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Japanese licensors demand pound of flesh

There was shock and anger on forums this morning, after the announcement that a coalition of anime rights-holders would issue cease-and-desist notices to anyone with an anime-themed tattoo. Citing “unsavoury gangster links” and “unlicensed IP [intellectual property] exploitation,” a group comprising every major anime studio (except Gainax) has warned fans that body-art is no longer permissible. Critics decried the move as a step too far in the anime industry’s ongoing conflict with amateur artists.

Self-proclaimed “Naruto superfan” Dave Kishimot told Anime News Network that he was now in fear for his life, as he saw no easy way to remove the Naruto headband design from his forehead. But Hiromi Nakatomi, a lawyer specialising in intellectual property issues, reassured panicking otaku with the news that their limbs were probably safe.

“No studio is going to pursue this to extremes,” she confirmed from her Tokyo office. “There’s no way to ‘return’ a tattoo without taking flesh or blood with it, and that would contravene human rights legislation. If any such case reaches court, I would argue that the illustration is ‘not for profit.’ The only person profiting from anime tattoos is the tattooist themselves, so I would advise anyone in the tattoo business to stop offering anime-themed artwork, unless they work for nothing like real anime artists.”

As for everybody else, several companies have already offered a registration service, where anime fans can apply to pay an annual stipend for the use of certain logos and characters, as long as their colours are correct and the imagery is not off-model.

“The whole thing had me very concerned,” admitted Jerome Mazandarani of Animatsu. “In a rare drunken moment last year, I had a Manga Entertainment logo tattooed on my backside, and I was worried for a bit that it meant they now owned my arse.”

Others reacted with defiance. “I was never a fan of tattoos before,” commented Hayley1786, of Chipping Ongar. “But now I’m getting a Gundam on my boobs, and Sunrise can just try and take it off me!”

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