Viewer Discretion Advised: hentai and horror make unsettling but compelling bedfellows

The Hentai Review header

This article is, of course, NSFW. But you knew that.

You know sometimes you’re browsing popular online storefronts and certain things keep cropping up in your recommendations, purely because you looked at something similar out of curiosity once? Yeah, ever since I bought a copy of the hentai manga volume Moe Maniax, primarily due to the novelty factor of purchasing hentai on Amazon, I’ve been consistently recommended several books by prolific hentai localiser and publisher FAKKU! — one of which is the subject of today’s article, Viewer Discretion Advised by Yuuki Iwasaki.

I’ve actually been meaning to check out some of FAKKU!’s books for quite some time, because everyone I’ve spoken to who owns one seems to be very happy with it, drawing attention to the fact that as well as being filled with super-hot hentai doujinshi, the actual production values of these books are second to none. Good quality paper, glossy covers with proper dust jackets — FAKKU!, it seems, is very much in the business of elevating hentai manga beyond simple “porn” and into the realms of something you might actively want to collect.

So, with all that in mind, I picked up Viewer Discretion Advised along with two other volumes Amazon wouldn’t stop bugging me about, even when I was looking at non-18+ manga — we’ll get to those in due course, don’t worry — and eagerly awaited my package of premium filth to drop through my letterbox.

Viewer Discretion Advised

The following day, we heard the distinctive “plop” of a package coming through the letterbox.

“Your porn’s here,” my wife said. “It is porn, isn’t it?”

“Yes,” I said. Evidently she’d been reading my Twitter account for once. Regardless, she’s never minded me indulging my more “obscure” interests — particularly if I have a valid reason for doing so beyond simply wanking myself into a frenzy — and there was something about these three volumes that I found immediately intriguing.

Eagerly unwrapping the package, I then spent ten minutes trying to get some extremely stubborn shrink-wrap off my new erotic volumes, followed by quite some time reading Viewer Discretion Advised from cover to cover, thoroughly compelled and fascinated by what I was reading.

To sidestep a moment — this is relevant, I promise — one of the things I’ve always found extremely interesting about the erotic video game and visual novel scene is that a significant proportion of 18+ titles are not, in any way, what I’d describe as “pornography”. Specifically, I would not describe their primary function as being masturbation material. You probably could bang one out to something like Full Metal Daemon Muramasa if you were in a particularly dark mood, but for the most part, they’re about something other than simple, primal sexual gratification.

In retrospect, of course it makes sense that manga — a much older medium — would be exactly the same. Of course there are authors out there incorporating erotic elements into their manga stories without the intention of the stories themselves being “sexy” as such. But for one reason or another I’d never even considered it until I read Viewer Discretion Advised from start to finish in a single sitting. And I feel like I’ve had my eyes opened somewhat.

Viewer Discretion Advised

Viewer Discretion Advised is a series of short, unrelated stories that all have some sort of horror theme to them. Specifically, they all have a distinctly Japanese sense of horror about them — if you enjoy the work of Chilla’s Art or games like Corpse Party and Root Letter you’ll be right at home, so long as you’re okay with explicit (and, pleasingly, uncensored) sex scenes.

The cover story is called “The Way Home” and features a tired, stressed-out salaryman walking alone through those stereotypical Japanese residential back alleys with the patterned concrete walls that you see in every Chilla’s Art game. He catches a glimpse of an attractive schoolgirl and, concerned for her safety, attempts to follow her after she seemingly disappears. Initially, she teases him as being a stalker, but almost immediately indicates that she was joking, and propositions him.

With sexual release being such good stress relief and our hero seemingly already at the end of his tether as the story opens, he eagerly allows her to service him — and he frequently returns for similar treatment, night after night.

We get the hint that something is wrong when we see a scene of our hero in his office just after getting chewed out by his boss once again, and his colleague remarking that he looks “awful”. If he was successfully releasing his stress through his sexual encounters, surely he should be feeling better, right? So what’s going on?

Well, I’ll leave the details for you to discover for yourself, but suffice to say all is not as it seems, and we get the truth of the matter — or at least, a plausible explanation — on the final page of the chapter. It’s a pleasing way to wrap up the story, even if it’s not exactly what one would describe as a happy ending.

Viewer Discretion Advised

Each of the ten stories presented in Viewer Discretion Advised unfolds in a similar sort of way, often — though not always — with a sort of “gotcha” moment in its final scene. All of them take aim at common types of Japanese urban legends often seen in modern horror media — we have dreams that become reality; cursed phone numbers; night terrors that are actually slobbering rape monsters; stigmatised properties; sexy girls who are actually terrifying spider queens; spooky trains; and even sexual encounters with ghostly partners. There’s certainly a varied mix of things going on.

The sex scenes themselves are detailed, lengthy and satisfying, featuring a variety of different types of play with varying degrees of intensity. The monster rape scenes in two of the chapters may not be to everyone’s taste, but bear in mind two things in this regard. Firstly, the intent behind this volume is very obviously to combine the horrific and the sexual, and that’s something it succeeds admirably at. Secondly, rape fantasies are a thing that both men and women have, and keeping those safely within the realm of fiction is a means of exploring the feelings surrounding such fantasies — positive and negative — without hurting anyone.

The stories themselves are perhaps all a little short for us to truly feel a connection with the central characters involved — though author Iwasaki does at least take care to give them all names, distinguishing characteristics and a bit of background information before things start getting weird. That said, the short-form vignette format where we feel like we’re getting an assortment of glimpses into a number of different troubled lives works rather well for the overall theme of the collection; it’s almost like we’re a wandering spirit, checking in on all sorts of weird, wonderful and horrible things that are going on.

Viewer Discretion Advised

I would be interested to see Iwasaki try their hand at a more long-form, multi-chapter serialised narrative of this type, though — there’s absolutely potential for something thoroughly intriguing there, and the combination of sex and horror is a natural one that can easily be explored in further detail.

Ultimately, I came away from my time with Viewer Discretion Advised not with a particular desire to abuse myself until the early hours of the morning — no more than usual, anyway — but rather with the feeling that I’d just enjoyed a thoroughly interesting collection of very adult short stories that draw from a variety of Japanese horror traditions that I’ve come to recognise, love and appreciate over the course of the last few years in particular.

To put it in a more straightforward manner, the next time I’m looking for wank material I’m not necessarily going to reach straight for Viewer Discretion Advised — but it is a book that I genuinely enjoyed and appreciated, and I will almost certainly return to it on numerous occasions in the future, for various different reasons!

Viewer Discretion Advised is available on Amazon or direct from FAKKU! Most of the individual stories can be read as standalone chapters as part of a FAKKU! Unlimited subscription.

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Pete Davison
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