A Small Victory for the Pro-Anime Side
Following the recent call to action from crossbench Senator Stirling Griff to re-evaluate and even possibly ban anime in Australia, the Classification Board for the country has released a statement in response.
This response came after Senator Griff claimed the Classification Board was making decisions “in isolation to criminal law.” Because of this, the Classification Board director Margaret Anderson has now responded to Senator Griff by stating the boards duty is “not an assessment of the genre type” or whether anime “depicts ‘real’ people or animated characters”. Director Anderson responded to the Senators remarks with confirmation she and the board were aware of the classification of anime and manga. She claimed to be in support of classifying manga under Australian Classification Law as it currently is not but had a different response in regards to anime. Anderson stated that there is no separate classification for anime than regular film and that they both fall under the same system of classification.
“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,”-Classification Board Director, Margaret Anderson.
This essentially means that anime is reviewed and classified the same way that actual film with real people is. The Classification Board does not separate anime from non-anime, which some criticize as inefficient but most say is fair.
Now looking at all this, people have considered this a victory for the anti-Griff side, but I think it should be looked at a bit more carefully. The Classification Board denied part of Senator Griff’s concerns regarding classification, but they didn’t outright dismiss him entirely. Manga is up to be brought under classification now, and with time this could turn into an issue given the provocative themes of some manga. It’s also important to note that the Classification Board did not address many of Senator Griff’s points about “depiction of the exploitation of minors.” While on paper, this can be seen as a win I don’t think this is the end of the issue at all. We’ll have to keep an eye on this and see where things go from here, this can’t be the end of the issue. I’ll post the entire response from the Classification Board below.
“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 offenses 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