There are lots of reasons fans create doujin goods. Sometimes an IP just doesn’t have a lot of merchandise, either at all or in their region. Sometimes they do it for fun. Sometimes it’s for Artist Alley tables. And then at other times, it’s a deliberate attempt to leech off a property.
Since the switch-over from Love Live! to Love Live! Sunshine!!, the franchise has seen a dip in their sales. And it’s to be expected. When you switch entirely over to a new set of characters for the first time, fans are going to be confused.
Franchises like PreCure, super sentai, and Kamen Rider (who are known to switch from year to year) can actually benefit from the annual fresh blood. But the change to nine new girls after two seasons has excited some fans while confusing others.
Perhaps this is why the company is being far more stringent and public with their crackdown on fan-made goods. Recently, the official site made a public statement saying they are following up with police investigations concerning bootleg merchandise. Their focus seems to be arcade prizes, but they also mention mail-order sites and merchandise sold at events.
This begs the question — are they talking solely about major dealers attempting to pass off their product as official, or will they be going after indie doujin creators? In recent years, fandom around the world has become more accepting of fan creations. Many studios now hold fanart contests or special events encouraging the creation of fan works. Others even go on to employ fan creators. But that isn’t the case across the board — just as one artist is being scouted for their fanart, another could be receiving a C&D.
So which is the case with Love Live! in the near future? Sadly, it’s hard to tell. The franchise has lots of merchandise and tie-ins, so it’s not as though the fan base is starving for things to buy. Albums, toys, figures, manga, and even concert gear can all be bought officially licensed. To that end, shutting down major companies creating knock-off toys as arcade prizes is, for certain, a good thing.
As for fan creators… all we can really do is wait and see.
What do you think? Let us know in the comments!