Japanese justice takes a close interest in the studio that produces the anime

The ufotable animation studio, well known for producing anime such as the series Fate, or Demon Slayer, was founded by former members of TMS Entertainment’s subsidiary, Telecom Animation Film. The founder and currently interim president Hikaru Kondo, as well as the studio, are in the sights of the Japanese justice.

Kondo’s public apology

On July 9, 2021, Hikaru Kondo acknowledges tax evasion charges for the first time, and publicly apologizes. The Tokyo Attorney General’s office issued an official indictment against Kondo and Ufotable also in July this year. Prior to that, Kondo and the animation studio issued a statement denying the allegations and claiming that they thought they had paid the correct amount in taxes.

According to NHK, in his public apology, Kondo explained that he hid part of the company’s revenue in order to protect the studio from a possible downturn in business.. He declared:

I committed tax evasion believing that it would not cause any problem for the company.

Kondo was personally accused ofhave hidden more than 138 million yen (more than a million euros), between 2015 and 2018. It was revealed that in 2019, an investigation had already been launched on the studio, suspecting at the time a tax evasion to the tune of 400 million yen (i.e. 3.1 million euros). These revenues would come mainly from cafes and restaurants run by ufotable, as well as from the sale of their derivative products. Kondo allegedly hid the money in a private safe at his home, before using it for the operation of the company. But ufotable claims to have filed a corrected tax return as well as to have paid the corresponding sum.

(This is not the real Hikaru Kondo, but a cosplay during Machi Asobi, a festival in Tokushima).

controversies harmful to the future of the studio?

It is not yet clear whether this will have any further repercussions for ufotable and Kondo. But part of the initial allegations against Kondo and the studio included theaccusation of embezzlement of funds raised during a charitable event intended to raise funds to help the victims of the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami in 2011. Embezzlement of charitable funds is a punishable crime.a prison sentence of up to ten years in Japan, but for the moment it seems that the Japanese authorities have not followed up on this matter.

Prior to these allegations, ufotable was considered one of the most promising animation studios in Japan. Founded in 2000, the studio rose to prominence working with video game publisher Bandai Namco for making animated cutscenes, especially for gamesTales of Symphonia and God Eater. He then gained notoriety with the adaptation of Fate/Zero, and then enjoyed tremendous success with Kimetsu no Yaiba, aka Demon Slayer, as well as with his film The Infinity train (Mugen Train), which broke all records. US distributor Funimation recently announced plans to release the film in a special limited-edition Blu-ray box set.

The studio is currently working on the second season of the anime. Demon Slayer, which will adapt the Entertainment District arc, much appreciated by fans, and which, according to the Fuji TV channel, should follow the plot of the original manga by Koyoharu Gotouge. The release date of the new season has not yet been officially confirmed, but it is expected to arrive sometime in the fall of 2021..

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