Netflix’s Mandarin-language Taiwanese series ‘Copycat Killer’ revolves around Prosecutor Kuo Hsiao-chi, who finds out that a serial killer is hunting down young girls in the city of Songyan. The serial killer reaches out to the victims’ families to taunt them, which leads the prosecutor to his ex-partner and psychologist Hu Yun-huei, who explains to him that the individual he is trying to find is a narcissist. Kuo eventually finds out that the copycat serial killer is none other than a famed television personality named Chen He-ping, who terrorizes the city under the identity of Noh, whose life reminds us of several real serial killers.
Noh is Not Based on a Real Killer
‘Copycat Killer’ is a television adaptation of ‘Mohōhan’ AKA ‘The Copycat,’ a mystery novel by Japanese genre fiction writer Miyuki Miyabe. The author wrote the fictional novel upon witnessing the terrors associated with the murders committed by Tsutomu Miyazaki in the late 1980s. The author lived in Koto Ward, Tokyo, where the remains of the serial killer’s fourth victim were reportedly found. Miyabe wrote the novel after witnessing her sister being scared of raising her children in such a community, which influenced the writer to focus on the impact of the fictional serial killer’s crimes on his victims’ families and the public.
Let us make it clear. Chen He-ping is not even a fictionalized version of Tsutomu Miyazaki. There are several distinctions between the two of them, especially concerning their motives, modus operandi, number of victims, etc. However, there are several unignorable similarities as well. Miyazaki was infamous for taunting the family of one of his victims as he sent her body remains to her family. In the series, He-ping does the same as he sends Yi-jyun’s hair and a piece of cloth to her grandfather. He also unsettles Lin Shang-yong by kidnapping his daughter and sending him a photo of her chained up.
Directors Chang Jung-chi and Henri Chang’s characterization of He-ping also reminds us of one of the most infamous serial killers of all time, the Zodiac Killer. The Zodiac Killer sent letters and cards to regional newspapers to boast about his crimes the same way He-ping sends tapes to TNB to boast about the murders he committed. Both killers assumed an identity to commit the murders. The unidentified killer in the United States wanted the world to know him as the Zodiac while He-ping chooses the identity of Noh. According to one of the Zodiac letters, the killer admitted to murdering random victims for “fun” the same way He-ping kills random victims for amusement.
‘Copycat Killer’ isn’t just a serial killer saga. It is a commentary on the news culture, depicting how one can control the narrative despite being a murderer of several young girls. The series explores the nuances of manipulation and power when someone succeeds in controlling the information and intellectual sphere of his community through the character of He-ping. Using the serial killer, Jung-chi and Chang depict how news and information can become the tools of a murderer when used accordingly. The particular storyline reminds us of countless criminals who use fabricated news to hide behind the crimes they committed.
He-ping is a fictional serial killer character rooted in reality, drawing parallels with several infamous murderers. The narcissistic traits he displays remind us of infamous real-life killers such as Ted Bundy, Jeffery Dahmer, etc.
Read More: Where is Netflix’s Copycat Killer Filmed?