Dragon Quest V novel author Saori Kumi filed criminal complaints with the Tokyo District Public Prosecutor’s Office and Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department against the production committee of Dragon Quest Your Story, the Dragon Quest game franchise’s first 3D CG anime film, on December 5. Kumi issued a statement about the complaints on Friday.
Kumi had filed a civil lawsuit with the Saku branch of the Nagano District Court on August 2, the day the film opened in Japan. The December 5 filing included criminal complaints against the film’s production committee, as well as related companies and individuals.
Kumi alleged that the anime’s production committee used her work without permission and changed it, violating Japan’s copyright laws and Unfair Competition Prevention Act. She further accused production committee of fraud, a breach of trust, and corporate embezzlement. Specifically, Kumi stated that the film’s producers used her novel characters Ryuka, the protagonist, and Ryukeirom el kel Granvania (name romanization not confirmed) without her permission. In the original Dragon Quest V: Hand of the Heavenly Bride game, the protagonist is known as the “Hero,” and players may give the protagonist a name of their choosing. In the film, the protagonist’s name is Ryuka, which is also the name Kumi used in her novel.
Because the film has yet to ship on home video, Kumi used the novelization of the movie to count the appearances of her characters. (Mirei Miyamoto published a novelization of the Dragon Quest Your Story film on August 2, separate from Kumi’s earlier 1993 Dragon Quest V novel.) Kumi claimed that there were 487 uses of the character name “Ryuka,” and among those there were 53 instances where it was “highly likely” they were used in dialogue in the film. She also noted that some promotional materials for the film used the phrase “the protagonist’s name is the novel version’s Ryuka.”
Kumi said that at least four people she knows misunderstood the film as an adaptation of her novel because of its use of the character Ryuka. According to Kumi, some of her fans had similar confusion and reported the film as a violation of Japan’s Act Against Unjustifiable Premiums and Misleading Representations.
Additionally, Kumi clarified that she believes this incident is not a case of miscommunication or misunderstanding. She believes that the film’s production committee intentionally used her characters without permission as a means to attract theatergoers. Kumi believes the producers ignored her as a creator and also confused fans. She thinks ignoring this alleged misuse of a work could cause further damage in the future.
According to the novelist, the use of Kumi’s characters in Dragon Quest Your Story goes against the Intellectual Property Strategy Headquarters and Cool Japan Strategy Promotion Council’s fundamental ideals of appropriately compensating creators and facilitating multi-use through conveying rights with a chain of title. Kumi further criticized TOHO and Square Enix, both credited for production of the film, as well as director Takashi Yamazaki for the production’s alleged exploitation and unauthorized use of her characters.