24 May 2012
Brazen Review: Gaijin, Remittance Girl
Not Intended For Audiences Under 18 Due To Questionable Content
When Jennifer left the cold and damp of London for the sparkle and bustle of Tokyo, she imagined she'd find a world full of cherry blossom festivals, ancient tea ceremonies and Geishas. What she got instead was a cramped, shared apartment, harassment on the subway and a mind-numbing job as a hostess at the Blonde Chick Bar in Roppongi.
With a single, unintentional insult all that changed. She wakes up to find that she has been kidnapped by Shindo: a sadistic Yakuza demi-god who doesn't take his loss of face easily. Caught between his hatred of all things foreign and a growing obsession with this blonde gaijin, he is determined to make her pay for her rejection in sadistic and degrading ways.
`A woman's lot is to endure,' says the fox spirit in her dreams, but Jennifer wonders whether there are indeed fates worse than death. Little by little, she finds out.
Gaijin, blatent and disturbing, opens powerfully. Jennifer awakens to discover herself bound, in pain, and immediately her fear was palpable and alive. Every moment of weakness, despair, and hope spoke to a part of my heart as I uncovered her horrifying situation page by page. Jennifer was real, flawed, and beautiful in her portrayal, her struggle to make sense of her abduction and rape painful to read. Yet I did read, seeing through the lens of Remittance Girl's dark prose to the unexpected conclusion.
As this dark tale unfolded, I was drawn into every word and action of Jennifer's captor, Shindo. Mocking and violent one minute, almost tender the next, this character fascinated me in a way I don't fully understand, nor am I entirely comfortable admitting. With sickening disbelief, I found a part of me wishing that this criminal would reveal some redeeming quality to explain my morbid preoccupation, my near infatuation with his strength of presence within this story.
Gaijin contrasted the reality of modern Japanese culture with the romanticised version many Westerners mistakenly perceive - revealing one possible consequence of such dangerous misconceptions. The author, through masterful character depth, stripped away this Broad's natural instinct to hate Shindo, even as my heart broke for Jennifer, provoking more questions than answers. I, even now, continue to comtemplate my surprising emotions and reaction to Remittance Girl's frighteningly sensual tale.
Overall Rating: ♣♣♣♣♣