”Devil modifications” lead to arrest in multi-prefecture investigation.
The resale of anime figures, while an occasionally gross business, isn’t usually illegal. However, Kyoto Prefecture resident Takuya Matsuda has landed in trouble with the law for the specific type of anime figures he’d been reselling.
The 49-year-old publishing company employee had been supplementing his income by selling “makaizo” figures of female characters from franchises including hit idol anime Love Live! “Maikazo” is a combination of the Japanese terms ma/“devil” and kaizo”modification,” but Matsuda’s modifications weren’t done with the intent to make the anime ladies more evil. Instead, he was trying to make them sexier.
Matsuda would start with two figures, one of a popular female character, and another of a less-popular character with a provocative pose or revealing outfit. He’d then swap the heads, giving him a super-sexy version of a popular character, and a rare one too, since the makaizo differs from the official versions offered by retailers.
▼ Makaizo figures
やまねこ (@kyojre) February 22, 2019
This combination of sex appeal and scarcity would allow him to resell the modified figures at a premium online, and between November and December of last year he sold four makaizo figures to customers including a 29-year-old civil servant in Gunma Prefecture, with the sale totaling 51,750 yen (US$465). However, the sale of makaizo figures constitutes a copyright violation under Japanese law, and when the Gunma Prefectural Police caught wind of what Matsuda had been doing, they placed him under arrest.
▼ A makaizo figure (left) with Love Live! character Kanan’s head on the body of Utaha, from the comparatively far less popular How to Raise a Boing Girlfriend franchise
チョコパン (@chokopan1202) February 23, 2019
Matsuda has admitted to the charges, saying that he used the money to repay loans and for general living expenses. During the investigation, detectives determined that over the last 10 years Matsuda has received approximately 39 million yen (US$351,000) in revenue from online auction sites, and believe a large portion of that might be from makaizo figure sales.
So remember, even if you’re looking to make some extra cash in the second-hand otaku merchandise sector, makaizo isn’t the way to go. Not only is it illegal, you also end up with a bunch of leftover parts, since at least two figures go into the making of each makaizo figure, which is just wasteful.