It wasn't until Team Ninja's Yosuke Hayashi stepped off the plane in the States this week that he heard about the connection some in the Japanese media were trying to draw between his recently released Ninja Gaiden game and the rampage of a disenfranchised gamer at a shopping centre near Tokyo.
"We were just talking about it. We didn't fly in until last night and I didn't know about it until I got off the plane," Hayashi said through a translator Wednesday afternoon. "They told me there is stuff going on in the media in Japan, there is a game that was involved and it just so happens it was Ninja Gaiden DS."
Masahiro Kanagawa, 24, told police that on March 19 he decided he wanted to attack his sister and a local elementary school, but changed his mind and instead randomly picked a home and went inside and killed a 72-year-old man. Four days later, police say Kanagawa went to a shopping centre and stabbed eight people, one of which later died.
The day after the stabbings, at least one television station pointed out that Kanagawa had a copy of Ninja Gaiden: Dragon Sword in his bag when he was arrested. The game went on sale in Japan on March 20 and police told at least one outlet they are looking into a possible connection.
"There is always going to be a motive for everything that happens," Hayashi said. "There is always a reason and a motive for a way a person acted and in this case, we are almost a party that has to react to a situation that obviously we didn't expect would be triggered by our game."
"Whoever has seen (the connection) in the news and the media we hope that they know what the true reason is, what the truth is behind why this person did this and that it's not connected or directly related to our game."
Kanagawa, who was a gamer, had been involved in at least one national Dead or Alive tournament in Japan and made it the finals, but Hayashi said that he had never been in contact with Tecmo or Team Ninja.
Hayashi, who says that he thinks the game is appropriate for teenagers to play, added that police have not contacted Tecmo or Team Ninja and that he believes the seemingly tangential connection between the stabbing and his game was one created by the media alone.
"The media should not be the ones answering the questions or defining the reasons why this incident happened," he said. "I want to believe that whoever is watching the news has their own judgment of what went on."
"What I said just now is more of a message to the media. Obviously there are victims here, the people who died and their families, so hopefully they don't see that as me trying to defend our company or product. That's just my message from me to the media. The media can report on these tragedies but they shouldn't just assume or lead into a question that doesn't have a definitive answer."