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Banned-in-Canada Visual Novels

edited October 2011 in [Archive] English Bishoujo Game Discussions Posts: 150
In the early summer of last year, some of the visual novels I had imported from Japan were detained by the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) on the grounds of potentially constituting obscenity (material which is demonstrably harmful to society and not merely offensive or in bad taste). In Canada, obscene material cannot legally be brought into the country, so trying to import such material will likely result in its physical destruction 90 days after a verdict has been reached (unless you are able to write a convincing appeal during that time).

While I was waiting for the Agency to finish its review of the titles it had seized, I looked into which titles the CBSA had examined in the past in case an appeal was necessary. I figured I'd share my findings with fellow Canadian visual novel fans to help them avoid potential headaches in the future. If you plan to purchase a visual novel listed under "Prohibited Titles", I highly advise buying the Download Edition instead of the Package Version (or get both for a $5.00 surcharge).

I personally don't agree with some of the verdicts rendered, and several titles have been re-evaluated with different results (the most recent verdicts are shown). Titles that have never been reviewed by the CBSA are not listed for obvious reasons, so this list cannot be considered comprehensive or final.

Admissible Titles
Bazooka Cafe
Come See Me Tonight
Do You Like Horny Bunnies?
Family Project ~Kazoku Keikaku~
Heart de Roommate
Kana -Little Sister-
Let's Meow Meow!
Private Nurse
Viper STG -Limited Edition-
Xchange
Xchange 3
Yume Miru Kusuri: A Drug That Makes You Dream

Prohibited Titles
Absolute Obedience
Cosplay Fetish Academy
Critical Point
Discipline -The Record of a Crusade-
Fatal Relations
Gibo: Stepmother's Sin
Heartwork
Hitomi -My Stepsister-
Idols Galore!
Jewel Knights Crusaders
Lightning Warrior Raidy
Lightning Warrior Raidy II
Little My Maid
Pretty Soldier Wars A.D. 2048
Sensei 2
Slave Pageant
The Sagara Family
Tokimeki Check In!
Tsuki -Possession-
Virgin Roster
Yin-Yang! -Xchange Alternative-

(Compiled from the CBSA's Quarterly Lists of Admissible and Prohibited Titles, republished at Gomorrahy.com. Up-to-date from July 2003 through September 2011.)
Post edited by Unknown User on
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Comments

  • Posts: 192
    How is Tokimeki Check-In banned and X-Change allowed? That's mindblowing. X-Change had a lot of non-consensual sex, while Tokimeki has, IIRC, one rape scene (and it's actually a yuri one). I may be forgetting something, though. It's been a long time since I played Tokimeki Check-In.
  • Posts: 150
    Russo_Turisto" said:
    How is Tokimeki Check-In banned and X-Change allowed? That's mindblowing. X-Change had a lot of non-consensual sex, while Tokimeki has, IIRC, one rape scene (and it's actually a yuri one). I may be forgetting something, though. It's been a long time since I played Tokimeki Check-In.
    I know, it's ridiculous. This is one of the many reasons why I act on principle rather than out of any regard for the law (the fact that it's illegal to have English and French in the same size on public signs in the province I live in is testament to that).

    I could tell right off the bat that something was fishy with these verdicts since one of Xchange's apparent claims to fame is its "rape bus". I haven't played through any of the Crowd titles for more than a few minutes each (so, please, no spoilers!), but, from what I've seen of Tokimeki Check-In, I'd have an easier time defending it than one of my all-time favorites, Crescendo. Material isn't considered obscene if the offensive content serves a purpose other than "being there for the sake of being there" (ie: social commentary, strong narrative justification, character development, etc.). I'm pleased to report that I already own a copy of Tokimeki Check-In, so I'm not worried about missing out. Given how JAST and J-List labels its packages, I doubt that any of its exports would be subject to a random search. In fact, the only parcels I've ever had inspected by the CBSA were from Himeya (three times, as I recall, and they didn't detain anything the first two times around).

    When three of the titles in my last order from Himeya were detained, I contacted the fan translators for their advice in the event that I'd have to file an appeal. One of the translators was humbled by my request and said he'd be honored to defend the artistic merits of a work he regarded as a masterpiece. It's a shame that this proved to be unnecessary; because the reviewers weren't able to play the games (OS compatibility issues, apparently), they ruled in favor of freedom of expression. In other words, we won by default.
  • Posts: 171
    Never thought OS compatibility issues would actually prove to be useful. :lol:
  • edited March 2011 Posts: 38
    Do you like horny bunnies? is allowed while The Sagara Family is not !? aren't they both ...nukige? well...The Sagara Family does have that family incest genre?

    Though i'm glad i bought The Sagara Family back in the convention :lol: . Take that!
    Post edited by Astraea127 on
  • KannaKanna Barrel Haxor
    Posts: 23
    On the other hand, I can safely say that School Days, Cross Days, and School Days HQ is admissible in Canada. I'm pretty sure one of the officers tried to install and play School Days because when I got it there was no shrinkwrap and the manual was sitting outside the game box.
  • Posts: 38
    by the way, what if i live in Canada and buy something from Jast USA (say The Sagara Family) online store. If they ship it to where I live (in Canada), than the game is banned?

    Than what are the means in me getting the game other than conventions? :(
  • Posts: 1,597
    Well, that's one of the benefits to buying the download version (when there are download versions) ... the powers that be aren't that good at filtering internet purchases. yet.
  • Posts: 1,521
    Kanna" said:
    On the other hand, I can safely say that School Days, Cross Days, and School Days HQ is admissible in Canada. I'm pretty sure one of the officers tried to install and play School Days because when I got it there was no shrinkwrap and the manual was sitting outside the game box.
    that is good for people that want the english version
  • Posts: 150
    According to the CBSA, a title is considered obscene if its dominant characteristic is an undue exploitation of sex. Indicators that a work exploits sex are descriptions and/or depictions of the following:
    - sex with degradation (urination, defecation, vomiting, ridicule, and/or humiliation)
    - sex with (deliberately-inflicted, non-consensual) pain
    - sexual assault
    - sex with violence
    - the taking of life for the purpose of sexual arousal
    - incest
    - bestiality
    - necrophilia

    However, the inclusion of any of the above does not automatically make a work obscene. A work is not considered obscene if the offending content is deemed "internally necessary"; that is to say, its inclusion in the work serves a greater narrative, literary, or artistic purpose that society could view in a positive light.

    (Source: Memorandum D9-1-1 - The CBSA's Policy on the Classification of Obscene Material [PDF])

    To use an example from Crescendo,
    Spoiler:
    when Ryo loses control of himself after learning that he is adopted and rapes Ayame in a fit of rage, this isn't done for the sake of including a rape scene; it is an important event that has serious consequences on the story and its characters, including the deaths of Ayame's parents and a drastic change in Ryo and Ayame's relationship. This unresolved strain becomes the primary focus of Ayame's route.
    Removing the inciting element from the story causes an otherwise strong and substantial narrative to fall apart, so its inclusion easily passes the Internal Necessities Test. The same could be said regarding
    Spoiler:
    Sakura's years of abuse
    in the Heavens Feel route of Fate / Stay Night.
    Astraea127" said:
    Do you like horby bunnies? is allowed while The Sagara Family is not !? aren't they both ...nukige? well...The Sagara Family does have that family incest genre?

    Though i'm glad i bought The Sagara Family back in the convention :lol: . Take that!
    I can think of a couple reasons why The Sagara Family would be considered obscene. First off, the majority of the game plays with the subject of sister-on-sister and mother-on-daughter incest. Second, Ruruka's character design makes it very hard to defend the game against allegations of child pornography. Let's not forget that she is
    Spoiler:
    nearly raped by a stalker
    during her endgame. Third, Arisa and Maria are
    Spoiler:
    sexually exploited by the kindergarten director
    during their respective routes. Since The Sagara Family is a sex romp with an excuse plot, it's really difficult to claim that any of this content has any literary value.

    I should note that Canadian law rules on whether a person or character appears to be underage, not whether they actually are, so changing a character's age or covering them up only compromises the author's original vision without achieving anything else (in case you were wondering why I'm adamantly opposed to censorship).
    Astraea127" said:
    by the way, what if i live in Canada and buy something from Jast USA (say The Sagara Family) online store. If they ship it to where I live (in Canada), than the game is banned?

    Than what are the means in me getting the game other than conventions? :(
    If you've successfully purchased a title from the Prohibited list above, you've successfully smuggled contraband into the country. While technically illegal, it's not like the cops will barge down your door for owning one or two obscene games. If you bought them for the sake of selling them, though...
    Kanna" said:
    On the other hand, I can safely say that School Days, Cross Days, and School Days HQ is admissible in Canada. I'm pretty sure one of the officers tried to install and play School Days because when I got it there was no shrinkwrap and the manual was sitting outside the game box.
    Not necessarily. If the package was opened, that just means that the customs officer wasn't sure if the title needed to be detained for review or not. If you received your games instead of a Notice of Detention, then that means that the officer changed his mind after looking at the internal packaging and didn't bother subjecting the titles to a full review.

    If you'll pardon the metaphor, you can't claim the 0verflow games passed when they didn't even take the test.
    papillon" said:
    Well, that's one of the benefits to buying the download version (when there are download versions) ... the powers that be aren't that good at filtering internet purchases. yet.
    Agreed. I personally avoid download editions since I can't use them on my laptop, but you'll never hear me say that downloadable purchases are a bad idea. I'm surprised JAST doesn't make use of this to allow for uncut versions of games. The retail version of Indigo Prophecy is censored and rated M, whereas Fahrenheit ~Indigo Prophecy Director's Cut~, the download edition, is uncut and rated AO. I see no reason why Family Project or Xchange 3 couldn't have been released uncut via download.
    Guest" said:
    Never thought OS compatibility issues would actually prove to be useful. :lol:
    True enough, but it's more like a lack of East Asian Language support, as far as I can tell. I'm just a little disappointed that we won a fight because of a technicality when the odds of earning that victory were in our favor.
  • Posts: 2,842
    I've bought and imported hundreds (literally) of eroge into a country where they cannot legally be sold and not once have the seals been broken / the game attempted to be played. I'm amazed Canada would go to such lengths. What are they afraid of?
  • Posts: 241
    Canada are thinking of the children, they're afraid that they might accidentally see a single cg and be scarred and be on mental rehab for the rest of her life.

    I think that's the reasoning of their stuff anyways. Most of the laws is passed in "interest of your safety." When its more of , we don't like this, therefore you can't enjoy it because we said so.
  • sanahtligsanahtlig MOD Hand of the King
    Posts: 2,884
    TDOMMX" said:
    According to the CBSA, a title is considered obscene if its dominant characteristic is an undue exploitation of sex. Indicators that a work exploits sex are descriptions and/or depictions of the following:
    - sex with degradation (urination, defecation, vomiting, ridicule, and/or humiliation)
    - sex with (deliberately-inflicted, non-consensual) pain
    - sexual assault
    - sex with violence
    - the taking of life for the purpose of sexual arousal
    - incest
    - bestiality
    - necrophilia
    What about lolicon?
  • Posts: 150
    Dark_Shiki" said:
    What about lolicon?
    "The following goods, insofar as they may constitute "undue" exploitation of sex within the meaning of the terms as set forth above, may be classified under tariff item No. 9899.00.00 and their importation into Canada may be prohibited: [...] goods describing sexual acts involving children or juveniles, and depictions or descriptions of children or juveniles in total or partial undress, alone or in the presence of other persons, and in which the context is even slightly sexually suggestive. Children and juveniles are persons actually or apparently under the age of 18 [...]"
    - Memorandum D9-1-1, February 1998

    "Note: Depictions and descriptions of sexual activities involving children and/or juveniles (persons under the age of 18) will generally constitute child pornography."
    - Memorandum D9-1-1, February 2008

    Underage sexual content was originally listed on the "obscenity checklist", but has since been removed. This is because the importation of child pornography is met with a stricter punishment than importation of obscenity (prison term vs. confiscation). Such content is still reviewed on a case-by-case basis, allowing works like Vladimir Nakovov's Lolita to be imported because of its literary value. I'm certain School Days would fall under this category if the ages of the characters were ever brought up (and, in the cases of Setsuna and Kokoro, their ages don't need to be mentioned since they clearly look underage). Since the characters' immaturity is a major plot point, this would pass the Internal Necessities Test.
  • Posts: 241
    Come to think of it, what do Custom goods do with confiscated goods?
  • NargrakhanNargrakhan Lurker
    Posts: 6,466
    Ericridge" said:
    Come to think of it, what do Custom goods do with confiscated goods?
    I suppose they either store them for evidence (if they plan to press charges) or outright destroy them (if they're not).

    A rare few might just keep and play them. :P :wink:
  • Posts: 150
    Ericridge" said:
    Come to think of it, what do Custom goods do with confiscated goods?
    Once a Notice of Determination is sent identifying the goods as obscene, the CBSA stores the prohibited items until the importer decides their next course of action. The importer is given three options:

    1) Appeal the decision by showing how the detained goods pass either the Community Standards of Tolerance Test or the Internal Necessities Test (a work must fail both tests to be deemed obscene). This must be done in writing within 90 days of the date of determination. A well-substantiated argument results in the determination being overturned and the goods being released, while a poor one forces the importer to select one of the remaining options.

    2) Return the goods to their point of origin. This is done entirely at the importer's expense (usually $50). Again, arrangements must be made with the CBSA within a period of 90 days. You need to confirm if the retailer accepts returns for opened goods or you're wasting your money.

    3) Forfeit the goods to the CBSA. The CBSA may retain up to ten copies of contraband material for reference in future reviews, at its discretion. All other copies are physically destroyed. If the importer does not contact the CBSA before 90 days have elapsed, this option is chosen by default.

    I should note that the CBSA handles obscenity and political / hate propaganda in the exact same manner and prints its determinations in the same notices and publications.
    Nargrakhan" said:
    I suppose they either store them for evidence (if they plan to press charges) or outright destroy them (if they're not).

    A rare few might just keep and play them. :P :wink:
    Storing the goods as evidence only applies if the detained goods constitute child pornography. The private appropriation of detained material, contraband or not, is illegal, so keeping a game for their own use is definitely a criminal offense.
  • sanahtligsanahtlig MOD Hand of the King
    Posts: 2,884
    TDOMMX" said:
    [quote="Dark_Shiki"]What about lolicon?
    "The following goods, insofar as they may constitute "undue" exploitation of sex within the meaning of the terms as set forth above, may be classified under tariff item No. 9899.00.00 and their importation into Canada may be prohibited: [...] goods describing sexual acts involving children or juveniles, and depictions or descriptions of children or juveniles in total or partial undress, alone or in the presence of other persons, and in which the context is even slightly sexually suggestive. Children and juveniles are persons actually or apparently under the age of 18 [...]"
    - Memorandum D9-1-1, February 1998

    "Note: Depictions and descriptions of sexual activities involving children and/or juveniles (persons under the age of 18) will generally constitute child pornography."
    - Memorandum D9-1-1, February 2008

    Underage sexual content was originally listed on the "obscenity checklist", but has since been removed. This is because the importation of child pornography is met with a stricter punishment than importation of obscenity (prison term vs. confiscation). Such content is still reviewed on a case-by-case basis, allowing works like Vladimir Nakovov's Lolita to be imported because of its literary value. I'm certain School Days would fall under this category if the ages of the characters were ever brought up (and, in the cases of Setsuna and Kokoro, their ages don't need to be mentioned since they clearly look underage). Since the characters' immaturity is a major plot point, this would pass the Internal Necessities Test.[/quote]
    Sounds similar to American law in fact if not word...except the Canadians seem serious about it. Yikes.

    Note to self: When the draft notice comes, don't flee to Canada. Find a country with a less oppressive regime. Like Australia.
  • NandemonaiNandemonai Kohai
    Posts: 5,822
    I wouldn't recommend that. About 10 years ago someone on the board here abruptly disappeared after customs raided his house.

    viewtopic.php?f=14&t=2456&p=44924#p44924
  • Posts: 2,842
    Yeah, uh, I seriously wouldn't move to Australia if you want a less oppressive regime. The stuff is not legal and you could easily get unlucky like that guy did. I've been lucky, as has Ignosco and a lot of other people I know, and haven't had any problems, but you never know.

    The classification system is presently undergoing a revision and it's looking like we might at least have an 18+ for video games in the latter half of this year, but RC would still apply to a lot of eroge so we're not out of the woods yet.

    Sweden might be a good choice. They have fairly limited censorship compared to other first-world countries.
  • Posts: 241
    So thanks to this thread, I actually went and did research of customs, I now understand it cracks down on the drug and illegal animal smuggling.

    However, it goes overboard sometimes.

    In fact, I've had one of my luggage seized and searched by customs once. And they fucking confiscated two pairs of pajamas's once. Only slightly offensive thing I could think of it is that, they're flannel patterned. One of em was blue patterned while other one was green patterned, or was it brown patterned? I fucking forgot.

    Ever since that happened, I blacklisted customs. Coz what they did was robbery. I had to sleep without pajamases I they fucking owe me a week of good night sleep. And I never fly with a luggage, except for a backpack at very least, if they try to seize anything , even food something that i'm going to eat, I will resist them and eat it right on the spot just to spite them. They'll have to confiscate my still beating stomach, I'm pretty sure, live evisceration won't go very well with the public.

    Still, confiscated pajamases, out of all things?

    Edit: What's more, I was flying back to the state where I bought the pajamases at, I didn't travel out of country at all whatsoever.
  • edited March 2011 Posts: 101
    Nargrakhan" said:
    [quote="Ericridge"]Come to think of it, what do Custom goods do with confiscated goods?
    I suppose they either store them for evidence (if they plan to press charges) or outright destroy them (if they're not).

    A rare few might just keep and play them. :P :wink:[/quote]
    I've seen stuff that was seized by customs (and sent for destruction) reappear again. And no, I am not making a joke.

    for all this "we have to stop p0rn from entering", the custom guys like to watch it themselves :lol:

    EDIT: removed the bit that was offtopic
    Post edited by stranger on
  • Posts: 171
    Lancer-x" said:
    Sweden might be a good choice. They have fairly limited censorship compared to other first-world countries.
    I think I have already mentioned how Denmark is a pervert's paradise. They have 0 censorship apart from child pornography AND they don't consider 2d lolis as child pornography. Sweden does. >_<

    Go Denmark! Boo Sweden!
  • Posts: 2,066
    TDOMMX" said:
    Storing the goods as evidence only applies if the detained goods constitute child pornography. The private appropriation of detained material, contraband or not, is illegal, so keeping a game for their own use is definitely a criminal offense.
    I think he was saying there that someone would abuse their power. We see this in other sectors, so I'd say its not impossible here either.
  • Posts: 37
    I think censorship over porn is yet another instance of 'form over substance'. Except for serious cases like occasionally busting child p0rn rings, the authority tend to go after those who are 'easy catch', such as isolated passangers going through airport security. At the same time, they have to at least pretend to be listening to the segment of voters who get freaked out whenever there is even a suggestion of p0rn.

    Even before the era of broadband internet, I should point out that p0rn was not terribly difficult to obtain. For example, I was with my buddy at his home. We had nothing else to do, so he went to a neighbor to borrow a bunch of video tapes. I thought he was going to borrow typial stuffs like sci-fi and action flicks. No! He brought a stash of p0rn tapes! Later, it turned out that the guy who owned these video tapes went out for an errand and his parents did not bother to check up on the titles of the tapes borrowed! After these tapes were returned, the neighbor hardly said anything bad about it ... no big deal.

    Speaking of 'substance over form' -- not very likely for the authority to go after p0rn industries in any significant way: Economics. A while back, a classmate of mine did a short presentation on p0rn industry for our economics class. It is a big business. Top four revenue-makers: China, Japan, South Korea, the US. (These big four are also among the largest trading countries in the world!) Hehe ...
  • Posts: 597
    Dark_Shiki" said:
    [quote="TDOMMX"][quote="Dark_Shiki"]What about lolicon?
    "The following goods, insofar as they may constitute "undue" exploitation of sex within the meaning of the terms as set forth above, may be classified under tariff item No. 9899.00.00 and their importation into Canada may be prohibited: [...] goods describing sexual acts involving children or juveniles, and depictions or descriptions of children or juveniles in total or partial undress, alone or in the presence of other persons, and in which the context is even slightly sexually suggestive. Children and juveniles are persons actually or apparently under the age of 18 [...]"
    - Memorandum D9-1-1, February 1998

    "Note: Depictions and descriptions of sexual activities involving children and/or juveniles (persons under the age of 18) will generally constitute child pornography."
    - Memorandum D9-1-1, February 2008

    Underage sexual content was originally listed on the "obscenity checklist", but has since been removed. This is because the importation of child pornography is met with a stricter punishment than importation of obscenity (prison term vs. confiscation). Such content is still reviewed on a case-by-case basis, allowing works like Vladimir Nakovov's Lolita to be imported because of its literary value. I'm certain School Days would fall under this category if the ages of the characters were ever brought up (and, in the cases of Setsuna and Kokoro, their ages don't need to be mentioned since they clearly look underage). Since the characters' immaturity is a major plot point, this would pass the Internal Necessities Test.[/quote]
    Sounds similar to American law in fact if not word...except the Canadians seem serious about it. Yikes.

    Note to self: When the draft notice comes, don't flee to Canada. Find a country with a less oppressive regime. Like Australia.[/quote]

    I'm not sure where you live now, but I really think this song is appropriate:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IhnUgAaea4M
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