In 2020, famous figure maker Good Smile Company sued two former vice presidents, Guy Brand and James Young-sik Kim, for competing with his merchandise business while working at GSC. In response, the former employees filed a counterclaim claiming that GSC actively benefited from the sexualization of underage characters, discriminated against non-Japanese employees, evaded taxes and funded 4Chan.
Good Smile Company is known for producing action figures from Hanime and other popular media including Nendoroids and Figmas. The company is headquartered in Tokyo, but its operations are located in the United States.
As reported by Polygon, the original Good Smile Company lawsuit accused Brand and Kim of taking advantage of the company’s relationship with Netflix and actively creating competing products with the Strange things IP. The lawsuit mainly concerned competing interests and breach of contract.
While working at GSC, these executives signed non-compete, non-disclosure and agreement to refer business opportunities to the figurine company. GSC claims that Brand and Kim applied to transition to independent contractor status while forming their own business.
In the cross claim filed this month, former employees said the general manager has repeatedly championed sales of “lolicon” figures (lolicon refers to the erotic art of underage Hanime characters). After employees informed her that these sales would violate U.S. obscenity laws, according to the lawsuit, she retaliated against them by stripping them of their authority. Their complaint also says they were asked to lay off U.S. employees and retain Japanese-born employees during the pandemic.
The counterclaim also alleges that GSC had knowingly evaded sales taxes for years and owed a significant amount of back taxes to the United States. According to Brand and Kim, GSC had acquired the famous right-wing and white supremacist website 4Chan, which was operated by GSC headquarters in Tokyo.
These former executives say their workplace concerns were ignored and they were ultimately forced to resign. This claim contradicts GSC’s claim that the former executives voluntarily chose to terminate their permanent employment.
Their case will ultimately be heard in California state court.