Sunday, 8 June 2008

Massacre in Akihabara; more Otaku backlash?

Tomohiro Kato, a 25 year old man from the Shizuoka Prefecture was arrested today in Akihabara after killing at least seven, five of which he ran down with the aid of a two-ton truck. After his arrest, the man only told police that "he was tired of living and came specifically to Akihabara to kill people". An additional 18 people were also stabbed or wounded. This happened on a Sunday, when most of Akihabara's streets are closed to traffic and full of Japanese and foreign tourists alike.

I am surprised this did not end in suicide, as is usually the case with these "things" (not that I want to banalize the event) Now while my heart goes out to the victims, I have another concern. It has not been specifically said yet that the crime is to be blamed on video games/anime/manga/subculture (that usually pops up 2 or 3 days after the crime, out of respect for the families of the deceased), but I wouldn't rule it out. Sorry, what I meant was it will happen. Now Japan, even though it has given us Elfen Lied and cockroach porn, has been ramping up control of violent and pornographic content. While there will always be an underground scene, one only needs to look at the censored Japanese release of No More Heroes, whereas we got the intended version. Otakus in Japan still bear a heavy stigma, thanks to Tsutomu Miyazaki and his manga-inspired murders of the late eighties. Undoubtedly, this new episode will end the same way: Tomohiro Kato will end up on death row one day, and Japanese Otakus will suffer from a new wave of moral panic backlash.

But subculture finger-pointing or not, this event will shake up Japan greatly as it happens 7 years, day-for-day, after the "2001 Osaka School Massacre" in which Mamoru Takuma slaughtered 8 and wounded 15 elementary school children in Osaka. He was later executed. Look at how Wikipedia is including today's killings as an "aftermath" of that event. It's a bit hasty, but in a sense they're all connected. We've all heard this countless times, but just recently my 日本語 teacher was proudly telling us about how safe Japan is, that ATM are closed half the time because people aren't afraid of being mugged, houses don't use alarm systems, etc. Perhaps it's time they get off their high horses and realize our whole planet is fucked.

For pictures of the crime scene and additional reporting, head to Akibablog.


Anonymous said...

I recently found this blog, and I REALLY like it. I don't know japanese and finding akiba news and info in English makes me very happy ^^U xD

About the massacre, I couldn't believe it when I read it. Akihabara in the news, but for nothing good. The murderer said he was somewhat tired of this world, and he went to Akihabara for that reason... Some akiba-regulars also are tired of this world, and visit Akihabara, ironic.

Blaise, from Argentina.

電波の世界 said...

Hi Blaise, thanks for your comments!

If what you're looking for is English-language news from the heart of Akiba, look no further than the English version of Akibablog, which is linked in the blogroll section. Some (most?) of the text is rough, but it beats using online translators. I just wish they'd allow comments on the English site, but otherwise, where else are you gonna learn about "ore no yome"?