The Cannibal Nerd: The rise and fall of Tsutomu Miyazaki

While the name “cannibal nerd” may appear to be a term of endearment, it is assigned to an individual that became Japan’s most reviled cannibal serial killer. When the cannibal killer Tsutomu Miyazaki was hanged in June 2008, it brought closure and resolution to a most horrifying chapter in Japanese history. While niches of Japanese society have strange fixations on schoolgirl panties and sadistic game shows, manga strips, these perversions are viewed by outsiders to be more comical than horrifying. This is only because these odd perversions are taken at face value. The story of Tsutomu Miyazaki demonstrates when these perversions are perverted; his story has elements of the universal regarding cannibal killers, but also something very distinctly Japanese. Tsutomu Miyazaki and his cannibal stories continue to horrify even in death.

The background of Tsutomu Miyazaki reads like a manual of how the habits of serial killers are cultivated and developed. Born prematurely with a deformity to his hands, Tsutomu Miyazaki was a loner and exhibited antisocial behavior throughout his life. Discovered only following his arrest was his addiction to hardcore pornography – chiefly, graphic cartoons known as Hentai and manga strips characterized him as a “cannibal nerd” by the media. However, his desires and fetishes reveal a common trend universally involving serial killers, and especially cannibal killers – they do not kill or eat human flesh out of hate or malice. Psychologists argue that cannibal killers lose their control in channeling their sexual fetishes that only become compounded and exaggerated the more repressed and isolated they become from society. Tsutomu Miyazaki is not the first serial killer to fit this description, and, unfortunately, he likely will not be the last.

Tsutomu Miyazaki

Tsutomu Miyazaki

Miyazaki’s sadistic murders took place between 1988 and 1989, where his actions shot a massive blow to Japanese self-perception of being a harmonious society.  During this brief period, blood lust Tsutomu Miyazaki mutilated and murdered four girls, which included two four year olds, one five year old, and one seven year old. After murdering them, he sexually molested their corpses, ate portions of their bodies, and reportedly drank their blood, which earned him a nickname of “Dracula.” His murders were not systematic or strategic – they were dictated by opportunity and impulses he claimed he had to listen to. When he was captured engaging in an act of molestation, he was put on trial in 1990. His trial offered unique, yet oddly familiar, characteristics of cannibal stories.

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During his trial, Tsutomu Miyazaki showed signs of suffering from severe schizophrenia. One psychiatrist argued that Tsutomu Miyazaki confessed that he drank blood of children to resurrect his deceased grandmother – an excuse of suffering from delusions and acting out of necessity seen in other cannibal killers, such as the “Vampire of Sacramento” Richard Chase. During his trial, he often sketched cartoons of his alter-ego – Rat man – that he claimed forced him to do such things. While his defense rested on insanity and schizophrenia, other statements and psychiatrists assert that there are signs that he was very aware of his blood lust actions and was absolutely remorseless about them. As a result, he was hanged in 2008, to which even the staunchest critics of capital punishment remained silent.

Tsutomu Miyazaki was shattering to Japanese society. He was a breed of serial killer seen in other places, but not Japan. Blood lust Tsutomu Miyazaki and his cannibal murders represented the worst in serial killers – random yet systematic; hedonistic yet vengeful; insane yet aware. These contradictions offer a window into why someone like Tsutomu Miyazaki has never been understood by society, and likely never will.


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