Looking into the troubling tracing allegations within the otome industry

 Looking into the troubling tracing allegations within the otome industry

Throughout the year it has come to my attention of a certain situation that could be cause for future concerns for our beloved dating sim games from Japan. I will lay out what many of my fellow otome enthusiasts may have missed out on regarding the situation and discuss the implications of these allegations.

A breakdown of the situation

To start off with, the issue revolving around the suspected culprit of the tracing has been an ongoing speculation for several years in Japan and has only now trickled into Western borders thanks to the efforts of concerned translators, as fans of the otome genre as well as artists themselves. The current issue dates back to May 2019 when the artist Yuiga Satoru, best known for her artwork in the Psychedelica series (Psychedelica of the Black Butterfly and Psychedelica of the Ashen Hawk) announced the suspension of her manga series of the latter name. She would later follow this up with her stating that she will be limiting her work to escape harassment she has been faced with across 4 years.

You can see an example below of the alleged tracing, known as “frankentracing” where multiple images are meshed together to form one image using a variety of different sources.

Credit to Akua Kourin

The situation escalated from there as we come into this year, where Yuiga was said to hold 300 pieces of evidence and is the cause of her limiting her work to avoid further harassment and being traced. With the evidence Yuiga claims to hold, she had anticipated the culprit would move onto new targets to trace due to her speaking out on the situation. One such speculation is of a new target being pako, character designer of Fate/Extella Link as an example below, and the other being RiRi, artist of Piofiore.

Credit to Akua Kourin

Yuiga would go on to identify the alleged culprit as simply “H”. Due to the severity of the allegations, fellow supporters of Yuiga were quick to point the finger towards a prolific and well-known artist with the industry, Hanamura Mai, known as the character designer of Amnesia and Collar x Malice. Legal action was threatened by the suspected individual, with a lot of this falling back onto the company involved with both the culprit and victim: Otomate/Idea Factory.

The allegations across the year has even received attention from other artists who addressed the situation after also being called victims of the same suspected tracer by others online. One such example is the now deleted tweet by Yuuya, the artist of Cafe Enchante and Cupid Parasite that alludes to her stance on tracing being that “you must take responsibility and complete the drawing with the skills you yourself have.” This is only one example of how much this situation blew up within Japan and is worth being known about across the border as well considering the problematic boycotting backlash it has received, which not only greatly affects the products but also the artists we know and love.

Opening a can of worms

Plagiarism isn’t anything new. Ever since the conception of the World Wide Web, from deviantart to twitter, tracing has never been so common as of recent years. But within the scope of the otomes alone, even indie efforts are highly problematic, as seen with the case of Operation: Future Domination. Its now inactive creator traced sprites from the otome Bad Apple Wars, and worst yet was open to receiving donations and had been backed up by Sekai Project. The game was thankfully taken down before its release, but its creator would later attempt to market another otome creation called Wred & the Wolf. Despite being free its sprites were also traced, being noticed by eagle eyed individuals. In a bizarre twist of irony, the victim this time around was speculated to also be a tracer. What this comes down to is it makes the whole community look as guilty or disingenuous, coming back to the current issue. Not everyone is a bad egg.

So what does this all mean?

Since each example brought up is speculation, we cannot say for certain how valid any of the claims are. This is especially the case when it comes to tracing, since it is often confused with referencing. But what we do know is how detrimental the entire ordeal has been for Yuiga specifically, whose work history no longer holds any record of her being employed under Idea Factory/Otomate since the debacle. It is highly likely that due to the allegations, both Yuiga’s manga serialisation of the Psychedelica series and the otome games of the same name are no more.

This has clearly caused detrimental damage for Yuiga, making it a massive shame not only for fans of hers and the Psychedelica series, but also for her future endeavors. This goes without saying for the impact it has and will have on Hanamura as well, since her name was never explicitly mentioned as the culprit but has marked her as a target for online harassment. It has even gone as far as fans becoming unwilling and unsupportive of the few otome titles we are seeing being brought over to the West. The bottom line is, each otome title has a massive team including many hard working, talented individuals worth of our attention and investment to see the creation of the final product, making boycotting even more damaging to the already sad situation.

But what are your thoughts on the situation? For further information, please read uguucageoflove‘s full post for all the relevant information, and thank you for the translations.

Lilia Hellal
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