I Know This Dance By Heart
That’s right folks we’re seeing another anime ban in the news this week. This one comes from the land down under on behalf of Australian Senator Stirling Griff, a crossbencher from the Centre Alliance Party, who used his time before the Senate to give a speech about a number of anime and their “depictions of child sexual exploitation.”
The anime included in Griff’s speech included Sword Art Online, Eromanga Sensei, Goblin Slayer and No Game No Life. Griff particularly focused on Sword Art Online and its Extra movie where he claims it “undoubtedly features the abuse of children,” in regards to the Alfheim arc where the villain assaults female lead Asuna in the game and threatens to also assault her real body in the hospital. While I’ll admit that yes this is a horrifying scene and it’s not meant to be viewed positively, it’s also not as graphic as the senator claims. Frankly another anime he mentions, Goblin Slayer, has much more graphic depictions of rape and violence.
Getting this mad at Sword Art, am I back in 2015?
Senator Griff’s call to action is for the Australian government to review all currently available anime and anime movies in the country and to ban/regulate other titles he listed in his speech in the future. He cited the recent decision of South Korea to ban anime/manga depicting sexual situations for minors as a good example of what he hopes to accomplish. Normally I would say this ban would fail but Australian law actually does state any depiction of minors in believed sexual situations is illegal, so there is a possibility that this ban could go through if it picks up enough steam in the Australian government.
Now the reason why people are upset with this call to ban anime is that while the senator is correct in some ways, it’s clear he hasn’t studied as much as he lets on and even lies about some of the anime/manga he cites. An example is Goblin Slayer, in which he claims:
“In Goblin Slayer children are often portrayed as frightened or resisting, but they are also shown as enjoying the sexual abuse. Enjoying it! And as I said experts say that pedophiles are using this material to groom children. ‘Have a look at this, this is normal.’
Now as an up to date reader of the manga, I can tell you that this is a 100% lie on the Senators part. Not only are most characters depicted of legal age in the manga with very few questionable cases, there are NO cases of “enjoyment of abuse” in that manga and for him to claim so either shows he is ignorant or lying. I personally can’t speak on the other anime/manga he touched on besides Sword Art Online and Goblin Slayer, but based on the fact he felt confident enough to go before the Senate with such a poorly researched analysis shows that he is untrustworthy to lead a ban on these mediums.
If you want to read the full transcript of Griff’s speech, click here to see it from Kotaku’s article. While there are definitely questionable themes to anime and manga, I don’t think they should be regulated by someone who would carelessly spread misinformation their subject matter before the Senate as fact. Unfortunately for me I have no say in the matter but all of you in Australia do. You can send letters to your local government offices to let your elected officials know how you feel on this matter and whether you support or oppose Senator Griff and his planned ban. For right now though there isn’t anything major to report on aside from the plan. But as this develops we’ll post updates on the status of the potential ban.