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Former Employees Sue Good Smile for Distributing 'Potentially Obscene Sexually Explicit Anime Merchandise'

posted on by Alex Mateo
Good Smile initially sued former vice presidents for corporate misconduct

Two former employees of Nendoroid and Figma toy company Good Smile, Guy Brand and James Young-sik Kim, are suing Good Smile for distributing "potentially obscene sexually explicit anime products and merchandise" of underage characters, engaging in false designation of corporate officers as independent contractors, tax evasion, improper licensing practices, and funding controversial website 4chan. Brand and Kim filed the cross-complaint in a California court on September 1 after Good Smile had sued the two former vice presidents along with Grecia Diaz in 2020 for competing with the company's merchandise business while employed there.

The former employees' lawsuit states that "Brand and Kim expressed their disgust, objection, and/or refusal to participate in or be associated with what they viewed as illegal, objectionable or immoral activities." Brand and Kim claimed that Good Smile retaliated against them by reducing their authority and firing them, after they had already requested to transition away from the company.

Brand and Kim had met with their superior Enna Hozumi in summer 2019 to discuss the issue of sexually explicit merchandise of underage anime characters, stating them to be unethical, offensive, and potentially illegal. Hozumi later notified them that Good Smile would continue selling the products in question. Brand and Kim claimed that continued exposure to this merchandise created a hostile work environment based on sex. They added that they have suffered as a result of Good Smile's actions towards them.

ANN has reached out to Good Smile for comment, but they have not responded as of press time.

Good Smile commented on the cross complaint as compared to their own lawsuit as part of a statement to Polygon, "The Defendants' cross complaint, in contrast, is based on demonstrably, knowingly, and provably false and defamatory allegations."

In 2020, Good Smile filed a lawsuit for against Brand, Kim, and Diaz for allegedly stealing confidential information from Good Smile while employed there to create a new "secret" company for their own profit. The lawsuit refers to this as a "brazen instance of corporate misconduct." Good Smile asked for US$2 million in damages, and also fired the former employees. Brand and Kim allegedly "stole" a contract from Netflix to produce a Stranger Things drive-in event, instead pushing that deal to their company Imaginary People.

Good Smile is the company that develops the popular Nendoroid and Figma figure lines. Nendoroid figures are small figures of anime, manga, and pop culture characters that are portrayed in a super-deformed style, and may have limited poseability and swappable faces. Figma is an action figure line of anime, manga, and pop culture characters that focuses on high articulation and poseability.

Sources: Lawsuit, Polygon (Nicole Carpenter) via Kotaku

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