Shoku-ero: The Irresistible World of Japanese “Food Porn”!!
Have you ever heard of the word “shoku-ero“? The word “shoku (食)” is about food or meal, and “ero (エロ)” is abbreviation for erotic that Japanese use for sexual contents or idea. Combination of these two words “shoku-ero” is a new genre of work created from manga and anime culture. It is less understood still, but its popularity is rising as the number of these works are published. You will clearly understand what “shoku-ero” is by watching or reading the applied stories. In easy words, “shoku-ero” is a category that characters eat food or meal in erotic manner or attitude, and at the same time, their erotic facial expressions are called “meshi no kao“, which spread from one comment on shoku-ero video uploaded on niconico douga. The word itself, we think, derived from Japanese pornographic term “mesu no kao” that describes the expression of female being sexual. Due to the origin of the word, “meshi no kao” only applies to female characters’ look. There are two indications in this look: one is a girl who found extreme happiness and in ecstasies by eating, and second is a girl who irritatingly awaits the sensation of eating caught in a dilemma.
Eating is one of the important context that Japanese people have developed to enjoy with all five senses. Japanese discovered the delight in food that covers the senses of looking at the fine-looking arrangement of food on the dish, listening the delicate sound when cooking and eating, texture and taste when putting a bite in one’ mouth, and smell of the tempted food by just looking at it. This feeling and tendency toward food is a result of traditional Japanese food, which Japanese call “washoku“. Washoku is included on UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage List due to the high regard on various and fresh ingredient and its natural flavor, nutrient balance that supports healthy diet, expression of nature beauty and transition of the season, and close relationship with annual events like New Years.
To report how good the food is also one of the food culture that Japan created. Turning on Japanese TV channels, which is few in number compared to other countries, mostly any time you can find gourmet report programs or food introducing session on TV programs. Gourmet reporters need power of accurate expression and be rich in vocabulary.
Not just gourmet programs, but also genre of food is popular in manga and anime. Manga, as a paper media, is hard to express the beauty of food and its deliciousness specifically; the better expressing quality the work has, the better it is. However, different from gourmet TV programs in the real world, manga and anime have the same number of ways as the author does in expressing the food and it’s taste to the readers.
For example, receiving high support from middle and old age men, “Kodoku no Gourmet (Solitary Gourmet)” is a manga and drama drawing a salaried worker who seeks enjoyment in eating outside the house by narrating what he is thinking and reporting the meal’s remark. He 100% enjoys the meal since he cannot drink alcohol at all. Watching this drama, many viewers get “meshi-tero”, which is an act that one gets promiscuous appetite from delicious looking food pictures or scene of someone eating tempted meal. Parody of Kodokuno Gourmet can be found in many anime or manga works that assure its popularity in national level.
This is one example of neat explained gourmet work, but there are works that is completely different, like “Yakitate!! Japan (Freshly Baked!! Japan)“, which is a manga and anime that competes to become the best baker in the world. It even sold the bread created and appeared in the story. The biggest difference is the dynamism of the reaction after the characters eat a bread. Instead of mentioning good words to the bread, the characters react big in word and body. The competition, unfolded in the story, is settled by how big the panel of judges reacted to the bread. It is no any random big reaction, but creates abnormal phenomenon, like dying a moment because the bread was too delicious.
Today’s main theme “shoku-ero” is a new section in gourmet genre that is similar but completely new compared with the two examples that I raised above. I should have made the points sooner, but now you get the idea of deep culture in food in Japan. Finally, the below are three anime (that adapted from manga) that introduce characters who eat erotically.
1. Food Wars: Shokugeki no Soma
Soma Yukihara, the hero of the story, dreams to become a pro chef in his father’s restaurant and surpass his father’s cooking skills. However, his father, Jotaro closed his shop and emigrated to overseas, and transferred Soma into an elite culinary school where only 10% of the students survive to graduate. He challenges to survive until graduation and skill up his cooking skills with his classmates. It sounds like one ordinary school life gourmet anime, but similar to “Yakitate!! Japan”, the reaction when eating meals are dynamic, and at the same time erotic. The touch of the manga is surely erotic, but the expression of the food and characters are erotic as well. How is this dynamic? Well, many characters rip off their clothes (and don’t ask me how) when they eat treaty foods.
Kokonotsu Shikada lives at his parent’s house with dagashi, Japanese cheap candies, shop at some peninsula where it is surrounded by the ocean. He aspires to be a manga artist, but his father informed him to succeed his dagashi shop. When both were fighting among this, dagashi mania, Hotaru Shidare appeared in front of them. She tells that she wants Kokonotsu’s father to come to her father’s company, but Kokonotsu’s father refuses that he will never leave the island until Kokonotsu makes his mind to succeed his shop.
Dagashi theme is very rare or it might be the first manga ever, especially in erotic sense. There is no erotic image in dagashi, but the scenes that Hotaru and another heroine, Saya eat dagashi are recognized as new “shoku-ero” manga. The erotic and new culture of dagashi for foreign people made wide popularity even outside Japan.
3. Koufuku Graffiti (Gourmet Girl Graffiti)
Ryo Machiko is a high school girl who lives alone since her parents live outside Japan and the death of her grandmother. She gets asked by her aunt to let Ryo’s second cousin, Kirin Morino stay every Saturday. Ryo and Kirin, and their friend, Shiina develop a gourmet daily life by spending heartwarming meal together.
This work is known as the founder of the word “shoku-ero”. The anime challenged to not collapse the erotic, but not too erotic touch from the original manga since it is a normal heartwarming story. However, Ryo has given a setting of being erotic when eating, so her eating scene is erotic, nevertheless of the staff’s intention. Not only the girls, but also the foods drawn in the anime look appetizing. It looks very realistic like a reproduction of the original food.
Shokugeki no Soma Official Homepage: http://shokugekinosoma.com/
Dagashi Kashi Official Homepage: http://www.tbs.co.jp/anime/dagashi/
Koufuku Graffiti Official Homepage: http://www.tbs.co.jp/anime/koufuku_g/
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