Japanese Film Reviews #1: Miike Takashi’s AUDITION

This is the first installment of a new series I am doing on YouTube where I review Japanese films. This episode is about Takashi Miike’s AUDITION. I have written a review AND translated the final chapter of the novel that Miike’s film was based on. You can find them both here.

Japanese Film Reviews #1: Miike Takashi’s AUDITION

Murakami Ryū’s Audition is best known for the 1999 film adaptation by director Miike Takashi. Written in 1997, the novel was first serialized, ironically, in Penthouse Japan (Murakami, 226). Despite the film’s status as a cult classic, the novel has yet to be translated into English and distributed in the United States. This is very unfortunate because Murakami’s Audition is one of his most focused novels and Miike’s film is one of the best film adaptations I have ever seen. While Murakami Ryū is well-known for his shocking and often grotesquely descriptive stories about sex, violence, and drug use in modern Japan, Audition is remarkably subtle and a large part of the novel is devoted to developing the relationship between Aoyama Shigeharu, a likeable though somewhat old-fashioned widower, and the beautiful, enigmatic Yamazaki Asami. Seven years after the death of his wife, Aoyama’s son, Shigehiko, suggests that he get remarried. Unsure of how to find the right partner and unwilling to sift through all the available young women (whom are presented as spoiled, uncultured and annoying), Aoyama’s friend decides to arrange a mock audition where he can meet beautiful young women and find the ideal partner. Aoyama quickly becomes infatuated with Yamazaki Asami and decides that she will be his future wife. However, it gradually becomes clear that Yamazaki, who has always seemed rather detached and strange, has a violent and traumatic past. Aoyama chooses to disregard this until Yamazaki’s disappearance forces him to investigate it further. After her disappearance, the novel becomes increasingly dark and twisted, culminating in the shocking climax for which the story is famous.

Compared to other films like Ichi the Killer and Visitor Q, Miike’s adaptation of Audition is beautifully restrained. Instead of exploiting the more gruesome scenes in the novel, such as Yamazaki Asami forcing Aoyama to watch as she tortures his pet beagle or Aoyama kicking Yamazaki with his bloody stump of a leg, Miike has created a film that is brilliantly paced and thoroughly thought-out. This could be, in no small part, due to the fact that Murakami wrote the script adaptation. Miike preserves the slow-moving first half of the story, which makes the violence of the final scenes all the more shocking and severe. Ishibashi Ryo’s Aoyama, though flawed, is so thoroughly likable that audience cannot help but cringe at his obviously doomed relationship with Yamazaki. Miike also emphasizes the differences between the first and second parts of the film with skillful camerawork and editing. The first half of the film shows Aoyama’s naïve and idealized view of Yamazaki Asami. The scenes move slowly, the dialogue is lethargically paced, and the colors seem pale and washed-out. After her disappearance, which happens with a jarring cut during an otherwise sadly touching love scene, the camera angles become increasingly skewed and the colors are much more saturated. As Aoyama digs into Yamazaki’s past, he is plunged deeper into her perverted world as well as his own obsession with the young woman.

The disparity between Aoyama’s idealized version of Yamazaki and the darker truth is emphasized by the juxtaposition of the first and second halves of the film. For example, in the first part of the film, Aoyama asks about Yamazaki’s past during one of their dates. This scene appears to be a rather normal conversation, save for the fact that the scene jerks slightly every so often, as if parts of the film reel had been removed and the movie spliced back together. After Aoyama falls to the carpet, drugged by Yamazaki, Miike takes us back to this scene. It is the same, yet somehow different. The colors are much more vivid and the parts of the conversation that were cut out before have been put back in. The audience learns about Yamazaki’s traumatic past in much more detail, but is left to wonder if she actually told Aoyama about these events and he chose to disregard them or if he was ever told at all.

Though Miike closely follows the events of the novel, this does not prevent him from adding some of his typical flair to the film. The gory depiction of Yamazaki’s stepfather’s withered feet, a severed tongue flopping on a floor, and stabbing Aoyama’s eyes with needles are all classic Miike. Furthermore, the disconnected and confusing dream sequence towards the end of the film creates a slightly nonlinear narrative, another technique Miike favors.

While Miike insists that his film was not meant as social criticism, Murakami certainly had something to say within the pages of his ‘psycho-love thriller.’ In his 1997 afterword, Murakami emphasizes the importance of past trauma on the psychological conditions of people and claims that more people within Japan are suffering from such trauma than ever before. Citing Elia Kazan’s 1955 film adaptation of Steinbeck’s East of Eden, Murakami states that “without love people must turn to violence to survive” (Murakami, 225). A similar theme runs through the pages of his 1980 novel Coin Locker Babies, in which the lives of two young mean abandoned by their mothers are plagued by violence and unhappiness. Like these two men, Yamazaki Asami is a woman who cannot escape the childhood trauma of being abused by her stepfather. However, the thought of being saved has never occurred to her. She is not tormented by her inability to connect with other people and is completely unaware of her psychological perversion. She seems to have lost all ability to distinguish between love and hate; to her, disconnecting a power cord and torturing a dog to death hold the same psychological and emotional weight. Unable to distinguish between right and wrong, Yamazaki is a true psychopath and is all the more terrifying because she simply cannot be reasoned with. Having only experienced a perverted form of love as a child, Yamazaki mistakes love as possession. She desires to fully possess the men around her, a process in which pain seems to be a vital component. As in Murakami’s other novels, he clearly draws a connection between psychological problems and previous childhood traumas. Murakami’s implication is that Japan’s inability or unwillingness to acknowledge this connection has led to many of the problems within society.

Aoyama is also a flawed character. His view of women is hopelessly sexist and old-fashioned and the reader must wonder if Yamazaki’s trauma stems from the distorted demands placed on her by men in society. The very reason Aoyama is so attracted to Yamazaki is because she seems to embody so many of the virtues he admires, classically trained in ballet yet soft-spoken and subservient. Even the way Yamazaki speaks, in both the novel and the film, is very childlike, cute, and sweet, obviously a response to the societal expectations surrounding women in Japan. Yamazaki’s desire to fully possess the men who desire her brings into question the role of women within society. While men clearly take for granted the inferior position of women, expecting subservience to their demands, they do not imagine that the tables can be turned and they will be expected to exist solely for the purpose of meeting a woman’s expectations. During the second half of the story, Aoyama’s likeable image is picked apart. After the death of his wife he has had several relationships and has taken advantage of the expectations of the women around him. Though it is difficult to believe that Aoyama’s previous transgressions really merit the punishment exacted upon him by Yamazaki, it is clear that he is not above blame.

I have translated the final chapter of Audition, in which Aoyama, immobilized by drugs, has his foot severed with butcher’s wire. I selected this part not only because it is the climactic chapter, but because it also highlights some major differences between the film and the movie. In Miike’s scene, the audience is forced to watch as a fully immobilized Aoyama is first tortured with long acupuncture needles and then has his foot severed by a cheerful Yamazaki Asami. Paralyzed, Aoyama’s only outlet for the pain he is experiencing is to frantically twitch his hand against the carpet. Aoyama is a passive receptor to the pain and like him the audience must also passively watch the events take place in front of them. Both are powerless to prevent what is happening. Compared to her typically demure attitude, Yamazaki Asami is gleeful and animated, making little jokes and enthusiastically going about the business of torturing Aoyama. She is also the most beautiful the audience has seen her throughout the entire film, dangerously seductive in her black rubber butcher’s apron and gloves. Aoyama is only saved by the unexpected arrival of his son, Shigehiko. Yamazaki chases him up the stairs with pepper spray and he kicks her, forced her to fall down the stairs and break her neck.

In contrast, Murakami’s Aoyama is not tortured, but it forced to watch Yamazaki torture his pet beagle, Gang, to death. In the novel, Yamazaki is completely flat and emotionless, feeling neither disgust nor pleasure from her actions. Distracted by the blown breaker, Yamazaki leaves the living room and Aoyama is given a chance to escape. While Miike draws tension out of Aoyama’s torture scene, Murakami creates suspense by describing Aoyama’s terrifying journey up the flight of stairs. By counting each step Aoyama travels up, the audience is drawn into his struggle. Sadly, right as Aoyama is about to reach the top of the staircase and the sanctuary promised behind Shigehiko’s locked door, Yamazaki switches the breaker back on and proceeds to cut off Aoyama’s foot. However, the Aoyama in the novel is more of a fighter than his film counterpart. It is he who kicks Yamazaki down the stairs with his bloody stump of leg and severely injures her. Shigehiko again appears to rescue his father, and after a rather comical moment with a glass of yogurt, stabs her in the neck with a combat knife.

Miike chooses to leave the ending of his film much less ambiguous than the novel. Her neck broken, Yamazaki and Aoyama gaze at one another across the floor. Her final words are a repetition of a previous line, “I might sound heavy, but I’ve been waiting for your call for a long time. I never expected that we would meet again, sorry to have been so childish. It’s a hassle living alone, I don’t have anybody to talk to. You are the first once to support me, warmly wrapping me, trying to understand me. It’s hard to forget about everything.” Aoyama replies, “But someday you’ll feel that life is wonderful. That’s life isn’t it?” and sadly watches her die, somehow still in love with the young woman and yearning for what could have been. In the novel, Aoyama cannot hear what Yamazaki mutters before she dies and must ask his son what she said. It was only one word, ‘liar.’ Neither Murakami nor Aoyama offer any explanations; the reader is left to wonder what Yamazaki meant and how Aoyama felt about it.

For the most part, I tried to keep the translation as close to the original as possible. I have kept the paragraph breaks in the same spot so the pacing of the action remains the same and have also tried to preserve each sentence. In a few cases, some sentences have been combined so the narrative flows better. I have also tried to vary the use of adjectives and verbs so the story is more descriptive. I have translated the Japanese word ハットピンas ‘butcher’s wire’ or ‘cutting wire.’ Finally, Murakami consistently refers to Yamazaki by her full name ‘Yamazaki Asami.’ Because this might be a conscious choice on the part of the author, I have made the use of her name consistent throughout the translation, despite the fact that its repetition might sound a bit awkward or redundant.

Works Cited

Murakami Ryuu. Ōdishon. Tokyo: Gentousha bunko, 1997.

Audition. Dir. Miike Takashi. Perf. Ishibashi Ryo, Shiina Eihi. 1999. DVD. Lionsgate, 2005.

Chapter 12

The knife, used for polishing nails, was small and folded in the middle. It was neither a combat knife, Swiss Army knife nor a hunting knife. The handle was pink and the tip of the blade was smooth for cutting circular shapes. Yamazaki Asami was trying to cut the power cord of the stereo, but she seemed neither rushed nor impatient. Even when she had appeared in the room and was cutting into the dog’s legs, the expression on her face had remained the same. The stereo was a combined CD/cassette player which snugly fit into an audio rack. Because it was built-in, it was impossible to remove the stereo from the rack, which had also been built into a wall that was reinforced to withstand earthquakes. Therefore, it was also impossible to rip the entire unit off the wall. Instead, Yamazaki Asami tried to pull the power cord through the space below the stereo. She took a fork from the table and tried to snag the cord with it. If she successfully pulled it out and cut the cord and the music stopped, then Aoyama’s meager resistance would be over. Seeing her standing there in her black sweater and the dog lying in a pool of blood, the living room with Verdi playing in surround-sound hardly seemed real anymore. The sun sets early in the winter and outside the window it was already dark. With all this going on, Aoyama was overwhelmed with the desire to give up and was convinced that he was going to die. Although it seemed too quick, he thought maybe death is always like this. Maybe this feeling of giving up was just a defense mechanism against the terrifying knowledge that soon he too would have his feet cut off. If he could just give up then he would have no choice but to just accept reality. Yamazaki Asami was still trying to pull out the cord with the fork. Because the living room is always very dark, Aoyama always kept the lights turned on. Still, the space below the stereo was very narrow and the light couldn’t reach there, so Yamazaki Asami had to grope around blindly with the fork to reach the power cord. Aoyama suddenly realized that Gang had stopped struggled and died. Since Gang’s eyes had been open while Yamazaki Asami was cutting off his feet, Aoyama had tried not to look at him and was aware of his presence only because he could hear the dog’s whimpering and breathing. Underneath the loud music of Verdi, it took Aoyama a moment to notice that Gang had stopped making any noise. The dog had only just died and the brightness was beginning to seep out of his eyes, like when a glass clouds over. His long gray tongue sagged out of his mouth. Aoyama never knew that a dog’s tongue was so long. It looked like a huge parasite was struggling out of Gang’s body, searching for another host to live in. Aoyama wondered if the same thing happened to humans when they die. He remembered reading an article that said criminals on death row pissed all over themselves and their tongues hung right out of their mouths after execution. Within a few minutes of death, I’m sure I’m going to be like that too, Aoyama thought. Aoyama imagined his tongue rolling out of his mouth, shriveling up and becoming lifeless. Up close, this is how people will see him. Aoyama was shocked at how clearly he could visualize this scene. Rather than imagining it in his head, it seemed like he had floated up out of his body and was witnessing it all in front of him. He is dead, with a grotesquely long tongue flopping out of his mouth and both legs cut at the ankle. He is surrounded by police officers and coroners with white lab coats are examining his dry, shriveled eyeballs. Maybe they will be able to tell the time of his death by how dry his eyeballs are. His eyes, without any brightness or clarity, look just like the glass balls that are stuffed into the skulls of dead tigers and bears by taxidermists. Rie is crying, covering her face with her apron, and Shigehiko just stands there limply. Shigehiko stares at Aoyama’s dried eyeballs and long, dangling tongue. Why am I imagining such a thing? Aoyama thought lifelessly. Maybe it’s because the drugs were relaxing his brain. All of a sudden, he began to feel an unbearable pain in his stomach. It was not like exactly the feeling of nausea but a much more intense, painful feeling, almost as if something had exploded in between his intestines. The pain temporarily revitalized his blood stream and Aoyama’s legs began to tremble. His legs were propped up on a low table, and Gang’s body lay between his feet. He thought that his intestines were angry that his brain had accepted his imminent death. His intestines must be showing their displeasure. He had to get out of there. He tried to will his body to move, but the drugs had cut his ability to move his body at his waist. He could only move his fingers and his hands. He tried to make a fist several times and little by little the feeling started to come back. He could turn his neck too. Rounding his back, he picked up his left arm with his right arm, leaned his neck forward and bit his hand. He felt a little pain. Yamazaki Asami looked back at him. Apparently she had successfully grabbed the stereo’s power cord. Aoyama kept on biting his hand. His left arm gradually started to get its sensation back. When he tried to start biting the right hand, the music stopped with a big sparking sound, pachin. The lights went out. The power cord was cut, exposing the copper wires inside. When they touched, the power surge had switched the breaker off. It was already fairly dark outside and Yamazaki Asami’s figure started to disappear, blending in with the darkness.

“Where is the breaker?” Then silence. Very soon a voice appeared next to him.

“You must be able to speak now, where is it?” Yamazaki Asami was speaking right next to Aoyama’s face. Because it was so dark, he could only see the outline of her face. Her expression was exactly the same as all the times he had kissed her and held her. Her face was so close that he could have touched it if he reached out his hand. It almost seemed like she was offering her lips to him, her eyes slightly closed. Though this was the face of the woman he had imagined in head thousands of times, her expression had never changed, even during pleasure. For an instant, he forgot all his discomfort and pain and the thought of running away vanished. As he looked at her beautiful face, she abruptly slapped him. She didn’t do it because she was particularly upset, but more because Yamazaki Asami seemed to recognize her position of superiority. She calmly smacked Aoyama across the cheek with her right hand, which still held the fork. The fork hit the edge of his lips hard, tearing the skin. Blood flowed down to the tip of his chin. The pain seemed to cut him to the bone and Aoyama covered his face with both hands.

“Breaker?” Yamazaki Asami repeated in a flat voice. Her way of speaking was so cold and emotionless; it was like she felt absolutely nothing, even during torture and beating.

“Kitchen.” Aoyama replied in a small voice. His voice sounded strange. To be precise, the breaker was on the wall in the utility room right next to the kitchen. The breaker box, which was in a very high position behind the laundry machine, was not easy to find. Neither was the door to the utility room in the dark kitchen. I can gain lots of time before she finds the breaker, Aoyama thought. While she is looking for it, if I am lucky I can manage to get to the second floor. On the second floor were Aoyama and Shigehiko’s bedrooms. Shigehiko’s room has a lock on the inside of the door and there was also a phone. Yamazaki Asami stabbed down with the fork, as if towards Aoyama’s legs. Aoyama flinched. However, what she aimed at was Gang’s dead body and the fork stabbed the dog’s neck with a horrible sound. Yamazaki Asami probably hadn’t realized that the dog was already dead and wanted to finish it off. Because the beagle’s skin was thick and slightly fatty, the fork didn’t penetrate very deep and eventually dropped off, falling onto the table. After Yamazaki Asami had disappeared into the kitchen, the pain in his slapped cheek returned. The pain, which had been paralyzed by fear, came flooding back. A pain that felt like his teeth were being pulled out without painkiller took over the left side of his face. Blood flowed out of his cut lips into his mouth and the taste of warm blood sapped Aoyama’s spirit away. He could hear the sound of Yamazaki Asami walking in the kitchen.

The sound of rubber-soled sneakers walking across the floor. When he looked back, he could see the silhouette of Yamazaki Asami groping around the kitchen. She moved slowly. She was careful not to touch or break any dishes, glasses, or vases carelessly. Using both hands, Aoyama raised his legs one by one, moving them off the table and onto the floor, leaned against the sofa. He then put both hands on the floor and slowly slid his body onto the ground. The sofa not that high and the soft carpet muffled any noise. Then he started crawling with his hands and elbows toward the stairs. His breathing got rough quickly. With the breaker switched off, the dark room was unusually quiet because the heater, fans, and humidifiers were all shut off. I can’t let her hear me breathe, he thought. Aoyama pulled his body across the floor, inch by inch, covering his mouth with his shoulder. He made a little moan earlier. Should I scream? He could hear a TV and a piano from the neighboring houses. But because the houses were not very close to each other, even if he screamed as loud as he could he didn’t think his neighbors would notice that something was wrong. Yamazaki Asami would immediately come back and probably would do something with her expressionless face. She is the kind of woman who can calmly stab a fork into a dog’s neck. Screaming would be meaningless. The sun had completely set and the living room was completely black. But Aoyama could tell the direction of the staircase by the location of the table legs. Because the heater had turned off, the room was getting colder little by little. Still, Aoyama’s forehead and armpits began to sweat. The tips of his toes began to get back sensation and he could now manage to kick the carpet and move his body forward.

When he finally reached the bottom of the staircase, he heard a noise from the kitchen and everything became pale white. Yamazaki Asami had found the breaker. For a moment Aoyama thought so and his sweat turned cold. However, the light came from the fire in the stove. Yamazaki Asami had found the stove and had turned it on in order to get some light. At this rate she would find the door to the utility room very soon. Aoyama started to crawl up the stairs. The steps of the staircase were made of thick metal with one end buried in the wall and the other end attached to metal poles that ran from the ceiling to the floor. Aoyama liked the feeling of openness on stairs without handrails. But after Shigehiko because old enough to walk, it was Ryoko’s idea that they add a handrail for safety. These short handrails were connected with a long vinyl rope. Aoyama turned his body sideways on the floor, grabbed a handrail with his right hand and the vinyl rope with his left hand and began crawling up one step at a time, propelling his body up with the tips of his toes. For each step he would quietly exhale and inhale. There were a total of twelve steps on the staircase and at the top was Shigehiko’s room. Because the house had traditional architecture, Shigehiko’s door was very thick. Unless she used an axe or hammer, she could not possible break in. As he tried to push his body from the fourth to fifth step, muffling his breathing as he went, he heard the door to the utility room open.

Don’t rush, he told himself. The utility room was very narrow and dark. And the breaker was in a very high position and Yamazaki Asami should not be able to reach it, even if she stood on her tip-toes. Yamazaki Asami would have to look for something to stand on. He hit his left shin on the corner of the stairs as he climbed from the sixth to the seveth stair. Yet, because of the adrenaline in his body and the intensity of the situation, he didn’t even feel any pain. It was probably not because of the muscle relaxant, but because of the pressure and his fear. His palms were so sweaty and he had trouble holding onto the vinyl rope. He wiped his palm on his pants and shirt. Every time he heard some sound from the kitchen, Aoyama’s entire body would break out in goose bumps. When she had stuck the needle into Aoyama’s tongue, when she had cut the beagle’s leg with the wire, when she cut the power cord with the pink-handled knife, when she stabbed the fork into the dead, immobile dog’s neck, in any situation Yamazaki Asami’s expression hadn’t changed at all. Aoyama had never seen a human being who could beat another person with a fork without making any facial expression.

Those who hit other people suddenly are usually occupied by a very intense emotion. For regular people, their emotions get out of control and turn into violence. Therefore, along with the muscles of the arm, shoulders, and lung, the muscles of the face should also change. If someone becomes violent but tries not to show emotion, their face should become distorted. On the other hand, Yamazaki Asami stabbed the fork into Gang’s neck with the same expression she would have had while removing a piece of dog hair from her coat. While he pushed his body from the seventh step to the eighth step, Aoyama remembered Yamazaki Asami’s words: On the day of my father’s funeral, my stepfather came in a wheelchair. I was in my last year of elementary school, so I was about five years old. For a young child like that, I didn’t really understand what it meant that my father was dead. As monks were chanting at the funeral, a bee flew into the room from somewhere. One monk, continuing the chant, tried to get away from the bee. I couldn’t help from laughing because it was so funny to me. I looked down to try and hide my laughter. People though that I was going crazy. My stepfather told me about this the first time he hit me. He kept on beating me, telling me that I wasn’t a human being for being able to laugh at such a time… As Aoyama reached the handrail of the tenth step, he tried to push his body up with his toes and knees. He would reach the landing of the stairs in two more steps. Both his arms and shoulders were getting tired, but the feeling in his lower body was beginning to come back and he could feel the blood circulating. He grabbed the handrail of the eleventh step with his right hand and the vinyl rope with his left hand. The cream-colored door to Shigehiko’s room began to come into view through the darkness. There hasn’t been any sound from the kitchen in a while. Just as he started to think that everything might be ok, he heard Yamazaki Asami’s laughing voice from the bottom of the stairs. Her laughing voice floated through the darkness and it felt like ice had settled on his back and shoulders. He started to shiver so hard the vinyl rope began to make a trembling noise.

“Oh there you are. I’m going to go ahead and fix the cord and I’ll be right back.” Aoyama began to panic. All he had to do was push his body two more steps and then he could reach the landing. But his toe tips and knees were shaking so hard that he couldn’t force his body to move. He struggled to grab the handrail of the final twelfth step but his right hand was slippery and he almost tumbled back down to the bottom of the stairs. He could barely think through the fear and shock in his head. Goose bumps covered his entire body. He felt like he had been thrust into a nightmare.

Somebody was approaching his body from behind, but he couldn’t move his body the way he wanted to. The motions of his arms and legs were uncoordinated. Aoyama felt as if he was swimming in a muddy swamp.

“Ok, then I’ll just cut you legs over here,” said Yamazaki Asami. All the lights in the room came back on and the cream-colored door to Shigehiko’s room swam into view. Yamazaki Asami picked up the butcher’s wire that was lying next to Gang’s legs and slowly climbed up the stairs.

“No…” Aoyama’s voice quivered, “No…no…no…no.” He wasn’t even sure if the sound was coming out. He felt like something was stuck in his temple and when Yamazaki Asami reached for his leg that thing exploded, mixing nightmare and reality together, thrusting the world into chaos.

“Move your head a little. I know you want to see your feet get cut off.” Silver-colored metal wire was wrapped around his left ankle and Yamazaki Asami, calmly looking into Aoyama’s eyes, jerked the wire tight without any hesitation. The device sunk into the flesh of his ankle and when it disappeared from view his foot fell off smoothly, just like magic. In a very short time, he could hear the sound of his Achilles’ tendon get cut with the sound buchi. Aoyama’s foot, which was now separate from his body rested on the stairs. Initially the cut cross-section looked white from the bone but soon blood began to flow and everything became red.

“Hey,” Yamazaki Asami pointed at the severed foot and shook the foot which was still attached, “Don’t you think it looks like a sea anemone?”

His severed left leg was like a pipe spitting out industrial waste. Blood spilled down the stairs and onto the living room carpet with the sound dobo dobo. An overwhelming pain started to overwhelm Aoyama, who had been watching in disbelief. The pain was so great that it was almost like it had consumed his whole body. He could even see the very rough motion of his heart beating through his shirt. In the next instant, something strange happened. As he tried to resist the pain and shock by quickly shaking his head back and forth, an unusual quietness filled his consciousness and he heard a command to kick the woman off the stairs. Yamazaki Asami was sitting on the eighth step and was about to wind the wire around his right ankle.

Aoyama held his body to the stairs with his right foot and he flexed his stomach, lifting his footless leg and poked Yamazaki Asami’s forehead with the bloodly stump. Surprised, Yamazaki Asami looked up and he jabbed her in the face. Although it was a very shameful, weak kick, Yamazaki Asami was showered with blood and lost her balance on the staircase. She had to drop the handles of the cutting wire and tried to grab the vinyl rope with her right hand.

Aoyama attempted again to kick her face with his left leg. This time he hit her more strongly than before. With the very uncomfortable sound gucha, his footless left leg hit Yamazaki Asami in the eyes. Yamazaki Asami completely lost her balance and she fell from the eighth step to the bottom of the staircase, her body twisting to the side in midair. She collapsed on the floor. Because the blood had blinded her, she did not know how to break her fall. As she fell, her leg rolled in midair and she struck her hips hard on the wall. With a dull thud, she fell onto the floor with a very unstable posture and lay still. Aoyama’s left foot had fallen down the stairs with her and lay on the floor beside her. Aoyama had no room in his mind to calmly observe the damage Yamazaki Asami had suffered. This is probably because he started to go into shock from the large blood loss. Yamazaki Asami tried to move her right shoulder and raise her face once, but she collapsed again. Aoyama first carefully wound his left arm around the handrail and he stabilized his body on the ninth step, as if he were sitting down. His body was shaking badly. His teeth chattered. He struggled to undo the buttons on his sleeve and he used both hands to tear his shirt off. The shirt ripped into two pieces and he took one of his sleeves, folded it in half and put it over his severed ankle to stop the bleeding. The shirt grew heavy, absorbing the blood very quickly. He tied the other half of the shirt around his leg. As he tried to take his belt off, Yamazaki Asami was trying to push herself off the floor with both arms. Aoyama stopped trying to take off his belt and he removed the cutting wire, which was still wrapped around his ankle. He placed his finger into the ring of the handle and picked it up; the device was unexpectedly heavy. The string-type blade had no blood on it. Aoyama finally managed pulled his belt off and with a loud moan he tightened it around his left leg. Because he didn’t have much strength in his hands he could not wind it was tightly as he wanted. He put the tip of the belt into the buckle and, pulling the belt as hard as he could, twisted it back, making sure the belt bit tightly into his thigh. Yamazaki Asami continued to try and prop up her body, but her right arm was bent unnaturally. She lifted her head up and stared at Aoyama’s face. Beneath her elbow, her right arm was bent grotesquely.

Her face was covered with blood, but this was not from her fall, it was the blood from Aoyama’s severed leg. Considering how she fell, she must not have hit her face. She had hit her shoulder on the second step and the back of her neck on the first step. She sat up on the carpet, propping her body up with her left arm as her right arm swung limply from her shoulder. She wiped her face with her left hand and periodically touched the back of her neck. Aoyama tried to stay conscious by biting down hard on his lip. Yamazaki Asami faced him, saying something, but he couldn’t quite hear what she said. Aoyama could not move from the top of the stairs.

Then, the doorbell chimed at the entrance of the house. Yamazaki Asami crawled towards the entrance on the carpet and took a small cylindrical object out of the back pocket of her jeans. Aoyama thought it was probably pepper spray and the front door opened.

“What’s going on?” It was Shigehiko. Yamazaki Asami tried to stand up but she wobbled unsteadily on her feet. She tried to get close enough to spray Shigehiko with the pepper spray, but she tripped over her own bag and almost fell.

“Run away, Shigehiko, run away.” Aoyama shouted. His voice was very weak and a few times it cracked, but Shigehiko heard him. Shigehiko saw his father covered in blood and a strange woman coming towards him and Gang’s body on the table and he stood there dumbstruck with his skis in his hand.

“Run!” When Aoyama screamed again, Shigehiko tried to move away while shoving his skis at Yamazaki Asami. Aoyama wished Yamazaki Asami would run away through the front door. But Yamazaki Asami did not run away. She dodged the skis and turned her back to the front door, blocking the entrance, and tried to chase Shigehiko. She muttered something under her breath. Shigehiko ran into the house and he saw Gang’s dead body and his father and he yelled at Yamazaki Asami.

“Who the hell are you?” Yamazaki Asami continued chased Shigehiko, her right arm flopping at her side.

“Kill her!” Aoyama shouted. He couldn’t believe that he was even saying it, but he was. “Shigehiko, kill her kill her kill her!”

Yamazaki Asami chased Shigehiko like she was a sleepwalker, sometimes trying to spray him with the pepper spray. Because she was staggering across the room, she couldn’t really aim directly at him. The strong, stinging smell of the pepper spray filled the living room. Yamazaki Asami continued to mutter something under her breath. Shigehiko picked up the glass of yogurt from the table, ran to the other side of the table, and threw it at her face.

The glass struck Yamazaki Asami between her eyes and shattered, covering her face with yogurt.

This broken glass cut her face in between her eyes and fresh blood sprayed out, mixing with the white yogurt. Nevertheless, Yamazaki Asami continued to mutter something. When the glass shattered on his face, Shigehiko, who was not used to seeing violence, stood there shocked. Yamazaki Asami wiped the yogurt and blood off her face with her sleeve. Then, all of a sudden, she swung out her left arm and sprayed Shigehiko straight in the face. Shigehiko jumped back, but the pepper spray hit the left half of his face. Holding his face and screaming Ahh, shit, ahhhh, Shigehiko weakly tried to escape towards the audio rack. Yamazaki Asami tried to chase him, but for some reason she paused and grabbed her head with her left hand. At the same time, her incoherent muttering stopped. Shigehiko picked up a key from a drawer in the audio rack and unlocked a drawer containing several combat knifes Aoyama had purchased in Manilla. He grabbed one of the largest knives, one with a plastic handle, and grasped it in his hand. He stabbed the knife into Yamazaki Asami’s neck, who was still standing motionless clutching her head. Yamazaki Asami’s knees gave out from under her and she collapsed onto the carpet. Shigehiko went over to Aoyama, still clutching the knife in his hand.

“Who the hell is that woman?”

“That isn’t important…just call the police and the ambulance.”

“Ok, I will.” Shigehiko tried to walk over to the phone, but Aoyama called him back.

“Hey, Shigehiko…”

“What, Dad?”

“She was muttering something…wasn’t she?”


“What was she saying?”

“She kept saying ‘Liar, liar, liar.’ Do you know what that means?” Shigehiko spat out, with his hand covering his left eye.

“No…it’s nothing…” Aoyama said, shaking his head powerlessly.

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Comments (3)

  1. Oliver Jovanovic

    Just want to thank for the translation and share some thoughts about the movie.

    I always thought that the later dinner scene and all that follows were actually what happens in Aoyama’s mind during the torture.

    “This wire can cut meat and bone easily” led me to that conclusion as it repeats both when Asami cuts the head and later with the leg. After reading the chapter it seems a wrong idea, but still leaves me with question why this sentence was used twice like that if not as some kind of a time anchor.

    Also there is a bit of confusion about the women appearing in the “dream sequence”, it seems real that Aoyama had an affair with the one working for him, or with the housewife, but what’s with Shigehiko’s friend, as she also shows up.

    Does the novel clarify this. Did Aoyama meet them before Asami or while seeing her. If you have any thoughts on this I would really like to hear them .

    February 9, 2011

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