Japanese Anime Director Arrested on Suspicion of Posting Massacre Threats Online

'Yu-Gi-Oh!' - TV Image - 2011

Masaki Kitamura, who has worked on such anime series as "Yu-Gi-Oh!," is suspected of a bomb threat against a Tokyo-to-New York flight and threats of an attack in Osaka.

TOKYO -- Osaka police arrested 42-year-old anime director Masaki Kitamura on Monday for allegedly threatening to ram a truck into pedestrians in the city and “then stab whoever I can with a knife before committing suicide.”

The IP address of the posting was traced to a wireless connection owned by Kitamura, who denies any knowledge of it, according to media reports.

The message, posted on the Osaka City government’s website July 29, threatened to carry out the attack on Sunday, Aug. 5, in a pedestrian area known as Otaku Road, which is popular with anime fans and game enthusiasts as it has many stores that sell electronics, games stuff and anime gear.

The threats evoked memories of the massacre carried out on a Sunday in summer 2008, when Tomohiro Kato drove a truck into pedestrians in Tokyo’s Akihabara game and electronics district, before randomly stabbing people, killing seven and injuring 10.

Police are now also investigating whether a bomb threat against a Japan Airlines flight from Tokyo to New York on Aug. 1 originated from Kitamura. The 265 passengers and crew headed for JFK International Airport were forced to turn back to Tokyo’s Narita Airport after a bomb threat was received two hours after takeoff. No explosives were found, and the plane resumed its journey after a 10-hour delay.

As well as working as an assistant director on two seasons of Mobile Suit Gundam 00, Kitamura also directed episodes of such cult TV series as Yu-Gi-Oh and Wolf’s Rain.