Isaac Meyer

Historian, teacher, podcaster

Episode 221 – The Monster with 21 Faces

This week, we cover a crime wave that shocked 1980s Japan, and proved that postwar society was perhaps not quite all it was cracked up to be. Also, there’s a lot of poisoned candy.

Listen to the episode here.


Ivy, Marilyn. “Tracking the Mystery Man with the 21 Faces.” Critical Inquiry 23, No 1 (Autumn, 1996)

Some original NYT coverage of the case.

An article by the Japan Times on the occasion of the final expiration of the statutes of limitations as they relate to the case.

Ezaki Katsuhisa, the kidnapped CEO.

The man with the baseball cap who was caught on camera putting poisoned candy on store shelves.

An artist’s sketch of the Fox Eyed Man.

Wanted posters like this one decorated the country in 1984.

Miyazaki Manabu today. In 1985 he was the chief suspect for the Monster with 21 Faces, though an airtight alibi exonerated him. Now, he’s a social critic, and he’s had a crazy life — being arrested for a string of candy-related extortions is actually one of the less intense things that has happened to him.

The logo of the Laughing Man from Ghost in the Shell. Their villainous activities were based on those of the Monster with 21 Faces.


Episode 220 – The All Seeing Eye


Episode 222 – The Dog Shogun


  1. Jason

    Fascinating story it’s sad that there was somebody out there sick enough to do this. Is there any thought that the monster might have been influenced by the 1982 Tylenol tampering incident when a disturbed person put cyanide tablets in Tylenol pill bottles in the Chicago area?

  2. Speaking of Persona 5 and the Phantom Thieves, I didn’t know the makers of that game swiped the name of their detective character straight out of a famous detective novel series. Interesting episode though. I might look up that autobiography.

  3. What a thrill!
    This month was the first time that I heard about this case, but I definitively had notice these references years ago. From what I see this thing became some sort of anti-hero for the public.

Leave a Reply

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén