Ero guro nansensu  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Ero guro is a concept or movement or subgenre, still somewhat loosely defined, that has emerged inside multiple schools of Japanese art and music. The words "ero guro" or "ero guro nansensu" is gairaigo derived from the English words "erotic grotesque nonsense", and is sometimes shortened to simply guro (though this shortening is usually used to describe pornography). Regardless of nomenclature, the terms ero and ero guro are widely recognized as codewords denoting artwork that depicts extreme/bizarre violence (mutilation, dismemberment, scatology, etc.) in an erotic manner.



Ero guro's first distinct appearance began in 1920s and 1930s Japanese literature in the late Taishō period and early Shōwa period, influenced by decadence works of Europe. After World War I, many cultures in many countries saw the rise of cultural movements such as Jazz, the women's rights movement and Café culture. The literary sensibility was exemplified by Edogawa Rampo, Junichirō Tanizaki and Kaita Murayama.

In 1932, the magazine Fujin kōron (Ladies’ Review) published a glossary of new, fashionable “modern” terms as a supplement to their magazine. This mini-dictionary explains that the word guro “signifies the bizarre (kaiki) and the unsettling (kimi no warui), and it is also used to refer to showy displays of eroticism that are frank to the point of being ugly (minikui bakari akudoi rokotsu na ero).”[1]

As Gregory M. Pflugfelder explains in Cartographies of Desire: Male-Male Sexuality in Japanese Discourse, 1600-1950:

"The celebration of the “erotic” (ero) in its myriad forms constituted a rejection of the Meiji dictum that sexuality was unsuited for public display or representation unless it conformed to the narrow standards of “civilized morality.” The elevation of the “grotesque” (guro) betrayed a similar disregard for prevailing esthetic codes, with their focus on traditional canons of beauty and concealment of the seamier sides of existence. Finally, the valorization of the “nonsensical” (nansensu) signaled a discontent with the constraining nature of received moral and epistemological certitudes."

Jeffrey M. Angles places the sensibility in an artistic context:

"When applied to literature, the terms ero, guro and ero, guro, nansensu are used to describe a wide range of writing that depicts the sexual, bizarre, ridiculous, irrational, frivolous, Dadaist, futurist, or dandyesque. In its more erotic manifestations, ero, guro, nansensu writing frequently describes forms of sexual desire that Japanese society had in recent decades started to consider aberrant and perverse, such as sadomasochism, fetishism, male-male homoeroticism, female-female homoeroticism, and nymphomania."

The ero guro nansensu sensibility was generally suppressed in Japan during World War II but re-emerged in the postwar period[2], especially in manga and music.

Over time, the ero guro movement's influence expanded into parts of Japanese theatre, art, manga, and eventually film and music.

Psychological profile of Guro

Ero guro concerns primarily desire, a fetishistic, focused type of pleasure. Fans of extreme bondage and hardcore sex will find some similarities between their interests and ero guro. Guro is shown to not only involve be pornography and graphic art, but classical art that showcases the anatomical inner beauty of the human body.

It is meant to leave an imprint in the observer's mind, to satisfy a fetishistic craving for something more specific and violent than conventional pornographic genres and activities.

In film


Pinku eiga

In visual media

The typifying element of ero guro visual art is the macabre intermingled with sexual overtones. Often the erotic element, even when not explicit, is merged with grotesque themes and features—somewhat similar to the works of H. R. Giger. Others produce ero guro as a genre of Japanese pornography and hentai involving blood, gore, disfiguration, violence, mutilation, urine, enemas, or feces.

Examples of well-known guro mangaka include Suehiro Maruo, Shintaro Kago, Jun Hayami, Toshio Maeda, Henmaru Machino, Horihone Saizou, and Waita Uziga.

The modern genre of tentacle rape began within the category of ero guro (although it has much older roots in Japanese art; see The Dream of the Fisherman's Wife), but was so popular that it is now usually considered separately.

Ero guro is also an element of many Japanese horror films and pinku eiga, particularly of the 1960s and 70s, such as Teruo Ishii's Horror of the Malformed Men (1969) and Yasuzo Masumura's Blind Beast (1969), both based on the works of Edogawa Rampo. A more recent example of ero guro in cinema is Sion Sono's Strange Circus (2005).


Many countries prohibit pornography that is deemed to incite violence. This may be specifically because of the concern that the portrayed acts might be copied by mentally disturbed sadists, or simply as an outgrowth of the belief that pornography, especially hardcore pornography, objectifies and dehumanizes people.

As such, guro would likely be considered illegal in countries having such legislation. However, the fact that most guro artwork is clearly that—drawn or photomanipulated images not portraying reality—prevents most law enforcement agencies (especially online) from making the pursuit of such material a priority, concentrating instead on material such as child pornography.

In music

Ero guro bands (most often seen as a sub-genre within visual kei or post visual by some fans) typically use shock visuals, as well as lyrics and live imagery, but look less feminine than traditional visual kei. Within the erotic and shock value of the bands' music and performance, there is also humour. It has long been rumoured that Cali≠Gari were responsible for the application of the term to music.

Bands described as ero guro include Velvet Eden, Kinniku Shojyo TaiGuruguru Eigakan, Inugami Circus-dan, Rauya, Merry and Cali≠Gari.

Ero guro and angura kei are two similar movements and in music are considered to be closely related. The distinction is that ero guro puts the focus closer on eroticism, sexual corruption and decadence. [3]. Angura kei (an anti-westernization movement that began in the 1960's) uses horror to return to something "uniquely Japanese" as Japan has a long tradition of ghost stories and monsters in their folklore.


See also

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Ero guro nansensu" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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