A crossbencher in the Australian Senate has called for a review of all manga and anime classified in Australia to screen out the glorification of child sexual abuse, specifically citing Eromanga Sensei for depicting "wide-eyed children" in "explicit sexual activities".
Stirling Griff, a crossbencher from the Centre Alliance party that includes independents Rex Patrick and Rebekha Sharkie, used a speech in the Senate today to calling for all anime and manga in the country to be re-reviewed by the classification board. “They contain depictions of wide-eyed children, usually in school uniforms, engaged in explicit sexual activities and poses, and often being sexually abused,” Griff said, according to The Guardian and AAP.
Griff's issue was that too much anime and manga contains "child abuse material". "There is, unfortunately, a dark side and a disgusting side to anime and manga, with a significant proportion of the two media featuring child abuse material," he said. “The classification board appears to be making decisions in isolation to criminal law. This must stop.”
Griff called out Eromanga Sensei, a novel series from 2013 about a 15-year-old high schooler who uses an anonymous partner called "Eromanga Sensei" to illustrate his stories, who is later revealed to be a 12-year-old junior high schooler. "The series also heavily features incest themes and many scenes are so disturbing I just won't, I just can't, describe them," Senator Griff reportedly said.
Manga and anime is exempt from exploitation laws in Japan, AAP reported, as cartoon characters are not considered to be depictions of real children. In Australia, the Classification Board has argued otherwise, with some anime games being refused classification precisely for sexual depictions of underage characters.
Omega Laybrinth Z was banned two years ago for simulating "sexual stimulation of a child", according to the Classification Board's report which was provided to Kotaku Australia.
"During this section of the game, with mis-clicks, dialogue can be triggered, in which Urara Rurikawa says, 'Stop tickling...', 'Stop poking...' and "Th-that feels strange...', implying a lack of consent," the board's report into Omega Laybrinth Z said.
Late last week, the Classification Board announced that Omega Labyrinth Z was refused classification in Australia. According to the board's report, the game was banned due to multiple scenes featuring "gratuitous, exploitative or offensive depictions" of sexual activity with depictions of characters that appear to be under 18 years of age.
Kotaku Australia has reached out to the Senator's office for a copy of his remarks; a version of his speech is not yet available online.
Update 3:40pm: The full text of Griff's speech also calls out series like Sword Art Online, which the senator argues "undoubtedly features the abuse of children". "In one explicit scene that takes place in the virtual world the character Asuna is raped by her captor Sugu, who threatens to also rape her in the real world, where she is lying in a hospital room in a catatonic state," the senator said in his speech.
The full transcript of the Senator's speech is below.
A member of the Australian Senate has called on the Federal Government to immediately review "all Japanese anime movies" available in Australia, along with the ban of any anime and manga featuring child exploitation "as a matter of urgency". In a speech to the upper house, Senator Stirling Griff argued that the M-rated Sword Art Online: Extra Edition was a prime example of a title misclassified in Australia, saying the show "undoubtedly features the abuse of children".
Correction: This story was updated to reflect that manga and anime is exempt from exploitation laws in Japan, not Australia. Apologies for the typo.