Tokyo Babylon 2021 Studio GoHands Sues King Records for 450 Million Yen Over Canceled Anime
posted on by Egan Loo
The anime studio GoHands filed a legal complaint in the Tokyo District Court on Tuesday against the entertainment company King Records for non-payment of about 450 million yen (about US$4.1 million) in the canceled production of the Tokyo Babylon 2021 television anime.
According to the lawsuit, GoHands agreed to a contract with King Records to produce the anime, and delivered 13 episodes by late last November. The production cost of 314.6 million yen (about US$2.87 million) was slated to be paid in installments from December 2020 to August 2021. However, GoHands claims the contract was unilaterally canceled in January after the first installment.
GoHands is suing not only for the remaining 281.6 million yen (about US$2.57 million) under the contract, but also for 171.82 million yen (about US$1.57 million) for episodes 14 to 21. (According to the lawsuit, GoHands and King Records had not yet formally signed a contract for these later episodes.)
King Amusement Creative announced GoHands' anime adaptation of CLAMP's Tokyo Babylon manga last October, and unveiled the character designs on November 19. However, on November 20, the staff received notice of possible plagiarism over the anime's costume designs — specifically, from a costume of the Korean girl group Red Velvet and a Volks doll outfit. The staff apologized in December for referencing costume designs for two characters from other sources without permission.
The staff then delayed GoHands' anime from its planned April 2021 premiere before announcing its complete cancelation in March with an entirely new production planned. The production committee, which included King Records, cited an investigation which uncovered more examples of plagiarism and the resulting "loss of faith in the production studio."
According to GoHands, after the plagiarism claims, King Records asked the studio to revise the designs, and the studio continued to work towards the agreed-upon broadcast. However, GoHands alleges that King Records reversed course and refused to pay the remaining installments in January.
King Records told the newspaper Asahi that it had not received the legal complaint so it declined to comment on the matter.
GoHands' lawyer Tomonori Sugō claimed that anime productions often reference existing designs, but the studios would confirm that there were no copyright infringement issues when comparing the drawn designs with the referenced outfits. However, the person in charge of copyright clearances in this production at GoHands had become unavailable due to a sudden illness, so the designs in question were not sufficiently vetted.
Sugō said, "We truly apologize to fans for the oversight. However, the studio was already moving ahead with revisions as requested. We are a far smaller company than King Records, so we have endured a grave economic blow." Sugō added that delayed payments are prohibited under Japan's laws on subcontracting.