The winner of a newly instituted prize for disabled artists was stripped of her title after it became apparent she had plagiarised a Studio Ghibli character; the judges, including an art professor and two gallery bosses, apparently suspected but awarded the prize anyway, whilst the organisers pointed out that they had not actually explicitly prohibited plagiarism.
The top prize for artistic excellence in modern art by a disabled artist was awarded to a 26-year-old woman by the Osaka municipal government, who organised the event. There were 791 entrants in total.
The winning entry in question was entitled “A Downpour of Light” and roundly praised for its use of mosaic effects.
However, after the award a city employee apparently rather more familiar with Ghibli’s work than the judges or anyone viewing the works pointed out that the picture bore an uncanny resemblance to the sky robots in Ghibli’s masterpiece “Laputa.”
Studio Ghibli subsequently confirmed the obvious plagiarism, and the award was hurriedly rescinded.
After being caught the woman innocently claimed she had merely used Laputa as a “motif”: “I love Ghibli and so I made it the motif for this work.”
She then “declined to accept” the prize in a gesture likely intended to allow her and the organisers to save face.
The prize itself was recently instituted specifically in the hopes of encouraging disabled artists, and awarded for the first time to the woman.
The three judges overseeing the award included two heads of art galleries and a professor at an art college; one of the judges actually mentioned that the picture “resembled” Ghibli’s work, but they decided it was not a problem and awarded the prize anyway.
The department organising the event excused itself thusly:
“There wasn’t actually any warning to candidates that they should not submit works infringing on copyright. To avoid this happening again we’d like to devise some countermeasures.”
Sadly the rest of the art on display is strictly “modern art” and so devoid of much in the way of artistic merit: