The danger of importing erotic games

Written by Rooke

This is an opinion piece and represents the opinion of the author. It does not indicate one way or another the stance or policy of the Fuwanovel community.

I begin with some sad news. A popular and valuable member of the translation community was detained, and later charged, after he attempted to import obscene visual novels into Canada. Customs stopped his mail, thoroughly investigated his items, and then hauled him in for a lengthy interrogation – an interrogation probably conducted by angry, shouty men wearing rubber gloves, who take great satisfaction in shining bright lights into people’s faces. Our beloved friend did not leave unscathed. Therefore, I think it is an excellent time to issue a warning about the perils of importing certain types of pornography into a country which has strict obscenity or child pornography laws.

Contrary to what some internet Joes want you to think, customs DO have the power to open your packages and play all your pervy sex games. If they deem your games to be illegal they can then issue you with an intimidating letter, have your place searched, have you charged, and basically make your life a misery for however long they wish.

But you are not without options. At any point during the above procedure you could choose to launch a 3 hour diatribe accompanied by many flappy arm movements. You could start by saying your country’s laws are draconian, continue by saying nobody was even hurt by this “crime”, and conclude that this is not right and there’s no justice. This will get results – usually the initiation of a rigorous cavity search and a lengthening of your overall misery.

I know it disappoints a lot of people but not every country is like Japan, and sadly you’ll have to live with that fact. In some countries, possessing cartoon depictions of child pornography will net you a criminal record, as will possessing material the law deems obscene.

“AHA!” you might trumpet, as you point to an anime character in your hentai movie. “This girl may attend middle school, and she may look, dress, and behave just like a typical middle-schooler, but it says in the show she’s 459 years old. And she has magic powers, so her age is consistent in a narrative sense. Logically child pornography charges could never be applied when the subject in question is a centuries-old minion of Satan!”


Well depending on the country you live in, you’d be wrong. In certain places a character need only look underage, or be simulating/alluding to being underage, for you to be dubbed a miscreant and fined many thousands of your hard-earned dollars.

Because of the very real and potentially career crippling consequences involved, people should take steps to minimise the risks they face. Unfortunately this can only mean one thing: you must thoroughly and comprehensively research your country’s laws (I suggest giving extra attention to your country’s Obscenity and Child Pornography laws.) This will make you more informed, which will allow you to take the necessary steps to stay safe. I say “unfortunately” because this will require reading page after page of stuff like this:


And that’s why I, like a proper adult, paid someone to research it for me! Someone who thoughtfully condensed many pages of legalese down to a single, easy to read sentence. A sentence which contained quite a few exclamation marks, and many different synonyms for the word “idiot,” but it helped me greatly:

After careful consideration, I have decided not to reproduce the sentence due to its extreme content. -Zaka

At the end of the day the legal system is a powerful entity, not a system to scoff at, and they have more than enough power to completely ruin your life. Prevention is better than whatever Customs will do to you if caught, so get informed, minimise risks, protect yourselves, and stay safe.

As for myself I will be purchasing only the digital versions of erotic games from now on, and to keep the police away I have also installed a state-of-the-art, anti-police-personnel defence system on my property.  A system which sounds complicated and contains many, many hyphens, but the common folk call them “Rottweilers” and I now have 3 of them!


In 2010 an American man was sentenced to six months’ imprisonment under the 2003 Protect Act. His crime? Possessing manga depicting “obscene visual representations of the sexual abuse of children.” So even though the First Amendment offers some protection for American citizens, that protection isn’t absolute and caution still needs to be applied.

Correction 10/4: The man was not convicted; he made a plea bargain. The distinction is important as guilty pleas do not set legal precedent.

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  • My condolences to whomever was apprehended, that gotta suck major dinosaur balls :/
    I really wanna know what that sentence is…
    And the rottweilers protecting your porn? Can you win more than that? (claps with a tear in the corner of an eye)

  • Sad news indeed.
    Well, I only import physical goods from Jast which are legal on the US.
    The “hard to explain” VN’s are well protected on external drives using cryptography.

    • Same. Jastusa, or it’s partner Jlist. Or Mangagamer. All of these are legal USA companies, which covers yer ass. I’ve bought a few from Amazon, but none have lolis that I know of. Grisaia does, but I bought that from Jlist.

  • Sad and troubling to hear such news, to be sure. My best wishes to our Canadian friend and the hope that he manages through in one piece.

  • It’s quite reassuring to know various goverments pay so much attention to seek out people, who like to look at airbrushed images of reproductive organs, while real sex offenders are on the loose.

  • tbh I get why they did it. It’s creepy to me that full grown men are playing games to please their little sister fetishes and to get off to OBVIOUSLY underage girls. Just because they are five hundred years old doesn’t excuse the ten year old appearance. It’s creepy.
    Now, was anyone hurt in the making of the game? No. And this translator – was he some sexually deviant intending to molest little girls? Seriously doubt it. I would honestly prefer people harmlessly playing games with underage sex options in it.
    But seriously
    “Let’s arrest this guy for a video game with underage girls in it.”
    And at the same time, we glorify the oversexualization of underage children?
    Wow ok

    • Not all lolicons are full grown men. I’ve been one since I was 16. I’m 21 now and I honestly don’t see anything wrong with it as long as it’s vanilla (I’m personally very opposed to sexualization of rape/abuse, regardless of whether or not the victim looks young). My ex-girlfriend is super tiny and cute, and she’s the same age as me. Admittedly I’m turned on by bigger curves just as much as the next guy, but the romantic side of me often finds the loli-type characters more attractive because of their innocent and sweet personality. In my opinion there are way too many big-boobed airheads and abusive tsunderes in anime, and I rarely find them interesting romantic partners in bishoujo games. The 1000-year old lolis are often the ones with the most interesting backstories and personalities. Not to mention they’re adorable.

      • Honestly, I see no real issue with cartoon loli art. Its a cartoon, its not a real person and IMO no country should be able to arrest you for cartoon images of anything. its just stupid. I live in canada myself. you’d think insted of wasting taxpayer money to nail a guy for cartoons they’d be using it to go after people producing live real child porn. Or drug dealers, or the various other things that should be more important than going after some guy importing a videogame.

    • Nah, I was just issuing a warning that importing certain VNs could put people on the wrong side of the law. I DID tell people to minimise risks, but that can mean many things including not touching games your country considers illegal *shrugs*.

    • Even if you agree with the above quoted depiction of “child pornography”, I would still argue it’s treading on proverbial ice to call it that since there’s no specific person to represent, but rather the generalization of one’s idea of a potential person.

  • I wish there was a method to gradually have the laws re-examined. Without implicating oneself by questioning said laws.

    There is a serious difference between reality and a cartoon – do people get charged with murder, for playing Hatred? That same concept should apply universally.

    It make be sick and immoral to some, but it is a private matter that has zero affect on a 3rd party. (setting aside the rare few that are crazy and are influenced negatively by such things – but they would have been influenced by books and movies jsut as easily, in that case)

  • /sigh with stuff like this, it’s the thought that counts, in my opinion. So, if you have content depicting a character like in your picture, who is over 400, then it’s kinda silly to be worried about the person’s apparent age. I’m 33 going on 34, and people still ask me if I’m old enough to smoke. Makes you think, right?

  • “In 2010 an American man was convicted under the 2003 Protect Act and jailed for 6 months. ”

    This statement is false. Christopher Handley was not convicted–he pled guilty. This point is important because guilty pleas don’t set court precedent. It’s possible that some or all of these laws could be fought and struck down in US courts.

    • Nice pick up. I’ll try and fix it now.

      I can understand why Handley did plead guilty. He faced 15-20 if he lost and lawyers thought the chances were slim a constitutional challenge would succeed.

  • And THIS is why I stick to digital only

    I don’t really want to research if “fake child pr0n” is legal here in Soviet Venezuela. Also, you don’t really have that many options, given that Customs will most likely seize your shit for months and magically “dissapear” it (unless you pay for ransom with our worthless currency), no matter if it is legal or not. Remember, this country “banned” FPS games 5 years ago, and I don’t want to test the waters. Even importing a cheap nendoroid can turn into an awfully expensive affair, and on top adding “thought police moral concerns” is anything but fun

    Importing physical releases is a big NO-NO here anyway for several reasons (draconian currency exchange controls, corrupt customs, worthless currency, blah blah blah), so my only options are piracy or reasonably priced digital releases. And I’m fine with that, as long as I have OPTIONS that allow me to stay in the clear (and to keep my virgin ass out of jail).

    • That “guide” is very deceptive. I wouldn’t put any stock in it at all. You’re much more likely to get bent over for lolicon in Canada than Virginia, yet Canada is green and Virginia is red.

      The US has the Miller Test. Canada doesn’t. That’s what’s important.

  • Never have I been as happy as now that over here the drawing needs to be a “realistic depiction of a child/young” for the police to have the right to take you in. If they actually do that and it turns out the only content you have in your computer is purely something in manga style the laws should be on your side.

    Honestly though, I have never been much for physical copies of anything so I am not really worried, heck. The only thing physical that indicates that I watch any anime at all (or have any interests whatsoever for that matter) is a box with the first 20 episode of Bleach, and that one I bought only a month ago for an anime marathon among my friends.

    Seriously though, my room is quite spartan. I only have one shelf of books, couple of dozen of medallions from my swimming years and one lego structure/boat that me and my best childhood friend built when we were around 11 and that is pretty much it. I do of course have a dresser, a table and such but I do not count that. (I do have a decent gaming rig though :P).

    Ps. Personally prefer petite over loli, though each to their own ; )

  • I have a question. First of all, I live in the US. I know numerous games that have been licensed here that have a school setting, implying that all the characters are, in fact, high school girls (and thus could be under 18, regardless of what the box or disclaimer say). And this is fine by law as long as the girls have mature proportions?

    Furthermore, I know JAST has made an official English release of Deus Machina Demonbane, which has a loli heroine (she even happens to be the main heroine of the game, and is in the cover). She’s described in the story as a 1000 year old grimoire, but what I’m wondering is, could anyone possibly be arrested for the possession of this game on the grounds that she looks too young? Then there’s Mangagamer’s Imouto Paradise, which has 2 very young looking twin sisters.

    What I’m basically asking is, as long as the game has been officially released in English by a localization company, is it safe to be in possession of it or could you still be arrested? And if it’s fine, then why the hell is it not okay to be in possession of a game not officially released in USA that has lolis, EVEN IF the said game specifies all characters are over 18?

    I don’t know if I’m making any sense here.

    • You’re safe buying anything sold by US companies if you’re a US resident. If the law were to go after anyone, they’d go after American companies first. Essentially they’re bigger targets than you.

  • That’s absolutely terrible. I never thought the authorities actually treated these laws seriously. Lucky for me I’m not a lolicon. But it certainly sucks that people get criminalized for a fetish that doesn’t harm anyone.

  • summit.sfu.ca/system/files/iritems1/13798/etd8167_CFreimond.pdf

    That study is from Canada – and actually advocates relaxation of CP law in Canada in order to make loli legal – so perhaps there is hope for that country yet. Or for the world at large for that matter, but I remain skeptical.

  • That’s just someone’s Master’s thesis. They’re typically only read by a student’s committee, and as such are considered the lowest impact form of publication. That’s not judging the science in any way, but by itself this thesis hardly constitutes scientific recognition that the law is on the wrong side of the issue.

  • @sanahtlig

    “but by itself this thesis hardly constitutes scientific recognition that the law is on the wrong side of the issue.”

    Of course it doesn’t. The author interviewed a small group of pedophiles and then goes on to make rather overreaching suggestions (and I’d think, rather forgone in the author’s mind as well). Studies pointing out that there is logical and scientific basis for legalization of loli/shota aren’t anything new by now either, Diamond was getting some attention for that in 2010.

    However, in one way Freimond’s thesis does actually seem a bit groundbraking. It anazlyzes pedophiles as individuals and then stays clear of any connection to child abuse. This might seem naive or foolish, but it’s a very important distinction for getting more accurate picture of pedophilia as bringing up that connection brings to peoples’ mind all the media portrayals and grotesque child abuse stories from press. And this would have dehumanized the previously humanized pedophile. And such dehumanization is the main driving force behind the global informal-but-very-real anti Pedophile movement (NOT to be confused with anti-Child Abuse or anti-Child Sex). And 2D lolicons are fundamentally part of that group of pedophiles, and subject of the same descrimination and stigma.

    • Perhaps it’s my own bias, but I see very little value in case studies. That’s not “real” science to me. Real science involves analysis of large representative groups that show population trends and studies that attempt to uncover cause and effect through experimental manipulation. A case study of 8 people is merely a starting point to form hypotheses for real research, IMO.

      I agree that society as a whole no longer understands the difference between “person who’s sexually attracted to children” and “person who molests children”, and yes, that’s largely the fault of modern mass media for not portraying the subject in an unbiased manner and basically propagating stereotypes. Now we’re seeing this stereotyping creeping to the next level: equating “person who’s sexually attracted to child-like cartoon characters” with “person who’s sexually attracted to children”.

      • For me it’s incredibly important and heartening to simply find that alternative views on pedophilia are being seriously brought up in academic circles. It’s the start. When I said that there “is hope” I’m not talking about scale of few years but of scale of decade or decades. Preception of sexual attraction to minors or minor-like characters is not something that’s going to change overnight.

        In the immidiate future though? I feel it’s going to get worse.

        “Now we’re seeing this stereotyping creeping to the next level: equating “person who’s sexually attracted to child-like cartoon characters” with “person who’s sexually attracted to children”.”

        To be fair, I do not see that as particularily huge leap, simply because I* do not see 2D exclusive lolicon as all that different from a “proper” pedophile. The loli characters in otaku-media ultimately do rely heavily on child-like features in appearance, and often enough child like personality features as well. They are simply not different enough for it to be convincing that the attraction for them is a manifestation of fundamentally different aspect human sexuality than attraction for real children. Perhaps the distance that loli characters DO have from reality is sufficient for a number of pedophiles to evade their own stigma regarding attraction to chidren (I’m referring to the seemingly common practise of emphasizing one is attracted only to 2D little girl look-alikes, not the lack of identifiable victims. Law-abiding sexual attraction to children that does not include consumption of any form of otaku-media does not have identifiable victims either).

        *Incidentally, that “I” is a 2D exclusivist lolicon – I even find the DL site photorealistic “3D” loli distasteful – who has a particular prefrence for the loli hag archtype.

        • The important difference is that a lolicon has an acceptable outlet for his sexual desires. A pedophile does not. A lolicon can interact normally with children. A pedophile probably can’t. Pedophilia can be fairly labeled a mental disorder because it interferes with social interactions and causes mental stress. Loliphilia need not interfere with social interactions or cause mental stress.

          I feel there’s not a whole lot that can be done for a pedophile except get them into lolicon or photorealistic 3D (which is pretty scarce and therefore won’t satisfy very long).

          • “The important difference is that a lolicon has an acceptable outlet for his sexual desires. A pedophile does not.”

            I would claim that both are fundamentally unfulfilled, in the sense that neither can experience a real romantic relationship with their preferred mate. The pedophile because of legal reasons and the “loliphile” because the mate is nonexistent. I find some forms of virtual pornography to be definitely more pedophile oriented than lolicon oriented, particularily erotic short stories on the internet and the photorealistic loli material already mentioned. IMO, there is a scale in stylized anime-style material too. In particular much of hentai manga and many doujin loli-ge are far more “pedophilic” than padded loli in mainstream VNs.

            “A lolicon can interact normally with children. A pedophile probably can’t. Pedophilia can be fairly labeled a mental disorder because it interferes with social interactions and causes mental stress. Loliphilia need not interfere with social interactions or cause mental stress.”

            Pedophilic condition in itself does not necessarily (perhaps even typically) come with any particular distress or difficulty of the sort that could not be explained as being due the stigma associated with it. This is not a valid argument for pathologization but has instead been used as an important argument for depathologization. Pedophilia is officially considered a mental disorder more due to the deemed necessity of doing so, for legal reasons among others. Exactly why it should be considered a pathology in the clinical sense has so far been lacking even a coherent line of argumentation.

  • nice try defending manga child porn, ” it doesnt do any harm” oh pls, it stimulates mind and it does harm slowly corroding it and ruining how u see children irl, so yeah maybe this fucker will wake up after this arrest and start to think what hes doing

    • By that logic, people that play GTA or CoD will one day wake up and start shooting people in the streets.

      • Not to mention, by that logic furries will one day get into bestiality and people who like rape hentai will start raping people. People who like incest hentai will have sex with their siblings or parents, etc.

        Seriously though, people who don’t know the difference between 2D and real life are ignorant morons. That being said, the guy you replied to is an obvious troll. Pretty sure I’ve seen the same username before on the comment section trying to get attention with hateful garbage.

  • What VNs exactly did the guy import in Canada? Is it a VN from Jast USA? Because I thought every VN sold in the USA was legal in Canada… It’s really dumb that some guy is getting punished for purchasing VNs legally from a known company. It’s not like the guy committed a crime or anything, it’s FICTIONAL art and it’s not like real children were used for creating loli characters in VNs. Canadian laws are stupid. Next thing we’ll know they’ll ban violent games like GTA because they’ll think it encourages people to commit crimes and acts of terrorism.

  • So I guess non-hentai games like Moero Chronicles are illegal in Canada as well, just because the girls look under 18 appear in sexual poses?

    • No. The likelihood that they’ll investigate your order depends on where you’re importing it from and how it’s packaged. That thread I linked above provides some commentary on this.

  • This is why I’m sticking to digital dlls only. Not into having police knocking on my door with a search warrant and labeling me a child pornographer because a visual novel depicts a character that looks under 18 but is well beyond those years.

  • So fuwa is taking the sarcastic holier-then-thou hipster approach to people getting arrested over the games fuwa was actually created to promote?

    Bloody hell

    • Chill.

      1. This is an opinion article. It may or may not reflect the opinions of Fuwanovel staff. I may have wanted to make that clearer.

      2. I don’t think Rooke thinks all this was very fair; ’tis merely a friendly warning, if in a Rooke-shaped package.

  • @sadCanadiane They can still track you down by your credit card number or paypal account if you buy digital downloads straight from MangaGamer, JAST USA, etc. It sucks that they go out of their way to punish Canadians who buy visual novels legally, but the only safe option to play 18+ Visual Novels in Canada is by downloading them via torrent anonymously using a VPN like TOR.

    • anon, if they’re going to that much effort to catch you personally, they can catch you from your torrents as well. if someone told you TOR is perfectly 100% safe, they sold you a bill of goods.

      The issue with physical imports is that they may go past the eyes of someone whose job is to look at these things and may notice something funny even if they do not care at all about you personally.

      No customs inspector is randomly scanning your every digital download purchase. They’re not going to go after you for that unless they go after the company itself, decide it’s illegal, take the customer database, and raid ALL the customers. Which isn’t impossible, but you’d also have much better grounds for banding together and legally resisting.

      Claiming that your only safe option is piracy is just a lame self-justification for not paying for it.

      • Oh that sucks. I have immigrated to Canada for 1 year and imported several VNs directly from Japan. Customs did’t stop my packages and I thought 18+ contents are OK here until I saw this article..I usually buy hentai manga or VNs digitally but only import VNs or games which are plot-heavy or worthy to collect in physical copies. However, almost all girls in otaku contents are actually ” look like “under-aged, I can even see one day I will be arrested because of that…REALLY? Canadian laws punish people who pay things legally but ignore people who download piracy?

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