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Girls Frontline Developer Responds to Mushibugyo Design Controversy

posted on by Karen Ressler
Chinese developer Wave-Games expresses disappointment in Shonen Sunday's response to alleged plagiarism

Chinese game developer Wave-Games gave a statement to Japanese video game news website Inside Games on Wednesday regarding the similarity between a character in Hiroshi Fukuda's Jōjū Senjin!! Mushibugyō manga and a pre-existing character in the Wave-Games' game app Girls' Frontline (Shōjo Zensen).

The representative from Wave-Games began by expressing a deep admiration for Japanese anime, manga, and games—an admiration shared by other staff members at Wave-Games and Girls' Frontline developer Mica Team—before addressing the controversy and Weekly Shonen Sunday's response:

Regarding the present issue, I thought our company had referenced the same material, but the clothes designs are exactly the same, so it is too much of a coincidence. Furthermore, the illustrator, samail, is confident it's a completely original character design.

The result of Shonen Sunday's investigation into the matter was a denial. We just wanted a formal apology... And the editorial department's Tweet on the issue was extremely disappointing. Hiroshi Fukuda said that his reason for becoming a manga artist was "because Yaiba, Ushio & Tora, and Weekly Shonen Sunday exist in this world." We are the same: we are here because all the wonderful Japanese anime, manga, and games exist.

[Girls' Frontline] is not a well-known work in Japan yet, but it has Japanese illustrators and voice actors working on it. To call it "a foreign title that [the author Hiroshi Fukuda] had never even heard of" is an insult to them. And it is very discourteous to the 8,000 followers of our official [Japanese] Twitter account. We would like an apology from Shonen Sunday to the participating illustrators and voice actors.

Wave-Games is a relatively new company, founded in July 2015.

"Phantania," a Twitter user self-described as a Chinese student working on Girls' Frontline's development while studying abroad in Australia, noted the similarities between a character in Mushibugyō and a Girls' Frontline character in a January 12 Twitter post. That post has since been deleted:

The design of Girls' Frontline's Moselle Kar98k character (shown at left) debuted on August 7, 2015, while the design of Mushibugyō's Onmyō Karakuri Shikigami character Iyo (shown at right) debuted in the manga on January 6, 2016.

The Weekly Shonen Sunday editors' response in a Twitter post on Monday was as follows:

A few days ago, it had been pointed out to us that a new character in Mushibugyō manga bore some resemblance to a character in a foreign game with a title that the author Hiroshi Fukuda had never even heard of. It is not the intent of the author or the editors to promote unnecessary misunderstanding for this series' long-time fans, so as of the ninth issue, the character design has been changed.

The character design was changed in the ninth issue of Weekly Shonen Sunday on January 27.

Fukuda serialized the original Mushibugyō manga from 2009 to 2010, and Shogakukan compiled and published three book volumes. Fukuda launched his new Jōjū Senjin!! Mushibugyō manga, which revamps the basic story, in 2011. Shogakukan shipped the 22nd compiled volume earlier this month. A television anime adaptation aired in 2013.

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