Mary Skelter Finale last week became the latest game to hit Australia’s banned list. Today, Kotaku Australia can reveal that the game was specifically banned over instances of hypersexualised imagery, including scenes that the Board described as “implied sexual violence” and “exploitative or offensive” depictions of minors.
Mary Skelter Finale, which isn’t due out until sometime this spring in Australia, is the third part of a trilogy dungeon crawler series. In it, players help a cast of characters explore, navigate and survive a paranormal jail where humans are captured and tortured by the supernatural monsters acting as the jail’s wardens. Mary Skelter Finale specifically pits the player in a new jail, battling against Massacre Pink, a group of female assassins that attacks the player’s party after the true ending of Mary Skelter: Nightmares.
It’s functionally a JRPG, but a lot of the themes veer into fan service and sexualised territory. Reviews of Mary Skelter: Nightmares noted sexualised imagery and depictions of “immature” characters, and that’s one of the reasons behind Mary Skelter Finale‘s ban according to the official decision report.
“The game features frequent examples of sexualised imagery throughout, with female characters in tight and sometimes revealing clothing which emphasises the shape of their bodies, especially their breasts,” the Board report says. “Some images feature more overt sexual poses, such as a female in a nightdress on all fours who leans forward to lick the fingers of an outstretched hand. As well as sexualised imagery, cut scenes and dialogue sequences also feature examples of innuendo and sexual suggestion.”
The report then lists content from two separate scenes to make its case, although as is customary, it notes that the examples “do not represent an exhaustive list of the content” that warranted the refused classification rating. The first scene covers a sequence featuring Gretel, Jack, and another female character called Otsuu.
Content warning: the below contains a written description of animated sexual assault.
A depiction of implied sexual violence occurs when Gretel imposes non-consensual sexual attention on a fantasy version of Jack, named Nightmare Jack. Two characters in a corridor have heard the sound of Jack screaming and have stated that this sound is coming from Gretel’s room. A still image then depicts a close-up of Gretel, wearing a blue lacy bra, as she looks down at Jack’s body. Her right hand is pressed against green tendrils which appear to partially cover his abdomen and she smiles and looks down at him. Jack’s right leg is bent and raised to her left, creating the impression that she is kneeling and looking down between his legs. Jaunty music plays continuously and the image remains onscreen while dialogue between Gretel and another female character, Otsuu, scrolls across the bottom of the screen. Otsuu asks, “What are you doing?” and, “Why are you attacking Jack like that?” Gretel replies with, “You’re making it sound worse than it is. I’m just trying to hold him down by force”.
Otsuu says that this actually sounds worse and Gretel explains that she needed him to stay calm for her experiment. Otsuu asks her what this experiment is and Gretel replies, “He is a male, so I was experimenting to see how he would react to a female”. She then goes on to clarify that her intentions are sexual by saying, “Which is why I dressed in this way so that I could arouse his sexual desire”. Otsuu then refers to Jack’s lack of consent, saying, “But look at Jack. It’s obvious he doesn’t like what you’re doing! Isn’t that right Jack?”
Jack responds with, “Ggh…shht…pp” and Otsuu adds, “See? He’s asking you to stop!” The still image then changes to a scene in a bedroom which begins with Gretel saying, “See, I know why Jack isn’t sexually aroused by me,” continuing “I lack the sexual appeal as a female,” implicitly referring to the small size of her breasts. In the Board’s opinion, this sequence consists of a still image and an ongoing dialogue which together constitute a visual depiction of sexual violence, with clear reference made to Jack not consenting to Gretel’s unwanted sexual advances.
The Board’s report then goes on to note a “gallery of still images” featuring various characters in “underwear or nightwear”:
Each character is seen individually, first wearing items of clothing or underwear which place emphasis on their body or breasts. A second image then immediately follows in which the clothing has been rendered transparent, with black shading over the nipples and genital area. In the second image of each female, their cheeks have been shaded pink to give the impression that they are blushing from the removal of their clothing. In several instances, a character is depicted who is much shorter than the other women and who has a distinctly pre-pubescent body, with barely developed breasts and slimmer hips. Their hair is in pigtails and their eyes and facial features are more overtly childlike than some of the other female characters. One such character who appears to be younger than 18 years old, has long blond pigtails and is kicking a leg into the air with her arms outstretched.
The board says that “implied sexual violence that is visually depicted” is barred under Australia’s guidelines for video games, and that any “exploitative of offensive descriptions or depictions” of persons that appear under 18 will also be refused classification.
“In the Board’s view, the game contains a visual depiction of implied sexual violence, in addition to multiple examples of imagery that constitute sexualised depictions of child-like female characters,” the report adds.
Mary Skelter Finale isn’t the first anime game to be refused classification for its depictions of characters. Omega Labyrinth Z was banned in early 2018 for similar depictions, as well as scenes where the player could interact with different regions of characters while they were in sexualised poses. (The UK followed suit, making Omega Labyrinth Z the first game to be banned in the UK since Manhunt 2 in 2008.)
MeiQ: Labyrinth of Death was also banned for allowing what the board described as the “simulation of sexual stimulation of a child”. A game released for the PS Vita, MeiQ also used the Vita’s touchscreen ability to allow players to move “any female character’s breasts” on screen.
“When the player touches Connie in this mode it prompts verbal responses from her – either, “So flat. Super-flat.”, “Smooth”, “Just a little squishy” or two variations of a perturbed “Woah” sound,” the Board’s report said.