(Book Review / 感想) BUTTER / 柚木麻子 * BUTTER / Asako Yuzuki

BUTTER was inspired by the famous crime case of Kanae Kjima in 2009, who was sentenced with the death penalty for conducting a series of murders while taking part in ‘Konkatsu’ (marriage hunting), specifically targeting men seeking marriage. Because of this unusual setting – and her strong personality – the media reported this sensationally, with lurid details about her remarks and crimes; including her sex life and the amount of money she earned from the ex-boyfriends (who she’d killed).


Despite the public curiosity towards the case, a great deal of mystery continued to surround her, in particular regarding how the media described her appearance negatively (or more precisely, the public would outspokenly comment that she was not a beautiful woman). People wondered how she had managed to succeed in having a string of relationships with men, and how she maintained a confident persona.


This book is a work of fiction, however, these questions lie at the core of the themes the protagonist of this book Rika – a journalist in her 30s – tries to answer.

この本はフィクションですが、30代ジャーナリストの主人公 里佳が、そんな謎にも迫ります。

Having introduced the background and setting of this book, it might sound like a crime thriller, but it isn’t. Rather, I would describe it as being about happiness. How do you understand your own personal definition of happiness, and how do you achieve this in your life? In particular, the concept of women’s ‘happiness’ – in both life and relationships – is discussed, from the point of view of the protagonist Rika, her friend Reiko and the ‘Konkatsu’ killer ‘Kajimana.’


The ‘Konkatsu’ killer herself, as well as some of the details in the case, are modified to better fit into the fictional story. While exploring Kajimana’s motives for committing the crimes, Rika becomes close to her, intending to write about her for the weekly magazine she works for. As women, they are both very different in terms of what they expect from life, and their respective outlooks frequently collide. Kajimana is described as a mysterious, persuasive person, and as a result Rika ends up being strongly influenced and manipulated by her through their various exchanges… The psychological conflict between the characters felt so real!


It ended up being a very empowering book, and it led me to think more about the social norms and culture around femininity in Japan.


Lastly, as the title indicates, the book also contains many scenes involving food, and I ended up feeling extremely hungry while I read!


Unfortunately, this book is not available in English yet, but I would love to see Asako Yuzuki’s books translated one day!


More reviews available on my book blog Intermission Ambience
書評ブログの Intermission Ambience にも本のレビューを書いています。あわせてぜひご覧ください!

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