Claims it was an accident, but absolutely no one believes him.

In Japan, amateur musicians who’re trying to build a name for themselves often hold what are called “street lives,” live performances held on the sidewalk, often outside of train stations. Unlike other street entertainers, though, street live musicians don’t pass around a hat or ask for a donation when they’re done playing. Instead, they sell copies of their CDs right there on the street.

For new or unknown performers, street lives can be incredibly small-scale affairs, sometime attracting less than a dozen passersby who actually stop their steps long enough to listen to a complete song. Still, being able to add even just one more fan to your fanbase is a big deal for someone who dreams of going pro with their music, and recently singer Misato Koide spent a cold, windy night performing on the streets of Tokyo’s Akihabara neighborhood promoting her very first single CD. As she was packing up, a man approached with a 1,000-yen (US$8.85) to buy a copy. Koide handed him the disk and bowed in courteous thanks, but what the man did next wasn’t nearly so polite.

As shown in the video above, shared by Twitter user @Gretchen198, the man drops the CD to the pavement then, with Koide still standing right in front of him, stomps down on it with all his might, producing a sharply audibly crack that almost certainly means the disc is ruined and unplayable. Koide appears to say something to him but the man waves her off as he retrieves the smashed disc and begins backing away.

Things get even stranger when we take a look at the text for @Gretchen198’s tweet, in which he claims the man in the video is his friend. The tweet reads:

“Recently my friend dropped and stomped on a CD he’d just bought for 1,000 yen. I feel like his heart must be crying in pain over something, and I don’t know what else to say.

Didn’t he want to listen to it?”

@Gretchen198 sent out his tweet on the morning of January 14, and roughly 10 hours later another Twitter user, @otentocha, sent out a tweet of the same video, but with blurrier quality, in which he admits to being the person shown buying the CD, but denies stomping on it on purpose.

His tweet reads:

“A long time ago, I bought a CD from a woman who was doing a street live in Akihabara for 1,000 yen, but I accidentally dropped and broke it.

I felt so bad that this happened right in front of some police officers…it wasn’t on purpose...it wasn’t.”

However, the body language in the video makes @otentocha’s denial of destructive intent hard to believe, and the hashtags he tacked on to the tweet are even more damning, since they include:

#crush street lives
#a huge nuisance
#unauthorized business

Also suspicious is @Gretchen198’s Twitter username, which is currently “gretchen 🎌コレリスの中の一人をランダムで特○します,” with the Japanese-text portion roughly translating to “bringing a random fan of [YouTuber] Korekore.” However, when he first tweeted the video of the CD-stomping, screenshots show that his username was “Gretchen 🎌違法路上ライブを永久追放🎌,” with the Japanese meaning “permanently exile illegal street lives.” At the time, his Twitter profile also pledged:

“Street lives are noise. I also oppose legitimizing them, since that will poison our ears, and so I will protect the ears of the people of Japan by crushing illegal street lives.”

Legally, musicians are required to obtain permits before holding concerts and selling goods on the sidewalk, but @Gretchen198’s manifesto seems to imply he’s against the public performance of music in general, whether or not the musician has filed the proper paperwork. On December 23, he even proudly tweeted:

Today I put a stop to a total of eight street lives in Shinjuku and Kawasaki. In Kawasaki, I was in the middle of reporting a female musician when she grabbed me by the collar and stole my phone, so I couldn’t finish the report.

I don’t think I am doing anything wrong.”

▼ It’s worth noting that Shinjuku and Kawasaki are almost 40 minutes apart by train.

The videos have met with a swift backlash from other Twitter users, though @otentocha maintains the CD’s destruction was an accident. He also claims that Koide was performing in an unauthorized area, but that hasn’t won him or @Gretchen198 much sympathy from online commenters, whose reactions have included:

“This is the most disgusting video I’ve ever seen.”
“So you went to all the trouble of spending money to buy the CD just so you could stomp on it, and the singer’s dreams? Sounds you’ve got way too much free time on your hands.”
“You’re an enemy to all musicians.”
“You must lead a boring life, and it’s starting to affect you psychologically.”
“You piece of shit. Don’t you care about the feelings of the singer?”
“I’d like to pay 1,000 yen to stomp on you!”

And yet, the story gets weirder still, because currently both @otentocha and @Gretchen198 are calling for people to support Koide’s musical ambitions. @otentocha’s Twitter username is now “🌺おてんと総統 🌺美里応援垢!プロフ見て!,” meaning “🌺 President Otento 🌺Support Misato Koide! Look at my profile.” Said profile includes a link to Koide’s Twitter account, and asks people to follow the singer and purchase her CDs and concert tickets. “She didn’t do anything wrong,” @otentocha’s profile continues. “Only I did something bad,” though he’s yet to offer any admission that he stepped on the CD on purpose, let alone offer an apology for doing so.

▼ Misato Koide

Meanwhile, @Gretchen198’s Twitter profile also asks people to follow Koide. This is at odds, however, with the attitude he’s shown in responding to angry Twitter comments. “Dumb people sure make a lot of noise. What happens in the video that’s illegal?” he tweeted on January 16, and when someone exasperatedly asked him “Just what kind of person are you?” on January 17, he cheerfully said “I’m a great person! My butt is bouncy and my skin is smooth.”

The whole situation is strange enough that apparently some people thought it might be a bizarre publicity stunt orchestrated by Koide herself. However, Koide has tweeted that she has absolutely no connection to @otentocha or @Gretchen198. “I still can’t watch the video” she says, apparently finding it too emotionally painful, “and want to focus on moving forward,” and both @otentocha and @Gretchen198 also deny having any personal connection to the singer.

True to her word, Koide is now focusing on promoting her second single CD, hoping to sell 500 copies by the end of March. The modest goal suggests that under ordinary circumstances even a single sale would be something to be happy about, but odds are @otentocha’s 1,000 yen is something she could have done without.

Sources: Twitter/@Gretchen198 (1, 2), Twitter/@otentocha (1, 2), Twitter/@KoideMisato via Jin, Hachima Kiko
Featured image: Twitter/@Gretchen198