Culture Matters:

Australia Bans Hentai

by Roxanne Powell, Neha Pavaskar | Dec 4, 2020

Australia’s Border Force (ABF) has blocked the popular animated form of Japanese pornography, hentai, from entering the country. Besides hentai, other banned items include sex toys, Japanese porn videos, and sexually suggestive figurines—basically, any product marked with a “+18” symbol. This decision followed an increased number of images depicting rape, incest, pedophilia, and sexual abuse.

This is not the first time Australia has expressed concerns with anime and manga: in February 2020, Australian politicians advised its government to analyze classification laws after noticing that Japanese videos and comic books portraying sexual images of children were being sold in the country.

According to The Oxford Dictionary “hentai” is defined as “A subgenre of the Japanese genres of manga and anime, characterized by overtly sexualized characters and sexually explicit images and plots.” In Japanese it means “transformation” or “metamorphosis.” Hentai is available through book (comic) and televised media (anime). Anime is a televised cartoon in the Japanese style, like, “Dragon Ball Z: Dead Zone (1989)” or “Sailor Moon Crystal (2014),” which are considered suitable for both children and adults.

Hentai, on the other hand, is a type of anime that includes provocative material with very explicit images and plots. It is strictly prohibited for children and is aimed at adults only. Compared to western cartoons Japan has developed a distinctive visual, dramatic, and artistic style. The first Japanese cartoons were produced in the early 20th century, but anime became even more popular after World War II.

The popular adult store, J-List, confirmed the ban in an interview with Vice: “DHL Japan called us last week, informing us that Australian customs have started rejecting packages containing any adult product. They then advised us to stop sending adult products to the country. Following that, current Australian orders with adult items in them were returned to us this week.” According to J-List, they have been advised to stop shipments to Australia altogether.

The ABF website also warns travelers from bringing hentai and other types of pornography into the country, including “offensive fetishes, bestiality, child pornography, sexual violence.” Anyone found in violation of this new ban can face a heavy fine, loss of property, or up to 10 years in prison, depending on the strength of the offense.

Australia is not the first country to take a firm stance against pornography; France banned its citizens from accessing popular hentai websites in November 2020.