When using anime characters for promotional purposes, it’s always good to check with the rights-holders first. However, it seems that the city of Sapporo in Hokkaido didn’t think about these when they made a few pamphlets. The city regularly distributes a series of pamphlets known as “Koihoi Sapporo”. However, the June edition of these pamphlets featured Rose of Versailles characters. That should be fine and all… except they didn’t ask permission from mangaka Riyoko Ikeda and her production company, Riyoko Production.
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The city actually had good intentions for making these pamphlets, as they talked about good manners. These include proper bicycle and subway behavior, as well as telling people to throw trash properly. They also renamed some of their characters, such as Marie Antoinette as “Manner Shirantoinette” and Oscar as “Oschar”.
However, this didn’t stop Riyoko Production to issue a complaint to the city about the pamphlets. And it looks like they realised their error, and issued a public apology to Ikeda. A Sapporo public relations representative then admitted that at first, they didn’t think of it as a copyright infringement. They also said that it was the use of the characters which led to a few misunderstandings among the public.
For their part, Riyoko Production said that they weren’t planning on taking legal action in the first place. However, they did find the pamphlets to be regrettable, especially as they talk about “good manners”.
source: Asahi Shimbun