Earlier today, US Bankruptcy Judge Shelley Chapman ordered TV Tokyo and Nihon Ad Systems (NAS) to comply with a stay on the Yu-Gi-Oh license. TV Tokyo and NAS can’t re-license the franchise or exercise their rights on the title until further notice. Judge Chapman stated that the trial will proceed in two phases: the first will determine whether TV Tokyo and NAS’ cancellation of the license was valid, and the second will determine if 4Kids owes money to the two companies. 4Kids must respond to the suit by June 10, and the trial will begin on August 29.
I have to admit that I didn’t see this coming. 4Kids was presumed to be finished after the initial suit was filed against them by TV Tokyo and NAS last March. The presumption became even more real as the company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy a few days later. After the cheers and dances of joy subsided, many of us assumed it was over. And, as time went on, and April gave way to May, many of us wrote the company off. They had officially become a footnote – a bad dream that was on the way to being forgotten. This didn’t last too long, as 4Kids learned that ADK would promote the new Yu-Gi-Oh! Zexal anime at this month’s Licensing Expo International. This prompted 4Kids to rise and file a motion to enforce the stay that was granted.
Across the web, people are already coming down on 4Kids, proclaiming that this is bollocks, that it’s unfair, and so on. You know, the typical knee-jerk reactions. Frankly, I feel dirty for saying this, but I’m going to have to say a few words on 4Kids’s part tonight. NAS and TV Tokyo obviously have their differences with 4Kids, and have good reason to do so. However, until there is a ruling as to whether the license can change hands, there is no legal way for NAS and TV Tokyo to be able to shop the series in America. This is only a temporary stay. It is a judge basically saying “there’s a dispute, and we want to hear it, but we have to go about this in a certain way.” I hate 4Kids as much as the next person, but even I have to admit that they have a right to defend the property in the US.
While we have no idea on how the outcome will be, my curiosity is piqued. For the first time in, well… ever, I’m looking forward to further news about 4Kids Entertainment. How things will play out, whether NAS and TV Tokyo have a snowball’s chance in hell in court, and even whether 4Kids can afford to kee the trial going are points of interest. Will we see 4Kids rise up and actually defend the license against two Japanese entertainment giants? Will we see them sputter and die in a pathetic courtroom blowout? It’s anybody’s guess at this point. The battle begins in August, and I’ll absolutely stay tuned to further proceedings.