“Cruel Angel’s Thesis” singer says she can’t see eye-to-eye with organizers of Tokyo anime concert series.

The Ikebukuro Anime Philharmonic is an upcoming concert series centered on orchestral renditions of iconic anime themes. The first performance is slated for July 10 at the Shibuya Sakura Hall in downtown Tokyo, and the plan was to start with a bang by including Yoko Takahashi, singer of Evangelion’s unforgettable opening theme “A Cruel Angel’s Thesis.”

However, on Wednesday Takahashi announced, through a posting on her official Twitter account, that she’s dropping out of the program due to its organizers’ use of AI-generated artwork in the promotional artwork for the event’s fliers, posters, and website.

Takahashi’s statement reads:

Yoko Takahashi’s beliefs differ from the operational attitude of the Ikebukuro Anime Philharmonic concert at which she was scheduled to appear on July 10. As an artist, she is unable to see eye-to-eye with the organizers, and after much difficult consideration, she is declining to take part in the event. She deeply apologizes to all those who were looking forward to seeing her, and wishes to place the highest value on the feelings of anime lovers.

Though not specifically mentioned in Takahashi’s statement, prior to her withdrawal rumors had begun circulating that portions of the Ikebukuro Anime Philharmonic’s promotional artwork had been produced by generative AI. The Ikebukuro Anime Philharmonic confirmed this in a statement, released at the exact same time as Takahashi’s, in which it apologized for the situation, though the organization denies that it knowingly or maliciously used AI-generated artwork.

“We are embarrassed, despite calling ourselves an anime-loving musical organization, at our lack of awareness surrounding recent issues regarding generative AI,” says the Ikebukuro Anime Philharmonic, adding that the organization’s executive committee is deeply regretful, and that it would be replacing the promotional artwork with new illustrations from commissioned human artists.

▼ The new promotional image. Previously, the background consisted of a composite image of three illustrated musicians, in which the AI-generated assets were located.

The day before the above statements were made, Yo Matsushita, a saxophonist and one of the organizers of Ikebukuro Anime Philharmonic, posted a video to the organization’s official YouTube channel discussing the chain of events that led up to Takahashi’s departure. According to Matsushita, there was no initial intent to use AI-generated artwork in the concert’s promotional materials. However, they were unable to secure an artist for the project, and with deadlines for the promotional materials quickly approaching, they began looking for preexisting images that were being offered for commercial use, whereupon they found the images of instrument-playing anime-style characters which were used in the concert’s first poster. Unfortunately, Matsushita says that the Ikebukuro Anime Philharmonic failed to notice that among the images they selected to use were ones tagged as “AI-generated.”

▼ Matsushita’s video message

Currently, the July 10 event is still planned to be held, with pieces from anime such as Dragon Ball, One Piece, Oshi no Ko, Ranma 1/2, and The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya to be performed. However, the Ikebukuro Anime Philharmonic says that it will be offering refunds for ticketholders who, like Takahashi, are no longer interested in attending.

Source: Twitter/@yoko_t_official via Nikkkan Sports via Livedoor News via Jin, Twitter/@ikeaniphil, IT Media, Ikebukuro Anime Philharmonic
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