Inside the porn civil war between Hentai Haven and FAKKU

Hentai Haven is dead, long live Hentai Haven.

In the largely unexplored world that is the Japanese adult animation industry in the West, a schism recently occurred between two of the industry’s most prominent players. On Dec. 19, “hentai” (or sexually graphic anime) site Hentai Haven was immediately shut down seemingly out of nowhere. Fan reaction to this news was rampant and passionate

The creator of Hentai Haven, who goes by the pseudonym PapaHH, elaborated on the details of this situation in a conversation this week with the Daily Dot.

https://twitter.com/Oso_The_Bear/status/1075749231183314945

“I had a credible threat of a lawsuit coming. Jacob informed one of my staff members about this and he, in turn, informed me. As soon as I heard of this, I immediately closed Hentai Haven. I had plans of closing Hentai Haven before that cause I felt Hentai Haven was going to get a lawsuit sooner or later,” he said. PapaHH is referring to Jacob Grady, the founder of FAKKU. FAKKU is the leading publisher of English-language hentai and fan comics known as “doujinshi.”

Although they deal in the same content, Hentai Haven and FAKKU are fundamentally different institutions. Where HentaiHaven uploads hentai videos without the consent of their creators, FAKKU has mostly attempted to stay on the right side of copyright laws by compensating creators of the content it hosts. The website made big news when it went subscription-based back in 2016. However, FAKKU receives approximately only one-sixth of the traffic that Hentai Haven does, according to figures from traffic analytics company SimilarWeb.

Shortly after Hentai Haven’s shutdown, PapaHH announced that FAKKU had stepped in to help legitimize Hentai Haven and return it to full working order.  On May 12, Hentai Haven was relaunched but details of PapaHH’s involvement with the website at this point were mostly unclear. 

PapaHH broke his silence on Sunday through a statement on Hentai Haven’s main page, in which he accused FAKKU of taking over the site and dealing in shady business practices. “FAKKU has completely taken over and booted me out,” read the front-page message. “FAKKU played me like a cum-stained violin.”

PapaHH included the hashtag #HHisDead in his statement which both seemed to signal the death of the original website as people had come to know it and spurred the ire of many of the site’s original, dedicated community members. 

Following this, Grady also released a statement in which he stated he still sought to legitimize Hentai Haven and properly distribute the income that the site generated. Although Grady did not explicitly mention PapaHH’s current involvement in Hentai Haven, it was clear that this was a direct refutation of PapaHH’s claims. 

His words mostly fell on deaf ears, and the hentai civil war had commenced. Many fans of Hentai Haven saw FAKKU’s actions as a complete backstab. Where once FAKKU had appeared to be the savior of Hentai Haven in a dire situation, it had now placed the final nail in the website’s coffin. 

Then, just as quickly as the news of supposed foul play broke, the conflict that seemed like it would permanently divide the American hentai market was over in the blink of an eye. Just one day after the behind the scenes drama concerning Hentai Haven’s relaunch was made public, PapaHH posted another public statement in which he said that Hentai Haven and FAKKU’s partnership was back on. 

“We had a talk in private and decided to work things out. It’s still ongoing, but all I can say is that it’s looking good for Hentai Haven,” PapaHH told the Daily Dot. “The plan is to license the video content from Japanese companies directly. It should be pretty straightforward as FAKKU already has the business contacts in place.”

This indicates that the plan to legitimize Hentai Haven’s content through the proper channels is still in effect. 

When asked if he thought fans of Hentai Haven and those who had followed the tumultuous path of the original partnership would be wary of continued ventures between FAKKU and Hentai Haven, PapaHH was unsure: “Possibly? I can’t comment on that.”

However, he does seem to be optimistic as things move forward. “FAKKU does seem to want to work with me to fix our issues. So that’s a good sign. And ultimately, this is about going down a legal route towards hentai streaming—which is always a good thing,” he said.

And he’s correct. Profiting from pirated content is not a sustainable venture and amounts to robbing the original creators of their labor. Anime as a medium has long suffered inaccessibility due to licensing issues. The period of reform we’re in, as Hentai Haven once again partners with FAKKU to legitimize its business practices, is the only long-term way forward. Yet fans seem skeptical that the partnership will hold strong this time—and if Hentai Haven’s fans will be able to trust a company that, apparently in their minds, betrayed them in their time of need.

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Ignacio Martinez

Ignacio Martinez

Ignacio Martinez is a journalism student at the University of Texas at Austin and an intern at the Daily Dot. His work has appeared in the Texas Observer and on the airwaves at KVRX 91.7 FM.