Australian Classification Board denies Senators call for separate classification.

A Small Victory for the Pro-Anime Side

A Small Victory for the Pro-Anime Side

Following the recent call to action from crossbench Senator Stirling Griff to re-evaluate and even possibly ban anime in Australia, the Classification Board for the country has released a statement in response.

This response came after Senator Griff claimed the Classification Board was making decisions “in isolation to criminal law.” Because of this, the Classification Board director Margaret Anderson has now responded to Senator Griff by stating the boards duty is “not an assessment of the genre type” or whether anime “depicts ‘real’ people or animated characters”. Director Anderson responded to the Senators remarks with confirmation she and the board were aware of the classification of anime and manga. She claimed to be in support of classifying manga under Australian Classification Law as it currently is not but had a different response in regards to anime. Anderson stated that there is no separate classification for anime than regular film and that they both fall under the same system of classification.

Senator Griff

“The Film Guidelines require an assessment of impact of six classifiable elements (themes, violence, sex, coarse language, drug use and nudity); not an assessment of the genre type or whether the film depicts ‘real’ people or animated characters,”

-Classification Board Director, Margaret Anderson.

This essentially means that anime is reviewed and classified the same way that actual film with real people is. The Classification Board does not separate anime from non-anime, which some criticize as inefficient but most say is fair.

Now looking at all this, people have considered this a victory for the anti-Griff side, but I think it should be looked at a bit more carefully. The Classification Board denied part of Senator Griff’s concerns regarding classification, but they didn’t outright dismiss him entirely. Manga is up to be brought under classification now, and with time this could turn into an issue given the provocative themes of some manga. It’s also important to note that the Classification Board did not address many of Senator Griff’s points about “depiction of the exploitation of minors.” While on paper, this can be seen as a win I don’t think this is the end of the issue at all. We’ll have to keep an eye on this and see where things go from here, this can’t be the end of the issue. I’ll post the entire response from the Classification Board below.

“The Classification Board (the Board) is aware of concerns about the classification of certain Japanese anime genre films, specifically Sword Art Online: Extra Edition, No Game No Life, and Eromanga Sensei Volumes 1 & 2, and about comic books featuring manga style drawings not being classified by the Board.

The Board classifies films in accordance with the Guidelines for the Classification of Films (the Film Guidelines). There are not specific or separate guidelines to classify animated films. Films can be classified in the classification categories from G to R 18+ (with the X 18+ category limited to films containing sexually explicit activity). If a film contains content that exceeds the scope and limits of content that is permitted in the R 18+ category, it will be Refused Classification (RC). Films in the anime genre have been classified across a range of categories, including M, MA 15+, R 18+ and RC.

The Film Guidelines require an assessment of impact of six classifiable elements (themes, violence, sex, coarse language, drug use and nudity); not an assessment of the genre type or whether the film depicts ‘real’ people or animated characters. The Guidelines state ‘Context is crucial in determining whether a classifiable element is justified by the story‑line or themes. This means that material that falls into a particular classification category in one context may fall outside it in another.’

In addition to determining the classification, the Board must determine consumer advice for a film. The purpose of consumer advice is to draw attention to only the most impactful and frequent content relating to the six classifiable elements. Therefore, not all the content in a film will warrant consumer advice. The classifications for the named films are:

Sword Art Online: Extra Edition is classified M with consumer advice ‘sexualised imagery, sexual references and animated violence.

No Game No Life is classified MA 15+ with consumer advice ‘strong sexual themes’.

Eromanga Sensei Volumes 1 & 2 are classified MA 15+ with consumer advice ‘strong sexual themes’.

Regarding comic books, only submittable publications are required to be classified. The Board classifies submittable publications in accordance with the Guidelines for the Classification of Publications. It is the responsibility of distributors of comic books to decide if the comic book should be classified. States and territories are responsible for classification enforcement legislation which includes offenses for selling an unclassified submittable publication.

The Board is aware that a campaign has been launched about the sale of Japanese manga and anime in Australia and that in the context of the Government’s Review of Classification Regulation this issue has been raised. The Board welcomes this review.”

Margaret Anderson, Director, Classification Board

Australian Senator calls for anime regulation over concerns of sexual abuse depictions.

I Know This Dance By Heart

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.’

-Senator Griff

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.