’Beautiful’ suspect in stabbing obsesses nation
WARNING: Graphic content
After allegedly plunging a kitchen knife into the belly of her boyfriend in a jealous rage, Yuka Takaoka sat down in the pooling blood, lit a cigarette, and took out her mobile phone.
It wasn't police she called - shocked passers-by did that - but an unidentified friend.
Crime scene photographs show Takaoka sitting in the lobby of the Shinjuku Ward apartment complex where she had been living with Phoenix Luna, a bar host at Fusion nightclub in the Kabukicho red light district of Tokyo.
Takaoka's hands and legs are drenched in the blood of Mr Luna, who is sprawled out naked on the tiles behind her with his stomach sliced open, and close to death.
The 21-year-old calmly puffs away, phone pressed to her ear with a bloodied hand, ignoring the uniformed officers as they work around her.
Such callous behaviour should have generated public fury and revulsion. Instead, the response has been a dark fascination that threatens to snowball into something approaching celebrity worship.
Former nightclub manager Takaoka is now an internet sensation, a star on Instagram and Twitter where fans share pictures, video and screengrabs of the woman they have dubbed the "too beautiful criminal".
They speculate about her jealous and obsessive nature and share photographs of her bizarre behaviour, from the crime scene pictures to footage of her "flashing an evil grin beneath her large glasses inside the back seat of a patrol car as she was taken from the scene".
"The reason for Takaoka's popularity online is rooted in the idea that she is a real-life incarnation of a yandere character from the world of anime," Tokyo Reporter's Kenji Nakano wrote.
"Such a character, typically female, turns to homicidal violence in pursuit of love."
In the twisted world of Japanese anime, a yandere usually take the form of a sweet, shy schoolgirl who suddenly becomes aggressive and deranged, often homicidally so.
"Since I loved him so much, I just couldn't help it," Takaoka told police after her May 23 arrest, according to local media.
"After killing (him), I, too, wanted to die."
In fact Mr Luna didn't die - although he came very close, spending days in a critical condition with a wound so deep it penetrated his liver, and several more weeks recovering from surgery.
As he languished in hospital, Takaoka's celebrity continued to rise.
"Soon after, social media users gravitated to her yandere-like behaviour - and this interest was fuelled by her provocative quotes provided to the police," Nakano noted in Tokyo Reporter.
"'I did not want to go anywhere, so I sat down at the outside staircase,' she reportedly said.
"I did not call emergency services because I intended to die after watching him die from the stabbing'.
"On Takaoka's Instagram account, she posted images of her dressed as yandere characters. After the incident, she garnered tremendous attention online as the 'too beautiful attempted murder suspect'."
There are now dozens of Instagram accounts devoted to her, filled with tribute art, including paintings and drawings of Takaoka stabbing Mr Luna, or flashing a coquettish smile while brandishing a bloody knife, cigarette dangling from her lips.
Over the past month, more details have emerged about what motivated the near fatal stabbing.
According to Japanese media, Takaoka was working as the manager of a so-called "girl's bar" - a type of hostess club when she met Mr Luna in October last year.
Blessed with boyband good looks, Mr Luna was a bar host at Fusion nightclub in the Kabukicho red-light district. Employees at the club are ranked according to their popularity and Mr Luna had reached number 4 on the ladder.
Like their female counterparts, male bar hosts are expected to generate sales by flirting with patrons and encouraging them to keep drinking.
Though their lifestyle put pressure on their relationship, it became serious enough for them to decide to move in together.
On the night Takaoka allegedly stabbed Mr Luna, they had been sharing an apartment for just three days.
According to local media, the catalyst for Takaoka's alleged attack was an intimate photograph of him with another woman she found on his mobile phone.
Incredibly, Mr Luna bears no ill will toward Takaoka for allegedly almost killing him.
In fact he even credits the incident with boosting his popularity at Fusion and reuniting him with his estranged siblings.
"I do not hold a grudge," he told Tokyo Reporter last week.
"I think there was a reason for her to stab me. It was also thanks to her that I was able to achieve the sales that I did in less than a year since I became a host."
At hospital, relatives contacted by police in the wake of the stabbing came to see him.
"I met my older brother and older sister for the first time in five years," he said. "I'll be very happy to stay in touch with them in the future."
Takaoka remains in custody awaiting her next court date.