Anime Age Rating System and Why Certain Anime is for Adults
The age ratings for some anime is questionable, to say the least. To name a few:
- Death Note
- Attack on Titan
- Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
- Hunter x Hunter
- Mirai Nikki
- Deadman Wonderland
All of the above are shounen (recommended for age 13 to 18) but in some scenes, they CLEARLY cross the boundary into seinen (18+). However, this is based on my UK cultural values and its recognised that other countries’ cultural values may deem these to be acceptable to show to 13-year-olds.
This article is not to be woke and play the ‘I’m offended’ card but is necessary to explain the fact that some anime is really aimed at an older audience which negates the common misguided belief that anime is just for children.
Below summarises the history of anime age ratings and their laws in the USA, UK, Australia, and Japan as well as give my opinion on whether anime is really for children. 🙂
History of Anime Age Ratings
- In the ERA of Blockbuster, VHS (Video Home System) anime publishers wouldn’t put any age rating on their boxes, expect for Hentai.
- Once all the parents complained, Blockbuster just made all anime R-rated which then made life hard to watch anime without any questions from parents.
- With pressure from fans and retailers, they worked with the anime publishers to create the 3+, 13+, and 17+ anime age rating system but were still VERY vague and EASY to manipulate.
- This resulted in worldwide inconsistencies regarding anime age ratings as it was mainly down to the publisher what age rating to use.
- MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America) and BBFC (British Board of Film Classification) were used as an independent body for determining movie ratings at the time but were always deemed UNFAIR. E.g. using swearing to be able to become an 18, making the product look cooler.
- Which has led us to today, where the internet has vastly improved each country’s anime age rating system.
Law of Anime Age Ratings
So what are the rules in place today worldwide that anime distributors need to abide by with regards to anime age ratings?
MPAA has the following ratings:
- G – General Audiences – All ages admitted.
- PG – Parental Guidance Suggested – Some material may not be suitable for children.
- PG-13 – Parents Strongly Cautioned – Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.
- R – Restricted — Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.
- NC-17 – No One 17 and Under Admitted.
A voluntary system sponsored by the MPAA which seems relaxed however in some states, there are laws against showing minors indecent material, i.e. Ohio – Section 2907.31 states:
No person, with knowledge of its character or content, shall recklessly … disseminate, provide, exhibit, rent, or present to a juvenile, a group of juveniles … any material or performance that is obscene or harmful to juveniles.
BBFC has the following ratings:
- U – Suitable for all.
- PG – Parental Guidance.
- 12A/12 – Suitable for 12 years and over.
- 15 – Suitable only for 15 years and over.
- 18 – Suitable only for adults.
- R18 – To be shown only in specially licensed cinemas, or supplied only in licensed sex shops, and to adults only.
In the 1980s, Parliament passed the Video Recordings Act 1984 (VRA), whereby video recordings offered for sale or hire in the UK must be classified by an authority designated by the Secretary of State.
This law focuses on arresting people selling video recordings to people aged below the age rating.
Australian Classification Board (ACB) has the following ratings:
- G – General. The G classification is suitable for everyone.
- PG – Parental Guidance. ‘Not recommended for viewing by people under the age of 15 without guidance from parents, teachers or guardians.’
- 15 – Suitable only for 15 years and over. ‘Children under the age of 15 may legally access this material as the classification rating is an advisory category.’
- MA 15+ – Mature Accompanied. ‘Children under the age of 15 may not legally watch, buy or hire MA 15+ rated material unless they are in the company of a parent or adult guardian. Children under the age of 15 who go to the cinema to see an MA 15+ film must be accompanied by a parent or adult guardian for the duration of the film.’
- R 18+ – Suitable only for adults.
- X 18+ – Suitable only for adults. ‘X 18+ films are only available for sale or hire in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) and some parts of the Northern Territory (NT).
Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Regulations 2005 discusses the requirements for classification of age ratings. It’s illegal to exhibit, attempt to exhibit or sell copies of a film that has been refused classification or to advertise and sell a computer game that has been refused classification.
If there’s a breach of a classification law you can contact the Office of Fair Trading, which investigates these breaches.
- G: General Audiences. All ages admitted.
- PG12 (PG-12): Parental Guidance Requested. ‘Some material may be unsuitable for children under 12. Parents are advised to accompany their children during the film.’
- R15+ (R-15): ‘Restricted to teenagers 15 and over only. Children and teenagers under the age of 15 are banned from viewing the film.’
- R18+ (R-18): ‘Restricted to adults 18 and over only. Children and teenagers under the age of 18 are banned from viewing the film.’
The R15+ and R18+ ratings are age-restricted. All cinemas are LEGALLY required to check the age of all customers who wish to view an R15+ or R18+ rated film. Admitting underage customers to such films is considered a criminal offence and can be punished with fines/imprisonment.
It is illegal to show indecent images of minors under the age of 18 and to show a work that is obscene as well in Japan.
Note: Computer Entertainment Rating Organization (CERO) is used for age rating on games in Japan. There is also a Pan-European Games Information (PEGI) system for games. Wikipedia summarises all the member countries’ PEGI systems clearly.
Related: Sony Acquires Crunchyroll
I did something everyone HOPES no one does it to them…yeah, that’s right, I went into Crunchyroll, Funimation, and AnimeLab’s Privacy Policies!
Jesus that thing, I haven’t even looked at that for about 2 years. 🙂
The main focus of this article has been to explain the rules and regulations on anime age ratings for USA, UK, Australia, and Japan. The rest will detail out whether some anime is for adults or not.
IF YOU ARE UNDER 16 YEARS OF AGE, THEN YOU ARE NOT PERMITTED TO USE OR ACCESS THE SERVICES AT ANY TIME OR IN ANY MANNER WITHOUT AN ADULT’S PERMISSION AND SUPERVISION.
The Website and Services are open to all users aged 13 or above if you are a resident in the United Kingdom and all users aged 16 or above if you are a resident in the Republic of Ireland, but are not intended to be used by children without involvement and approval of a parent or guardian. You must be 18 years of age or above to purchase a Subscription and purchase Products from us.
Within Anime Lab’s Terms and Conditions it states:
In order to access AnimeLab and the Services, you will need to sign up to AnimeLab. You must live in Australia or New Zealand and be at least 13 years of age to subscribe to AnimeLab. There is certain content on AnimeLab which is restricted to users who are over 15 years of age. You will be notified of relevant age restrictions prior to being granted access to certain content. You must provide us with complete and accurate information regarding your age if prompted to do so before viewing any age-restricted content. AnimeLab reserves the right to restrict your access if you are not of a suitable age.
Within D-Anime Usage Rules, hidden in the deepest and darkest part of their website, it states:
When the customer is a minor or the registered user is under the age of 18, and the customer or the registered user himself / herself requests not to use the access restriction service (sp-mode filter). Or, when requesting cancellation of the access restriction service (sp-mode filter), the legal representative of the customer or registered user must submit a separate “filtering service unnecessary request form” specified by the Company.
So in summary, this means that without a parent/guardian present, the anime age rating for each anime distribution website is as follows:
- 16 for Crunchyroll (USA).
- 13 and above for Funimation (UK) or 16 and above in Ireland.
- 13 for AnimeLab (Australia/New Zealand) but can be 15 with certain anime.
- 18 for D-Anime (Japan) with unrestricted access.
Analysing this information, it seems based upon the information above that AnimeLab and D-Anime use age restriction software on their website relative to the user’s age whereas Crunchyroll and Funimation do not. They both rely solely on the parents/ guardians giving permission. However, for Funimation, it is noted that they have a Kid-Safe Anime section on their website.
Looking at the age restrictions, the UK has the lowest age restrictions where 13-year-olds can watch anything with the disclaimer adults permission of course! Where the other countries require you to be 15, 16, or 18 years old.
With Netflix, you can set-up parental controls to require a password if a child tries to access an age-restricted movie (set by their parents/guardians).
As Sony will now own both Crunchyroll and Funimation, I suggest that they implement user restriction software on their website.
But why am I worried about children watching anime which is above their age range set by the legislative laws of the land?
Well, have you ever seen Gantz, Berserk, Deadman Wonderland, Goblin Slayer, Perfect Blue, and the list goes on?
If you HAVE, then you know what I mean.
If you HAVEN’T then I suggest watching Goblin Slayer episode 1 tonight!
Moving on… this article has proved that:
The world (apart from the UK) requires anyone viewing anime to be at least 15 year olds.
So with all of the dark anime being released, I will state to anyone who references that anime is for children to this article and show them that actually, mature anime is for young adults and above.
- The law on anime age ratings within the USA, UK, Australia, and Japan are pretty universal with only a small difference in the enforcement of selling to minors.
- There is a BIG difference in the ‘Usage Requirements’ of each site within each separate country.
- Their needs to be several implementations for the future watchers of anime:
- Sony needs to INCREASE its age restrictions to 15 and/or implement user restriction software.
- Extinguish the archaic saying that ‘anime is for children’ as this is NOT the case.
- There is SO much anime out there I love that is really dark and demented but only those that watch the whole series really see the wonders here for adults. As seen in theGoogle Trends regarding the keyword ‘anime’, it is becoming more and more popular worldwide where I BET that the demographics show that adults are increasingly contributing to this statistic too.
What are your thoughts? Please let me know in the comments.