This volume’s two novellas feature sadomasochistic sex play in which the male partner is disciplined by a female “queen.”
The name of the title work involves a clever bilingual wordplay. Metamorphosis refers to the process by which an insect transforms from an immature form to its adult form; one of the Japanese words for this process is hentai, which when written with different characters also signifies “perverse sexual desire,” the sense in which the word has entered English. Over the course of time, the 40-year-old protagonist of the story, Satō, undergoes a transformation of ever-escalating masochistic desires, which he pursues relentlessly.
It has been eight years since Satō gave up on his hopes of landing a government job and joined a brokerage firm instead. He’s been hitting his performance targets and making good money by getting wealthy seniors to trade their securities repeatedly in order to jack up his commissions, but he’s well aware that the rise of electronic trading on the Internet bodes ill for the future since his company is still focused on conventional person-to-person brokerage services. Perhaps because his day job requires him to play the sheep ordered around and disciplined by a despotic boss, he becomes hooked on SM play.
The death of a man named Kuwashima, a customer of the same SM service Satō uses, causes him to get sucked in even deeper. When Satō reads about the unidentified body that has been discovered, he recognizes from the description that it must be Kuwashima. He has apparently died as the result of “seppuku play,” which he had spoken of as his ultimate desire. There seems little doubt that one or more of the six queens whose services Satō has engaged must have been involved in Kuwashima’s death.
No longer satisfied by being stripped virtually naked, collared and leashed like a dog, and taken for a stroll outside by the queen, Satō’s requests begin to escalate. Even when he eats his queen’s “gold” (i.e. feces) and suffers from serious food poisoning, and even when he fractures his ribs and has to be hospitalized, he refuses to dial back his requests. He asks the queen to take him to a forest at the foot of Mt. Fuji that’s known as a hot spot for suicides and inject shōchū liquor up his anus?a potentially fatal action . . .
The numerous masochistic acts Satō pays large sums of money to be subjected to are described in graphic, realistic detail. But most disturbing of all is how completely author Keisuke Hada persuades us that those acts could be taking place anywhere in today’s Japan without seeming the least bit extraordinary. Another fine work by a young author who has his finger on the pulse of contemporary Japanese society.