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Font "FoundryGridnik Medium" was not found.AKB Massacre

Truly terrible. These kinds of mass killings always seem to happen in obscure villages and towns, nowhere close to home, but this guy brought the horror right into the heart of Tokyo.

The Akihabara angle is hard to ignore, and certainly, this could easily commence the Second Coming of Otaku Moral Panic. They already found some anime-style drawings from the suspect — something extremely ubiquitous among almost everyone in Japan — but the images will point the blame squarely at “pop culture.” (Will his middle-school tennis club picture lead to a crackdown on clay courts nationwide?) That being said, I don’t think this guy chose Akihabara just because it’s a “popular area,” as if Shinjuku or Ikebukuro would have sufficed. There will be some kind of link.

Patrick Macias sees the killings as the massified otaku culture’s own Manson Moment. The recent Akihabara-worship was good for the economy, the media, and global affairs, but this dregs up all the suppressed fears about the dark otaku heart, justified or not. The Hokoten will close down in order to restore safety. The girl flashing panties was a help to the police on establishing the threat to the public, but this tragedy gives them surplus mandate.

W. David MARX
June 9, 2008

42 Responses

  1. Susumu Says:

    “Patrick Macias sees the killings as the massified otaku culture’s own Manson Moment.”

    Indeed, the enigmatic Kato apparently played bass for a very short time with Pop Art Tradition Experiment.

  2. Patrick Macias Says:

    In the grand tradition of moronic cynicism, maybe he was just protesting the lack of street idols and cosplayers.

  3. Adamu Says:

    Complaints:

    1. Apparently a policeman chased this man with his baton — and actually parried with him as he ran and apparently was still stabbing people — and only drew his gun AFTER Kato had put down the knife. Three words for the Japanese cops — SHOOT TO KILL!

    2. Today was a newspaper holiday, so morning commuters were yet again left without timely coverage of a major news event (this happens pretty often but is totally enraging each time)

  4. W. David MARX Says:

    This morning the Akiba story was in at least one sports paper, with an accompanying story chastising AKB48 for doing a concert without any acknowledgment of the killings.

  5. Aceface Says:

    OK,so nobody cares about his notebook written full in English,but the “anime-style drawing”….

    No.I don’t hink this is “manson-moment”for Otaku-culture.We’ve been through this in 1989 and unfortunately passer-by killers aren’t rare thing these days.It happened in Ikebukuro,Aichi,Kawasaki and now in Akihabara.
    Some may want to blame for Kato having “video game brain”,but here in Japan,Grend Theft Auto isn’t a big hit like the states,so they need better excuses.

    What we are now talking here in the newsroom is the trend among the social underdogs of “I-just-wanted- kill-anybody,anybody-that-is-around” thing and maybe because we put them too much on the air,that inspires the copy cats just like hydrogen sulfide suicides.

  6. jg Says:

    Not to mention the 犯行予告 on 2ch adding fuel to the fire. Awful…

  7. W. David MARX Says:

    Also, the “he’s zainichi” on 2ch.

  8. Aceface Says:

    OK,now Marxy is adding a fuel to the fire.
    So far,there are no info that Kato has any Korean ancestry any more than hundred million of us do.

  9. W. David MARX Says:

    I am not saying it, but someone said that they were on 2ch. I mean, if anyone committs a crime in Japan, 2ch people automatically look for geneological charts and the character 金 in the last name.

  10. Aceface Says:

    The only reason I keep posting from my office is that I was at nightshift and now am not in my working hours,but in my office for more informations.

    Looks like GoJ is considering a restriction on Bowie/Survival knives.

    http://sankei.jp.msn.com/affairs/crime/080609/crm0806091156014-n1.htm

    This could be a problem,since cops have been checking Otaku-looking youth’s backpack in the streets of elsewhere.
    Previously on Itai News
    http://blog.livedoor.jp/dqnplus/archives/1076092.html

  11. Anime Home Planet Blog » Blog Archive » AKB Massacre Says:

    [...] Anime News Updated wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerpt [...]

  12. Adamu Says:

    yes I neglected to note the sports papers. they dont go along with the monthly blackout.

    One thing that amazed me is that it really is JUST like a scene from GTA3, except with a rambo knife instead of bazookas.

    While otaku culture is certainly strong enough to survive an attack like this, do you really think Akihabara can emerge from this not fundamentally changed? That was already the one area of Tokyo where I always kept a close eye on my wallet. Now I am sure I won’t be the only one wondering if there arent more crazies ready to come out of the woodwork. I do think he targeted Akiba as the stage for the ultimate street performance.

  13. W. David MARX Says:

    One thing that amazed me is that it really is JUST like a scene from GTA3, except with a rambo knife instead of bazookas.

    I doubt you will be the last person to make this connection.

  14. Matt Says:

    It’s way too early to speculate as to what the long-term effect will be, but it doesn’t exactly bode well for Akiba. I think it’s less about fear of crazies and more that the scene can’t really flourish when it’s under constant police scrutiny. The police were already cracking down on the amateur street performances there, and the whole area’s been “quiet… TOO quiet” for the last few weekends.

  15. Patrick Macias Says:

    Just to clarify, even with those loving close-ups of those manga-style notebook doodles, I don’t the media will peg this as a return of the Murdering Otaku archetype.

    With Akihabara successfully re-branded as a major port of call in the “Cool Japan” myth, there’s just too much money at stake to burn it all down now.

    My Manson parallel is more about a crime that becomes a turning point for the scene that spawned it, and less about the vilification of the perpetrator(s).

    Even if anime and maid cafes don’t go under the microscope this time, I think Akihabara going to be made “safe” again with the help of lots of cops, spot checks, and probably the end of the Hokoten. See also: Harajuku in the late nineties. And back then, there wasn’t even a body count.

  16. Bloggers respond to the Akihabara killings | Japan Probe Says:

    [...] Adamu of Mutantfrog Travelogue commented on the police response (a comment I wholeheartedly agree with, if reports about the police officer’s actions are accurate): Apparently a policeman chased this man with his baton — and actually parried with him as he ran and apparently was still stabbing people — and only drew his gun AFTER Kato had put down the knife. Three words for the Japanese cops — SHOOT TO KILL! —— [...]

  17. Tim Says:

    Interesting and rather sad to see how much of the commentary is focused on the fallout for otaku and Akiba. It’s easy to forget the victims amid all this armchair analysis. Seven people were cut down in the prime of their lives (well, most of them were anyway) in a senseless orgy of violence. Who were they? Where did they come from, and where were they going? Who did they leave behind? Who tried to save them? We should pause and mourn these innocents and remember that they are at the center of this tragedy.

  18. W. David MARX Says:

    When I wrote, “Truly terrible,” I wasn’t referring to the future prospects of Akiba. This was a brutal and terrible crime and my sympathies go out to the victims and their families. I unfortunately do not have the investigative capacities to explore the humanity of the victims. All we most of us can do is look at the larger implications and social impact. I don’t think this is necessarily exploitative of the crime.

  19. Adamu Says:

    The victims:
    http://www.asahi.com/national/update/0609/TKY200806090013.html

  20. Aceface Says:

    I agree with Matt’s comment.Akiba was already on it’s way to the gentrification.but how much was the police initiative and not that of the shop owners?
    I’d imagine many were not very amused of many street otakus making too much troubles that drive families to shop more in Yanada Denki in the suburbs.

    Adamu:
    Check Yukan Gendai,the evening tabloid.
    The headline,which I thought it was right on the money,was titled “The Koizumi reform drove 27 years old Haken-worker to the Akiba massacre”.

    Akihabara stabbing incident June 8, 2008–yet Akihabara knife shop with “Japanese Only” sign up

  21. Aceface Says:

    OK,this is what I’ve found on Debito’s blog via Japan Probe.The old sport is as always.

    “Akihabara stabbing incident June 8, 2008–yet Akihabara knife shop with “Japanese Only” sign up”

    Yeah,It’s important to restore normality and not allow these crazies ruining your ordinary life…..

  22. W. David MARX Says:

    The headline,which I thought it was right on the money,was titled “The Koizumi reform drove 27 years old Haken-worker to the Akiba massacre”.

    Interesting: blaming neo-liberal capitalism. That surely plays into a popular narrative (a la Fujiwara Masahiko etc.) A more “family-like” corporate environment would have never let this happen!

  23. Aceface Says:

    Evening Gendai is a tabloid with baby-boomer politics of the 60′s.They are more of a left-wing than Fujiwaraesque cultural nationalist.

    Funny thing about you,Marxy,is that you don’t believe an inch about marxism as an economic policy,yet obsessed with it as a culutral phenomenon.

    I think 下流/ワーキングプア background will be the key element to analyze the series of passer-by killers instead of Otaku.

    And Adamu,the cop A was stubbed in the stomach and cop B went to pursuit after Kato,but not in the range when Kato was stubbing a few more victims before he was cornered in the alley.
    Besides J-cops are told from their superiors that using the pistol is the final option that need to be avoided at all cost.I think shoot-to-kill policy won’t be imposed in the near future.

  24. W. David MARX Says:

    Funny thing about you,Marxy,is that you don’t believe an inch about marxism as an economic policy,yet obsessed with it as a culutral phenomenon.

    I think it takes a super hard dogmatic type to still find a lot of accuracy in Marx’s economic theories. That being said, he still created incredibly interesting methods of cultural critique. I am also interested in how Japan exploded with Revolutionary Marxism one minute and then had basically zero “liberal” politics the next. Whether you agree with Marxism or not, it’s still pretty key that Tsutsumi Seiji was a Marxist at some point, right? It maybe even explains Muji…

    I think 下流/ワーキングプア background will be the key element to analyze the series of passer-by killers instead of Otaku.

    Could be. Depends on how otaku the guy was. Doesn’t look so otaku at this point, although I hope the media doesn’t obsess over this guy at all.

  25. W. David MARX Says:

    The main point is, this kind of individual random, suicidal violence is clearly the result of mental illness – not some kind of structural pressures. But the media (and this is clearly not just in Japan) will search for THE REASON, whether it be employment structures or pop culture. I don’t buy that this guy wouldn’t have done it had he been a 正社員. Even in the “Golden Age” of 1960s family-style employment, only 10% of the population was white collar salarymen. The other 90% were not homicidal.

    Wage disparity is bad for Japan. (I personally think it’s wrecked the over-consumption that made pop culture so interesting in the ’90s) But I don’t think that wage disparity alone caused this guy to murder 7 people.

  26. Aceface Says:

    “I think it takes a super hard dogmatic type to still find a lot of accuracy in Marx’s economic theories. ”

    Weren’t there any Marxist economic prof at Keio when you were there?Certainly some of them were still left when I was there.Anyway agreed about cultural criticism part.

    As I watch Fuji TV news now,they seem to be focusing heavily on his love for anime.

    All the other news like Aussie PM Kevin Rudd arrived in Hiroshima has swept away today.
    Anyway you are going to hear plenty more about this guy for a while until the summit in Hokkaido coming up in four weeks.

  27. W. David MARX Says:

    One of the older, retired marketing guys was a Marxist, and he did a lecture on Marx’s theory of money to a bunch of bored freshman once. My professor and his stream were all marketing distribution guys (流通論), which I don’t think has much Marxist underpinnings.

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  31. Seven Dead in Rampage in Tokyo Video Game District [Akihabara Electric Town] - WCCFtech.com Says:

    [...] in how this horrible event might change Akihabara, check out the below post for insights. AKB Massacre [MetaのTame] __________________ [...]

  32. W. David MARX Says:

    http://blog.livedoor.jp/dqnplus/archives/1136694.html

    It begins.

    I also saw a Sports Newspaper with the headline 「アキバ系ゲーム狂」. “Akiba-kei, Game Crazy”

  33. Daniel Says:

    “What we are now talking here in the newsroom is the trend among the social underdogs of “I-just-wanted- kill-anybody,anybody-that-is-around” thing and maybe because we put them too much on the air,that inspires the copy cats just like hydrogen sulfide suicides.”

    I think Aceface is right…this is what really needs to be addressed. It’s seems exactly like the boom in group suicides a few years ago. Not sure if anyone remembers this incident:
    http://uk.reuters.com/article/worldNews/idUKT27676320070516

    It happened about an hour away from where I live. The Reuters article focuses on the juvenile crime aspect, but if you read the Japanese wikipedia entry, he says almost the same thing – 誰でもいいから殺そうと考えていた:
    http://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E4%BC%9A%E6%B4%A5%E8%8B%A5%E6%9D%BE%E6%AF%8D%E8%A6%AA%E6%AE%BA%E5%AE%B3%E4%BA%8B%E4%BB%B6

  34. My Blog about all things Cute and Internet » Tragedy in Akihabara and more manhunt Says:

    [...] Meta Tame calls it the AKB Massacre. This is tragic because real people died and got injured because some insane person decided to go there, crash his car into people and then take out a knife and stab people before being taken down by police. It was said he announced his intention to kill to the public via the Internet days before. [...]

  35. Not so fun, being twisted…. « Justice ACE Says:

    [...] don’t think I could say anything that hasn’t already been said at this point. It’s really chilling when you learn more about it too, especially with the fact that he was [...]

  36. Matt Says:

    >>It begins.

    Deep reporting. As Shin-Ichi Karasawa and Toshio Okada remark in the book Otaku-Ron, “these days, if you define ‘otaku’ as ‘someone who watches anime,’ you’re describing half of the people on the planet.”

  37. Matt Says:

    >>Interesting and rather sad to see how much of the commentary is >>focused on the fallout for otaku and Akiba.

    Is it “sad”? Or is it that many of us are still coming to terms with the fact that we could very easily have been standing in the wrong spot at the wrong time?

    That this is a monumental tragedy for the victims and their families does not somehow make it inconsiderate to discuss the why this individual specifically chose Akihabara (as opposed to Shibuya, which he actually drove through) or the why the media is hell-bent on portraying him as a certain type of individual.

  38. M-Bone Says:

    At this moment, I think that the mainstream reportage has shifted over to `makegumi` as the major theme (props to Aceface).

    This thread is excellent (love how it ends up probing 40s-60s nationalism).

    In any case, I think that `otaku culture` consumers are entrenched and diverse enough to endure any sort of blow at this point. I was as sickened as anyone by this attack (and glad that the Japanese press did indeed pay a lot of attention to the victims, family interviews on TV, etc.) but still bought the new volume of Baki today….

    Ace – GTA is not big in Japan but isn`t the soon to earn hundreds of millions Solid Snake the videogameland master of the survival knife?

  39. Aceface Says:

    M-Bone:

    Yeah,But that happens in a far away land and Snake is fighting against armed soldiers….

    Predate this incident,about two weeks ago,there was a deadly neighbor raped and killed a young woman who lives on the same floor of his apartment,chopped her into pieces and flashed in the toilet.The killer was a computer system engineer who is a heavy addict on video games,so naturlly media focused on “otaku”background too.

    But passer-by killings happens so often nowadays(Ibaragi in March,Fukuoka in April and it was coincidence but the day,June 8th was the day 37years old man had killed 8 elementary school children in Osaka 7 years ago)the point of the discussion is why this happens so often instead of
    blaming Otakus.

  40. Aceface Says:

    Gov.Ishihara has a say.

    東京・秋葉原の無差別殺傷事件について、東京都の石原慎太郎知事は10日、都庁内で報道陣の取材に応じ、行政として未然に防ぐことはできるのかとの質問に対して「そんなこと、できませんよ。時代の文明はみんなでつくったもんだ」と述べた。さらに「警察力強化で防げる問題じゃない。人間の内面の問題だ」と指摘した。

     石原知事は「ああいう人間っているよね。ただ、ああいう形で爆発するかしないかってのは、時代も背景にあるんでしょうけど。みんな鬱屈(うっくつ)してるよ、今の日本人は」と吐き捨て、「文明の便宜が進んでも、人間はやっぱり芯(しん)は孤独になっている感じがする」と語った。

    He is quite right this time.

  41. M-Bone Says:

    “Yeah,But that happens in a far away land and Snake is fighting against armed soldiers….”

    Word. Yeah, I`m just being a bit combative for the sake of international comparison. I`m 100% sure (without laying out 5 man for a PS3) that MGS4 is going to be anti-war. I am in full agreement with Marxy`s asseration that the recent case is due to mental illness.

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