Author: Koji Suzuki.
Genre: Fiction, fantasy, horror.
Publication Date: 1991 (2003 in English).
Summary: A mysterious videotape warns that the viewer will die in one week unless a certain, unspecified act is performed. Exactly one week after watching the tape, four teenagers die one after another of heart failure. Asakawa, a hardworking journalist, is intrigued by his niece's inexplicable death. His investigation leads him from a metropolitan Tokyo teeming with modern society's fears to a rural Japan - a mountain resort, a volcanic island, and a countryside clinic - haunted by the past. His attempt to solve the tape's mystery before it's too late - for everyone - assumes an increasingly deadly urgency.
My rating: 8/10.
♥ If he had taken the subway home, however, a certain pair of incidents would almost certainly never have been connected. Of course, a story always begins with such a coincidence.
♥ But Asakawa himself didn’t much care if the company made money or lost it. All that mattered to him was whether or not the work was engaging. No matter how easy a job was physically, if it didn’t involve any imagination it usually ended up exhausting you.
♥ It wasn’t that people refrained from saying anything out of fear of being laughed at for being unscientific. It was that they felt they’d be drawing unto themselves some unimaginable horror by admitting it. It was more convenient to indulge in scientific explanation, no matter how unconvincing it was.
A chill ran up Asakawa’s spine and Yoshino’s simultaneously. Unsurprisingly, they were both thinking the same thing. The silence only confirmed the premonition which was welling up in each man’s breast. It’s not over - it’s only just started. No matter how much scientific knowledge they fill themselves with, on a very basic level, people believe in the existence of something that the laws of science can’t explain.
♥ “You don’t have to make a scene. So I’m not scared - do you have a problem with that? Listen, Asakawa, I’ve told you before: I’m the kind of guy who’d get the front-row seats for the end of the world if he could. I want to know how the world is put together, its beginning and its end, all its riddles, great and small. If someone offered to explain them all to me, I’d gladly trade my life for the knowledge.”
♥ Ryuji was like that: the philosophy department signed his paychecks, but his brain was wired like a scientist’s. On the other hand, in addition to his specialized professional knowledge, he also knew an extraordinary amount about paranormal psychology. Asakawa saw this as a contradiction. He considered paranormal psychology, the study of the supernatural and the occult, to be in direct opposition to science. Ryuji’s answer: Au contraire. Paranormal psychology is one of the keys to unlocking the structure of the universe. It had been a hot day in the middle of summer, but just like today he’d been wearing a striped long-sleeved shirt with the top button buttoned tightly. I want to be there when humanity is wiped out, Ryuji had said, sweat gleaming on his overheated face. All those idiots who prattle on about world peace and the survival of humanity make me puke.
Asakawa’s survey had included questions like this:
Tell me about your dreams for the future.
Calmly, Ryuji had replied: “While viewing the extinction of the human race from the top of a hill, I would dig a hole in the earth and ejaculate into it over and over.”
Asakawa pressed him: “Hey, are you sure it’s okay for me to write that down?”
Ryuji had just smiled faintly, just like he was doing now, and nodded.
♥ Reality marched on without a break.
♥ “Sometimes when one is given the answers up front it dulls one’s intuition. My intuition has already led me to a conclusion. And now that I have that in mind, I’ll twist any phenomenon to rationalize holding onto that conclusion. It’s like that in criminal investigations, too, isn’t it? Once you get the notion that he’s the guy, it suddenly seems like all the evidence agrees with you. See, we can’t afford to wander off the track here. I need you to back up my conclusion. That is, I want to see, once you’ve taken a look at the evidence, if your intuition tells you the same thing mine told me.”
♥ We may not be able to scientifically explain what we’re facing. But it’s real, and because it’s real we have to face it as a real phenomenon and deal with it as such, even if we don’t understand its cause or effect.
♥ Even amidst the worst panic, there are still scattered moments like this, when time flows leisurely by.
♥ It was said that in the distant past God and the Devil, cells and viruses, male and female, even light and darkness had been identical, with no internal contradiction.
♥ A woman’s resentment toward the masses who had hounded her father and mother to their deaths and the smallpox virus’s resentment toward the human ingenuity that had driven it to the brink of extinction had fused together in the body of a singular person named Sadako Yamamura, and had reappeared in the world in an unexpected, unimagined form.
Asakawa, his family, everybody who had seen the video had been subconsciously infected with this virus. They were carriers. And viruses burrowed directly into the genes, the core of life. There was no telling yet what would result from this, how it would change human history - human evolution.
In order to protect my family, I am about to let loose on the world a plague which could destroy all mankind.