On March 29th, it was unceremoniously announced by the overall project manager for Tokyo Babylon 2021, not GoHands, that the project has more or less been scraped for the moment. According to their official statement on the remnants of the original website, the committee for the project found even MORE instances of plagiarism beyond the outfits that were pointed out originally.
Thus, in perhaps the only smart move this project had made aside from the start of Tokyo Babylon 2021 being announced; they decided to cancel the project in it’s current form and restart it from scratch. Or in the words of my rough translation “…restart with a completely new production system”. They then apologized to CLAMP, and all involved parties including cast members and fans.
To be honest, I’m almost relieved at this announcement. But I have a lot of mixed feelings.
First and foremost, I feel incredibly bad for all the production staff who didn’t commit plagiarism, since their work is for naught. All the promotional materials, completed animation, any audio recorded for dialogue or music, all of that gets to be sent to the trash never to be seen due to incompetency of a few. It breaks my heart because as fans of anime, most of us know that all these forces that come together to make an anime are criminally underpaid in the first place. It’s insult to injury that all these materials were produced and more or less ready to go, only to get sacked with plagiarism rot.
I’m pissed at GoHands. I am among the few that was okay with them handling the animation for this. That at least, the use of CGI would probably be okay, and that the fight choreographies would given that new era spark and magic that just wasn’t available in the 90’s. I actually was telling in real life friends who were grappling that it was GoHands of all studios that ,”hey, I know they don’t have the best track record, but when they get it right they get it right”. And now I just feel stupid for even giving them that much leeway.
I’m still pissed at them, that the initial plagiarism even happened in the first place. CLAMP has decades of costumes to pick from. A few simple calls for permission they could have easily taken a pre-existing design, modernized it and been done. I’m not going to pretend that I know how hard or easy it is to design a character outfit, but for christsakes they had everything more or less handed to them on a tarnished silver platter
(’cause let’s be real, CLAMP ain’t polishing this series behind the scenes either) that all it needed was some buffing and attention to make it sparkle.
I don’t know how I feel about CLAMP’s response. There was no statement other then a re-direct to the original project’s website. And a few links to their social media’s as well as this statement from Young Ace, which I’ll get to in a minute. There was not a ‘hey, this was shitty and we personally have decided to take our intellectual property elsewhere’, or a ‘we don’t condone plagiarism and are deeply saddened by the results of the Tokyo Babylon 2021 production team’s findings’, nope. Then again CLAMP doesn’t release those types of statements much at all to my knowledge.
It just feels hollow, and it might just be because I’m burnt out from CLAMP’s seemingly indifference to all their pre-existing properties, aside from CCS. I’m not going to re-harsh that here.
Of course, I’m personally disappointed. I’ve talked a lot about how much Subaru and Hokuto as characters mean to me. I’ve talked about how much I love Tokyo Babylon, and how much I was initially excited for the project. There’s been a lot of back and forth, with me mostly dismissing things like the design changes i.e. Subaru’s hat, Seishirou’s shoulders no longer being massive shoulder-padded to heaven, etc before the plagiarism was confirmed. Retrospectively, that should have been more of a red flag for me because I was lowering my standards for one of my favorites stories, before it even came out!
And I just feel really stupid at this point because I was genuinely excited to see what would happen, good or bad, because I am just a nostalgic fan who wants my favorites to see the spotlight again.
Which now leads me to the troublesome statements that have been released. So first and foremost, the original Tokyo Babylon 2021 Twitter, Instagram and website are going to be erased on April 30th 2021. Which in the long run makes sense with the mess and the collapse of the project in this initial incarnation. The now jaded and pessimistic side of me sees this as covering their tracks for a May re-launch campaign – this idea being purely speculation on my part.
The more troublesome statement has come from Young Ace, which I believe along with Kadokawa, has the publishing rights to the manga, but I’m unsure how involved with the initial animation project they were, which is more or less summarized as ‘so the initial Tokyo Babylon 2021 has been cancelled. So we’re currently working on a new version of this with new art drawn by CLAMP to be revealed when the details are available for this new version. Please be patient while we work on this new project and we’ll keep you guys posted’.
That summerization being very loose and done by a non-professional like me.
And I’m ready to smack my head into a brick wall because while I don’t want Tokyo Babylon‘s reboot to be outright scraped in full – just give this project some down time for the love of god. It doesn’t need to be Tokyo Babylon 2021, although the copyrights were probably already taken out and all that good legal red tape stuff, but Tokyo Babylon 2022 has a pretty nice ring to it too.
It’s referanced in several different statements how trust has been lost. No fucken duh, Tokyo Babylon 2021 production team. This isn’t a goddamn episode of anime, where we all fight it out and acknowledge our faults and be buddy-buddy about it next day. My trust isn’t going to be regained with a few rinse and repeat public statements and a digital pinkie-promise to do better.
Tell us what the fuck is going to change aside from the studio, and not using anything made from this initial mess. Some basics being, what studios are you considering now? Which members of the cast and production company are being changed? I would sure fucken hope you boot Makoto Furata, the original character designer from this iteration, but you haven’t clarified that yet. And I don’t fucken trust that changes are actually being made unless you show us.
There’s a laundry list of things that I, personally, have questions about this re-re-boot that is allegedly coming. I suppose given that this statement was only made on March 29th, which by the way shitty as fuck timing from CLAMP because that’s only a few days before CLAMPの日*. I might not be the biggest CLAMP fan at the moment, but even I have to side-eye the timing a bit. Smells like a cover-up, but that might be me pushing it. So more details, all of which I hope are good signs, will probably be released later.
Back on track; Tokyo Babylon 2021 Production team – let this breath. I do not want my May announcement prediction to be correct. I want actual time taken to really think this project through. I want to be shown with real accounts that the production team really does want to earn back fans trust. I don’t want some rushed set of announcements of ‘here’s the new studio, staff, and a nice shiny picture from CLAMP, this is when it’s gonna go down’ in whirlwind where this project is hemorrhaged at to recoup the loss.
I get that animation is a business and that this project folding in pre-production is a huge loss. That’s why it would be foolish to speed run this project any more then it was. However…. considering the foolishness of initial iteration and lack of transparency about staff and studio alleged changes: I’m not going to hold my breath. You can expect more of my commentary as new information arises.
For some referance all links will be in Japanese, aside from Anime News Network. Additional re-iternation that all accounts from this first attempt will be deleted/removed on April 30th 2021.
This is the official statement from Tokyo Babylon 2021’s website.
This is Anime News Network article.
This is CLAMP-NET.com’s statement.
This is Young Ace’s Statement.
*CLAMPの日 refers to CCS Sakura’s, TRC Sakura and Syaoran, and Watanuki from Xxxholic’s official birthdays. It also refers to Seishirou’s fake birthday, so a lot of fans celebrate it.