Canceled Tokyo Babylon 2021 Anime Starts Legal Battle Between GoHands Studio, King Records

Anime studio GoHands filed a legal complaint against entertainment company King Records in the Tokyo District Court on Aug. 3. The studio claims the entertainment company owes approximately 450 million yen (roughly $4.1 million USD) over the canceled production of the anime adaptation of CLAMP's Tokyo Babylon. 

According to the Anime News Network, GoHands was contracted by King Records to produce Tokyo Babylon 2021 and delivered the first 13 episodes by late November 2020. King Records agreed to pay the production costs for these episodes, which totaled 314.6 million yen (about $2.87 million USD), in installments over the time period of December 2020 to August 2021. However, the lawsuit alleges that payments completely stopped in January with only the initial installment having been paid.

Tokyo Babylon 2021 was originally announced in October 2020 to a mixed response from fans. After the character designs were revealed on Nov. 19, 2020, things quickly turned sour for the production because of accusations of plagiarism concerning some of the characters' costumes. Apologies were issued and the anime was delayed.

According to GoHands' lawsuit, King Records requested the studio revise the character designs and costumes while continuing to work towards the agreed-upon broadcast date. However, the entertainment company allegedly reversed course with little warning in January and refused to make any more of the previously agreed-upon payments. Tokyo Babylon 2021 was officially canceled in March; King Records cited an investigation that reportedly found more examples of plagiarism and a resulting "loss of faith in the production studio" as its primary reasons for canceling the anime.

GoHands' lawyer Tomonori Sugo asserted that referencing existing designs is common practice in the anime industry. While the studio usually vets all character designs and costumes, the individual in charge of copyright clearance for Tokyo Babylon 2021 was unavailable throughout the anime's production because of a sudden, unexpected illness. As such, the designs did not receive the appropriate level of scrutiny.

Sugo stated, "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." The lawyer went on to explain that according to Japan's rules on subcontracting, delayed payments are considered unlawful.

GoHands is suing for the remaining amount owed for the first 13 episodes -- which is 281.6 million yen (roughly $2.57 million USD). The studio is also demanding an additional 171.8 million yen (approximately 1.57 million USD). The additional amount is for the cost of episodes 14 through 21, on which GoHands and King Records had yet to formalize a contract for.

CLAMP has stated it will pursue new anime for Tokyo Babylon with a different studio as soon as possible.

CLAMP's Tokyo Babylon manga is a supernatural-horror shojo series about onmyoji fighting demons in Tokyo. The manga can be purchased in English from Dark Horse Comics in two omnibus editions.

Source: Anime News Network 

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