Nevada-tan: A murder case that became meme

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Probably few have heard of the Nevada-tan meme. The meme is more common in Japan itself and the United States. However, this meme has a macabre history. Trust below the meme “Nevada-tan” story!

Nevada-Tan a Murder case that became meme
On the left, Natsumi (the killer) and on the right, Satomi (the victim).

The story behind the meme

Nevada-tan is a meme that appeared in 2004 that became popular in the Japanese imageboard 2chan. The meme is a character called Nevada-tan whose name was based on Natsumi Tsuji.

Natsumi, an 11-year-old girl (at the time) who had murdered her classmate, Satomi Mitarai. The murder occurred on June 1, 2004, at the school where Natsumi was studying. Natsumi murdered Satomi with a stiletto when she was alone with her.

After murdering Satomi, Natsumi returned to her classroom in her bloodstained clothes. The school where the tragedy occurred was an elementary school in Sasebo, Nagasaki City.

Reaction to the murder and revelation of identity

The event received worldwide press coverage quickly. The first part of the international coverage appeared on 3 June 2004, when the BBC News article was published about the incident.

According to Japanese legal procedures prohibiting the identification of child offenders, the girl’s real name was not released and the Japanese police referred to her as “Girl A”.

Despite efforts to protect the girl’s identity, her real name was revealed a few days after the incident. Fuji TV accidentally discovered her real name while showing some of her drawings on national network.

Nevada-Tan a Murder case that became meme

The kanji shown in some of the photos (辻菜摘) is of the girl who signed her own drawings. When the kanji is romanized, it reads: Natsumi Tsuji. Thus, the identity of the killer was discovered.

When taken into custody, Natsumi admitted the crime. The base of the murder was surrounded by a website she created. The content based is around a flash game called The Red Room.

There was also a fanfiction about the popular Japanese movie Battle Royale. Satomi would have left derogatory comments about Natsumi’s physical appearance on her website.

Natsumi was sent to Nagasaki’s Family Court after failed attempts to try her as an adult and debates over age and criminal responsibility. She was then sent to be institutionalized in a youth hall in Tochigi City Hall. Natsumi was released in 2013. She was 20 years old after her release.

Nevada-Tan a Murder case that became meme

Appeal of 2chan and origin of “Nevada-tan”

There is no real evidence of whether or not 2chan users have tried to reveal the girl’s identity. Yet she has become an internet phenomenon and a cult symbol.

2chan users eventually nicknamed her “Nevada-tan”. “Nevada” because of the sweatshirt written “Nevada” she was wearing during the murder. And “-tan” being the way a child would pronounce the honorific “-chan.”

Subsequently, the media drew attention to the unusual nature of a child killing another child. Many articles also had many observations on the Natsumi website and the issues surrounding blood and death.

Eventually, an impressive amount of fanarts were made, most of the time showing a cute illustration or moe that resembles Natsumi. But she is always drawn with blood on her and a stiletto in her hand. These illustrations are listed on several websites dedicated to meme information.

Nevada-Tan a Murder case that became meme

Popularity of “Nevada-tan” outside Japan

The trend of fanart creation was not restricted to the Japanese web. Later, after the incident, numerous websites started talking about the girl. They paid some kind of tribute to Natsumi.

In June 2005, the online store selling the University of Nevada hooded sweatshirt (which Natsumi is seen wearing in photos and fanarts) reported that it was the best selling item on the site. A few weeks later, the University removed the hooded sweatshirt from its catalog.

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