Is Netflix’s Copycat Killer Based on a True Story?

Directed by Chang Jung-chi and Henri Chang, Netflix’s Mandarin-language Taiwanese series ‘Copycat Killer’ revolves around a series of murders that happen in the city of Songyan in the 1990s. Prosecutor Kuo Hsiao-chi sets out to find the serial killer, who not only murders his victims ruthlessly but taunts his victims’ families. Kuo’s investigation leads him to Jia-wun, the prime suspect in the case.

Although Kuo and the police officers nearly conclude that Jia-wun is the serial killer they have been trying to find, several developments make the prosecutor realize that the suspect is a mere pawn in the hands of a brutal and evil force. Since the crime series is highly realistic, one can’t help but wonder whether the same is based on a real serial killer’s life and the murders he committed. Well, let us provide the answer!

Is Copycat Killer a True Story?

No, ‘Copycat Killer’ is not based on a true story. The series is a television adaptation of Japanese genre fiction writer Miyuki Miyabe’s novel ‘Mohōhan,’ which translates to ‘The Copycat.’ Like the series, Miyabe’s novel is also fictional. However, the celebrated author was inspired by the real-life murders committed by Tsutomu Miyazaki to write the novel. Miyazaki killed four girls, between the ages of 4 and 7, and sexually molested their corpses between 1988 and 1989. The fourth victim’s body remains were reportedly found in Koto Ward, Tokyo, where Miyabe lived at the time. Miyabe encountered her sister’s fear and worry over raising her children in such a society, which deeply affected the author to write her novel.

Although the serial killer in the crime series isn’t even a fictionalized version of Tsutomu Miyazaki, there are some chilling similarities between the fictional character and the real-life serial killer. Like Miyazaki dismembered his victims’ corpses, the character severs some of his victims’ bodies. Jia-yi’s severed hand and Zih-cing’s severed head are two examples. One of the most condemnable acts Miyazaki did is taunting one of his victims’ families, specifically by sending them her remains. In the series, the serial killer sends Yi-jyun’s hair to her grandfather and makes him imitate a dog in public to add to his misery.

Neither Miyabe’s novel nor Chang Jung-chi and Henri Chang’s show aim to focus on the graphic details of the serial killer’s actions. Instead, both the novel and show try to follow the impact of the crimes on the families of the victims. In the series, Yi-jyun’s grandfather helplessly begs the criminal for his granddaughter’s dead body so that he can “bring her back home” and bury her. Lin Shang-yong’s predicament is not different. As a police officer, he gets forced to investigate his own daughter’s kidnapping after getting taunted by the serial killer several times. The protagonist Kuo Hsiao-chi also loses one of his loved ones, which motivates him to bring down the serial killer.

In addition, ‘Copycat Killer’ is also an exploration of “good” and “evil.” “Beneath the thriller and detective story lies a story of how humanity struggles between good and evil,” co-director Chang Jung-chi told Netflix. Prosecutor Kuo and the serial killer represent the binary of good and evil. “Copycat Killer depicts a story of how desires, when out of control, can cause evil to go viral in a city. We hope that the confluence and fluidity of good and evil in the series will be able to provide healing to our viewers in this world of madness, where a lot more can be done to help and support each other,” co-producer Hank Tseng told Netflix in the same interview.

‘Copycat Killer’ also depicts the multidimensions of evilness as the serial killer seeks power and authority over the victims’ family members, especially by leading them to circumstances in which they are humiliated and tarnished. Since these aspects of the serial killer’s actions have several real-life parallels, it is safe to say that the show is rooted in reality despite being fictional.

Read More: Where is Netflix’s Copycat Killer Filmed?

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