Photo: SoraNews24

Tokyo woman in trouble with the law after selling high-priced 'Evangelion' bootleg posters

By Casey Baseel, SoraNews24

Generally speaking, the idea behind bootleg anime merch is that it’s supposed to be a win-win, at least for the buyer and seller. The seller gets to widen their profit margin by dodging licensing fees, and the buyer gets the item they want (or a substitute copy, to be precise), at a price below what they’d pay for the official product.

So it’s hard to see how a 45-year-old woman from Tokyo, who has a day job as an office worker, managed to convince a 60-something man at a flea market to buy a single bootleg "Evangelion" poster from her for 7,900 yen, but somehow she did, and she now finds herself in trouble with the law.

According to the Kanagawa Prefectural Police Department’s Yokosuka precinct, the sale took place on Sept 12, and involved an unlicensed poster of "Evangelion’s" Asuka Soryu Langley. In late November, a search of the woman’s house in Tokyo’s Setagaya Ward turned up 52 other bootleg posters, the bulk of which featured various members of the Eva cast.

▼ The investigators’ evidence display looks like a dealer’s table at a small-town anime convention.

Rather than exact duplicates of official posters, some of the items appear to be a mix of copied official artwork on new backgrounds, while others look like straight-up fan art renditions of the characters. Charges have been filed against the woman for violation of copyright law, which she has admitted to, saying “I sold them to earn extra spending money.” Investigators say that the woman bought the posters in bulk online from an “American artist” who printed them, then resold them at inflated prices, earning roughly 1.2 million yen since the start of last summer.

Online commenters found the numerical data involved with the case, as well as the aesthetics, puzzling.

“Wait, there’ actually someone who’d spend 7,900 yen on one of those?”

“[45 and 60-something.] Aren’t they a little old to be getting into this kind of trouble?”

“Maybe the guy was buying it for his grandkids.”

“The style of those posters doesn’t fit with Evangelion at all.”

“Dude, what’s up with all those flowers in the background of the Rei posters?”

If those smiling flowers look familiar, it’s because they’re pretty blatant copies of the signature motif of Japanese artist Takashi Murakami, because why just rip off one artist when you can rip off two, apparently.

While the anime industry in Japan does have a long history of leniency towards fan artists, as proven by the massive crowds at dojinshi events like Comiket where comics and illustrations of copyrighted characters are openly sold, there are a couple of criteria sellers are generally expected to meet, such as having produced the artwork they’re selling themselves, offering it for a limited time, and a revenue stream that, at least ostensibly, is meant to offset costs and allow the artist to go on creating. With none of those boxes checked, it seems there’s no fan art goodwill to get the seller of the hook.

Sources: Kanaloco, The Sankei News via Otakomu, YouTube/FNNプライムオンライン

Read more stories from SoraNews24.

-- Evangelion Store popularity contest reveals surprising results for a former fan favorite

-- In Luffy we trust – Man arrested for selling dollar bills with unlicensed One Piece stickers

-- Anime fan shares ingenious lifehack to hang posters without putting holes in your walls

© SoraNews24

©2021 GPlusMedia Inc.

Login to comment

Like Kodansha from Mar 30, Japanese IP’s are now using criminal sanctions as well as civil actions against violators. - Disney, usually, first sends a well-worded ‘cease & desist’ letter from their ‘escheat’ of attorneys.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

The NPA has their priorities in order: investigating violations and enforcing laws against infringement of “corporate owned” IP’s. - Forget tracking the “real” predators: “known pedophiles and sex offenders”.

12 ( +12 / -0 )

How about showing pictures of the posters so we can screenshot and print out at the combini?

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Why do Japanese authorities seem to give priority to prosecuting single individuals for non-violent crimes involving copyright violations?

7 ( +7 / -0 )

How is this national news?

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Priorities, right?

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Another menace to society taken of the streets that would threaten a harmonious Japan. Thanks Kanagawa Prefectural Police Department’s Yokosuka precinct!!

3 ( +4 / -1 )

@dagon 05:42 pm JST

love it!!!!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Login to leave a comment

Facebook users

Use your Facebook account to login or register with JapanToday. By doing so, you will also receive an email inviting you to receive our news alerts.

Facebook Connect

Login with your JapanToday account

User registration

Articles, Offers & Useful Resources

A mix of what's trending on our other sites