Censorship A Thread on Light Novels/Manga Banned in Australia (WIP)

Ebicentre

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This thread is a work in progress to catalogue and discuss the light novels, manga and any other piece of Japanese media that have been banned from sale, import, exhibition and ownership by the government-controlled Australian Classification Board (ACB).



BACKGROUND


In late February, 2020, two Senators from the SA-Best Party based in the state of South Australia launched a crusade against Japanese light novels, manga and anime that they deemed to be 'child exploitation material', demanding that the federal government step in to ban the offending media. I made a video at the time debunking the arguments made by Stirling Griff, one of the Senators who kicked off the campaign. As a result of the SA-Best Party's actions, bookstores were harassed, prices for the banned books shot up significantly with the birth of a black market, and Customs Officers have started seizing imported books and submitting them to the Classification Board - this was how almost all volumes of To Love Ru Darkness were banned, with the first and last volumes requiring a literal bag to hide them.

THE LIST OF BANNED MEDIA



CURRENT LEGISLATION REGARDING BANNED/REFUSED CLASSIFICATION MEDIA


Much like the U.S.A., Australia has a(n alleged) separation of federal and state laws. This applies especially to the legality of ownership of media that has been Refused Classification (the definition being that RC media cannot be sold nor publicly displayed in Australia). A more detailed breakdown of RC and the criticisms surrounding it can be found here (PDF file). Below is a yes/no list of states and territories where mere ownership of RC media is illegal (as of 2022).

  • New South Wales (NSW) - No
  • Queensland (QLD) - No
  • Victoria (VIC) - No
  • Tasmania (TAS) - No
  • South Australia (SA) - No
  • Western Australia (WA) - Yes
  • Australian Capital Territory/Canberra (ACT) - No
  • Northern Territory (NT) - Yes

WHERE IS THE SA-BEST PARTY TODAY?


The SA-Best Party ran for office in the March 2022 state election for South Australia. Only 2,171 people voted for them, obtaining zero seats. In the Australian federal election held in May 2022 - running as the Centre Alliance - 36,500 South Australians (3.3% of all preferential votes) awarded them one seat in Federal Parliament. It is safe to say that there is largely no political will from Australian voters to ban offensive Japanese media.


ADDRESSING THE FLAWED LEGAL ARGUMENTS TO BAN MEDIA


The Australian government/Classification Board reserves the exclusive right to regulate/ban/censor any media it desires, provided the reasons fall in line with legislation. The primary reason Japanese media is being scrutinized is in relation to community standards, gross offence and 'depictions of child sexual exploitation'. Here are my criticisms:

  1. Community standards change over time. The Australian community of today is not the same as ten, or even five, years ago. Moral consensus is subject to change for a variety of reasons, rendering the enshrinement of morality utterly useless in this particular scenario.
  2. Community standards are a pointless numbers game. To restrict media based on what is known as the 'reasonable adult test' is merely assuming more people agree with your opinions than disagree. In the event of a court case, both sides would essentially be arguing on the basis that a non-existent referendum from the Australian people said 'yes/no' on the question of banning each and every individual piece of disputed media. The difference here is that, unless enough people can convince the unelected members of the ACB to rescind their initial decision, the government will always side with itself.
  3. There is no evidence of offensive media inflicting harm. The common justification for banning offensive media is that the material in question causes real-world, psychological and even physical harm to vulnerable people. Stirling Griff claimed that 'experts' say media such as No Game No Life are being used by paedophiles to groom children. This is a false equivalence, as I addressed in my video linked above; what the 'experts' have done is equate Japanese media with regular/illegal pornography (which can be used to groom children). The phrase 'can be' is academic-speak for: 'I don't actually know one way or the other, I'm just going off my gut feeling'. There is no academic nor anecdotal evidence to support the argument that anime in particular is responsible for child sexual abuse.
  4. There is no evidence to suggest the banned media is child pornography/inspired by real acts. The ACB has never produced any evidence that the Japanese media in question have been influenced/inspired/traced over, in any way, by real-life acts of child sexual exploitation. Every single decision falls back on Australian law as their argument. No consideration is given for the academic evidence surrounding harmful media and what effects (if any) they have on people. Even if they did consider the evidence it does not matter, because the law simply states that any media which contradicts its moralistic, subjective guidelines must be banned. No-one in a position of power is willing to change/remove the laws responsible.



I'll be coming back to this thread over the next few days, but feel free to contribute any more information you find.
 
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NretsewThePerv

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awesome, glad you are making this thread. as a kiwi I feel for our brothers across the pond who have to deal with this shit. I count myself lucky things are not as bad down here, but we have our own stupidity with the ratings board to have to deal with from time to time

such censorship should not exist in so-called "liberal democracies" but sadly not enough people speak out or seem to care enough for these outdated ideas and boards to be defanged, in the time of the internet where anyone can get their hands on any piece of media in a few clicks having media censored like this serves no purpose and even tho I do think age stickers on physical media have there use. there is no reason for media to be restricted outside of very extreme circumstances, no one is being protected by banning books that are not a problem for 90% of the rest of the world

so yea. hope this thread can be used to help illustrate the issues we down under people have to deal with down here still.
 

Ebicentre

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Update for the OP (23/08/2022):

  • improvements to language/grammar/syntax
  • added a section detailing which Australian states prohibit the ownership of banned media
  • added a section detailing the SA-Best Party/Centre Alliance's electoral results for 2022
  • added a section to address the Australian laws responsible for banning media and why they're flawed
 
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ジエントP

varishangout.com
So does this have any actual affect in acquiring the material in Australia? Can't you just import it into a non-banned state and then ship that over to the other state? Would you have to use Tor or something to view the manga in revelent jurisdictions now? Are customs gonna hold peoples property indefinitely? Would sending it via a proxy country help?
 

Vosgy

varishangout.com
So does this have any actual affect in acquiring the material in Australia? Can't you just import it into a non-banned state and then ship that over to the other state? Would you have to use Tor or something to view the manga in revelent jurisdictions now? Are customs gonna hold peoples property indefinitely? Would sending it via a proxy country help?
Yes, Australian Customs will Confiscate and destroy prohibited items if they find them coming into the country, you can also be fined or charge trying to get them in.
Luckily, less then 2% of imports are checked, though with something that may be banned as CP it might not be a good gamble.
This was more then just listed, they also attempted to get 18+ models banned.

Some of the others pulled physically were:
They require classification, which requires people who want to import and sell them to submit them to the classifications board, that costs money, quite a bit of money too.
Books and publications in Australia typically do not need to go through that classification process unless they "contain sexualized nudity or sexually explicit content." Kinokuniya and other book importers for manga and light novels don't usually go through the process of classification when they're imported from the United States – who use their own system of classifying books – unless it is brought to the attention of the Classification Board
If they are refused classifications they will now get confiscated at customs if found and can no longer be sold legally in the country. You also get none of the money back that you paid.
Also I know from close experience that the board is both incompetent and corrupt, so you know great all round.

Video games are another, I know some companies don't bother getting games classified in AUS because a failure means they can't be imported.
They rely on their fans to just import the game themselves, bypassing the need for classification and the shit stores like EB games etc.
This is normally done on more niche titles.
 
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Ebicentre

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So does this have any actual affect in acquiring the material in Australia? Can't you just import it into a non-banned state and then ship that over to the other state? Would you have to use Tor or something to view the manga in revelent jurisdictions now? Are customs gonna hold peoples property indefinitely? Would sending it via a proxy country help?
To Love Ru Darkness was seized by the Western Australia Border Force and submitted for censorship, so yes, this does have an effect on acquisition and they will keep your property. I plan on submitting a Freedom of Information request with the ACB to find out, but my gut feeling was that Customs opened the box at random, felt offended by the content, and then got it banned. When a book is banned, online retailers will also simply not ship the product to Australia (J-List being one of them). If you wish to view the banned manga, a VPN will suffice for the purposes of hiding your IP address - but generally the police don't follow up on that stuff.

Some of the others pulled physically were:
It's worth mentioning that not all of these books were banned - only No Game No Life. You can still buy Sword Art Online and Goblin Slayer (via online retailers, because bookstores kowtowed and removed the others from shelves) - these are the books targeted by the SA-Best Party.
 

Vosgy

varishangout.com
Are there any more on the chopping block that are being talked about being pulled
No Idea, would probably have to pay attention to the useless politicians in the country to know, fuck that noise.
The initial wave came as a surprise to me.
You run a risk any time you buy something from over seas, if it is opened at customs, they may see it and chuck a fit and try and have it banned.
 

Hellhammer

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Australian Classification Board just banned more To Love Ru Darkness Mangas.
2D91B680-9756-4B91-A2E1-6BA17D46253D.jpeg

Vol. 3: ACB || Archive
Vol. 6: ACB || Archive
Vol. 7: ACB || Archive
Vol. 9: ACB || Archive
 

Vosgy

varishangout.com
Whats with Australia nanny state schtick they've been at it for years. I still remember when they refused to rate tame ass left4dead so the devs had to censor it.

As a side note, does NZ also ban those works?
L4D was always censored, that is why the AUS version had no riot cops, we just got the German version where there weren't allowed.
Also a weird thing with Steam, if you were gifted a US copy you got the uncensored version, it was odd, but how I played the game.

NZ does ban things, not sure how.
For AUS as far as we can tell the Manga volumes only go up for classification if someone complains about them, so someone if monitoring and reporting To Love Ru.
 

NretsewThePerv

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As a side note, does NZ also ban those works?
NZ does ban things, not sure how.

I've not heard any word of NZ banning or refusing to classify these works on my end

something to note is here in NZ we have our own laws and rating board independent of the Aussie one. And tho I have heard they will look at what the Aussies are up to when making their choices. they tend to make their own rulings more based on NZ law

now they are just as much a fucken cancer that should be scraped and the people who willingly work there should be left destitute far as I'm concerned. but in the context of this people should know and remember

  1. New Zeland is not Aussie
  2. New Zeland is an independent nation
  3. New Zeland has its own rating board and laws governing it that are not the same as Aussies
  4. just because the Aussies ban something does not mean it's banned or refused a rating in NZ and it should not be treated as such
I know its a bit of a meme to consider us kiwis to be fake hobbit land but in the context of this kinda news it's important to make sure you know the differences so as to not spread missinfo

ill keep an eye out for any news but unless I see stuff from the NZ rating office I'm gonna assume said works are fine down here for the time being
 

Vosgy

varishangout.com
I've not heard any word of NZ banning or refusing to classify these works on my end

something to note is here in NZ we have our own laws and rating board independent of the Aussie one. And tho I have heard they will look at what the Aussies are up to when making their choices. they tend to make their own rulings more based on NZ law

now they are just as much a fucken cancer that should be scraped and the people who willingly work there should be left destitute far as I'm concerned. but in the context of this people should know and remember

  1. New Zeland is not Aussie
  2. New Zeland is an independent nation
  3. New Zeland has its own rating board and laws governing it that are not the same as Aussies
  4. just because the Aussies ban something does not mean it's banned or refused a rating in NZ and it should not be treated as such
I know its a bit of a meme to consider us kiwis to be fake hobbit land but in the context of this kinda news it's important to make sure you know the differences so as to not spread missinfo

ill keep an eye out for any news but unless I see stuff from the NZ rating office I'm gonna assume said works are fine down here for the time being
Like I said, they do Ban some things, I personally am not sure on how and just reiterated that written media in AUS has to be complained about to get rated, otherwise it is just released.

An old case of TV/Anime media is as follows:

"In December 2004, Puni Puni Poemy was outright banned in New Zealand by the Classification Office on the grounds that it promoted and supported "the exploitation of children and young persons for sexual purposes." Paradoxically, the anime was rated as only MA15+ in neighboring Australia; in light of this, a New Zealand anime fan named Simon Brady appealed to the country’s Film and Literature Board of Review to change the classification.

Brady argued that the characters and events in Puni Puni Poemy were depicted "in the context of outrageous parody" and that as such, it should be protected "as a vehicle for criticism and comment." Nonetheless, the Board upheld its decision in 2005, despite the minority opinion that the production should be allowed in New Zealand under an R16 or R18 classification.

Happily, an update to this ban occurred almost two decades later. In June 2021, a member of the public submitted a request to review the Board’s 2005 decision, which reversed this ruling and re-classified Puni Puni Poemy as an R16 production -- overall, a win for those lobbying not only for this individual anime’s legality but also for the protection of creative expression, overt satire, and freedom of speech."

Nice to see that it has been over turned though :D
 

Narmy

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"In December 2004, Puni Puni Poemy was outright banned in New Zealand by the Classification Office on the grounds that it promoted and supported "the exploitation of children and young persons for sexual purposes." Paradoxically, the anime was rated as only MA15+ in neighboring Australia; in light of this, a New Zealand anime fan named Simon Brady appealed to the country’s Film and Literature Board of Review to change the classification.

Brady argued that the characters and events in Puni Puni Poemy were depicted "in the context of outrageous parody" and that as such, it should be protected "as a vehicle for criticism and comment." Nonetheless, the Board upheld its decision in 2005, despite the minority opinion that the production should be allowed in New Zealand under an R16 or R18 classification.
That is a very strange defense, it's like saying that if it was a serious story it wouldn't be okay. The real defense is that it's fucking fiction and harms absolutely no real children in any way.
 

NretsewThePerv

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That is a very strange defense, it's like saying that if it was a serious story it wouldn't be okay. The real defense is that it's fucking fiction and harms absolutely no real children in any way.

if it were that fucken easy people like us would not need to exist. sadly there are dumb people out there that are convinced otherwise and its our job to get it into there fucken heads out dumb fuck they are


none the less glad to see a case go the right way. but there are many that still dont. and until enough people give a shit to do some for realzy activism around it nothing going to change as to change these laws around censorship we need to get real political power to make the top-down changes needed.

till then best we can do is archive and catalogue cases like this so they can not be forgotten. and to stand and fight when nessacery
 
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