South Australian Senator Stirling Griff has made global headlines for a proposal to review anime and manga classifications over fears it glorifies child abuse.
The Centre Alliance crossbencher unveiled his plan on Wednesday, as the AAP reports, calling for a ban on anime and manga, and requesting an urgent overhaul to the Classification Board.
“There is, unfortunately, a dark side and a disgusting side to anime and manga, with a significant proportion of the two media featuring child abuse material,” Griff explained during his speech.
“They contain depictions of wide-eyed children, usually in school uniforms, engaged in explicit sexual activities and poses, and often being sexually abused.”
In 2014, Japan passed a law that banned images of child abuse, though it excluded anime and manga companies from persecution as their works do not portray images of real children, a sentiment that Mr Griff himself challenged.
“Their argument was that imaginary images, unlike real child abuse, mean that no-one is actually hurt,” the Senator explained. “I don’t buy that argument. Child pornography, even in animated form, is child abuse material. There is absolutely no question about it.
In 2018, the Australian Classification Board banned the video game Omega Labyrinth Z, noting that under its guidelines they would refuse classification to games that “describe or depict in a way that is likely to cause offence to a reasonable adult, a person who is, or appears to be, a child under 18 (whether the person is engaged in sexual activity or not).”
During his speech on Wednesday, Mr Griff went on to specifically mention works such as Sword Art Online and Eromanga Sensei, noting that the latter was the “worst anime [his] office discovered”.
“The Classification Board appears to be making decisions in isolation to criminal law. This must stop,” Mr Griff continued (as per a transcript provided to Kotaku). “There is also the issue of explicit manga graphic novels, which are not vetted at all by the Classification Board. Often, the images they contain are more harrowing than anime. This must also change.
“The rape of children is abundant in manga, like the series Goblin Slayer, which, in my office, we showed to a number of people today and they were absolutely horrified. In Goblin Slayer children are often portrayed as frightening or resisting but they’re also shown as enjoying sexual abuse—enjoying it. As I’ve said, experts say that paedophiles are using this material to groom children: ‘Have a look at this; this is normal.’ It’s certainly not normal.”
Closing his speech by noting he has not only contacted the the Minister for Home Affairs and the Minister for Communications, Cyber Safety and the Arts, Mr Griff explained he’s calling for a review of all Japanese anime movies available in Australia, along with the banning of the specific titles he mentioned, and “any other anime and manga featuring the abuse and exploitation of children”.
“The safety and wellbeing of children in Australia must be a paramount consideration for all of us in Australia and across our borders,” he concluded.