Monster 9 files for bankruptcy

I logged in late this morning to find news all over twitter about the inevitable train wreck that was going on in seemingly slow motion to me.. Lost in Ube reported this morning that Monster 9 (Creators/Producers/Owners of Sasuke) filed for Bankruptcy on November 11th in Japan. Follow Ube's blog on articles as he finds them as he's a hell of a lot better in finding those things than I am by a long shot.

Several things to point out from the onset. Monster 9 is the owner, creator and producer of Sasuke. It belongs to them and Mr. Higuchi specifically. TBS is a co-producer and co-owner of the already-recorded broadcasts but they themselves get their cues from M9 which owns the franchise outright. Sasuke (especially future Sasuke) does not exist without M9. It's just that simple. There is no " get another TV station to produce Sasuke".. that's just not going to happen without the expressed written consent of M9. Given Higuchi's history.. I would be shocked if that ever changed. Besides.. there aren't anymore television stations willing to work with Higuchi these days.

Most of us watching from the sidelines unfortunately have been seeing this entire thing implode in slow motion for years.. Those of you who don't obsess like I do over the business minutia might have been alerted back in January, 2011 when the first set of major problems arose and the article announcing the cancellation of several key TBS shows were canceled (which included Sportsman #1) and the announcement of Sasuke 27 being the last show came to be. Then again.. I got hate mail for posting "rumor" that even though the count of how many Japanese websites posted that was well over 50 by this point and TBS has never denied it. The only thing G4 denied was that Sasuke 27 was not canceled. The question was ALWAYS about 28.. not 27. I know a lot of people were just not ready to hear those words.. The only thing that hasn't happened in that article is the date.. they said Sasuke was ending in March but it was aired in October ultimately due to postponement especially given the Earthquake/Tsunami that happened in March. So if Sasuke is done after this news (it's not confirmed yet) then the article was 100% true despite the harsh emails directed towards Andy, Ube and myself (the messengers).

Let's analyze this for a bit now. First and foremost we have to throw out the notion that we know what's going on with Japanese bankruptcy laws. Already in discussion on SMF.. we can't assume the rest of the world has reorganization clauses in bankruptcy as they do in the USA. Even if they do (I'm told there are) we have to wait to find out HOW they filed. Here in the USA we can figure out by which Chapter they are seeking and it determines their fate. Some go for full liquidation with an end to all operations while other chapters are reorganization with intent to pay off debt to creditors and come back. Knowing how they filed would help determine the intent to continue. To my knowledge we don't know yet.

EDIT from SMF (Infimum):

Reorganization has a different name in Japanese law, not differentiated merely by chapter numbers like in the US. If reorganization is what they did, it's customary to mention that in Japanese news articles. But that's not the case.

EDIT again from SMF (this time Ube):

As Infimum has pointed out, the articles all point to liquidation (hasan or 破産). Specifically 自己破産 which I believe is voluntary liquidation.

A fuller explanation that the show article is sourced from (that the above is C&Ped from): http://www.jurists.co.jp/en/topics/others_4007.html

The relevant section is IV.

Aside from their main office and the Shibuya theater, I don't think M9 has much in the way of physical assets. Also, intellectual property and bankruptcy doesn't seem to have a clear set of rules to follow so who knows what will happen in the future.

Outside of the filing date of Friday, November 11, 2011, the only thing we do know is that in fiscal year ending March, 2011 M9 and Digital 9 (which btw is the same company...) were at a combined loss of 35億6600万円 (3,566,000,000 Yen = $46,358,000 US Dollars using current currency exchanges) in debt. The debt is split between Monster 9 (18億600万円) and Digital 9 (17億6000万円). To give you an idea.. that's 3.5 BILLION Yen in Debt which equates to $46 MILLION Dollars in debt. That's.. obscenely high.. Something that Ube was kind enough to research for us.. as a stark contrast: Monster 9 was first created in 2005 and in 2008 it's profits reached 31.5 billion yen. So they lost more this year than they ever MADE in a high year.. that's.. insane..

Official ribbon cutting ceremony. All-Star Toshihiro Takeda 竹田敏浩, TV Host Sato Hiromichi 佐藤弘道, Monster 9 President and CEO - Ushio Higuchi 樋口 潮 (center) unidentified businessman (He might be the manager) and All-Star Kazuhiko Akiyama 秋山和彦 during the Grand Opening of Chitose's Muscle Park on July 18, 2010 ©Muscle Park Chitose

The writing on the wall has been going on for a while now. If you have been keeping up with the articles I've been writing since 2008.. you've seen a lot of ventures start and others just drop off the face of the earth. Just in the past couple of years we've seen Muscle Park Odaiba (Tokyo) close, Muscle Park Chitose (Hokkaido) open .. then close.. then change management altogether. We've seen Fanclubs in Japan start and end.. I didn't even get to write about the Fanclubs of Sasukefan and Ninjafan fail to start.. that was a blog I was hoping M9 would contribute but they never got back to me when I asked for specifics.. We've seen massive delays between Sasuke tournaments... we've seen Sasuke emphasis/priority change countries.. we've seen Muscle Musical shut down because of code violations.. We've seen shows completely disappear (Sportsman #1, Kunoichi) and that's not including the previous ones like Viking and Banzuke (and all the other Muscle Ranking spin offs that I lost track of) that predated this blog. We've also seen the international sales fiasco from different countries as G4 edited & ANW-tied programs have been omitted from programing sales in most countries. We've also seen Taiwan give up on the franchise after TBS spiked the prices for the latter seasons. And let's not forget the fiasco with Sasuke 26...


While not confirmed it is highly possible that Sasuke is over. With the admission of accounting fraud as well.. this case could go on for years barring M9 from producing anything until the terms of bankruptcy are reached. We don't even know if they intend to come back or not. We don't know how ANW4 will be impacted, or Sasuke Malaysia. There's still a lot of questions still to be answered.

Update from Ube: Update: Creditors have until December 16th to file and there will be a meeting on March 12th, 2012 at 1:30 PM. The lawyer who will act as the trustee is one Shuuji Kitagawa (北川秀二)