A Campaign Flyer Depicting Political Members As Slam Dunk Characters Has Gone Viral

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After the recent mayoral election in Kanuma City on June 9, 2024, people are talking about a campaign flyer from the candidate who didn’t win. The flyer has an illustration that looks a lot like the poster for the latest Slam Dunk anime film.

Experts in copyright law have pointed out the similarities, noting that the illustration included key political figures dressed in basketball uniforms, such as Toshimitsu Motegi, the Secretary-General of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), and Tomikazu Fukuda, the Governor of Tochigi.

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A poster for ‘Slam Dunk’ (Left) (Toei Animation), The Campaign flyer featuring the political figures in basketball attire (Right)

The focal point of the illustration was the mayoral candidate Mikio Kobayashi.

Accompanied by the headline “Total Effort,” the flyer also conveyed the message “If we give up, Kanuma ends here.” Lawyer Hiroyuki Nakajima highlighted the resemblances between the flyer and the movie poster, stating:

“The number of people, their poses, clothing, bibs, and the overall composition strongly evoke the essential characteristics of the ‘THE FIRST SLAM DUNK’ poster. There is a risk of infringing the adaptation rights under copyright law.”

Responding to these concerns, a senior official from Kobayashi’s campaign explained that the flyer was the work of young staff members who were inspired by similar posters used in shopping districts across other prefectures.

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Shohoku High School Basketball Team (Left) and Haruko Akagi (Right) from ‘Slam Dunk’ (Toei Animation)

The official admitted that the flyers, distributed in newspapers prior to the official campaign period, had not been thoroughly reviewed for potential copyright issues.

Despite the creative efforts of the campaign, 70-year-old Mikio Kobayashi, endorsed by both the LDP and Komeito, was defeated in the mayoral race by 58-year-old Shoichi Matsui.


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