Yet another local TV station has taken on 'sexually explicit' anime (for some previous incidents, see 'Ouch, Another Retailer Sting,' and 'Oops, It Happened Again'). On March 1st, Channel 15 in San Diego aired a report in which they sent a thirteen-year-old boy into Suncoast Video and Tower Records with the express purpose of buying 'adult' anime. At the Suncoast store the boy was able to buy a title designated as 'mature.' The manager of the store defended the purchase noting that the box art did not include nudity. At Tower Records the boy was allowed to purchase a '13 and Up' video, but the clerk would not allow the youngster to purchase a more explicit video which carried an '18 and Up' designation.
The Channel 15 reporter then brought the issue of sexually explicit anime to the attention of the Vice Squad of the San Diego Police Department. A spokesman for the police said that no one had brought these items to their attention before, adding that they would study the situation. Unlike some of the other TV stations that have dealt with this issue, Channel 15 did not consult with anyone who had any expertise in the field of anime. Therefore there was little balance to their report. They managed to get the usual handwringing comments from Gina Holloway of the Citizens for Community Values of San Diego, who was all for prosecuting anyone who would sell these items to adolescents, as well as the shocked reaction of the 13-year-old's mother, who saw no 'redeeming value' to the material 'whatsoever.' As in previous anime 'stings' that we have reported on, the TV reporter made a big deal out the fact that anime videos are 'unrated,' without noting that, since most of them are never theatrically released in this country, they are not eligible for MPAA ratings.
The recent spate of TV station stings was apparently prompted by a New York Times article in late January that first drew national attention to the fact that much of the increasingly popular Japanese animation for sale in specialty stores is not for children (see 'Anime Makes the Front Page'). Given this type of media attention, retailers are cautioned to use effective management techniques to handle products that are directed at older audiences (see 'Avoid Hidden Camera Stings').
One of the interesting sidelights to this piece was the reporter's announcement that there was an anime club at East Lake High School in Chula Vista -- and that, after the TV station contacted the school in connection with the report, the anime club was suspended. ICV2 has learned that the school's investigation of the club uncovered nothing. All the videos screened by the club had been viewed in advance by the club's faculty advisor. However, according to district policy, parental permission slips are required for students to view videos on campus, so the club remains in limbo until the members can receive the required parental permissions. One would hope that recent events in San Diego area high schools would focus school administrators' attention on situations that are more 'dangerous' than an anime club.