Japanese figurine maker, Good Smile Company, is being sued by two former employees named Guy Brand and James Young-sik Kim over allegations of discrimination, tax evasion, and selling “over-sexualized anime figures depicting minors…”
Initially reported by Polygon, the former employees were executives in the company who themselves were sued by Good Smile for “corporate misconduct.” Both of the lawsuits can be found online; Good Smile’s lawsuit was filed back in September 2020, while the cross-complaint was filed just recently.
Shadowy Business Moves
For those unfamiliar, Good Smile Company is best known for its anime and gaming and created licensed products of various franchises as a part of its Nendoroid and Figma lines. Examples include the Super Mario series, The Legend of Zelda, and Overwatch, just to name a few.
Good Smile’s 2020 lawsuit states that the two executives stole confidential business information in an attempt to create a secret company. The lawsuit also alleges Brand and Kim tried to court Netflix into giving a brand deal to their company instead of Good Smile. Last year, Netflix turned a street in Los Angeles to resemble a drive-in theater from their hit series, Stranger Things. Ultimately, Good Smile got the deal, but Brand’s and Kim’s moves didn’t go unnoticed.
Lawsuit vs Lawsuit
Good Smile is asking the court for $2 million in damages. In retaliation, Brand and Kim filed a cross-complaint that states their former employer is selling “oversexualized anime figures depicting minors.” The lawsuit goes on to mention an instance where Brand and Kim talked with their boss about how American companies like Disney, Marvel, Nintendo, and others would end their contract “…if they knew about the sexualized figures sold by Good Smile.”
The accusation that Good Smile possibly owns and operates 4chan is one of the least wild things in this lawsuit. https://t.co/20Io53Sdbz
— D.M. Moore (@Kiey) September 15, 2021
Added in the complaint is the allegation that Good Smile has directly invested into 4chan, which the lawsuit claims is a problematic website. 4chan does allow companies to purchase ad space on their site, but it’s unknown if this constitutes a direct investment. Brand and Kim’s lawsuit also claims that due to being exposed to the “sexual nature” of the merchandise, Good Smile created a hostile work environment for them that made them uncomfortable.
Looking at the company website, there certainly are numerous examples of sexually explicit figurines, but there are also tons of non-sexual merchandise.
Phat! Company's 1/6 scale figure of Ryza from "Atelier Ryza: Ever Darkness & the Secret Hideout" is currently available for preorder! Be sure to preorder soon!
— GoodSmile_US (@GoodSmile_US) September 13, 2021
In a statement to Polygon, Good Smile said the cross-complaint “… is based on demonstrably, knowingly, and provably false and defamatory allegations.” The company stated that it will argue the case in court. Conversely, the lawyers for Brand and Kim simply said that the lawsuit “speaks for itself.”
The rerelease of FREEing's figma Davide di Michelangelo is currently available for preorder! Be sure to preorder this tabletop work of art for your collection soon!
— GoodSmile_US (@GoodSmile_US) September 11, 2021
Here is my personal opinion on this situation. It seems to me that Brand and Kim got caught red-handed doing something they shouldn’t have. And in order to save face in the court of public opinion and salvage their company, they filed a countersuit in an attempt to protect themselves.
Perhaps they’re trying to goad Good Smile into a quiet settlement so everything can be swept under the rug. Time will tell what happens in this lawsuit.