Where Does Meipouchou Sit on the Fanfiction Scale?

Being a work about fandom, it was inevitable that elements from various anime would creep into Meipouchou. After all, fan works are a large part of fandom, especially when it comes to anime and its doujinshi scene. With the amount of time and effort that fans put into things like cosplay, it only makes sense that, with the resources of a small government, anime fans would, for example, recreate working versions of their favorite mecha, but does their appearance in Meipouchou make it fanfiction?

Before continuing, I should make a few things clear. First, I may or may not be a lawyer, and this is certainly not legal advice. Second, I am not looking down at or diminishing fanfiction. As I previously stated, it's an important part of fandom. Finally. there will be minor spoilers ahead for both Meipouchou and U.C. Gundam series.

Prior to Chapter 23, there were a few small concepts from anime series that were present in the Meipouchou world. Hideaki used a scouter from Dragon Ball Z to examime Aina, and the the names Neo Crystal Tokyo and GINZUISHOU were inspired by Sailor Moon. But Chapter 23 upped the ante by naming specific military mecha from Patlabor, and Chapter 25 introduces the book's first newtype.

Within the context of Meipouchou's fantasy setting, it makes sense that anime fans would construct scouters and labors. In fact, it would be less realistic if things like that didn't appear in the story. A character awakening to newtype powers is a different matter. Sure, Meipouchou contains other anime archetypes like magical girls, but newtypes are strongly associated with the Gundam franchise, and their inclusion feels more like stealing than any of the previous examples. But Meipouchou is not Gundam fanfiction.

This is partly because of the ambiguous nature of newtypes in the Gundam universe. There are multiple definitions of what makes up a Newtype. They are

  • Human beings adapted to live in outer space
  • Above-average pilots
  • People with various psychic powers
  • A new type of human which will supposedly lead all of humanity to transcend its limitations
  • A political construct used to justify a policy of forced migration to space, and later used to justify war against the ruling government on Earth

So far in Meipouchou, the only newtype was an above-average pilot who awakened to psychic powers while piloting a mech. Because of this, she is diagnosed as being a newtype, since Gundam is the closest reference the people of this world have to such a phenomenon, but that does not mean she is the same kind of newtype found in Gundam. However, this argument will become more difficult to make later in the story, when other characters start expecting the newtypes to act like newtypes from Gundam. For a few chapters, mech designs and more concepts will be pulled in from the Gundam universe.

This is where legal issues emerge. As Meipouchou is hosted on servers within the United States, I expect it will be subject to US copyright law, where it will fall into a legal gray area. Although it can be argued that the use of these concepts is protected under the doctrine of fair use, this argument only works as a defense in a lawsuit, and I don't have the resources to defend against a suit. However, fanfiction typically is not fair use, and I am not aware of any cases where the rights holders from the anime referenced in Meipouchou took action against fanfiction. My defense here is not a legal one. By not infringing as much as fanfiction, and by not seeking to profit, I hope to avoid legal attention.

Legalities aside, I still consider Meipouchou to be an original work. I borrow ideas and designs from anime in service of a more realistic story. At times, I walk pretty close to the line of stealing intellectual property, but I never cross it. No characters or storylines from anime appear in the story. Goku isn't going to show up and take everyone to the Hidden Leaf Village to take the chuunin exams. The presence of labors isn't going to give way to a story about policing labor crime, just as the presence of newtypes and Gundams isn't going to lead to a story about a war between Earth and space colonies.

Borrowed elements may contribute to a few important story points, but the vast majority of the story is original. Others may disagree, but for me, that is enough to distinguish Meipouchou from fanfiction.