This tale of a 14-year-old boy who kills his father was inspired by the true-life crimes of a Kobe boy of that age in 1997. The deadly incident sparked intensive discussions throughout Japan about why it is wrong to kill?a deeply philosophical question that forms the backbone of this story.
Kazuki, the protagonist, is in the eighth grade. His father Hidetomo owns a string of pachinko parlors in Yokohama’s Koganechō entertainment district and elsewhere. He keeps stacks of flat gold bars in the basement of his sumptuous home, apparently to dodge taxes. Kazuki’s brother Kōki is four years older, but suffers from the difficult-to-treat Williams Syndrome, a mental disability, and requires full-time care. For many years their mother Miki gave all her love to Kōki, devoting herself completely to his care, but then six years ago she got religion, and when she could not get her husband to give up his pachinko business, she left him. Kazuki’s sister Miho is two years older and in the tenth grade. She wears short skirts and garish makeup and works as a prostitute. Kazuki himself is enrolled at a famous private school to which his father is a major donor, but he rarely attends; he smokes, uses cocaine, keeps bad company with whom he participates in a rape, and generally lives a dissolute life. Seeing Kazuki as the successor to his business empire, Hidetomo dotes on him, on the one hand letting him do as he pleases, on the other declaring that he will teach him everything he needs to know about running a pachinko business?much to the chagrin of the older, long-standing management team that has been in command. When Hidetomo discovers that Miho is prostituting herself, he beats her to within an inch of her life, but he never lifts a finger against Kazuki.
In July, when Hidetomo pressures Kazuki to attend school regularly and tells him he’s going to put him in the school dorm, Kazuki snaps: he bashes his father with a vase, grabs a Japanese sword from the old man’s collection, and hacks him to pieces. Not sure what else to do, he stashes the body in the basement safe and cleans up the murder scene. With Hidetomo missing, some of the managers begin to suspect Kazuki, but living in a video-game mentality, Kazuki is convinced he’ll never be caught and begins plotting his next murder. The only person he reveals anything to is his girlfriend, who urges him to turn himself in.
The narrative probes the question of why and how the boy had come to feel so desperate that he lashed out like a cornered animal and killed his father. Author Miri Yū observes him and the supporting characters with a penetrating eye that bores right through the thick walls of their hearts and minds in this ambitious, unforgettable work.