On June 21st, it was reported that NHK has filed a lawsuit against Japan’s largest publisher Kodansha at the Tokyo District Court.
NHK planned to adapt Tsujimura Mizuki’s novel ‘Zero, Hachi, Zero, Nana.‘ into a four-episode drama starring actress Nagasawa Masami and broadcast it on BS Premium this May. The pre-production was already done, the actors were cast, the script was written by Omori Sumio, and the request for composition of the theme songs were sent out, when publisher Kodansha suddenly forced the suspension of the production.
The public broadcaster and the publisher already worked together numerous times, which makes it all the more shocking for them to end up in court over license agreements. The truth is that Kodansha wasn’t quite fond of the changes made to the story by Omori and already discussed this matter with NHK on various occasions. When discussions started to drag on forever and NHK was all set to start the filming, Kodansha said that Tsujimura herself doesn’t agree with the script and forced them to stop with the production. It was also a huge shock for all the people involved, including Nagasawa and the other actors who suddenly faced an unasked-for vacancy in their schedules.
Moreover there has never been a written agreement between the two parties about adapting this novel into a drama. However, NHK claims that Kodansha already gave their oral consent and therefore should have to pay for all the expenditures that have gone to waste by breaking this oral agreement. In total they demand a compensation of 59,800,000 Yen (745,825 USD) from the publisher.
No matter how this dispute will end, it will leave a deep crack in what was previously a good relationship between the two companies.