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On the Matter of the Kemono Friends Scandal

Latest Update: October 3rd: The CEO of Kadokawa Shoten has Intervened. He personally
interviewed the people at Studio Yaoyorozu and Kadokawa are working on negotiating with
them. Kemono Friends S2 may be saved.

What is Kemono Friends?

The Betrayal


The Lies

What does Kadokawa actually want?

The Shield of Seiyuu (Voice Actors)

Kadokawa's Shill Army?

Hit Pieces, and The Pekopon Platoon comes to defend Japari Park

Project Wild Release

The CEO Intervenes


Additional Info

On September 25th 2017 Kadokawa, one of the largest publishers in Japan, dismissed Tatsuki,
the director of the surprise animation hit “Kemono Friends,” from working on the project shortly
after a second season was announced.

A loud and passionate consumer revolt began at this time in Japan.

Tatsuki’s name hit worldwide trending on Twitter multiple times over, with over a million tweets
sent in just one hashtag in the first day alone. There were discussions that Kadokawa’s PR
team became passive aggressive on Twitter and Nico Nico, while Twitter and Nico Nico both
appear to have engaged in barely concealed censorship efforts to suppress the discussions.

Kadokawa put out a press release, which was found to be vague and have several glaring
factual and logical errors. They followed this up by firing Tatsuki’s animation studio as well,
Studio Yaoyorozu (“Eight Million”), while claiming that the Studio had resigned. They also sent
out the voice actress staff in a cowardly attempt to use them as a shield from criticism.

In short, Kadokawa, one of the largest publishers in Japan, has given the appearance that they
have betrayed a rising star in the Japanese Animation industry after he turned one of their failed
projects into a gold mine through heart and personal effort despite Kadokawa. Their actions
after this have only stoked the flames of dissent with the Japanese and International consumer

Effectively, Kadokawa has enraged the anime community in Japan, who are openly taking up
arms in a consumer revolt.

What is Kemono Friends?

Kemono Friends is a "media franchise," a project where an anime, a game, a manga, and
merchandise are all created at the same time in the same setting with the intent of creating
synergy between them, boosting the sales of all of them.

This is not entirely dissimilar to things such as Gi-Joe, My Little Pony, or Ninja Turtles in the US.
Similar projects in Japan include Love Live! and IdolMaster, arguably Pokemon grew into this or
was intended to be this way from the start.

Kemono Friends’ first property was a mobile phone game created by industry veterans Nexon,
with a Manga and Anime to follow alongside plans for music CDs and various collectables.
Character designs were by industry veteran Mine Yoshizaki, known for his popular works Sgt.
Frog and Arcade Gamer Fubuki, as well as his distinct character design style.

Taking place in a mysterious savannah called “Japari Park,” the cast of the world is almost
exclusively made up of “Friends” -- cute girls all based on various animals, both real (Lion, Bear,
etc) and imaginary (Tsuchinoko, Raijou). These girls are mostly comedically naive and
innocent, with costumes and various traits based on their respective animals; for example a cat
“Friend” may have large cat ears and tail, and wear a dress with a leopard print covering it.

The original game was a standard mobile RPG, where you collected various Friends and fought
against monsters; It was considered a failure and was shut down shortly before the anime was
created. However, as the anime time slot was already purchased Kadokawa was contractually
obligated to make ​something​ animated for that timeslot​.
This resulted in the anime getting a nearly nonexistent budget being handed off to the smaller
anime studio Yaoyorozu and its director, Tatsuki. Tatsuki had been noticed by the character
designer Mine Yoshizaki as an talented 3D CGI Artist and Animator.

Numbers vary as to the Anime’s budget, but I have heard $8000 USD and 10 employees being
quoted; These numbers seem vastly insufficient to create a proper animated commercial, yet
alone a season of 12 episodes, however this arrangement does appear to have given Tatsuki
and Yaoyorozu free reign to do whatever they wanted with the anime, and Kadokawa appeared
to be under the assumption it was doomed to failure.

Instead of using the existing slice of life storyboard or attempting to retell the story of the mobile
game -- typical methods of this type of game-turned-anime -- Tatsuki scrapped the existing
storyboards outright, instead adding his own spin with the help of Mine Yoshizaki. The details of
the plot and the plot twists therein are beyond the scope of this document, but were ultimately
well received by new and old fans alike.

While the non standard, 3D CGI animation style initially failed to impress, Tatsuki is also an
accomplished 3D artist and continued to work on adjustments to the 3D CGI models and tools
the studio used in his spare time.

It worked. Despite a rocky start by episode 4 the popularity of the show skyrocketed as the
animation quality steadily increased. Kemono Friends is considered probably the surprise hit of
the year.

A revival of the franchise followed - a new game project as well as a new animation project -- a
season 2 or movie -- are upcoming now, while Kemono Friends merchandise, due in no small
part to the large number of cute mascot characters inherent to the series, is flying off the

Although they were given a project that was doomed to fail, Tatsuki and Studio Yaoyorozu
managed to spin straw into gold.

The Betrayal

The anime ended at the end of March in 2017. Since then there have been a few small official
or semi-official segments put out, coinciding with the voice actresses doing various press work
and large amounts of merchandise being released:

● An animated commercial for ​Nissin​’s “Instant Kitsune Udon” was created; Nissin is best
known in the West as being the inventors of “Cup Noodles.”
● A segment for the Animelo Summer Live 2017 concert talking about ​concert etiquette​.
● An animated commercial and some art for the ​Japanese (Horse) Racing Association​,
including “Friends” versions of various horse breeds.
● An unofficial self-funded 2 minute long "​episode 12.1​" short put on Youtube by the
animation studio, showing some of the side characters looking for a new bus.
● Some self-published “concept notes” and behind the scenes info at Comiket, a world
famous Comic Publishing Expo in Tokyo
● Official cross promotional stuff with all kinds of Japanese Zoos were also done, far too
many to list here.

12.1 was posted in April, shortly after the anime was finished, it is possible it was merely leftover
material they had to cut from the final episode. Around the same time of 12.1's posting the
character designer and Chief Director of the entire cross-media project, Mine Yoshizaki, ​publicly
stated​ that Tatsuki could feel free to create after the production of S1 ended. This supposedly
included things such as 12.1, as well as some of the "fanbooks" that Tatsuki had put out at a
Comics Expo in Tokyo in August.

In August, at the infamous Comiket anime expo in Japan Tatsuki and his production staff put out
a fanbook with self-published concept notes and other production material with special
permission to do so. Around the same time the various commercials aired.

On ​September 25th​, after the commercials had aired and the 2 short segments were published
and a few weeks after the new season was announced, ​Tatsuki was informed he would be
removed from the project.

On ​September 26th, Kadokawa claimed publicly that Studio Yaoyorozu​ declined the term
of agreements for them to be contracted for production of the new animation project, meaning
they had “quit” the project​. Some reports state that members of ​Studio Yaoyorozu left after
Tatsuki was fired/quit in solidarity​, this is unclear.

On ​September 27th​, facing mounting fan outrage, Kadokawa had the "Shield of Seiyuu"
moment. During the monthly NicoLive program, the voice actresses for Kemon Friends made a
public apology for causing anxiety and causing trouble… for Kadokawa. ​In essence the
Kadokawa executives were hiding behind the voice actresses.


The reaction was swift and somewhat shocking: Japanese Anime fans started "Director
Tatsuki" trending on twitter with well over a million tweets, where it hit number 1 worldwide
trending hashtag until it was censored by Twitter. 7 other similar hashtags started trending and
were similarly censored by Twitter, supposedly at the behest of Kadokawa (who has a
partnership with Twitter in Japan).
Without a doubt, Tatsuki and Yaoyorozu saved the project; It was their input and their decision
to take the show into the direction they did that caused it to be such a success -- and Japanese
fans are very much aware of this.

Unlike the somewhat complacent American fans, Japanese fans have a lot of consumer
influence and are somewhat more organized than American fans. A petition that has hit ​50,000
signatures​ ​i​n​c​l​u​d​i​n​g​ voices/signatures from fans​ ​a​r​o​u​n​d​ ​t​h​e​ ​w​o​r​l​d​, the fan reaction was also
covered throughout traditional Japanese media and various international specialty (anime) news

It appears that Kadokawa was caught off guard by the response, with the CEO of Kadokawa's
parent company announcing that ​he's worried about Tatsuki's removal​. At the same time, the
CEO of TV Tokyo (who has a significant ownership percentage in the Kemono Friends project)
has made similar statements.

It is unsure as to what will come of this; outside of this communication and the press release
Kadokawa put out, Kadokawa's leadership has been silent thus far.

The Lies

The official reasons given by Kadokawa for Tatsuki's termination are vague at best, but even in
this vagueness they fall apart under basic scrutiny. Twitter user ​AndreaRitsu​ covers this
excellently in her tweet thread, but we'll also summarise them briefly here.

Kadokawa specifically claims that Yaoyorozu was "using material and sharing of information
without corporate dialogue" -- while intentionally vague, most interpret this as an accusation that
Yaoyorozu was violating Kadokawa's IP on Kemono Friends by making what amounted to
pirated or knockoff content. That implies the above listed materials were not allowed - the
commercials, the fan book, and “12.1.”

However, as mentioned above the character designer and creator of Kemono Friends, Mine
Yoshizaki specifically stated publicly that ​Tatsuki had permission to do whatever he wanted
with the IP after the anime finished airing.​ The idea that an industry vet with heavy ties to
Kadokawa like Yoshizaki would be lying about this, 6 months before it would become relevant,
is laughable.

In addition the Kemono Friends project is a collaborative effort -- the game, for example, was
created by Nexon, and in this collaboration "secondary creations" are allowed - that covers the
self-published fan extras that Tatsuki put out at comiket as well as “Episode 12.1.”
In short, based on what we know so far, the most obviously questionable content (“12.1”)
was perfectly and explicitly acceptable.

This leaves the cross promotional commercials. Except, ​both the JRA and Nissin​ have both
publicly stated that they don't know what Kadokawa is talking about -- they worked with
Kadokawa to license Kemono Friends in order to do them, and then had Yaoyorozu make the

Kadokawa also goes on to mention that Yaoyorozu was being difficult to communicate with,
causing issues with other teams at Kadokawa. This falls apart on a simple thought experiment:

● Yaoyorozu was the Anime studio, and only the Anime studio.
● The Anime ended.
● What exactly would Yaoyorozu have had input on that would have hurt Kadokawa?
They were not involved in the manga or the live action stuff.

Kadokawa would clarify this by stating that Yaoyorozu refused to provide things for Kadokawa
when asked, which is part of the complaint about communication. Several twitter users have
speculated this was Kadokawa demanding a copy of the 3D CGI models and other art assets
that Yaoyorozu created internally for Kemono Friends, material that was created and updated
by Tatsuki in his spare time (which makes it complex from an ownership standpoint), but
because Kadokawa was so intentionally vague, we don't know.

The real twist with Kadokawa and Yaoyorozu is that they suggested that Yaoyorozu resigned
from the project in early August. This flies in the face of all reason and logic, as the idea that
Tatsuki wouldn't know by September 25th is absurd. The Nissin noodle commercial was
created and aired after their supposed resignation in September as well, which obviously would
not have happened if Yaoyorozu had quit the project.

Kadokawa suggests this resignation occurred after they had requested a "normalization" of
behavior and communication, which Yaoyorozu rejected. Based on word choice, the request
then became a demand, and they "resigned" by refusing -- but Kadokawa appears to be wanting
to make this retroactive. Effectively, it appears that Kadokawa started trying to bully and
blackmail Yaoyorozu, and they retroactively fired them backdated to the time of the initial
attempts at bullying when Yaoyorozu balked.

Either Tatsuki is telling the truth and he was fired out of the blue, or Kadokawa is telling the truth
and Tatsuki's studio Yaoyorozu quit (and Tatsuki either didn't know or lied about this).

However, adding to the complexities of the situation are the JRA, Nissin, and Yoshizaki
comments which appear to contradict Kadokawa’s narrative. The two companies point out that
they worked with Kadokawa to license Kemono Friends before Yaoyorozu started work, and
Yoshizaki infamously stated that Tatsuki was given permission to continue to make Kemono
Friends content after the anime had finished airing.

That means, either:

● The extremely successful manga author Mine Yoshizaki

● Tatsuki, who is now one of the industry’s rising stars (and his Studio)
● The Japanese Racing Association (JRA)
● Nissin (The inventor of Cup Noodles, a global corporation)

Are all lying just to make Kadokawa look bad...

... Or Kadokawa is lying, possibly to take back an IP that they effectively tossed away.

So far, the evidence is stacked against Kadokawa, who have remained utterly silent.

What does Kadokawa actually want?

Control. Control over a very lucrative IP -- Kemono Friends.

A supposedly doomed collaborative effort with nothing more than a failed game and an anime
they were contractually obligated to create, the actions of Tatsuki and Yaoyorozu revived the IP
and made it one of the hottest new products of recent memory. Merch, supplemental material,
a new game, a new season of the anime, and possibly even a movie are all on the horizon. All
things that Kadokawa would -- and apparently expects -- to have near 100% control over.

They openly state in their explanation that they wanted Yaoyorozu to "normalize"
communication. This is corporate newspeak and AndreaRitsu believes that this is Kadokawa
wanting Yaoyorozu to remain silent and complacent, only working or speaking in ​ways that
would benefit Kadokawa​. In effect, they wanted Yaoyorozu to act as a subsidiary or
subordinate of Kadokawa.

As noted by​ AndreaRitsu Kadokawa used a very specific phrase initially in their press release
talking about the event - 申し入れ. This is a proposal, or suggestion, to change. However, in
the later lines they start using 条件 instead. 条件 is not a suggestion, it is a hard requirement.

The take AndreaRitsu has is that Kadokawa initially proposed a new workflow -- effectively
blackmailing Yaoyorozu -- but when Yaoyorozu was resistant they changed it to a requirement
which would mean rejecting it means resignation. Weasley word games at best.
One theory on twitter is that they wanted to force out Tatsuki and Yaoyorozu since they had only
intended to work with them under the bad faith assumption that Kemono Friends would be a
failure. When it instead became a success they wanted to push them out in lieu of a
Kadokawa-owned studio. If they could have gotten the 3D CGI tools and materials Tatsuki had
created (which had allowed the team to create the show in a fraction of the budget of other
similar shows), so much the better.

This, however, goes against the agreement of the Kemono Friends collaborative project, which
states that secondary material is allowed and that, to quote AndreaRitsu quoting Kadokawa,
"the Kemono Friends project should be open for everyone to work with and not be restricted to
one creative source."

This flowchart​, shared by Reddit user /u/Lennuuska, shows the companies working on the
project, which are extensive and of which Kadokawa is only one part. If I am understanding this
correctly, any of the companies involved have creative input over the project and "secondary
material" (like music CDs)... but Kadokawa wants creative ​control​ over it.

Kadokawa wants to be able to dictate what secondary material is created or not created, which
may be overstepping their authority.

The Shield of Seiyuu (Voice Actors)

The latest development as of this writing is that the executives at Kadokawa forced the voice
actresses of Kemono Friends to make a public non-apology, effectively having them get out in
front of the scandal to deflect from the executives.

This backfired. The community, already furious, was apoplectic that they would do this to the
voice actresses. As the show had almost no budget nearly the entire voice staff was new to the
industry; Japan has a horrific corruption problem with management in these industries so if
these voice actresses defy Kadokawa they will effectively be ending their own careers.

This is the very definition of being under duress.

This is after the voice actresses have been running around all year as brand ambassadors for
the show, dressing up in cosplay and meeting fans and press.

Kadokawa's Shill Army?

On Nico Nico's wiki entry about this event​, they allege that paid shills (fake users being paid to
express a specific opinion) and bots (computer programs pretending to be users) from
Kadokawa are flooding various boards online in response to this. These shills appear to be
using 4 key phrases, including "you're only listening to one side" and "lets wait to see how
Season 2 is before we get mad." According to the article these posts are very obviously out of
place, which is only upsetting more members of the community.

They also allege that Nico Nico, which is owned by Kadokawa, is being heavily censored to
conceal the backlash. An organized effort to cancel Nico Nico paid subscriptions in response is

Hit Pieces, and The Pekopon Platoon comes to defend Japari Park

Soon after the Shield of Seiyuu incident the ​first clickbait hit piece came​ out. Citing anonymous
“industry insiders” and lacking even a byline, the article claims wrongdoing and a possible
mental breakdown by Tatsuki led to the issues, along with making the claim that Mine Yoshizaki
demanded that Tatsuki be removed and that he wanted to remove Yaoyorozu outright in order
to take back control over the project.

The ​comments section reject it utterly​, pointing out the absurdity of an anonymous piece
complaining about how things were hurting the ​shareholders.​ Many fans suspect this piece was
written by or at the behest of someone in Kadokawa leadership.

More importantly ​members of the Keroro Gunso staff came to Yoshizaki’s defense​, calling the
article a blatant lie, and that Yoshizaki’s professionalism would never allow him to make such

The combination of what appears to be Kadokawa leaking a “shareholder friendly” article to the
media that attempts to cause infighting between Tatsuki and Yoshizaki, if not outright attempting
to throw Yoshizaki under the bus and blaming him for the mess, has not been missed by the
Japanese community.

Project Wild Release

A Japanese twitter use by the name of Ryo Koumei M has put together ​a list of questions​ that
the community would like to see Kadokawa and the other companies involved answer.

An English translation was put up ​here​, with the letter writing campaign being entitled
“Operation ​Wild Release​.”
Question 1:​ “Kemon Friends Project A” claims that some of their work had been appropriated
by Yaoyorozu. What work are they referring to?

Question 2:​ Did Studio Yaoyorozu violate any guidelines? If so, which ​specific​ guidelines?

Question 3:​ Regarding Mine Yoshizaki’s words “After [the anime] is done you’re free to keep
making [Kemono Friends].” What “freedom” did he grant Tatsuki and Studio Yaoyorozu?

Question 4:​ If Episode 12.1 is the infringing material, why isn’t Kadokawa and the Kemono
Friends Production Association taking it down?

Question 5:​ What exactly was the “request for information sharing?” What information?

Question 6:​ Was that request only for ​information​ sharing?

Question 7:​ When Kadokawa claimed Studio Yaoyorozu said “we cannot accept under those
conditions,” exactly what conditions did they refer to?

Question 8:​ Why is there a discrepancy between Kadokawa and the Kemono Friends
Production Association’s claim that Yaoyorozu “declined” or “resigned,” and Tatsuki’s claim of
“being ordered [off the project] by Kadokawa?”

The CEO Intervenes

Early morning on October 3rd Shinichiro Inoue, the CEO of Kadokawa Shoten - the Publishing
arm of Kadokawa - ​made a public statement on Twitter​ across 4 ​tweets​:

The bullet points:

● Kadokawa had been quiet because they are not the only members of the Kemono
Friends Production Committee. (Similar sentiment had been stated by TV Tokyo’s
● He admits that the contributions to the franchise that Director Tatsuki have made are
● He regrets that he didn’t understand the situation until today. (Some are saying this is
him saying they did not anticipate the backlash.)
● Last week they had two meetings with the staff of Studio Yaoyorozu, where he realized
that Studio Yaoyorozu and the Kemono Friends Production Team (Kadokawa, TV
Tokyo, et all) had “large differences.”
● Specifically, there was a huge difference in opinion between the usage rights and the
change in directorship, and in the motive behind Tatsuki’s tweet announcing his
● They have began talks with Studio Yaoyorozu about what to do about all this going
● They ask for understanding and kindness from all the fans of the series.
In short, the CEO appears to have been out of touch with what had happened with Kemono
Friends and what his employees had done. They couldn’t say anything publicly due to the start
of negotiations and it getting very complex very quickly, but this ultimately seems to boil down to
a misunderstanding.

Reading into the statement, Studio Yaoyorozu appears to have felt they had more usage rights
than the production team felt they did, while the production team appears to have misattributed
malice on the behalf of Yaoyorozu and Tatsuki where there was none.

The community is cautiously optimistic about this development. Mr. Shinichiro has a great
amount of history in the anime industry, having worked as a manga and anime editor, producer,
planner, storyboarder, and chief production supervisor for a host of different products. His
involvement is promising because he knows about how to make a good product like Kemono

At the same time, Mine Yoshizaki specifically tweeted that Kadokawa had effectively given
Tatsuki the right to do whatever he wanted with the IP. This could be Kadokawa trying to walk
back ownership or control of an IP that they had previously written off and now want to take
back control of.


Taken from ​this post​ by /u/ActivelyAnonymous and expanded upon:

● March 28th:​ The final Episode of Kemono Friends airs at 1AM ("Otaku O'Clock")
● April 1st:​ TV Tokyo ​president comments about the surprise success of the show and a
“newly produced clip.”​ This would likely be “Episode 12.1,” which Kadokawa later would
claim was done without anyone’s knowledge or permission.
● April 4th:​ ​Episode 12.1​ is put on Youtube by the Director, which he paid out of pocket
to have finished.
● April 5th:​ Mine Yoshizaki (Kemono Friends creator, who works for Kadokawa) publicly
states that Tatsuki was given permission to create additional stuff for Kemono Friends
and that Tatsuki was overjoyed at hearing this.
● June:​ The contracts for commercials are finalized through Kadokawa.
● "Early August": ​ Kadokawa claims to have received Yaoyorozu's resignation from the
Kemono Friends project
● August 11th: ​ Tatsuki and his self-publishing team attend Comiket, selling (with
permission) concept notes and other behind the scenes fan material.
● August 25th: ​ Animelo Summer Live 2017 has a special 4 minute clip on concert /
convention etiquette. (Don’t push, put away your phone, etc)
● August 29th:​ The latest run of the anime, this time as a morning broadcast for TV
Tokyo, finishes to great reviews.
● September 19th:​ A commercial collaboration with Nissin airs.
● September 25th:​ Tatsuki is informed he is fired at 8 PM. A hashtag goes up, hitting
number 1 worldwide trending on Twitter in a few hours. Over 1 million tweets are sent
out in the first 12 hours before Twitter censors the hashtag supposedly at Kadokawa's
request. 7 additional hashtags are created and summarily censored.
● September 26th: ​ Tatsuki's birthday. Kadokawa makes a public statement, which is
quickly picked apart by the fanbase. The petition to reinstate the team breaks 50,000
● September 27th:​ The Shield of Seiyuu incident occurs at 1 AM; Kadokawa sends the
voice actresses out to try and deflect anger. It backfires.
● October 3rd:​ The CEO of Kadokawa Shoten (Kadokawa Publishing) announces that he
has met with Yaoyorozu’s company and is working on a resolution.

Additional Info

● The Kemono Friends Production Committee is made up of TV Tokyo, KDKW,

FamilyMart, Crunchyroll, Bushiroad, and Just Production (Yaoyorozu’s parent company).
● The CEO of TV Tokyo “agrees with the world’s fans that various solutions should be
explored to allow the already-announced second season to be created” but that “as a
member of the production committee it would be inappropriate for TV Tokyo or the CEO
personally to offer further commentary in addition to the committee’s official press
release”: ​
○ See also:
nts-on-kemono-friends-success-i-felt-a-strange-deepness​ Where the TV Tokyo
leadership appears to know about episode 12.1 days before it was released.
● Shield of Seiyuu event: ​
● Reddit thread on this document:
● People far more adept than I have put up a website here talking about the scandal and
organizing a response to it.: ​

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