In his literary debut, director Kōji Fukada has personally novelized the film that took the Jury Prize in the Un Certain Regard section of the 2016 Cannes Film Festival.
The story is set at a small suburban metalworking shop owned and operated by Toshio Suzuoka and his wife Akie. The couple have a ten-year-old daughter, Hotaru. They live a quiet and humdrum life with little to talk about. One day an old acquaintance of Toshio named Yasaka shows up at the door. He has recently been released from prison after serving a sentence for murder. Without discussing it with Akie, Toshio not only hires Yasaka but offers him their spare room to live in. Akie cannot hide her displeasure at first, but Yasaka goes with her to her Christian church, happily accompanies Hotaru to her organ lessons, and otherwise conducts himself both amiably and courteously, and she gradually warms up to him. Toshio sees Yasaka acting more and more like a member of the family and becoming closer to his wife, but looks the other way. The fact that Yasaka alone had gone to prison for an incident in which they were both involved weighs on his conscience. Then one day Yasaka disappears after assaulting Hotaru sexually and leaving her in a vegetative state.
Eight years go by. Toshio’s efforts to find Yasaka’s whereabouts through private investigators continue to be in vain. A youth named Kōji hires on as a new employee in the Suzuokas’ shop. The boy never knew his father, and his mother’s death has left him an orphan, but he has an easy nature that quickly wins his employers’ confidence. Then a remark he happens to make one day shocks them to the core: the father he never met was none other than Yasaka. Toshio finally tells Akie about his involvement in the murder for which Yasaka went to prison. In his inability to overcome his feelings of guilt, he had consigned his daughter to her tragic fate. Toshio and Akie find themselves battling the demons of their past as they set out with Kōji in search of Yasaka in this deeply provocative tale that traces how sins of the past slowly but surely begin to erode the foundations of a seemingly stable and tranquil family.