One of Australia’s largest manga distributors, Kinokuniya, has pulled several titles following complaints from a South Australia politician.
Connie Bonaros, a member of the SA Best party, wrote to Kinokuniya raising complaints that the book retailer was selling “kiddie-porn manga”, according to a story posted in the Advertiser late Sunday night. The letter from Ms Bonaros prompted a reply from Kinokuniya’s vice president Keijro Mori, who confirmed that the retailer would pull seven manga series.
“Staff have been provided with updated special-order guidelines to ensure that these titles are no longer available to order into the store,” Mori told Bonaros. Mori confirmed that the books would be pulled from Kinokuniya’s Sydney store, and that the staff “are now tackling this issue as a team”.
The manga series pulled include:
- Eromanga Sensei
- Sword Art Online
- Goblin Slayer
- No Game No Life
- Inside Mari
- Parallel Paradise
- Dragonar Academy
“We are communicating with the Australian Classification Board about this issue, to better understand what content requires submission for classification,” the Kinokuniya Vice President said.
Ms Bonaros is a former chief of staff to South Australian senator Stirling Griff, who earlier this year called on the Classification Board to re-review the classification of all manga and anime in Australia. The senator went on to call for the ban of Sword Art Online: Extra Edition for “undoubtedly [featuring] the abuse of children”, and he grilled Classification Board director Margaret Anderson at a Senate Estimates committee over the classification over certain titles.
The exchange led to a patient and terse back and forth between the senator and the Classification Board director, with the latter explaining how content is reviewed in Australia.
What I learned last night about how the Classification Board approaches its work and how it treats child abuse material in animation and books: • The head of the Classification Board Margaret Anderson said it is not uncommon in some Japanese anime for children to be sexualised and for it to be acceptable in the context of a story (!) • Not all members of the Classification Board are legally trained yet they are required to make decisions that are ‘good in law’.• Only one reviewer makes a classification decision.• Reviewers only choose the most impactful scenes to demonstrate the classification decision they have made, but in some cases have left out the most impactful scenes.• All films and video games are required to be submitted for classification – yet with publications, including manga (graphic novels), the onus is on the distributor to decide if the publication needs to be submitted.
Posted by Senator Stirling Griff on Tuesday, 3 March 2020
I’ve asked Kinokuniya to outline what the “special-order guidelines” supposedly are, and whether titles will still be available online, or just pulled from physical release. Kinokuniya Australia hadn’t replied at the time of writing, but I’ll update this post should they reply.
Here’s the letter from the South Australian MP to Kinokuniya in full:
Dear Mr Mori,
Earlier this year I wrote to your Chairman and CEO, Mr Masashi Takai, raising concerns about child exploitation material being sold over the counter in the Kinokuniya bookstore in the Sydney CBD. My investigation also found other well-known retail outlets selling similar offensive material over the counter and online in Australia – and presumably overseas via the internet.
The offensive and illegal material was found in a range of books featuring depictions of wide-eyed ‘children’ – childlike in stature but engaged in extremely explicit sexual activities. Some of the predominantly female characters in these books are wearing school uniforms and innocent expressions as they engage in sometimes violent sex acts with dominant characters including incest and rape.
Despite clearly being in breach of the definition of child abuse and exploitation material under both commonwealth and state law in Australia, I was horrified child pornography material is freely available in Australia. Noting the extreme level of concern both domestically and internationally about child protection and child exploitation, I asked Mr Takai to immediately remove these offensive books from sale as a matter of urgency.
You personally responded very swiftly to my concerns advising me that Kinokuniya had reviewed and removed several titles “from our shelves, as well as our online catalogue.”
Further, you advised the company will continue to monitor the titles it stocks in order to ensure their contents is appropriate. I write today to congratulate Kinokuniya on taking such decisive and immediate action, and taking a lead role in this most critical area. I also write seeking some clarification of the removal of the offending books. Specifically, can you please advise whether the titles have only been removed from sale from your only Australian store, or if the ban is broader.
If it is broader, can you please provide a list of the countries where the offending titles have been removed from sale. If possible, could you also please provide a list of the number of book titles impacted by your decisive action. Given the seemingly widespread availability for sale of this kind of illegal child exploitation material, a powerful opportunity exists for Kinokuniya to take a globally-leading role in taking a stand in tackling the scourge of global child exploitation.
Again, I congratulated Kinokuniya taking such strong and decisive action in this space. I will continue to keep a keen interest in your company. Together, we can all make a difference. I look forward to hearing from you.
Hon. Connie Bonaros MLC
Below is the full response from Kinokuniya’s Vice President:
In response to your question, the below series have been removed from sale in the Sydney store:
• Sword Art Online
• Eromanga Sensei
• NO GAME NO LIFE
• GOBLIN SLAYER
• Inside Mari
• Dragonar Academy
• Parallel Paradise
This equates to several hundred individual titles.
We are communicating with the Australian Classification Board about this issue, to better understand what content requires submission for classification. And we are continuing to monitor titles we carry as well as new orders for sensitive material. We have shared the concern about these issues with the staff in the Sydney Store, who have responded proactively and are now tackling this issue as a team.
In terms of our action globally, wherever our stores are situated we respect local law and culture, and make ordering decisions respectively and accordingly.
We do hope this answers your question.
Keijiro Mori Vice President Kinokuniya Company Ltd.