A Legal Examination of Issues Caused by Rozen Maiden's Hiatus

topIn January 2007, rumors began circulating that PEACH-PIT, the duo behind hit titles such as DearS and Zombie-Loan, is having a dispute with the editorial team of Gentosha's Comic BIRZ over the serialization of Rozen Maiden. When the March issue of Comic BIRZ was released on January 30th, instead of a new chapter of Rozen Maiden, fans were greeted with the announcement of Rozen Maiden's suspension.

However, the announcement can only be found inside the magazine, so to fans who buy BIRZ just for Rozen Maiden, it was not clear that the March issue of BIRZ didn't carry their favorite manga. A Japanese law blog called Ahowota Law Student News explores this interesting situation, and goes on to ask the question: "Can a person legally claim fallacy and assert that the contract is invalid (Meaning he can return the magazine and get his money back)?"

Hiatus of Star Serials and Fallacy - A Legal Examination of the Rozen Maiden Hiatus Problem

Comic BIRZ March 2007 issue (magazine)
Publisher/Maker: Gentosha
Release Date: 01/30/2007
Media: Magazine

All magazines have something known as a "star serial".

Comic Gum's Tsukiyomi.

Dengeki Daiou's Yotsubato! *1


Comic BIRZ's Rozen Maiden. *2

It's no exaggeration to say that a large number of readers buy magazines simply to read their particular star serial, and that, if said star serial is not in there, they feel great spiritual distress. Now then:

Reader A has purchased the February issue of BIRZ, expecting Rozen Maiden to appear in it; however, in that issue, Rozen Maiden is on hiatus, and he (or she) is unable to read it.

Consider this simple example. In this situation, can Reader A make a valid legal complaint?

A Lawyer's Thoughts on the Contractual Process

In this case, the legal framework that comes to mind is that of "Fallacy and Inefficacy". Take a look at Civil Law Article 95:

Article 95: When a fallacy exists in an element of a legal action, declarations of intention are rendered ineffective. However, if there was a grave error on the part of the declarer, he is unable to claim that inefficacy for himself.

Unless you've studied Law, you probably aren't able to understand much just from reading that provision. In short, this is what it means:

When our ancestors wrote the civil code, they assumed that, when someone undertook a legal action (you may think of this as any action which has legal meaning *3), they would go through the process detailed below. Take manga as a concrete example.

  1. Motive
    "I'm bored anyway; might as well read some manga or something and cheer myself up!" This motive exists before anything else.
  2. Focused Will
    Next, a desire to initiate an action which holds legal meaning (focused will) is born. In short, in our concrete example, the focused will "Think I'll buy a manga" comes into existence.

  3. Indicatory Intention
    ... That's all well and good, but simply having focused will inside your head does not a contract make. For that to happen, you must give some sort of expression to that will, such as "I'd like this manga, please". By doing that (saying "Gimme a manga!"), you attempt to express the desire that is already focused inside you to those on the outside (indicatory intention).
  4. Indicatory Action
    Then, as a result of this indicatory intention, you actually say "Gimme a manga!" (indicatory action). If you are granted consent (as in they tell you "Sure thing!"), a sales contract has been brought into being.

As illustrated, civil law holds our individual will to be of the highest importance. *4

This means that, if such a desire does not exist and a contract is (or "appears to be") drawn up by mistaken expression alone, as long as the "will" civil law holds so valuable does not exist, the contract must be considered ineffective. This is exactly what is meant by the word "fallacy", as expressed in Civil Law Article 95.

img1Fallacy of Motive

However, in practice, it's very rare for an "indication" separate from that second stage of "will" to actually appear. If one does exist, it is usually only to the extent of an incorrectly written price *5 or a mistake in units *6. In practice, the second stage of "will" exists, but most of the time what formed it was a mistake in the first-stage "motive" (this is known as a "fallacy of motive").

In the case recorded above, "A"s process is:

  1. Motive = "I wanna read Rozen Maiden! It's gotta be in the new issue of Comic BIRZ that went on sale today!"
  2. Focused Will = "I'll go buy Comic BIRZ!"
  3. Indicatory Intention = "A"s taking Comic BIRZ to the cashier, saying "I'll take this, please", and getting out his wallet.
  4. Declaration of Intention = "This, please." (Taking Comic BIRZ to the store's cashier.)

It's through this process that "A" obtains his manga, and no misconceptions exist in either 2. Focused Will ("I'll go buy Comic BIRZ!") or 4. Declaration of Intention (taking the comic to the register)

The mistake (the difference between expectation and reality *7) exists simply in
1. Motive: "I wanna read Rozen Maiden! It's gotta be in the new issue of Comic BIRZ that just went on sale today!"

The argument lies in how to handle fallacies such as this (fallacies of motive). The precedents and accepted theories are:

"On principle, as Motive is not equal to the substance of Declaration of Intention, inefficacy due to fallacy cannot be claimed; however, in the event that the declarer either explicitly or implicitly expressed the reason which should be affiliated with Motive in his Declaration of Intention, a fallacy in Motive also becomes a fallacy in Declaration of Intention." Starting Line General Civil Law Code, by Ikeda Shinro, pg. 118

...that. In practice as well, when a motive is indicated and becomes the substance of the contract, it can be thought that the view that no harmful effect will be caused to the contracting partner is at work.

Now then, in the preceding case, did Rozen Maiden 's being in the current issue become the contract?

"'A' never once said, 'Give me the Comic BIRZ which is currently carrying Rozen Maiden!, now did he!?"

While there is logic to this argument, unfortunately, according to leading theory, this alone is not enough of a reason to deny A's claim.

That is to say, precedent assumes that this is a case of "Motive implicitly becoming the substance of Declaration of Intention".

Therefore, if the motive is clearly expressed, or is implicitly expressed through routine actions, the Motive becomes the substance of Declaration of Intention.

In the case of star serials, we can say that the usual motive for purchasing that magazine is "wanting to read the star serial", so that, upon buying Comic BIRZ, the motive of wanting to read Rozen Maiden is implicitly expressed.

Now, in order for 'A' to claim fallacy, we have a few more hurdles to clear.

They are, namely, "Fallacy of Element" and "Absence of Grave Error".

img2Fallacy of Element

According to Article 95, "Fallacy" may be claimed only when a grave error exists in an element of a legal action (see provision).

This "fallacy of element" is such that, first, "that particular person" would not have made that contract had the error not existed ("cause-and-effect relationship"), and additionally, that "the average person" would not have made such a contract had the error not existed ("gravity").

For example, take the case of a character in a certain scene of a certain comic having six fingers. "The average person", at least, would not take an error of that caliber as a reason not to buy the comic, so, lacking the condition of "gravity", it is not a fallacy of element.

Now then, what about our case? First, as that particular reader bought the comic with the intention of reading its star serial, it is admissible that, had he known the star serial was on hiatus, he would not have bought the comic ("cause-and-effect relationship"). The problem here is "gravity", and here the words of Professor Uchida:

"In the case that the average person who engages in similar transactions (omission) would most likely not make (that transaction), (omission) it is a fallacy of element."

Uchida Takashi, Civil Law I, Tokyo University Publishing Group, pg. 60

...may be of service.

For example, if you bought a flat-screen TV weighing ten kilos, but it didn't work, the logic "You can still use it to weight your pickling jar, so whether or not it works as a TV isn't really important" probably wouldn't cut it.

Using the average person as a standard (in the case when something is known), and when one is deciding whether or not to make a transaction, it is probably reasonable to use the question "when a normal person buys this object, does it fulfill its purpose or not" to decide whether or not a fallacy is grave. *9

That means, as far as star serials are concerned, we can admit that "the reader buys that manga precisely because that star serial runs in it", and that even from an average perspective, one can say that the object in purchasing that magazine is to read the star serial (as those who buy the magazine to read the other serials are exceptions to the rule).

Therefore, having fulfilled the condition of "gravity", it can indeed be called a fallacy of element.

Grave Error

Lastly, there is the condition that "A" not having made a grave error. A "grave error" is defined as an error which was could have been avoided by paying a minimal amount of attention, but was made anyway.

Since an error has the severe effect of rendering the contract invalid, saying that the contract is invalid simply because a mistake was made (even though that mistake was due to gross inattention) is rough on the contracting partner (in this case the bookstore).

For that reason, a demand was made for a condition to determine "grave error".

Usually, magazines have a list in their back pages of which works are running, and which are currently on hiatus. In that case, since he could tell which serials were on hiatus by checking that list, "A" could, under some circumstances, be seen as having made a grave error.

However, this grave error is:

"Omitting to write a notice to draw the attention of the average person"

Uchida Takashi, Civil Law I, Tokyo University Publishing Group, pg. 69

...and would become a grave error should he make the contract without checking where the normal person would never fail to check.

There are probably readers who do check, very carefully, to see whether or not a serial is on hiatus. However, there are more readers who do not. This holds especially true nowadays, when magazines are usually packaged in plastic and the like.

Now, in the case of Comic BIRZ's February issue, they had apparently missed the corrections deadline, and 'Rozen Maiden PEACH-PIT' was clearly stated on the cover. In which case, at the very least, it can be said that there was no grave error on "A"s part.

To sum up:

Upon having purchased Comic BIRZ with the expectation that Rozen Maiden would be running, only to find that it was not, the vexed "A" can legally claim fallacy and assert that the contract is invalid. (Meaning he can return the book and get his money back.) *10

Although, if he were a reader who really loved Rozen Maiden, he should probably keep the magazine, take out the survey postcard in the middle *11, write "Hurry up and make peace with peach-pit-sensei, then hurry up and put the serial back in!" or something of the sort, and send it to the editorial department.

The legal "correct answer" and the true "correct answer" are different.


Apparently Rozen Maiden was not run in the Comic BIRZ which went on sale on January 30th, either *12. (**This would be the "March" issue.) If the hiatus continues, the probability that the continuation will not be published grows (self-evident when you consider HUNTER X HUNTER). In that case, it becomes easier to admit "grave error". Also, since, due to the continuing hiatus, the number of people who buy the magazine for that "former star serial" will also decrease (this is self-evident from HUNTER X HUNTER as well), elemental proof also becomes difficult. In every sense of the word, I would like them to hurry up and put the serial back in.

*1 - At first I gave Shonen Ace's The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya as an example, but as I got many comments from people who thought it unsuitable, I deleted it on 1/30.

*2 - I'm purposefully omitting Cobalt's Maria-sama is Watching. While it's definitely a star serial, they only run short stories or interviews or information on the anime, and it isn't a given that the work will be in every month's issue.

*3 - Contracts are the typical example, and as the problem this time around is a contract, I will be using "contract" as a substitute from here on.

*4 - A short and easily understandable explanation of this logic: "The kind of citizens needed in modern civil society are, not those who do everything others order them to, but those who build evolving social relationships in company with those around them by their own will. In short, to use current terms, those who put a "self-determining, self-responsible" way of thinking into practice. It is for that reason that civil law takes our individual "wills" as being of highest importance. To have full-fledged citizens with decision-making power shape each other's social relationships through their own independent wills is the fundamental aim of civil law." Ikeda Shinro, Starting Line General Civil Law Code, see pg. 7

*5 - Writing one too many zeros!

*6 - Writing 10,000 dollars as 10,000 pounds.

*7 - In this case, Rozen Maiden isn't running in Comic BIRZ.

*8 - There are so many omissions because he refers to the example of mistaking dollars for pounds.

*9 - I've used the reservation "the normal person" because there may in fact be a few individuals who would buy a flat-screen TV for use as a pickle-jar weight. In order not to make a problem out of those individual cases, I insist on thinking of "the average person" as a standard. For example, take the situation "I bought natto (fermented soybeans) because I thought I could diet that way, but I'm not losing weight". Very few average people buy natto as part of a mistaken diet, so it does not become an elemental fallacy. However, they may find relief in the event that the condition of "fraud by a third party" (Article 96, Section 2) is fulfilled.

*10 - This conclusion is the private opinion of an individual who has no legal credentials. Even if a claim like this were made, if the bookstore resisted, "A" would have to file a lawsuit and give proof as to the condition of fallacy (to be precise, fallacy outside of grave error).

*11 - More accurately, the survey form that one sticks onto a postcard.

*12 - See "End of Rozen Maiden serial!? No notification in next month's Comic BIRZ :nyuuakiba.com"

Comments and Discussions

Anonymous: "'Particulars/generalities' aren't touched on, are they."

Reinus: "What would happen if there'd been an announcement of the hiatus in the previous issue, or if the title wasn't noted on the cover?"

Author: "To Anonymous: You mean about larceny?

To Reinus: Since, in our case study, if "A" had known about the hiatus, there would have been no error, he would not be able to claim the transaction ineffective. If we take "A" not knowing about the hiatus as a premise, then if there had been a notice of the hiatus in the previous issue or if the title was listed on the cover, it would become one sort of grave error in an element of decision. Thinking that grave error becomes harder to admit when the magazine's been packaged is an individualistic way of looking at it. The question is whether it's all right to call not having opened the magazine to check or not having checked the notice in the previous issue a grave error. However, if the hiatus is noted on the cover, and it's clear that the hiatus could have been spotted had the least bit of attention been paid, then it's probably okay to acknowledge grave error.

Thanks for your comments, you two."

About Ahowota Law Student News:
Notice based on product responsibility law, Article 3: This site informs on culpabilities and illegalities, etc., regarding readers' favorite works and characters (although the reverse is also true). It also contains basic content spoilers. Please take these two factors into account as you read. Although if you google "handjob" or "boobs", this site comes up first in the results list, it is certified as "wholesome and safe for all ages". "You" might not find the "content" you're looking for here.

About The Author:
ronner, an anime otaku and law otaku; law student at a certain college. (male)

Original Article
Translated by Sarah


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All this stuff for what, a

All this stuff for what, a 500 yen magazine? Come on!

And also:
"It's no exaggeration to say that a large number of readers buy magazines simply to read their particular star serial, and that, if said star serial is not in there, they feel great spiritual distress."

IMO it's an exaggeration, a very big one! "great spiritual distress" for the lack of 30/50 pages of your favorite manga? Please, you must be joking...

Personally, the only thing

Personally, the only thing I'd buy Monthly BIRZ for would be Rozen Maiden. I'm sure plenty of others feel the same.

I'd want my subscription refunded if the series was pulled so suddenly.

rozen maiden

IF, said item, is advertised on the cover then the purchaser is entitled to said item and can return the merchandise for said purchase price. However if said item is not advertised in anyway then the purchaser doesn't have much of a 'right' to expect a return. IF this were true then a hugh amount of businesses would be put out of business on a daily basis(especially the food industry's), because 'expected' functions were not universally available.