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

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

Cotoh’s Twitter bio reads: “Well, I only draw girls. I only draw lovely people.” The artist 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.

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 traced 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.

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 earlier 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.”

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


  • Damn of that is absolutely blatant but I gotta say the design on the shirt doesn’t match the alleged original at all.
    Dudes obviously talented but looks like he might’ve cut some corners to flush out his art book.

  • Referencing isn’t tracing. The video linked here makes the accusations of tracing even less credible and an illustrator isn’t about to care about what some lay person scrub thinks of their professional field. Heavily referencing is the industry standard, because it’s not a fine arts field and no one’s paying for original work. It’s also really easy for someone to overlay an image these days and claim it’s traced… right after they’re done stuffing it into that position, so all of these accusations should be taken with a grain of salt.

    If people want to complain about tracing, Marvel and DC books have a long storied and heavily documented set of tracing scandals. People are welcome to go complain about those instead.

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