Police have raided the offices of Square Enix over a complaint by SNK that popular Square Enix published manga Highscore Girl infringed its copyrights by including characters from its various games without the proper blood oaths.
Officers from the Osaka police’s economic crimes department conducted searches on Square Enix’s head office as well as those of subsidiary companies after characters from such SNK properties as King of Fighters and Samurai Spirits appeared in Highscore Girl, a romantic comedy set in the nineties and featuring a protagonist obsessed with the fighting games of the era.
Ominously, they plan to use the material to “determine the culpability of creators and staff responsible,” suggesting even mangaka Rensuke Oshikiri may face charges.
The manga is unambiguous in its (named) inclusion of characters from various fighting games in the main story, though it would appear Capcom has already settled the matter, and includes a cheery acknowledgement of all copyrights used on the endpage:
Square Enix has “voluntarily” withdrawn all copies of the manga (including earlier volumes) and completely suspended its digital distribution (although it generously maintains “owners” of digital editions will still be able to read them), but insists it has done nothing wrong:
“This incident occurred during ongoing discussions with SNK Playmore. We do not acknowledge the alleged copyright infringement, but with the ongoing trouble we have issued a voluntary recall.”
The manga’s serialisation will be unaffected, as will its upcoming anime adaptation, they say.
Both the conduct of SNK and Square Enix have been subject to criticism
– SNK’s involvement of police and spurning of free publicity in an apparently disproportionate escalation, and Square Enix’s egregious blunder in not obtaining permission and apparently keeping SNK waiting over a year as negotiations over the matter dragged out.