Classification Board Responds To Senator's Call To Ban Anime

Image: Goblin Slayer (IMDB)

Following claims from a crossbench senator that the Classification Board were "making decisions in isolation to criminal law", the Classification Board's director has responded, reminding the senator that the censor's duty is "not an assessment of the genre type" or whether anime "depicts 'real' people or animated characters".

The statement was effectively required after a speech in the upper house by Senator Stirling Griff, who earlier this week called for the "immediate review" of all Japanese anime movies in Australia, and the ban of certain titles like Sword Art Online: Extra Edition, Goblin Slayer, No Game No Life and others.

Senator Calls For Review Of All Anime And Manga In Australia

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".

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In a response to Senator Griff's remarks, Classification Board director Margaret Anderson wrote that the Board was "aware of concerns about the classification" of certain anime, as well as "comic books featuring manga style drawing not being classified by the board".

Anderson's statement indicates that the Board is supportive of including manga under Australian classification law. "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 statement reads.

Regarding the classification of series like Eromanga Sensei, Anderson noted that the Board classifies films according to the film guidelines, and that there are no separate guidelines for the classification of anime. "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," Anderson's statement says.

The full response can be read below in full:

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 offences 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


Comments

    So literally there's no difference between film and anime classifications and if they made the anime as a "normal" movie then it would receive the same rating.

    Seems fine to me.

      I have a feeling that real actors vs animated would probably have a much higher impact, even though the action might be the same. I can see real life films with the same stuff rated harsher, possibly through subconscious bias. A real life acted rape would hit a lot harder than an animated one.

        See: James Marsters after filming the Buffy episode "Seeing Red".

      Agreed. An example I can draw on is the movie Monster with Charlize Theron, which has a fairly graphic scene of rape/sexual assault and this has a current rating of MA15+ which seems consistent with the rating on these anime.

      It didn't really respond to the issues brought up though, mainly the depiction of underage girls.
      No Game No Life introduces Shiro as a 11 year old with a raunchy up skirt shot.

      https://imgur.com/fT3jvDI

      If anything this is in agreement with his original points. The Classification board said it doesn't distinguish between real and animated, so it would all theoretically be rated equally.

      The Senator is saying that is blatantly untrue, because how many western films or animations get through with deceptions as lewd as linked.

        well considering she is underage... an upskirt of a 11 year old girl would probably not be allowed in Real Life media... so how would you rate underage ecchi characters in Anime compared to the non existent in real life media, probably be banned, so in a way, it's already getting a special treatment.

      Which was pretty much the point made. All those releases have already gone through classification to be released in australia.

      This senator was basically tryng to shift anime/manga into its own seperate category for hasher ratings ala games because he as a person found the content objectionable. Brillianty stupid as it totally ruins the independance and impartiality classification system if your gonna pick and choose which type of media deserves harsher ratings because this certain one clashes with your personal sensibilities

    I think the answer is staring everyone in the face, everyone is a 500 year old Dragon. Problem solved?

    So obviously they're going to apply these same rulings and laws to Western comics and cartoons too right? Because they are fair and equal in all judgement and wouldn't target a specific thing that outrages them.

      Western comics being classified would probably be the end of Saga. The juvenile part of my brain made me laugh for like 5 mins when they have a full page spread of an erection.

      Who's 'they' Prolix? The politicians, or the board?

        Prolix probalt means the pollies since the board only classifys according to the guidelines given by the pollie of the day.

        Of course it will be a glorious mess the day they decide to pull this classification by genre/media since where would you draw the lines on which genre shoukd be juged harsher

          I'm assuming he meant pollies, but it really wasnt clear to me. You never can be sure. I'm on @alexwalker 's side and believe the board is trying to get the ratings arranged to something post-1980 but right now its a chaotic mess that could go either way.

          Hopefully they let us adults actually adult, and be responsible for our own decisions, rather than keep assuming that R18 applies to kids. Personally I've been playing computer games since the 1980's so I'm pretty certain I'm over 18. Just let me make my own fraking choices and dont decide for me.

      Someone should send the senator some Garth Ennis comics, specificially 'The Boys' and 'Crossed'. That'll be fun.

    Stirling Griff

    Okay, that is not a real name. This is one of those "three wombats in a trenchcoat" situations. Wombats that hate anime, evidently.

      It's the combination of Sterling Archer and Griff from Red vs Blue... actually that combination would be a heck of a lot more awesome and hilarious than this guy. People would laugh WITH that Sterling Griff rather than at him.

    I believe there's a town in Queensland called Eromanga.

      Town is a generous term, but yes. As a QLDer, I can confirm.

        Population: 119. I'm sure everyone of them is aware of this controvery and are offended. Probably represented by Stirling Griff.

    It doesn't really respond to the issues brought up though, mainly the depiction of underage girls.
    No Game No Life introduces Shiro as a 11 year old with a raunchy up skirt shot.

    https://imgur.com/fT3jvDI

    If anything this is in agreement with his original points. The Classification board said it doesn't distinguish between real and animated, so it would all theoretically be rated equally.

    The Senator is saying that is blatantly untrue, because how many western films or animations get through with deceptions as lewd as linked.

      Except singling out Eromanga sensei is an obvious red herring... there are a fair few printed and animated works from the west that put minors in inappropriate situations often times for comedic effect... the most obvious one here is South Park.

      And they are rated appropriately as for adults.. you cannot just pick an choose.

    It's time some of theses boomers need to be replaced Australia is already behind the rest of the world banding something also doesn't fix the problem I buy my anime but I can easily get it other ways all it will do is make more black market opportunities but with technology now instead of getting a copy of a anime on DVD I can get a hard drive of 1000 anime Im still happy but Australian market losses out.

    just complaints from someone who doesnt know what he is talking about. some of the things said on the official statement isnt even true. but who is going to bring it to him? its just accusations without factual proof. says "there is", but it doesnt refer to any time bracket. I read it and say, there isnt. As it stands its just accusation, he asked for a review, it is up to the review board to decide what is and what is not. Hopefully the review board will be fare. But when he make official statement there should really be a time stamp to proof it is actually the case.

    Its not going to be the end of anime, even if found true there will just be a censored copy which would be just as good without the ridiculous and over the top parts that gets that triggered this hysteria.

    Vikings, 13 reasons why, The Accused, and many other real life Western movies/series portray rape in some very graphic ways. But we aren't talking about Western movies or shows, to do the comparison correctly you would have to find out and compare the between Japanese live action and animation movies to get a actual comparison

      Just look at Game of Thrones for all the underage rape and murder you could possibly want, and often the written word can have a strength to its emotional component because of the author's use of words, and the power of imagination to make it horrific and intense, and potentially have a strong impact.

    Thank goddess at least the classification board has a backbone to release this statement.

    As i said before classification has worked as intended and our friendly neighborhood conservative has decided to channel moral panic just because its so much easier to fabricate a platform than actually do something constructive

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