This loser is you: the appeal of netorare

A previous post suggested that otaku (moe otaku in particular) tend to have a very righteous approach to romantic relationships, in the sense that they value pure, sincere, genuine commitment to a romantic interest, both during a relationship and as a prerequisite to forming it (it's a trivial but significant observation that the genre overwhelmingly favors “confessing” over “asking out,” for instance). Since their ethos makes the commitment precede the relationship, otaku are prone to unrequited feelings and infatuation. And turning to 2D doesn't really help here for now: usually, your dakimakura won't talk back.

Of course, not all otaku are romantically challenged. Some are even rumored to be married with kids. Nevertheless, anecdotal observation and secondary evidence do suggest a strong connection between otakudom and a specific perception of romantic relationships (not a very successful one). It is a bit of a cliché, but one that has enough basis in reality that the medium itself can play with it in interesting ways—particularly by teasing the audience with a surrogate character modeled around that cliché.

This is something the good folks over at tv tropes would call This Loser Is You. Usual romance shows tend to be pretty forgiving to this character type, with some happy, more or less believable resolution in the end. A few shows hit harder, however. The prime example is probably Evangelion, which was basically crafted as a ten-hour long insult on its viewership. And I must say I did derive a measure of enjoyment from watching the show, in some warped, masochistic sense—the pathetic realization that I hadn't dealt with all the issues Shinji is going through despite not being an effing useless teenager anymore, I guess (although the brat has so many issues that this might be expected).

As far as masochism goes, however, ero has a lot more to offer. The singularly scathing narrative pattern I want to go into here is netorare. In colloquial Japanese speech, the word refers to having your spouse or lover “stolen” from you. There is obviously a wealth of fictional representations of that situation, in a good part of which the character being cheated on is a clumsy but well-meaning guy acting as an audience stand-in. In manga alone, there are so many examples that people have devised multiple subcategories, according to the relationship between the protagonist and the “robber,” the lover's degree of consent and initiative, the way the protagonist realizes he has been cheated on and so on.

I find the sexual hijinks of housewives about as exciting as the civil code, though, so you can tell I'm not an avid consumer of that kind of literature. However, the subculture has extended the meaning of netorare to include situations in which the protagonist is not actually in a relationship, much less married, but has a girl he is desperately infatuated with. He doesn't take steps to approach her, however, and watches powerlessly as some other guy seizes the opportunity. All examples of netorare I know of in loli manga are of this general form.

Of course, nothing is “stolen” from anybody there, but that doesn't make the protagonist's (and correlatively, the reader's) feeling of loss and defeat any less acute, which contribute to the fun—or spoil it, depending on your inclinations. I personally have a definite weakness for this type of stories. It might because I vaguely remember having been in the same situation once long ago, back in middle school. But it's more likely another case of light masochistic tendencies at work.

One slightly funny subversion of this occurs in the otherwise mediocre eroanime (oxymoron alert!) Ai shimai. The plot, conveniently summarized by Wikipedia, has a mother and her two daughters become sex slaves of Mr. Generic Jerk for ridiculous reasons while the mother's husband is on an extended business trip. When he returns, the husband is rather impassive when Mr. Generic Jerk bangs her wife in front of him. But he's devastated when the villain touches her younger daughter, because he secretly loves her (we are shown how he keeps some of her used underwear in his office desk for sniffing purposes).

Kabe no mukougawa
Kabe no mukougawa

Turning to works of greater merit, the first example of netorare I encountered was Kabe no mukougawa, a characteristically lovely-and-depressing, and uncharacteristically useable one-shot by Sekiya Asami, collected in her second book Otona ni naru mae ni. The protagonist is head over heels in love for his younger sister, but understandably afraid to tell her how he feels. One day, he wakes up too late from a nap to show up at his part-time job and decides to kill time in his room. That's when her sister comes back from school. With what sounds like an older guy. Nobody is supposed to be home. They go up in her room. Her first time. And the brother weeps as he hears everything though the thin wood wall. The first time I read it, I think I cried too.

Otona ni naritai
Otona ni naritai

And finally, it's again a short piece by Ueda Yuu that made me write this article, namely his contribution to the Nov. 2009 issue of LO (which I only recently got my hands on: it was too late to get it before leaving France, and already out of print when I arrived in Japan, so I had to resort to buying it second hand, non-virgin, which is slightly dirty when you think about it). It's called Otona ni naritai, and the setting is a bit different. Satoshi, the protagonist, is again an older brother, though of the not blood-related variety. He loves her stepsister Satoko, and that feeling seems to be requited to some extent. Satoko goes so far as expressing insistent sexual curiosity when they're alone together. He refuses to satisfy that curiosity just yet, however, seeing as she is so young. But not everyone shares those petty concerns, and a friend of Satoshi offers to make her a woman, so that she can be ready for her brother. She accepts on condition that they do it in front of him, to be sure. So they tie him up, put him a ball gag, and the fun begins. What happens afterwards is so upsetting (and such a turn on if your interests run close to mine) that I'd rather not to spoil it and let you enjoy the piece yourself instead.

That those examples all involve some sort of intrafamilial forbidden love might not be a coincidence, but it's not because I have an incest fetish (I may have many strange preferences, but that's not one at all). I guess it has a role as a plot device, making the qualms of conscience of the loving nice guy all that more palpable.

28 comments for ‘This loser is you: the appeal of netorare’.

Cuckolding fetishes in all sorts of forms are not exactly nonexistent in "normal" Western society as well. Is the difference here in the presence of a cuckolding (which I guess needs to be used loosely because of the NTR stories where the girl is just a crush of the guy) in non-pornographic (and non-uh, real life) stories? Or are NTR stories usually pornographic to some degree?

I'm not sure there's a difference, really. The situation itself is clearly not specifically Japanese, and even less specifically otaku—you can find those things in dirty magazines sold in combini, and it would be surprising if it hadn't found its way into some JAV or other. It's not limited to pornography either (you can find it in shoujo manga as well, say), although the NTR abbreviation itself is probably overwhelmingly used in reference to ero.

On the other hand, the prevalence of “crush-only” netorare in otaku-targeted publications is more idiosyncratic, I guess.

NTR is a Japanese construction. The "seeming" incestual theme is REAL when one understands the Japanese culture. In more traditional Japanese settings (even now), a mother will provide "sexual" experience of her oldest son in order to satisfy the latter's sexual desire and thus keep the son "dominated." The concept of "crush" cannot be interpreted as understood in a western sense. To keep this in perspective, in the late 80's til the mid-90's, a common joke went through Japan as follows: Q: How does a female Japanese experience orgasm? A: Kiss her!!! Since Japanese generally find it hard to express their intense emotions concerning romantic and sexual desires, it's easier to play this out first in the "home" context. Also, keep in mind that marrying a first-cousin is still allowed in Japanese culture. In NTR, the feeling of pain and suffering by the protagonist also adds to the intensity of the act because most Japanese (male and female alike) share a common framework for understanding that pain and suffering is a noble experience.

I think that gets deep into male psychology - does a man who sees a woman and desperately wants her have any sort of claim beyond that which he makes with his actions? I think friends do get into these "I saw her first" or "I called her first" sort of bouts, but as you put it, formally, nothing is stolen - or is it?

what ive come across while reading this genre is less focus on the actual protagonist or the normal guy and more on the corruption of the female lead and her abandonment to her responsibilities and her emotions. and this is probably the most well written piece on porn lol

There have been a shitload of netorare doujinshi recently. I have noticed that it is common now for the "Stealer" to be ugly, old, fat or all of the above. A To Love Ru doujin I read was all about how the fat ugly old dude(who looked like moe from the three stooges) rapes Lala, Haruna, Yami, and Rito's his sister. Then, at the end, they send rito a message saying they "Don't need him anymore". It closes with us finding out rito has gone insane mostely just sits in his room fapping to sex tapes they send him.

Yeah man, yeah.

That sounds like an amazing doujin.

Also sounds like most of Black Dog's Sailor Moon doujinshi... the males are always, ALWAYS fat old men (or in a couple of cases, fat ugly monsters). At least they're well drawn...

I've noticed that too, although I've read at least a couple of netorare doujinshi that feature the "stealer" as being average-looking, or even physically attractive, but swap the physical ugliness for him being considered repulsive or unappealing for other reasons. One in particular ("A Dream Life," I think, or something like that) had the "stealer" considered unappealing because he violated the rules all the time (the doujin opens with the guy reading porn in class, as an example, and the female protagonist confiscates it; he later uses her peeking at it in order to blackmail her into having anal sex with him).

ah! i know that hentai manga, still i dont know where ever its ended?


Why is it that the guy who's basically forced to watch and endure the love interest ever get revenge? It's always a depressing theme where the male protagonist is basically all crying or emo or whatever. It just ends there and we never see something different, doesn't matter if the guy finds the douchenozzle and beats the crap out of him, or find a way to get back at the girl. But maybe in that sense it wouldn't really be classified as Netorare if the protagonist is more decisive and exacts a plan of revenge or justice, instead they're forced to be a whiny bitch and absorb the trauma.

Ah, netorare. Try Yuzuku N Dash's "Another World" then. You can try looking it up in FAKKU.

you know this kind of thing happens in real life and it really affect me so much just to imagine it being done even if you have a sister. imagine it done to the one you love the most could you handle the pain and rage that will you fell?

You know, I found out about this netorare thing/genre just recently and for some reason I love it! The jealousy and hate it really grabs me emotionally and while is not good as fapping material (too cruel) it really entertains me.

I don't really like reading manga unless it is something popular/mainstream like Bleach or Naruto but from what I have watched the best netorare are "Grope ~Yami no naka no Kotoritachi~ (hentai)", " I☆Can [aka. Ai Kyan Joukan] (hentai)", "True Blue(hentai)" and "Triangle Blue (hentai)".

If anybody knows about others (ero-anime not manga please) would you mind to mention them? Thanks. ;)

Oh, and how could I forget about "Accelerando vol.1 (hentai)" from Seto Yuuki, my most favorite ero-manga artist!

A TV Tropes page of it is up. I introduced this piece as a good starting read, hope you don't mind.

[...] we all know that Nick Clegg likes a puff now and then... Am I the only one imagining some sort of NTR scenario going on here between him, Cameron and Sweet Lady Tobacco...? __________________ [...]

When it comes to cuckolding and the fetish in general, I can see the appeal from both sides. It's a very animal like point of view. You want your spouse to be whore because deep down inside you know that given the opportunity, the species tends to grasp at options provided. Especially if the options are many and secretive. And if you happen to be the lucky guy/girl to be the home wrecker, then you really don't feel effected by any of the personal things like; love, intimacy, etc. Your only goal is to wreck the home, as it were.

I like to think that we're all whores in some sense of the word. And given the right opportunity we whore ourselves out when its beneficial, or even if its just plain wrong. True netorare, just doesn't show the mistress(master) breaking up the couple, but the husband and or wife partaking in the fucked up scenario. Because ultimately netorare speaks to our true monkey like nature. We want to experiment, but we also want to keep the cake. Which is why statistically, most successful relationships are based on lies, deceit, and cheating.

Notorare, NTR, or Cuckolding are all very exciting and growing in popularity now in many, many countries around the world. See the important work titled "Sperm Wars" for one of the best scientific explanations for this new interest by many men, and women. Additionally, there are many psychological elements involved in this for all parties; the wife, the husband, and the bull. The Japanese add their own interesting and exciting twist to it of course. They have a long history of openness and acceptance in sensual matters. You are welcome to email me for more information.


My wife has a question

Is there a term for Reverse Netorare?


a girl stealing a guy from his girlfriend/wife?

she is dead curious LOL

One term which may describe what you are asking is called "Cuckquean". It may imply that the wife/women knows about her man's affair, or not. There are so, so many variations on this theme that it is hard to discuss all of them. Mostly it is up to the people involved how they want the story to unfold. That way they can choose something that works for them, or excites them.

There is but those that are directly the reverse of NTR are few. The closest thing would be harem, where the guy is technically cheating on all the girls. The only difference is that the guy can go to any of them if he wants and the girls seem to be okay with it for some reason. Keep in mind that these things are aimed towards guys, which is why guy cheating is okay and girl cheating is not. Even in real life though, girls on average are more okay with a guy cheating on them than the reverse.

How many women told you that? Because I think that's only your opinion.

...the Japanese version called Notorare or NTR is only one variation on this, there are many others.

lol... what a joke!
NTR are now rising in the hentai's seem after insect,S&M,bestiality, and what so ever..finally they find solution in this theme..huh..i admit it for some reason, i'm particularity like it in same time i hate it..a mixed feeling and it was feeling great..still..what i don't like it..the character always traumatize, either the female or the male...non of them actually fighting back or make come back with huge gun or katana..where is the pride of Japanese...did they really like their women been raped and ntr by others non the less by foreigner. At least, make them fight in this suffering, surviving together in this hopeless and despair world. Just don't make an excuse, to make the character feel depressed and became emo. If thing keep happening like this, like wise the probability, all the women will been fucked by ugly, nasty and smelly old man and give birth and then doing threesome together with mother and daughter probably also sell their body and doing gang bang in S&M club ..huh..while the hero keep jerking in the room became useless, pathethic, idiot and better of die.

Read anything written by Sanbun kyouden or Bai Asuka(especially the Sinful Mother series). You will find that ntr can be very Very dark and fucked up.

From what I've seen, NTR appeals to the idea that your typical otaku who doesn't do anything about the relationship, is likely to lose the girl is more realistic than the idealized depiction of relationships that most otaku are preoccupied with. Cuckoldry in western culture is usually done at the "victim's" behest, and is really more a part of the fetish scene. The way NTR portrays it is somewhat unrealistic, with it being involuntary creating distaste to the fetishist, and the sheer extremeness of the situation somewhat ruining the realism of it. As an emotionally gripping genre that as pure fantasy probably appeals to a number of people, like most hentai, it's gratuitously unrealistic.

I personally like NTR, its not like I enjoy getting my girlfriend (if I ever have one) stolen but its more of... the stealing part...

problem with most of people who hates NTR comes from how they imagine themselves as the main character whose girl stolen... me on the other hand always imagine myself as the one who do the stealing.... probably Its because of my really nasty personality that I like this genre...

and... seeing pure girl transformed into... well let's just say that I love Rule 43 of the Internet...

in fact most of H doujin or manga that I read is from this genre...

but its true though, I just started to think about this after I read one of Goudere Chapter...
we are indeed... in the age of NTR...

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