(This story is based on the Sion Sono’s “Love Exposure”)
The story of Aya Koike’s pursuit for love.
As a young girl, Aya is conditioned by her father to believe herself fundamentally undeserving. Her father, a respected Christian authority, lusts for her body but holds himself back from actually raping her. He removes to take out his internal conflict on her, whipping Aya and commanding her to confess that her body is obscene; obscene, in his eyes, for tempting him away his fundamental religious values; obscene, in her eyes, for the sinful feelings and monstrous men that it brings her.
Agonizingly screaming “give it to me” on command by her father that she beg for a soul, while he convinces himself that she is maliciously seducing him, Aya discovers that love is sinful. So when she feels a spark of affection between herself and a classmate, the only response that comes to her is, first a masochism for allowing herself to have such sinful ideas and feelings — she slits deep into her wrists with a box cutter while looking adoringly in his direction. Second a murderous vengeance against him for sparking this inside her — later, in the bathroom after confessing love to each other and beginning to have sex, she slits his throat with the same knife, then wanders the school hallways, covered in his blood, and reminds the other students that “fucking is a sin.. to be fucked is a sin…”
Aya has a finality with her father. Returning from the mental hospital after her murderous incident at school, she finds him laying helpless on the bed in the grips of a stroke, and with a stiff erection. As she ponders this opportunity, she finds herself unable to draw her attention away from his penis. After all the abuse, he has taught her to be so thoroughly afraid of his instrument, but here it was, available to her any whim. She thinks of her father more in terms of his penis than in any other terms. She plays with his penis thoughtfully, and even pretends to have sex with him. Finally she resolves to spare this monster after all, but not the man. In perhaps the most gruesome way possible, she first snaps his erection with her hands, and then uses a common pair of scissors to finish off the castration.
With the deed done, she calls the police and gives them a ridiculous excuse for what happened — her father fell down and hurt his penis, so she decide to cut it off to help ease the pain. But, apparently the ruse works. Aya never sees her father again, the last time being when she laughed over his dying, or perhaps already dead body, on a hospital bed.
Through with the Christian demon that mentally raped and physically all-but raped her, she is free. She still knows that she is fundamental undeserving, which makes her well positioned to accept the 0 Church. Soon after she is set free, she encounters the the leader of a new cult, the 0 Church. The exact teachings of 0 are never clear, but the central focus is on recognizing one’s own sins and accepting the utter forgiveness of God, conditional on you aiding the 0 Church’s practices and requirements. Aya allows herself to be taken in by the 0 Church’s charismatic leader, but she never accepts the practices. She sees 0 for the manipulative cult that it is, and as an opportunity to take advantage of. She fully admits to her sins, but does not accept the forgiveness of God — the God that was her father.
Aya learns to use the Church for her own sadistic ends. She develops a charisma herself, dead set on acquiring money and recruits for the 0 Church by whatever means possible. She runs a fake charity, sells fake religious artifacts, and even deals cocaine. But nothing, not even her power and success at 0, truly satisfies her. Eventually she realizes that what she actually craves, and has been subconsciously striving for by manipulating others, is to be genuinely desired by someone. Growing more mature, she can no longer fully suppressed her urges to actually feel deserved, to find a love that replaces the nightmares of her father’s twisted lust. But she sees no man that can offer this.
Then one day, Aya meets the upskirt-photographer Yu Honda. She is slightly annoyed that Yu takes some photos of her panties, at first dismissing him as another common pervert among men, but he provokes Aya’s curiosity when she notices that he appears to take no perverted pleasure in the subject and instead treats it as a sort of challenging exercise. She stalks him to his home, and then to the church of Yu’s father. In the pouring rain, it’s unclear what exactly he is doing, so she and her assistants approach him at last. He offers no resistance. Aya’s assistants assume that Aya wants to beat him up because of the panty photos, but Aya surprisingly decides to forgive him instead. She sees that there is something special about this male, who appears not to necessarily be a another dick-guided demon even though he otherwise acts just like one. When she announces her forgiveness for him, a jolt of warmth runs through her, something she did not know how to respond to, but she smiles. All Aya shows is that she is fascinated with the boy, and that she needed to keep his virginity pure for herself.
Most importantly, she needs to uncover Yu’s love. However, Aya knows that she could not instigate it herself. So, she profile’s Yu and identifies his perfect and convenient mate: a girl named Yoko with a similarly tragic upbringing complete with a sexually abusive father an abrasive relationship with religion. An in fact, Aya picks Yoko because Aya sees herself in the girl, and sees the same spark for love with Yu that she sees in herself.
Aya orchestrates Yu and Yoko’s fall into love, but making sure that they cannot get too physically close so as to ruin Yu’s purity. In the first stage of the orchestration, Yu is forced to conceal his identity behind Miss Scorpion in order to not drive away Yoko due to an instinctual hatred of men that Aya knows all too well. In the second stage, Aya socially engineers the merging of Yu and Yoko’s families and infiltrates the home. But, Aya gets a little tempted by the strength and genuineness of Yoko’s lesbian love, and so indulges in sensual desires with her. Aya is not skilled at showing affection, and it comes very awkwardly to her. But in finally having sensuality with Yoko’s body, she tries to learn from and absorb some of Yoko’s love. As a side effect, she demonstrates to Yu that he cannot have Yoko after all. And all the while that Aya is in the home, she cannot draw her attention away from Yu. She spies on him, searches through his room, and tries to mildly seduce him. But she can see that Yu’s love for Yoko is persistent, even though she wants nothing to do with him. This fascinates Aya even more, but worries her that it may be hard to separate them. So when Yu pulls and ultimatum and reveals the identity of Miss Scorpion to Yoko, Aya finally pulls the family into the 0 Church and cuts them away from Yu. And with Yoko under her control, Away can manipulate Yu into coming to her.
After thoroughly programming Yoko and the parents, Aya releases Yoko back into the public so that Yu may find her and lose hope at last. Yu is surprisingly persistent, but it is to no avail as he is unable to unprogram Yoko. She has been thoroughly convinced that Yu’s interest in her is purely perverted, evidenced by the uncontrollable erection that Yu gets whenever he sees her. Aya even seems to pressure Yoko into cutting off Yu’s penis, in a reflective act to the one she performed on her own father, but Yoko cannot bring herself to and Aya does not push her further. She knows that Yoko’s only hesitation was due to confusion, stress, and calorie restriction, otherwise she could have been easily pressured into castrating Yu. But, Aya does not want Yu castrated, she just wants Yu to know that Yoko is hopeless and even dangerous to him.
Aya continues to use Yoko as a remote control for Yu, and eventually brings Yu into the 0 Church. Yu is allowed some exposure to Yoko, and Aya uses these meetings as more opportunity to point out the perversion of Yu’s love for Yoko. Aya is starting to become concerned that this has gone too far, and that she is losing control of Yu even though he is so close. The only way she knows to sexually communicate are in terms of abuse and perversion. She does not want to lose Yu to Yoko, so she must declare the relationship perverse and do everything she can to make them turn away from each other. But, Aya is failing. At this point, Aya tries to seduce Yu more and more. Even though she has told him how perverse his erection is in front of Yoko, she tells him its okay to be erect when Yu is with Aya. She even takes many opportunities to feel his hard penis. The final stage of Aya’s orchestration is now to turn Yu’s undying love away from Yoko and towards herself. But, no matter what she tries, from cultish indoctrination and psychological abuse, nothing works. Yu’s dedication to Yoko is unwavering.
Aya realizes that there must be a miracle to change Yu’s mind. He must come to a point where he truly sees that Yoko’s love is impossible. So, she gathers the parents and Yoko together, for Yu to come and find and discover that his feelings for Yoko and relationships with his parents are hopeless, and that love with Aya is the only option.
Yu makes it to the room as planned, having brutally fought off many of the 0 Church’s security in a slashing frenzy, but is finally subdued. Aya focuses only on Yu now. She has him so close. This is the final step to bring them together. She just needs to tear his previous expectations for love and then fill that void herself. Yu detonates a bomb somewhere in the building, and Aya starts to panic realizing time is almost up. Soon Yoko has Yu on the ground under her, trying to choke him out of his crazy love for her for the last time. Yoko is so filled with rage that she threw off some security to do this final act herself. As Yu slowly loses breath, still calling out Yoko’s name, Yu snaps. He realizes that Yoko is not going to stop. She is utterly beyond his reach. In that moment his love dies. And Aya sees it. She sees the love leave Yu’s mind. He throws off Yoko and combats in futile with the security. But when Yu’s love vanishes, Aya sees that there is no void left for her to fill. Aya sees that Yu is just like herself now — an empty shell no longer able to experience that such as love. She had killed off the love that she had so desperately wanted, which she had only a taste of through Yoko, but could not internalize and so had Yu’s purity was no longer a treasure to preserve for herself, but a fate sealed beyond her power.
Aya’s only drive bled away as madness consumed Yu’s pupils. She had closed her hand too hard around what she now realized was a delicate specialness in Yu, forever lost. For a brief moment, it Yu reminds Aya of herself — giving up hope in love and seeing it for the perverse obscenity that it always is. In Yu’s insanity, she sees a familiarity and realizes that she has been insane since she joined 0. In a hopeless plea, she begs to the Yu in her imagination “give it to me… give it to me…” — the only language to express her emotional unmaking. Aya reserves a small smile and cry as the same warmth that she first felt from Yu fills her again along the edge of a katana.