On June 1, 2004, in Sasebo, Nagasaki, Japan, an 11-year-old girl named Natsumi Tsuji slit her classmate Satomi Mitarai's throat and arms with a utility knife. This horrific crime made newspaper headlines in Japan and around the world, and soon Natsumi Tsuji, who was only in elementary school at the time, became an unexpected Internet phenomenon known as "Nevada-tan."
The nickname originated from a class photo that showed her wearing a University of Nevada sweatshirt with the word “NEVADA” emblazoned on it. The suffix "tan" is a childish pronunciation of the honorific "-chan," and it stuck.
In the days that followed, Nevada-tan became the subject of dark humor on Japanese imageboards 2channel and Futaba Channel. As the story spread, so too did fan art and homages of the girl who murdered Satomi Mitarai, with Nevada-tan often depicted in short brown hair, with her trademark pullover and crazed murderous smile. Eventually, the cult of Nevada-tan spilled into English language boards like Something Awful and 4chan, introducing her to the United States and other parts of the world.
A genre-bending new play from the Lark Play Development Center, "Where Is Nevada Tan Now?" tells the twisted tale of an obsessive love affair with the real-life killer of a 12-year-old schoolgirl in 2004. Written by David Bonk and Timo Sonnenschein, who are the band members who create the music under the name Panik, the play mixes horror and dark comedy in a shocking exploration of secrets, tragedy, and obsession.