Dear Graham, Hello! As a curator of gay manga, I thought I'd ask some questions about "The...

Q: Dear Graham, Hello! As a curator of gay manga, I thought I'd ask some questions about "The Black Bar of No Fun" a.k.a. the sensor bar in Japanese erotic material. 1.) Do gay manga artists make their work without the bar or do they include it knowing it must be there? 2.) If uncensored versions exist and because other countries have different standards for erotic material, why can't gay manga be published without the bar in different markets? Thanks for reading this! Have a lovely day!

Great questions, T!

Manga publishers and artists who self-publish doujinshi typically self-censor their work to prevent it from running afoul of Japan’s vague, completely non-specific obscenity law, Article 175. Article 175 has been part of the Japanese penal code since 1907 and has been used to incarcerate as well as extort fines out of artists who don’t comply with the arbitrary obscenity standards of the day. Before the 1990s, the entire pubic region had to be obscured. Today, usually a black bar will suffice in covering what’s supposedly the most “obscene” part of the male body - the glans. But the standards of censorship fluctuate - sometimes stricter censorship is required, and at times enforcement has become more lax. Recently, censorship has been on the rise in the buildup to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics - so artists are in real danger of being arrested if their work offends the sensibilities of the Tokyo Metropolitan Police.

As for uncensored versions, they can and are being published in foreign markets! The Passion of Gengoroh Tagame presents gay manga without censored body parts, as does our upcoming anthology Massive: Gay Erotic Manga and the Men Who Make It. Usually manga artists add censorship measures to their work after the fact, on a separate Photoshop layer if they’re working digitally. There is one story in Massive that retains its black bars, because it was drawn on paper and the bars were applied directly to the page. But legally, we are free to show as much cartoon cock as we want in the United States! These days, Japanese artists also have the option of hosting their work on international servers (like Tumblr) where they are only beholden to the site’s Terms of Service. Hence, the glorious plethora of penis on Ebith’s Tumblr. Thanks, Yahoo!

For further reading, check out the “Censorship“ tag on Gay Manga!

Dear Graham, Hello! As a curator of gay manga, I thought I'd ask some questions about "The...

Q: Dear Graham, Hello! As a curator of gay manga, I thought I'd ask some questions about "The Black Bar of No Fun" a.k.a. the sensor bar in Japanese erotic material. 1.) Do gay manga artists make their work without the bar or do they include it knowing it must be there? 2.) If uncensored versions exist and because other countries have different standards for erotic material, why can't gay manga be published without the bar in different markets? Thanks for reading this! Have a lovely day!

Great questions, T!

Manga publishers and artists who self-publish doujinshi typically self-censor their work to prevent it from running afoul of Japan’s vague, completely non-specific obscenity law, Article 175. Article 175 has been part of the Japanese penal code since 1907 and has been used to incarcerate as well as extort fines out of artists who don’t comply with the arbitrary obscenity standards of the day. Before the 1990s, the entire pubic region had to be obscured. Today, usually a black bar will suffice in covering what’s supposedly the most “obscene” part of the male body - the glans. But the standards of censorship fluctuate - sometimes stricter censorship is required, and at times enforcement has become more lax. Recently, censorship has been on the rise in the buildup to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics - so artists are in real danger of being arrested if their work offends the sensibilities of the Tokyo Metropolitan Police.

As for uncensored versions, they can and are being published in foreign markets! The Passion of Gengoroh Tagame presents gay manga without censored body parts, as does our upcoming anthology Massive: Gay Erotic Manga and the Men Who Make It. Usually manga artists add censorship measures to their work after the fact, on a separate Photoshop layer if they’re working digitally. There is one story in Massive that retains its black bars, because it was drawn on paper and the bars were applied directly to the page. But legally, we are free to show as much cartoon cock as we want in the United States! These days, Japanese artists also have the option of hosting their work on international servers (like Tumblr) where they are only beholden to the site’s Terms of Service. Hence, the glorious plethora of penis on Ebith’s Tumblr. Thanks, Yahoo!

For further reading, check out the “Censorship“ tag on Gay Manga!

Excellent question, doujinshidude! These two Japanese gay slang...





Excellent question, doujinshidude! These two Japanese gay slang terms both describe big men (and gay artwork that depicts big men). Their meanings have considerable overlap, and a lot of our favorite gay mangaka draw both gachimuchi (ガチムチ) men and gachidebu (ガチデブ) men, sometimes in the same illustration.

The vocabulary used in Japanese gay art tends to invite a range of subjective interpretations, just like queer nomenclatures all over world. Queers seem to understand on the versatility of language better than most– perhaps out of a need to escape the rigid confines that heteronormative language places upon our self-definitions. So bearing  in mind the ever-shifting nature of queer language and the shortcomings of my own Japanese skills, I’ll do my best to break down the broad distinctions between gachimuchi and gachidebu!

Gachimuchi essentially means muscular with a slight coating of fat. Picture “a middle-aged Japanese professional wrestler”—a colorful metaphor provided by the NicoNicoPedia definition. The word is a portmanteau of gacchiri (がっちり), meaning “athletic, solidly built,” and muchimuchi (むちむち), meaning “plump, voluptuous.” In anime and manga circles, muchimuchi classifies female characters with implausibly over-sized curves—i.e. giant boobs. Similarly, gachimuchi men boast implausible curves and extremities of their own—Jiraiya’s hyper-hypertrophied muscles and Senga Migiri’s gargantuan cocks, for instance!

Gachidebu is just like gachimuchi, only fatter. “Sumo wrestler” size, according to the Pixiv Encyclopedia. Instead of “muscle-voluptuous,” gachidebu dudes are fully “muscle-fat.” The difference is often visible in the belly, as in the above example from a recent doujinshi by Takaku Nozomu. Fat abs? Gachimuchi. One-pack? Gachidebu. If the character is fat but not muscular at all, he’s simply debu (デブ).

In contemporary American gay parlance, a gachimuchi character might be considered a “muscle bear”–though gachimuchi doesn’t imply hairiness the way “bear” inherently does. Gachidebu could be translated as “muscle chub,” (hey, there’s a Tumblr for that!) and “chub” for debu.

Of course, these anglophone corporeal classifications are just as malleable and subjectively defined as their Japanese counterparts. There’s no entry for “muscle bear” in the Oxford English Dictionary, as I presume “gachimuchi” is omitted from the standard-bearing 14-volume Nihon Kokugo Daijiten. Isn’t that exciting? New language, fresh out of the oven! Play with it while it’s still warm.