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Tokyo police have arrested a man they suspect sent more than 400 threatening letters to publishers, retailers, convention centers, convenience stores and other venues connected with Tadatoshi Fujimaki’s manga Kuroko’s Basketball.
The suspect, 36-year-old Hirofumi Watanabe, was arrested in Shibuya as he was allegedly mailing a batch of letters;. Police say he was spotted on security cameras near several locations connected to his threats; it was reported earlier that they may actually have questioned him on one occasion and then let him go. Watanabe is officially being charged with “obstruction of business,” and according to police, he admitted to the crime, saying, “I’m sorry. I’ve lost.”
JC McInwell translates a Japanese news report that indicates Watanabe didn’t know Fujimaki personally but was jealous of his success as a creator.
The threatening letters began more than a year ago, and at least one of them, sent to Sofia University, contained a potentially lethal dose of hydrogen sulfide. The threats led to the cancellations of numerous Kuroko’s Basketball-themed events and the banning of doujinshi (fan comics) groups from larger comics events.
The letters stopped for a while but picked up at the end of October with a series of threats to retailers; some bookstores pulled Kuroko’s Basketball manga and anime from the shelves, while others stood firm. The 7-Eleven chain also recalled Kuroko’s Basketball-themed snacks after receiving letters saying they had been poisoned; so far, only one snack appears to have been tampered with and that contained a sub-lethal dose of nicotine.
(Japanese TV news image of Watanabe via Kotaku)