In 2004, the world was horrified by the murder of 11-year-old Satomi Mitaria. When the identity of the minor responsible was accidentally revealed (known as Girl A), the internet quickly found online photos of her in a “Nevada” hoodie. Girl A was dubbed “Nevada-tan,” with the “tan” being a Japanese honorific meaning cute.
Rather than treat a child’s murder with disgust, the internet took to this “cute killer” and fanart, fanfiction, cosplays, and more about Girl A and her victim sprung up, usually with Girl A as a cute anime girl in her Nevada hoodie smiling while clutching her box cutter and being covered in blood.
In reality, one child was dead and the other's life ruined, but that was irrelevant as the angsty “Nevada-tan” character took on a life of its own. This is far from the only case when real-life tragedies are romanticized.
In 1984, schoolgirl Junko Furuta was kidnapped, raped and tortured for over a month before being murdered and dumped in concrete to hide the evidence. The incident spawned an exploitation film, songs and even a manga where the Junko-inspired character is rescued for a happy ending.
School shooters are painted as socially awkward and “misunderstood” as the Columbine shooters have an online fanbase rebranding them as hip rebels. Serial killers are not spared, either. Notorious killers like Richard Ramirez and Ted Bundy have always been romanticized.
The suicide of Harriet Westbrook is changed in the novel “The Casebook of Victor Frankenstein,” to be a murder mimicking the plot of the fictional “Frankenstein” written by the woman her husband left her for. Thus discounting her personal struggles to be little more than a plot point in a fanfiction of the mistress's novel.
Truth is indeed stranger than fiction, and fictionalizing real events to educate and inform is fine. After all, it is through media consumption that we learn history that would be otherwise forgotten. But when tragedies become nothing more than entertainment and murderers an outlet for self-projection, you are spitting on the victims.
Is the ghost of Junko thrilled that her manga counterpart got a happy ending? Are the parents who lost their children at Columbine touched by people cosplaying as the killers? Some things you just should not romanticize. They should be treated with only the utmost disgust and respect for the victims.
Charlene Pepiot is a junior studying English at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnists do not reflect those of The Post. Want to talk more about it? Let Charlene know by emailing her @firstname.lastname@example.org.