A girl in my ward was murdered this week, if girl is the proper word to describe an 18-year-old high school senior. Looking at her school picture though, I would have to say so.
Kana Washino was reported missing on Saturday evening. Her body was found Tuesday morning, stabbed in the back and strangled inside a shed in Yamanashi Prefecture, a very long way from home. Around the same time, Shohei Komori, 27, and his wife Izumi, 28, were arrested ever farther away, in Nagano in connection with the crime. The couple seem to have admitted killing the girl, with whom they were acquainted via Twitter. Or rather, the husband was in contact with her, and the wife resented that fact. So it was a murder motivated by jealousy?
But really? Look at her picture again. Kana was no Amy Fisher. (Look her up, you bright young things.) According those who knew her, Kana was a sweet girl (優しい子）who was spent her summer vacation at cram school, studying for entrance into university, where she hoped to study psychology. The principal of her private school confirmed that she was an excellent student with good grades, never one to cause trouble. No one was aware of any problems in her school or home life.
Indeed, it is a story that leaves any reader with far more questions than answers. Can we really assume that this girl (look at her cute face again!) played a part in some sordid love triangle? If not, what on earth happened to her? What was her real relationship with these terrible people?
A significant amount of information looks to be missing.
Which brings us to 5channel (５ちゃん）a descendent of 2Channel, where things start to get weirder. Either that, or they start to make more sense, depending how familiar you are with the fringes of SNS. Here, the use of the word “real” becomes problematic, as it turns out the victim and both suspects were all involved in something that calls itself Virtual Twitter, or バーチュアルツイッター、as the term does not seem to exist in English enough to generate search results yet.
Now at a loss, and feeling very old, I decide to text the youngest friend I know (she’s in her 20s), to see if she can give me any insight into what this could all mean. Our conversation goes something like this.
Me: Hello young friend. Do you know what a V-twitterer is?
Young Friend: …?
Young Friend: I know what a V-tuber is though. (sends amusing attachment below)
Young Friend: Ok I did a quick Twitter search, it looks like a なりきりtweet account.
Me: Like an account as an anime character?
Me: So it’s not a common thing?
Young Friend: Yes and maybe. V-tuber on the other hand is quite popular.
Me: so the girl on the news…
Young Friend: OH MY GOD
Me: She lived in my neighborhood.
Young Friend: I was wondering how they were all connected!!!!
I will not link to 5chan itself, so we may all avoid all the onslaught of animated porn ads one invariably encounters when the subject of inquiry is school aged girl. Rather, this Japanese blog summarizes the content quite well, with screenshots of the virtual characters each party embodied.
Here is the victim, Kana Washino, looking markedly different from her school photograph:
Perp #1, Shohei Komori, looking very hairy and androgynous. He calls himself Kurozakura Shirotuki (should be shirotsuki but whatever): Black cherry blossom, white moon. K.
Perp #2, the jealous wife Izumi Komori, looking like something drawn by Rumiko Takahashi in the 80s.
So I am officially more confused than I was when I began writing this. On top of that, I am feeling so old that I must stop now, at least for the moment. Besides, I have to go back into the real world to pick up my kids from school in the rain.
Surely more will be revealed in the next few days. One can only hope that virtual and actual reality begin to understand each other better, and we can all begin to better decipher what the fuck is wrong with people.