Kuroko's Basketball Threat Suspect Gets 4.5 Years in Prison
posted on by Egan Loo
Presiding Judge Iwao Maeda of the Tokyo District Court sentenced Hirofumi Watanabe to four years and six months in prison on Thursday for sending threats linked to the Kuroko's Basketball manga. This is the same sentence length that the prosecution had requested during the closing arguments of the case last month.
Watanabe admitted to his crimes, but said that "taking responsibility for them is impossible," and that his crimes were "a good revenge" against his parents. At his trial, he also commented, saying, "After I'm released from prison, I'm going to end my life, which was and is still meaningless."
The Tokyo Metropolitan Police arrested the 36-year-old Osaka temporary worker last December and accused him of sending threatening letters to convenience store chains and other establishments linked to Tadatoshi Fujimaki's Kuroko's Basketball manga. He admitted to all the charges in his first day in court in March. He added that he will accept the court's judgment and any punishment without appeal.
Watanabe said that he made the threats out of jealousy. He asserted that he was abused by bullies and his parents during childhood, and according to The Japan Times newspaper, he also asserted that he has "homosexual tendencies." He said that he wanted to kill himself before making the threats, and would try to do so again when he is released from prison. “That way, society can rest assured that I won't do anything stupid again.”
Upon learning about Fujimaki's successful career and life compared to his, he thought that "if I somehow managed to harass and depress him, I could drag him into my suicidal journey.”
Although he admitted to the charges, he added that he does not feel guilty, will not make an apology, and is too poor to pay restitution. Nevertheless, he said he will accept responsibility.
BackgroundSince October 2012, locations linked to Kuroko's Basketball creator Tadatoshi Fujimaki have received threat letters, including some with powdered and liquid substances. A source in the investigation of the threats said there is a high possibility that the liquid sent to Sophia University (Fujimaki's alma mater) on October 12, 2012 could emit a lethal dose of hydrogen sulfide if vaporized. The University initiated heightened security procedures after another round of threat letters were sent last November.
Several Kuroko's Basketball dōjinshi events throughout Japan were cancelled in the aftermath of the threats. The "Shadow Trickster 3" event did proceed without incident at the Big Sight in October 2012, shortly after the center received its first threat. The official "Kuroko no Basuke produced by Namco Namja Town" event in Tokyo ended 19 days early as a result of the threats, and Animate Café Tennoji in Osaka cancelled a planned Kuroko's Basketball collaboration event. Comic Market (Comiket), the world's largest dōjinshi event, barred Kuroko's Basketball items and circles in December 2012.
In February 2013, the organizers of the Comic City dōjinshi events barred circles from selling Kuroko's Basketball items at the following month's Haru Comic City 18 event, after they received a request to do so from the management of the Tokyo Big Sight event complex. The same organizers had barred Kuroko's Basketball from the Comic City Osaka 92 event in January 2013, and then cancelled February 2013's Double Clutch event outright. However, they held the Comic City Tokyo 131 event at Tokyo Big Sight and insisted on allowing Kuroko's Basketball circles. Comic City Tokyo 131 proceeded without incident in January 2013.
Major rental chain Tsutaya removed all Kuroko's Basketball DVD and manga rentals from its stores last October, but has since brought them back. Japanese bookstore chain Yurindo and Reliable, a Japanese book and stationary store chain in Hokkaido, also removed Kuroko's Basketball merchandise from their shelves. Several other bookstore chains such as Kinokuniya, Sanseido, Junkudo, Miyawaki, and other bookstores, plan to continue carrying the manga despite receiving threat letters.
Television station TBS noted that about 250 threat letters were mailed to various stores and news organizations in October 2013 alone, with at least one letter containing lighter fluid. The sender has been going by the name of "the Fiend with 801 Faces," an apparent reference to an antagonist in Edogawa Rampo's mysteries and the numerical shorthand for "yaoi." According to the Tokyo Metropolitan Police, the majority of the letters mailed last month were mailed from Saitama Prefecture on October 12.
The Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department reported in November that a security camera caught a possible suspect on tape in 2012. Police described him as a thin male dressed in all black.
Shueisha recently notified ticket holders to its Jump Super Anime Tour event that attendees older than middle school age need to show proof of identification as well as their written invitation to gain entry. Shueisha noted it is also strengthening its security plans to a much greater scale for the event, in order to prioritize the safety of attendees after the Kuroko's Basketball threat letters.
Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department investigated if a party had deliberately put the trace amount of nicotine that was discovered in one of Kuroko's Basketball snacks recalled from a 7-Eleven convenience store. According to the investigation, the trace amount of nicotine discovered was 1/100th of a lethal dose.
The second season of the Kuroko's Basketball anime began in Japan last October, and the third season is scheduled for next year, although the exact month has not been announced. Crunchyroll streamed the anime outside of Japan as it aired.