Above is a small Madoka Kaname figurine. The character is well known to Japanese anime fans, and now, the entire country. The reason, however, is not the anime she stars in, Puella Magi Madoka Magica. It's for a computer virus and a suicide threat.
A photo of this character was sent to various Japanese news organisations. In the photo, there was a LAN cable that had been fashioned into a noose. Accompanying this image, there was an email with suicide threats. The figure stood atop the Tuesday morning edition of the Kanagawa Shimbun newspaper.
"Long time no see," the email read (via Yomiuri). I'm the real culprit. I made a mistake. It seems to be me who lost in this game."
Continuing, the email read: "Since I don't want to be caught, I'll hang myself. It was a fun game. So long. I'll see you again in the afterlife."
The words "Shinhannin desu" (真犯人です) or "I am the real culprit" are superimposed on the above image, courtesy of NHK.
Earlier this year, a Japanese animator was arrested after threats of a killing spree were traced to his computer. "I have zero recollection of doing this," 42-year-old Masaki Kitamura, who's worked on anime like Yu-Gi-Oh! and Mobile Suit Gundam OO, said at the time.
Kitamura was later released after it was discovered his computer had been infected with a type of computer virus previously unseen in Japan: one that enabled a third party to take control of the host computer.
There were other remote-controlled threats, including one message that threatened to blow up the Nintendo headquarters in Kyoto. In total, four individuals were arrested, all seeming to be victims of this remote controlled virus.
The police's GPS analysis traced the email to an apartment complex in Yokohama. The authorities arrived at the apartment complex and began questioning residents about their families, whether they knew anyone who was really good at computers, or even if they had smartphones. All the leads turned up nothing, and NHK is reporting that the email was sent through a server in Germany, leading some to think the sender was masking his location.
Some commentators in Japan think the criminal is now just screwing around with the cops.
In the meantime, now that the suicide photo with the Madoka Magica figure is being splashed all over the news, the country's mainstream media is explaining who she is and what the anime is like, as well as telling viewers how one actually purchases a Madoka Magica figure. Some members of the Japanese media are, as they often do, trying to make a connection between anime otaku (geeks) and these crimes.
As Yahoo! Japan reports, these accusations are evoking a variety of responses. Some say they are angered that the character was dragged into this. One wrote of feeling ashamed after hearing the media arbitrarily say the criminal is an anime otaku. Others think it's a red herring.
Survival, however, is a theme of Puella Magi Madoka Magica — and for the culprit as well, should he or she hope to never get caught.