Online Death Threats Lead to ArrestS

Aya Hirano rocketed to fame with roles in anime The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya and video games like Eternal Sonata. But in summer 2010, Hirano decided to make the leap from voice actress to TV celebrity, pissing off her rabid fan base in the process.

On May 29, a Twitter account believed to belong to one of her fans, 24-year-old Tomokazu Furuichi, posted this tweet: "I've already killed Aya Hirano." Other tweets read that Hirano died or committed suicide. This wasn't the first for Furuichi, but it could be the last.

The name on the account is "古市友一" or "Tomokazu Furuichi". The tweets show an obsession with Japanese comedy, namely Takashi Okamura's Mecha Ike and Picaru no Ashi, both of which are Fuji TV programs. The tweets went in spurts, taking breaks from obsessively talking about Picaru only during Japanese soccer matches and March 11's earthquake.

In late March, the tweets zeroed in on Hirano more and more, with tweets asking Picaru's producer to boot Hirano from the show. Tweets to Hirano became more confrontational. "Kill yourself," read one tweet. "Die die die die die die die," read another. On Japanese bulletin board 2 Channel, Furuichi also apparently wrote that harm would come to Hirano and Fuji TV was going to blow up.

Online Death Threats Lead to ArrestS
24 year-old Tomokazu Furuichi (FNN)

According to FNN, Tomokazu Furuichi, was arrested yesterday in Sapporo, and said, "There's no mistake in what I wrote."

Due to anime and video games, voice actresses like Hirano become otaku favorites. There are magazines dedicated solely to voice actresses. Popular voice actresses release photo books—one voice actress, Rie Tanaka, even has her own hug pillow and trading cards. But voice actresses are not mainstream celebrities, thus making them seem more approachable, attainable even, than idols on television.

Hirano attempted to buck that trend, appearing on talk shows, discussing her romantic relationships (a no-no for "perfect" idols). She even became the spokesperson for Denny's in Japan. She became mainstream, much to the ire of her hardcore fans. "Fan" is short for "fanatic", and some fans are just that, fanatics.

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(Top photo: 平野綾 | Space Craft Group)