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One of the most talked-about manga of recent years is “17-sai,” which has been criticized for its depiction of a horrific murder that happened in Japan during the late 20th century. This article delves into the history of the crime, the manga’s interpretation of the events, and the effects it had on the public.
Concrete-Encased High School Girl Murder Case
According to a report by Japanese Inside, a crime committed in 1988 involved four teenage boys who kidnapped, tortured, and brutally murdered a 17-year-old girl named Junko Furuta over a period of 44 days. This infamous case, also known as the “Concrete-encased high school girl murder case,” sparked a pivotal moment in Japanese history, bringing attention to issues of juvenile delinquency.
Junko Furuta, a popular high school student with a bright future ahead of her, was tragically abducted on November 25, 1998. Four teenage boys approached her while she was riding her bike home and posed as concerned bystanders before ultimately kidnapping her. What followed was 44 days of unspeakable horrors that came to be known as the “44 days of hell.”
All That’s Interesting has reported that one of the kidnappers, Hiroshi Miyano, had a reputation as a school bully and boasted about his ties to the Yakuza. Some of his classmates claimed that Miyano had a crush on Furuta and became enraged when she rejected him. Miyano was not accustomed to being turned down, and his pride was apparently wounded. He often used his supposed connections to the Yakuza to intimidate others, but in this instance, his obsession with Furuta ultimately led to unspeakable atrocities.
During the 44 days of captivity, Junko Furuta was subjected to unimaginable horrors, including torture and rape, at both an abandoned warehouse and a house owned by the kidnapper’s parents in the Ayase district of Adachi, Tokyo. When Furuta’s parents reported her missing, the boys coerced her into calling them to assure them that she had run away and was safe with friends. The kidnappers even forced her to plead with the police to halt the search for her.
One of the most heartbreaking aspects of Junko Furuta’s case is that it was entirely preventable. During the investigation, the police visited the house where the boys had been holding Furuta twice, and she even managed to call them once. Despite this, the group denied having any knowledge of her whereabouts, and the police ultimately left without finding her.
Junko Furuta tragically succumbed to her injuries and died on January 4, 1989. Fearing murder charges, her captors disposed of her body by encasing it in concrete and placing it in a 55-gallon drum.
For some time, they believed they had gotten away with their heinous crime but the police began investigating another unsolved case that had occurred prior to her abduction. The boys were questioned, and they were concerned that Furuta might be the victim they had been seeking. Surprisingly, the boys revealed the location of the body, which was not the person the police had been searching for.
FreshersLive mentions that Hiroshi Miyano (18), Jo Ogura (17), Shinji Minato (16), and Yasushi Watanabe (17) were the perpetrators of the heinous crime, referred to as “A,” “B,” “C,” and “D” in court records. Unfortunately, due to their age at the time of the Junko Furuta case, the boys were released as several laws protected them. However, the government kept a close eye on them, and three out of the four were later arrested and sentenced to eight years in prison for other illegal activities they committed once they turned 18. The leader, Hiroshi Miyano, received a 20-year sentence. Although they served time in prison, they have since been released and continue to live free.
It has been reported that one of the individuals involved in the torture and murder of Junko Furuta allegedly maintained a Twitter account and posted a tweet on February 1 of this year:
Translation: Why is it not okay to reflect on shameful events during one’s youth and admit to currently doing something wrong? What is wrong with speaking out and raising awareness about not allowing the misuse of technology, such as technology crimes? We want people around the world to know about the current situation where many people are being abused by this crime. People who criticize us should know about this fact.
The tweet in question has sparked widespread outrage and disgust among people, who are already appalled by the dark nature of the crime; adding to the horror is the media’s portrayal of this case in exploitative films and manga.
The Creation of the 17-sai Manga
The manga “17-sai,” created by Youji Kamata and Seiji Fuji in 2004, is a four-volume, 35-chapter series that portrays the traumatic experience of Junko Furuta. The events depicted in the manga are fabricated, and the names of real people have been altered to preserve their anonymity. While very upsetting, the manga serves as a somber reminder of the horrible murder.
As detailed by The Anime Man in this video:
The manga “Jū-nana Sai,” which translates to “17 years old,” presents the story from the viewpoint of Hiroki, one of the perpetrators, rather than the victim. Although he was not the primary leader, Hiroki was one of several individuals responsible for the heinous acts committed against Junko, referred to as “Sachiko” in the manga.
Synopsis: When high school students Hiroki and Takashi are rescued from bullies by the notorious gangster Miyamoto, they initially enjoy his protection. However, they soon learn that Miyamoto’s gang demands loyalty and obedience, leading them into escalating violence and crime. After abducting a girl named Sachiko, Hiroki confronts an internal battle between self-preservation and morality, as well as external pressures from Sachiko’s twin sister Miki, her parents, and the police. The story raises questions about Sachiko’s fate and Hiroki’s eventual transformation.
What sets this manga apart is its shift from the actual events of the crime it is based on. In the manga, both the protagonist and the side characters who participate in the horrific acts exhibit some form of remorse or guilt, which was not evident in the actual culprits during their conviction. The manga attempts to humanize the male protagonist, almost presenting him as a victim of circumstance, despite his terrible actions towards an innocent girl. The manga even expects readers to feel sorry for the protagonist, although he could have easily stopped the torture and save the victim. The most significant deviation from reality is the ending, in which Sachiko escapes and survives the torture, which was not the case for the real-life Junko Furuta.
Joey, also known as The Anime Man, gave his thoughts on the manga, stating,
If I were to be blunt here, I wouldn’t exactly say that I enjoyed reading Jun Nanase. If anything, I actually kind of found this manga to be rather insulting. Now, the obvious answer to why someone might find it insulting is because, well, it’s based on probably one of the most heinous and disturbing crimes that have happened in modern-day Japan. And I don’t think anybody can argue with you, especially if you actually go out and read the Wikipedia article that highlights and goes into detail about all of the horrible things that Furuta Junko actually went through. Nobody can argue with you in saying that, yeah, this is absolutely freaking horrible, and the fact that someone has decided to make a manga about it is, in some aspects, rather messed up. But, in my opinion, the biggest sin that this manga committed is the fact that the message that the story in this manga is trying to portray insults the actual events of the crime that it is based on.Joseph Tetsuro “Joey” Bizinger
Disagreement and Reaction of the Public
Suki Desu’s article delves into the torture that Junko Furuta had to endure, the perpetrators responsible for the crime, and how the media has portrayed the case: The appalling nature of Furuta’s torture and murder garnered international attention, inspiring several films and a manga. However, the sexually explicit and sensationalized content in the manga “17-sai” was off-putting for many readers upon its initial release. Critics argued that the manga exploited the victim’s pain and that of her family. While others have praised the manga for its portrayal of the tragedy’s harsh reality, shedding light on the dangers of adolescent delinquency and the need for stronger victim protection laws.
According to The Teal Mango, over three decades have passed since the tragic incident that resulted in the death of Junko Furuta. Despite the passage of time, people continue to remember the innocent girl and keep her in their thoughts and prayers.
It is with great sorrow that we acknowledge the fact that complete justice has not been achieved in the heart-wrenching case of Junko Furuta’s merciless murder. Her pure and blameless soul endured unimaginable agony and torment without any justification. It is deeply regrettable that certain individuals have chosen to exploit her tragic demise for their own gain. May Junko Furuta’s soul be granted everlasting serenity, and may her treasured memory be honored through the pursuit of justice.