they drew these two partaking in disembowelment. I guess I looked at those pictures too long because I got fairly fascinated. Even in this simple style, the expression is there, because it's abstracted it's even more affective.Credit goes to artist here
Translation: "Just for you Ryuunosuke, please do as you like'
"Ah he's letting me do this, I've completely gotten all wet like this".
Not many Japanese words mean something the same as english, but this time the word for 'wet' does imply the same lewd wetness as we would in English; to 'dampen' and 'make love'.
In the first page he gently brings Ryuunosuke's hand to his neck, exposing a scalpel. Giving him the permission to etch his mark on him. Gilles moaning and arching back is reminiscent of normal sex, while Ryuunosuke has his face stuck right into his guts.
He clutches his face in shame or agony. This time it isn't self-harm or unwanted abuse, but a consensual giving and receiving of pain, the warm flush of lust overpowers the grossness of the situation.
This is primo eroguro. It just is. Just because it puts a spin on an otherwise sexual act but done in a bloody way. It is about piercing and defiling the human body, as excruciating pain reinterpreted as intimacy and pleasure. For someone to expose their soft underbelly is already vulnerable, but the idea of mangling with someone's guts crosses the line further.
It's just plain and simple, one of the most forbidden taboos. Replicated in real life by serial killers only, I hope.
It is beyond BDSM in this way.
This artist also drew Gilles amputated completely at the waist, and lying down beneath the hands the other character. Similar to the Uziga Waita manga, this bodily disfiguration reduces a character down to their bare form. It is a dark fantasy, as he is shivering and stripped of his ability to fight back. He grimaces not necessarily from pain but almost from the touch. Conflicted emotions may wash over the viewer, horror but also a rotten lust.
Maybe that illustration is more of a representation of how it feels in an abusive relationship. It's more sad than anything and yet boy, that precious, miserable crying face. What does it make you wanna do? There is a self hatred evoked if you respond with primal urges to this sort of art. It beckons us towards the darkness.
It's important to note that most of these artists don't even out rightly call themselves eroguro, at most they call themselves 'bizzare' or 'dark' artists. I think this is because for a lot of weirdos like me, it's naturally enticing to mix up the pleasure and pain in the content they draw. It is yet another thing that is subconscious, it's been long woven into our brains by our consumption of sex and violence in media.
In another comic they drew Gilles de Rais right at the moment he becomes mad, willingly cutting off his own arm. His eyes and mouth both wide with ecstasy, smeared with grime and drenched in blood. Here both the past and future self confront each other.
Translation: Fufufu, finally you did it, finally it looks like you've broken!!
Here Gilles has finally broken. By 'broken' it implies his mind has overcome any pain and he almost relishes it. He is smiling as he reached the climax of his insanity and is no longer his past self. It is a face of warped pleasure.
It represents the eroguro spirit just by showing that deranged enjoyment of pain.
It borders on madness to find such a thrill in absolute pain. I can back up the argument that the human body can be in such a state of ecstasy that it forgets pain. In my psychotic incident, I maintained a scar from where the police handcuffed me. I fought desperately without self-awareness I was only hurting my wrists more.
In my madness I scabbed my knees and scarred myself all over. I violently ripped a needle out of my arm, when I should have been meekly sitting in the hospital bed. I was oblivious to the pain because I was trapped in a fantasy world.
As my mind caved in on itself over and over like the characters in the stories I mentioned above, while writhing amidst an agony I did not ask to hallucinate, my body found a putrid ecstasy in it all.
This leads me to finally saying.
The concept of screaming from the depths of despair and unfathomable pain is erotic.
What, you say it isn't?
Well I'm getting worked up just thinking about it. This is why I made a damn secret blog and got rid of my real name everywhere.
To most people, viewing these pictures and comprehending the fetishization must be unpleasant. Is it just something only a few sick fucks find interesting? Is it like watching someone suck blood from a wound or relentlessly play with a scab? Maybe it is.
It's allowed to be that feeling.
Spoilers for Fate/Zero. Ryuunosuke Uryuu is sniped by Kiritsugu Emiya in order to put an end to Casters' monster antics. In his dying moments Ryuunosuke is thrilled by the crimson blood pouring forth from his stomach. He had sought blood his whole life.
One of the last lines he says translates to...
'If it was inside of me all along, why didn't anyone tell me'
He has felt separate from his body. Just like most of us going about our boring lives. He had chased death by killing others and living through the blood he saw there. Yet in his dying moments, even such a cruel character has some humanity.
Isn't that red the visceral love of being alive. This fleeting dream that only physical pain expresses.
The ultimate ending of a human life is orgasmic in that way.
One more bullet to the head and he dies smiling.
He loves that pain and the brilliant redness too much. He purely and simply was happy. This is why the community of Japanese artists who draw him elaborate on this sensual thrill he gets out of violence.
His charismatic personality far exceeds the canonic evil actions depicted in the TV series. Even if he canonically doesn't achieve sexual gratification (on screen) through his violent actions in the series, fan artists take that and run with it. For good reasons. His delight at even his own life draining away is beautiful and bizarre. He at least brings the 'guro' part, us fangirls add the 'ero'.
Us closeted-masochists-at-heart may imagine these characters, male or female, tormenting us, or maybe it's just me. With every laugh and seductive move of their body, they draw us into their beautiful cruelty. Their evil becomes sexual, me merge together until our world is nothing but violence and sex.
Like many other obnoxious sadist or masochist anime characters, Ryuunosuke emphasises an eroguro feeling just by being ridiculously obsessed with pain. Across all sorts of media it's common for villains personalities to be seductive, cunning or wild or all at once. It's hot. Buoyant smiling fictional characters are often juxtaposed againt the slaughter they commit. Violent sexual undertones like this are most common in anime and manga by far.
Now that I think about it, Ryuunosuke is comparable to the aforementioned boys I went to public school with. Little brats who, in their curiosity and boredom, would stab pens into their hands till blood wept forth, or cut off the circulation of their fingers. That stupid boyish carelessness that doesn't fear the sight of blood and neither respects the sanctity of their own bodies.
Looking back on it all, it was arousing to watch them play with pain. I say that from the perspective of confused 15-year old girl who watched such actions with a faint burning in my stomach.
Unknowingly and unwittingly they were seeking out any sort of excitement with their bodies. Not even consciously aware of how gross it appeared.
Well I guess I got to the core of my sexual awakening, huh.
In conclusion, I think it's important to note that eroguro isn't always porn material, but rather a mix of horror and sexuality. It intermingles sex and violence in a way that is taboo. I will not back down from liking it. To me it makes me feel something, I respect it from the more subtle aspects, all the way up to the most most unspeakable brutality.
Eroguro artists are brave for admitting the human body fundamentally sensual, for all it's gore and filth. They admit that as a species we have primal curiosities we will never sate, and can only express it within artistic realms. This artistic movement merely accepts the horror and goes all out. It doesn't need to have any impact on the real world. It is purely eroguro 'nonsense'.
Whether it's about tenderness, perversion, repulsion or our shared mortality, I believe the themes will always make for interesting art. They are vulgar and raw. Much like the body we all live in, but seldom appreciate.
Yet at the end of the day, it's not really anyone else's business what someone else wants to get off to.
Over and out."