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Artist Hit With Tracing Allegations, But Pokémon Company Says Collab Shirt Is Original

"We’ve come to the conclusion that this is an original."

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Here's a close up of the Cotoh design shirt, featuring a young woman holding Piplup.
The shirt in question.
Image: Public Tokyo/The Pokémon Company/Cotoh Tsumi

In the past few weeks, popular artist Cotoh Tsumi has been repeatedly hit with tracing allegations. On 2ch and Twitter, critics have posted examples of what they say proves these charges, which the artist has denied. The criticism has become incessant, and now, some collab goods are being pulled. The Pokémon Company, however, states that its recent collab t-shirt with the artist is an original work.

In the past few years, the Pokémon Company has been teaming up with all sorts of folks for collabs, ranging from popular artists to the Japanese sumo association.

Cotoh became famous by creating the visual marketing for the music group Yoasobi. Last year, the artist released a debut art book with over 500 illustrations., and Abode introduced the mysterious illustrator in a career session.

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Cotoh’s Twitter bio reads: “Well, I only draw girls. I only draw lovely people.” However, the allegations, which Cotoh denies, are that those lovely people are not drawn.

It’s not uncommon for artists to use reference materials, but the allegations against Cotoh go further—that, the artist, as these comparisons charge, allegedly seemed to trace source materials. Online, these claims have gotten more numerous, and as J-Cast reports, some of Cotoh’s collab goods are being pulled from sale.

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In Cotoh’s earlier tracing denial, the artist readily acknowledge the use of photos as reference materials. “However, I have never traced,” wrote Cotoh, adding, “Everything I do for clients is original.”

There have also been allegations regarding a shirt Cotoh did for brand Public Tokyo as part of the Pokémon Company’s “Project Piplup.” The shirt, which can be seen in the top image, was sold for a limited time only at a pop-up shop in late January and early February. The Pokémon Company has examined the matter internally, stating, “As a result of investigating the process in which this was produced, we’ve come to the conclusion that this is an original Project Piplup work.”

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However, the company did apologize for any trouble this has caused and provided info for customers wanting to either cancel their order or return the shirt.