Watch The Classification Board’s Director Very Patiently Explaining Anime In Senate Estimates

12
Watch The Classification Board’s Director Very Patiently Explaining Anime In Senate Estimates
Image: Supplied

The review into Australia’s classification system has taken a bit of a detour over the last week, thanks to Senator Stirling Griff asking for an immediate review into all anime in Australia. Naturally, the whole situation resulted in the director of the Classification Board being called into Senate Estimates, where she very calmly explained what the Classification Board actually does.

The main thrust of the Senator’s complaints was that too much anime and manga featured the depictions of child abuse or the sexualisation of children, which was an offence against the Commonwealth Criminal Code. Sword Art Online: Extra Edition, which is a summation of the events plus extras of the original Sword Art Online TV series, Eromanga Sensei, No Game No Life and others were specifically cited especially in breach.

Senator Says Sword Art Online 'Undoubtedly Features The Abuse Of Children'

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".

Read more

As far as the Classification Board was concerned, anime is rated the same way as other film – because that’s what’s set out in the Classification Code. Director Margaret Anderson very politely explained this to Senator Stirling Griff – as did a representative for the Minister for Communications, who oversees the Classification Board.

But still, the Senator pressed on. He brought up Sword Art Online: Extra Edition:

One example I’d like to – which you actually referred to in your media release – is Sword Art Online: Extra Edition, which depicts the rape of a 17 year old character called Asuna, and which her captor will also rape her in the real world when she is comatose in hospital. That scene in particular is not referred to at all in the [Board’s] decision report on the 17th October 2016; why would such a graphic scene like that not be referred to at all in your decision report?

That led the Classification Director to point out that decision reports are “not an exhaustive list” of every impactful scene that has led to its classification rating. She then went on to very calmly explain that context was crucial, and “what we are looking at here is an animated story, it is not live content involving an illegal criminal act that is being viewed”.

For what it’s worth, the scene Senator Griff is probably referring to in Sword Art Online: Extra Edition is about 100 minutes in, where Asuna is chained up and her armour removed. It’s definitely creepy, but there’s never full nudity at any point. In the English dub, Sugou’s online avatar talks about getting an “analyser into your hospital room undetected,” but there’s no actual mention of rape.

But I can imagine a ton of people wouldn’t have predicted this. The Director of the Classification Board, the last line of defence for anime in Australia.

What a wild timeline we live in.

Comments

    • She’s not a 14 year old girl. she is not real. but is is one of the most popular characters in one of the most highly influential anime’s in history. So it makes sense to use an iconic character over a flavour of the month random anime image.

      • You all got me wrong. I am not criticising NGE, which is my favourite anime, nor complaining about Asuka’s representation here or anywhere, nor even less, suggesting that she’s real or needs to be protected.

        My point is that we have a bunch of old codgers discussing about this to create policy, based only on talking points and isolated examples. Kotaku’s one of Australia’s major gaming publications so this article could randomly pop up in the debate. It just felt like using this image is unnecessarily stoking that stupid fire.

    • Asuka? She’s not “highly sexualised” in that picture. While there is sexualisation in the anime, it is not at all to the degree of the sexualisation of her character toys and external media. Her sexuality, rather than “sexualisation” in the anime is usually contextualised by character viewpoint.

      • Dude. To begin with, I’m not trying to be puritanical and I love NGE. However, she’s a 14-year-old in a skin-tight suit. Just imagine what you’d think if you saw a kid paraded like that in real life and tell me if it wouldn’t be “sexualising”.

        I understand it makes sense in the context of the series, but we’re speaking here about ignorant people who are looking at images divorced from context. I understand that she’s not real, but we’re talking about people making real policy based on stuff like this, following alarmist and ultraconservative views. Why give them one more decontextualised example, is all I am asking.

  • It’s anime it’s not real leave it alone the Australian government wants there nasty grubby paws on anything and everything it can get, witch is rubbish if you don’t want kids to see or play games rate it R+18 if a parent chooes to let there kids play or watch them it’s got nothing to do with the rest of us my folks didn’t even let us watch the Simpson.

  • Sterling Griff, who I usually like, seems massively underinformed on what anime is. This is as bad a moral panic as anything Stephen Conroy ever proposed. Can someone just sit down with him and watch Spirited Away?

  • This is just an extension of the video game panic.

    People who have never had any real interaction with the entertainment format immediately decide that no adults interact with it and assume that adult content is targeted at children.

  • lol, his apparent inability to understand that the refused classification guidelines refer to depictions of real events and not fictional ones is astonishing.

Log in to comment on this story!