The story of a pure and innocent girl who saw the true colors of the world.
Disclaimer: This article is an analysis of a profoundly messed up hentai manga. While no nudity is featured in this post, illustrations of fictional children in peril and using drugs are shown. This article not suitable for minors. Reader discretion is advised.
Metamorphosis, also known as Emergence, 177013, and Henshin, is a hentai manga created by Shindo L that garnered notoriety in the English-speaking hentai community who, once the series finished its run in 2016, began taking note of the series for being dark, realistic, depressing, and an example of quality storytelling in a genre that often lacks narrative depth. After catching a passing reference of the name and hearing of its supposed quality about a month ago, I naturally sought the series out, read it, and as I looked over the final page of the comic, I sat back in my chair, turned off my music, and audibly stated: “that was brilliant.”
Now, this could have just been a positive first impression, but Metamorphosis was something that stuck with me well after reading it, with my brain reviewing and re-examining the story, finding it to be so primed for analysis that I simply could not pass up the opportunity to dive deep and discuss this story, and my thoughts on it, in meticulous detail. But before delving in, allow me to offer a brief overview:
Metamorphosis is the story of Saki Yoshida, a quiet, introverted, 15-year-old girl who strives to move out of her shell and garner the friendship of those around her and enjoy the bright happy world that she has been keeping at a distance. Only for her to fall down a spiral of misfortune and hardship lined with rape, drugs, abuse, rejection, and so much more, before reaching her premature death in the story’s final chapter.
That synopsis alone should establish what kind of story we are dealing with here, and while it may be seen as the premise for an edgy, mean, and gleefully grimdark story, I consider it to be something more. A lot more in fact. And I think the best way to explain this is to walk through the story, chapter by chapter, and do some deeper analysis.
Chapter 1: Reborn Into a Bright Cheerful World
We open with Saki Yoshida, age 15, as she attends her middle school graduation, looking upon the stage while those around her mingle, and the reader is given a long hard look at their protagonist. A girl with large rimmed glasses, braided yet slightly unkempt hair, and a prominent frown painted onto her plain face. As the event plays out before her, with some old fart talking while nobody is listening, Saki thinks back on her time in middle school and her relationship with her peers. Children who she kept at a distance as she feared they would not accept a homely girl such as her, that she would be mocked, bullied, or otherwise rejected. Through distancing herself, she erected a wall of veiled superiority over them, acting as if she was better than these cliques, only for her to steadily realize that she was truly envious of them, what they had, and how they were able to enjoy life in a way she never had the opportunity to experience.
While they were out enjoying the world, acting all bright and cheerful, she was steadily growing to hate herself as she sunk deeper and deeper into escapism. Between anime, manga, and erotic otome games, she had become a stereotypical, and also very relatable, nerdy introverted character, and with high school on the horizon, with the opportunity to change her image, to transform, sitting plainly before her, she attempts just that.
Being a child, Saki begins this process by seeking aid from her parents, reaching out to her mother for the first time in years, and asking her to teach her how to do make-up. Saki’s mom, somebody who Saki had grown distant from in recent years, is shocked enough by this that she drops a fat stack of flapjacks on the floor, and wastes little time helping her daughter shine. She teaches her how to do basic make-up, takes her to a hair salon that unbraids and beautifies her hair, and is left looking like a whole new person, still true to herself, no longer dressing down her natural beauty. It’s even enough for her to get a compliment from her otherwise cold and distant father, who says she looks “very pretty”.
A month later, Saki begins attending her new high school, immediately turning heads at her introduction, and making a very good first impression, but she remains unsure of herself, not used to being seen as a pretty girl. When in actuality, she made enough waves to be scoped out by a pair of friendly girls who invite Saki out to get some juice while on their way home. They hit it off, make plans for the weekend, and Saki is left both smiling and motivated, choosing to prepare immediately by diving into a konbini and picking up a fashion magazine to help her pick some fly threads for her springtime rendezvous with normalcy. She winds up looking over the magazine rack a bit confused, wondering how insightful such a publication can be, only for her to be interrupted by an older man, his hair light, his attire casual-cool, and his personality… predatory.
This is a good point to pump the brakes and explain three important things about Saki.
Number one is the fact that, at the beginning of the story, she’s 15. It is not clear how old she is at the end of the story, but in the afterword, Shindo L claims that 3 years probably passed over the span of Metamorphosis, meaning that she is 18 at most. In other words, for the vast majority of Metamorphosis, Saki is a minor. Her brain is not finished forming. And much of her accumulated knowledge comes from what is either taught to her by her fairly distant parents and at school.
Number two is that she is a very sheltered girl. By being an introvert during her formative early teens, she has not been exposed to much of the dangers of the world, and because she was a very homely looking girl, she would not have garnered the same attention from onlookers, and ‘perverts’, that a more approachable girl would. She also lacks friends to inform her of warnings signs, to wake her up to how the world really is, and to impart their experiences onto her.
Number three, and this is possibly the most important thing to realize, is that Saki is an individual who craves acceptance. She wants validation. She wants friends. She wants to be part of the enticing world she has been withdrawn from during her early-teen years and wants to be the sort of person who people like. You could say that she wants a normal happy life above all else. This is true, but as a sheltered teen, she does not quite know what that is. Her metric for what is and is not socially acceptable is limited, and she does not seem to be the person who is used to saying the word no to people, especially people above her.
You could blame her for her ignorance due to what she does throughout Metamorphosis. You could call her an idiot for not fighting back, for not knowing about resources that could help her out, and for not doing X, Y, or Z to get out of circumstance A, B, or C. But human beings do not always view situations in such definite terms. Especially not minors. Especially not children who are victimized by those around her time and time again, those who lack a support network, and those who undergo anything a fraction as horrible as what Saki does. But I am getting ahead of myself, let’s get back to this… man. This man by the name of Hayato.
As Hayato greets Saki, he begins to spur conversation with her about the magazine in her hand, shoots her a ‘nice’ smile, and begins complimenting her left and right, lowering her guard and appealing to her low self-esteem with words colored in kindness, before inviting her on a date. Saki is thrilled that she managed to draw the eye of an older man who could pursue an older woman (but isn’t for some reason) and eagerly agrees to go out to this man. What ‘s Yamoto’s venue of choice for his date with this 15-year-old girl? Why, none other than a karaoke bar… where the two are alone… in an isolated room… with noise suppressing walls… and alcohol that tastes like soda.
Saki, the precious and ignorant little child, does not want to seem boring, is happy to finally be inside a karaoke bar, finds the beverage before her to be most “yummy,” and the two have a fun time chatting about and singing. That is, until the liquor kicks in, Saki’s eyes begin to drop, and Hayato eases in, sticking his tongue against hers, taking her first kiss. Saki asks if this is right, but with her head spinning and senses distorted, she finds herself going along with it, not even noticing as Hayato brings a hand to her chest, unbuttoning her shirt.
Now fully drunk and lacking the knowledge to properly comprehend what is happening to her, Hayato continued his sexual assault by giving Saki a little tablet with a heart on it, one that almost looks like a piece of candy. To pre-emptively cull Saki’s reservations, Hayato claims that “everyone’s using them,” lowering Saki’s guard further before slipping it into her mouth in a deep kiss, keeping Saki’s mind, mouth, and body occupied as he works his hands to loosen her bra while the drug begins to take effect.
With uppers and downers clashing in her system, her drunkenness going into a stimulant-based high, and her eyes dilating in a way you only see in hentai, Saki fully loses control of herself. She is under the influence of foreign chemicals she does not understand, and all she can focus on is the feelings going on in her body. How warm she is feeling, how amazing this is, and how much she likes this ‘being high’ thing. It is in this vulnerable state, where Saki can do little more than voice her reluctance, that Hayato rapes her on the karaoke room table.
He calls Saki a slut, shames her for being a “loose bitch”, for giving away her virginity to a guy she just met, and continues to exert his influence onto her by making her admit that. Saki, being too far gone and overwhelmed to really understand her situation, repeats his insults, demeans herself, and does so while screaming about how much she loves him, about how much she loves having sex while high. This gets Hayato off, satiates his fetish, and after cumming inside Saki, without the use of a condom, he leaves her on the table.
Saki is full of drugs, laying in spilled booze, with a liter of cum wafting out from her vagina (because hentai), unable to do more than lay there and twitch erratically. Hayato looks at this, admires his fine work, and thanks Saki by putting his number in her phone, and keeping a photo of her for his personal records. He does not try to help her, and is all too cheery about the crime he committed, casually asking Saki’s unresponsive and ravaged body to leave the room before the staff checks up on her.
Hours later, Saki is pulled out of her stupor as an employee sees her, inspiring her to rush out of the karaoke bar without cleaning up, walking home in her sex-stained uniform, with… liquid dripping from her person. She shakily shambles to her home late at night, her family likely furious with her, when she gets a text from Hayato, causing her to recognize him as her new boyfriend. Yes, despite it all, Saki does not recognize what happened to her as wrong, evil, or rape, and instead views it as love because she got to feel incredibly good as her body and brian were full of happy chemicals.
Now, one might look at this situation and ask whether or not Saki is… just kinda stupid, and question just how narrow and limited her understanding of sex and drugs are, as she does not seem to understand how sexual relationships should work, or really understand what being “high” is. It got me curious as to what she, a 15-year-old Japanese girl, would realistically know about sex and drugs, and what she would have learned about it in school.
As somebody born and raised in the United States, I was taught about the basics of both sexual and illegal narcotics in 7th grade. That while drugs can feel great due to the chemical reactions they have in one’s body, they can also destroy people mentally and physically. That drugs cloud one’s reasoning and have destroyed people’s lives as they acted using impaired judgment. And that it is important to only have sex if you want to, that you should never let anybody pressure you into sex, and if that does happen, then that is rape. But I know that this is not the global standard, as different cultures broach these matters in different ways.
From what little I have read, Japan’s sexual education system was rather advanced throughout the 1990s but was culled back in 2003 due to moral panic, setting the national education backwards in an attempt to preserve modesty and not taint children’s’ minds prematurely. The sexual education offered since then, and to this day, is lacking because of these restrictions and a general reluctance from educators to discuss sexual matters with school children due to perceived indecency. So it is entirely possible for somebody like Saki, a 15-year-old girl in the year 2013, to be woefully ignorant about sex and sexual relationships.
As for drugs, Japan has some of the harshest anti-drug laws in the world, and those who are caught with possession of drugs face severe punishments. I think the best-known example of this, at least in the circles I frequent, is actor Pierre Taki’s removal from the Yakuza spin-off Judgment due to cocaine use. As for how this is taught in schools, I was able to find an article that mentioned that Japanese educators were originally cagey about the subject until information about drug abuse was widely distributed to elementary, junior high, and high school students in 2004. This means that Saki should know about drug abuse, but it is entirely possible that because of how vilified it was in the education she received, and because of how it was introduced to her as something so positive and euphoric, that she does not view it as that bad or a problem.
…Actually, wait, when she does cocaine in chapter 4, she doesn’t seem to have any idea what the shit she’s even looking at, so maybe she just really doesn’t know about how messed up drugs can be… or maybe, by being around people who do drugs so willingly and wanting to be accepted by them, she views drugs are more acceptable and normal than she should. Either way, I believe that her ignorance towards drugs is justified on at least some level.
Chapter 2: Creampie My JK Baby Hole for 180,000 Yen
Chapter 2 cuts ahead another month, where Saki Yoshida, age 15, is in a love hotel with her drug pedaling predatory boyfriend Hayato, doing it cowgirl-style while under the influence of Ecstasy. It is as Saki is in the thralls of sex that she exposits how this has been happening two to three times a week and that their relationship has mostly devolved to the pair having sex with Hayato slipping her a pill that makes her feel like a “different person” and whose effects are coined as “scary.” Despite being aware that Ecstasy changes her as a person, Saki is clearly enjoying herself, and while what she is doing is positively fucked on many levels, things are… stable at the moment.
We then cut back to school, where Saki has already made it into a social group of her fellow teenage girls, but remarks at how she is struggling to keep up with them, presumably due to her lack of social experience. In her effort to maintain favor with the group, she plays it quiet, choosing only what she thinks are the safe responses, and winds up broaching the subject of the various accessories her peers are wearing on themselves and their bags, commenting that they are expensive. This causes the discussion to veer into that of part-time jobs, which one girl, the same one who went up to Saki on the first day of school, to bring up the topic of compensated dating, or enjo kōsai. An activity where older men pay younger women to go on dates with them. It is a regularly bad-mouthed part of Japanese culture but persists in spite of its negative reputation.
Saki is apprehensive of the idea, thinking that it sounds like prostitution, but all the cool sociable normies around her say that it is both a safe and easy way to snag ¥20,000 to ¥30,000, which can be loosely rounded to $200 to $300, also known as a lot of money for a 15-year-old girl. So Saki signs up with the enjo kōsai dating site and is next seen standing out in a quiet street at night, dressed for a night out in a trendy youthful outfit, nervously looking at her phone until a car pulls up next to her, and she is met with her date for the evening. An overweight older man with realistic unattractive facial features and thick hairy sausage fingers whose very presence spits in the mouth of all things moe.
This man, who goes by Kumataro but prefers to be called Kumagai, is cordial to Saki in his invitation, complimenting her appearance and giving her some fatherly reassurance. But before the car can even move, he breaks the golden rule of compensated dating by feeling up Saki’s ass. Saki recognizes that this is against the rules of compensated dating, but with the doors already closed, the intimidation factor high, she keeps her mouth shut as they begin to drive to a high-class restaurant for a meal that takes place off-panel.
We then rejoin Saki as Kumataro is supposedly driving her back home, or where she was first picked up, only for him to stop by a hotel. Saki objects to this, but Kumataro is not the sort to cave to anyone and says that if she does not want to stop here, she can walk home, alone, at night, and likely quite a ways away from her house. Saki agrees to stay with him, but as she finds herself in a hotel room, surrounded by cigarette smoke, she begins to doubt this awful decision (not that alternative is much better). Only for Kutamaro to grab her by the leg, saying that she is free to leave whenever she wants while pulling out a stack of 18 (I counted) ¥10,000 bills. Kumataro insinuates that she knows what he wants, saying that in return he wants to “touch” Saki’s body, but won’t force her… whatever the hell that means.
Now, it is important to recognize just how… wrong this situation is. Kumataro recognizes that Saki is a high school girl. That she is a JK (Joshi Kōsei). That she is a child. He recognizes the power he has over her. Somebody inexperienced, desperate, and likely craving validation from some source. So he speaks softly to her, giving her assurances that she can exit this engagement at any minute, and positions his offer as a generous one. Much like Hayato, Kumataro is a skilled predator who, in all likelihood, and based on the ease and confidence in his every action, had done this to dozens of girls in the past.
Saki knows that he is bad news, she is clearly uncomfortable with him, but she is also a 15-year-old with no income looking at more money than she has ever seen at once in her entire life. As Saki monologues while looking over the bills before her, “with this much money… I’d be able to buy anything I want.” With this money, she could buy herself the best accessories to fit in with her peers, a way into a comfortable position socially. She does not want to do this by any stretch of the imagination but tells herself that it will be worth it in the end.
Once Saki secures the cash herself, she brings her body up to Kumataro, who begins the steady process of pushing Saki further and further, leaning in for a kiss, placing her hand on his growing penis, and maintaining a one-sided conversation, complimenting her while rubbing his hand against her person. Saki does have the wherewithal to object as Kumataro breaks his promise and leans in for a kiss, but even upon being met with resistance, Kumataro continues to push things further with Saki, forcing her hand onto his rancid and slimy penis, pressing her head against it until she deepthroats it, bringing his hairy hands underneath Saki’s underwear, and then finally grinding his penis against Saki’s vulva.
Saki recognizes what he is trying to do, orders him to stop, only for Kumataro to stick it in, causing Saki’s panic alarm to go blaring. But this time, her concerns are not met with assurance or an excuse, but rather violence. Saki’s head is rammed into the sweat-stained sheets below while Kumataro blames her for allowing him to go this far, and he only proceeds to go further, spending the next 9 pages sexually assaulting her in graphic detail… because this is hentai, and we really needed to see Saki’s insides be filled with semen in an elaborately drawn splash page. I get why this detail is a fetish, but these depictions always struck me as… overly medical and scientific in their depiction. But hey, that’s just me.
When Kumataro is done with her, the once seemingly gentle fellow then throws Saki away like a soiled rag, twitching, drenched in juices, and unable to so much as speak. Kumataro lays his hand on Saki once more, cigarette laced between his fingers, and compliments her on her performance, saying that he hopes to see her again before immediately telling her to clean herself up and leave, robbing his words of all kindness. After all, based on his technique, his approach, it is safe to say that Kumataro is a man well versed in this practice of abusing and grooming children to satiate his own vile sexual needs. To him, Saki is just another fuck.
Saki is then driven back to her home, arriving late into the night and immediately drawing ire from her mother, who berates her for staying out so late without keeping her informed. But, as Mrs. Yoshida looks down at her daughter, seeing her body shake uncontrollably, looking deep into her dead eyes, she realizes that something… horrible happened. Saki has no words to offer her. After all, what teenager can comfortably tell their parents they just had sex with a man for money after being so horrifically violated? But Mrs. Yoshida says that no words are needed. That it is okay if she does not want to talk about it. And further reassures her sobbing daughter by declaring the following:
“Just know that no matter what happens, I’ll always be on your side.”
Before the chapter concludes on this… horrible note, things get worse. Saki returns to school on another day, this time sporting a new premium purse, and while the feeling of belonging thanks to having such a fashionable bag is what she wanted… she knows that this was not worth it, that by selling herself to Kumataro, she lost far more valuable, and the only solace she can cling to now is that it is in the past. That it’s all over, and she can enjoy her life as a normal high school girl. At least until she is approached by a group of boys from her class, who have photographic evidence of her leaving the hotel with Kumataro. Something that threatens her reputation at school, her life going forward, and when faced with such damning evidence, Saki can do little more than stammer.
Chapter 3: No Hope, No Home, No Heroes
Things then jump ahead and we rejoin our tortured protagonist as she is in a mostly empty room at school, down on her knees, suckings the dicks of her male peers. Not of her own fruition, mind you, but rather as a way to appease them, to satiate them and prevent them from publishing photographic evidence of her… encounter with Kumataro. Saki’s eyes are sullen as she stimulates and sucks, leading to her sorrowfully swallowing some random guy’s load, only finding joy in the experience as he outwardly expresses affection for her with a firm pat on the head. Because head pats are the nicest and purest form of affection.
Despite being appeased like this, the boys are still pressuring Saki for more, continuing to blackmail her in exchange for sex, and while Saki refuses to offer them the real deal that is penis in vagina intercourse (the jolly old PIV), that does not stop word about Saki’s ‘promiscuous nature’ to circulate around the school. Boys now hover around Saki at any opportunity, indirectly requesting that she provide her ‘services’ to them, and with no leverage against them, Saki has no choice but to comply, refusing the offer to go galavanting with her newfound female friends, much to their chagrin.
As the girls look over Saki, they share the rumors that Saki “lets every guy in the class screw her,” and believe that something needs to be done about this. But rather than wanting to talk to her directly about the matter and learning the truth, like a pair of adults, the girls think that she is being too “conceited,” that she is somehow using the boys to her advantage when the opposite is true. They think this because Saki is a pretty girl, because she gives off the impression of a “princess from a good family,” and because that is easier for them to accept than the idea of the boys in their class being a group of rapists.
Saki returns home late into the evening, having spent the afternoon with her blackmailers, and is called into a family meeting with her father, who reveals that he, an aging man with white hair, who I’m just going to say is in his 50s, was laid off in a corporate restructuring. This puts him in a dire position, as Japanese business culture, not unlike Japanese culture as a whole, is very youth-centric. Most companies want to hire younger workers who can stick with and benefit the company for a longer period of time, and while there are some programs to help older people find employment, the general rule is, and was back in 2013, that it becomes increasingly harder for one to find a job in Japan as they age past 30. This adds yet another layer to the despair of losing one’s job, and it is in this pitiful sorrowful state that Mr. Yoshida is reminded by his wife that Saki, his precious little girl, his only child, has become a “full-grown woman”.
Mr. Yoshida catches himself looking over his daughter, taking note of her plump lips, slender neck, smooth knees, and nice… perk-some triangular tits. This stirs something in his mind and, overcome with despair and now thinking of his child in a sexual way, the father leaves home, saying he is going out to buy cigarettes, despite not being a smoker. With her father gone, Saki continues about her evening, staying up until 1:27 in the morning as she works at her desk, dressed in her glasses, a camisole, and undies, doing… her homework, I think.
That is, until her door opens, and reveals her father, his eyes sullen, his breath heavy, and his odor bearing the distinctive properties of booze. Saki is shocked to see him approach her like this yet is soon silenced, her mouth gagged by her father’s firm grip, the first time he laid a hand on her in this entire story, and she is thrown onto her bed. As Mr. Yoshida looks down at his daughter, he remarks at how she looks just like his wife did when she was younger before planting his lips against Saki, and his hands against her body. Saki timidly asks him to stop, saying that this is wrong. However, fueled by the inhibitions of alcohol and knowledge that he has nothing else to lose, Mr. Yoshida continues his sexual assault, tugging of Saki’s undies and causing her to break out into a full furor, pointing out how they are family and should not be doing this.
Mr. Yoshida does not heed her words, and orders Saki to be quiet, lest she awakens her mother so she can bask on this indecent sight, forever shattering her mental image of both her husband and daughter by seeing them lay in the same bed. Saki, terrified of this outcome, silences herself as her father penetrates her, and notices that her hymen has been broken. As he continues to rape his daughter, Mr. Yoshida speaks to her, asking questions about her sexual history, to which Saki sorrowfully answers, admitting that she lost her virginity to an older man shortly ago. In light of this revelation, Saki’s father only goes to shame her for her past actions, all while continuing to pleasure himself using her body, before finally ejaculating inside of her.
Exhausted, mortified, crestfallen, and hating herself for having, on some level, enjoyed this experience, Saki passes out with her face in her pillow, her body leaking with fluids while Mr. Yoshida simply orders her to go to sleep, feeling no remorse in his actions.
We then cut ahead to several days, or weeks, later and learn that Saki’s situation at home has only worsened. With no job to worry about, Saki’s father has taken on the occupation of an incestuous pedophile, fucking his daughter every day and night, using her body for his own purposes and in accordance with his own desire. Whatever fatherly love he had for Saki appears to have died, and his desires are so outlandish that Saki cannot even seem to prepare herself for a day at school without being raped by her father as he sits stoically on the toilet.
School is similarly no respite for this 15-year-old, who is then seen in the boy’s restroom, where it is casually revealed that her blackmail situation has only spiraled out of control, with the boys now promising to erase a blowjob video in exchange for PIV intercourse. The constant stimulation and abuse done to her vagina are enough for Saki to screech in pain as one of the boys penetrates her. Her screams travel far, and the persistent rumors of her supposed indecency are given validation.
After undergoing this traumatic experience, and likely fleeing from the judgemental glance of a teacher, Saki returns to her desk and discovers that it has been defaced, painted in insults and words of hate, and as Saki looks around the room for an explanation, nobody so much as glances at her. The only voices she can hear amidst the silence classroom are those responsible for this deed, the girls she once considered her friends giggling while eagerly cheering Saki to cry before them. Admitting that they are responsible for this deed, and doing little to hide their intentions of knocking the supposed bitch that is Saki off her high horse.
Before continuing, I want to take another moment to talk about Saki’s character, and the situation she has found herself in, in more detail. She is a girl who wants to be part of the world and who, above all else, craves acceptance and validation from others. She wants to be part of the bright world she distanced herself from. She wants to be liked. Everything she’s done in this story thus far was in pursuit of this goal, and, for at least a sliver of time, she attained it. But here, we see everything start to crumble down as she is being openly rejected by her class through a public and aggressive form of bullying, one meant to isolate and shame her for her deviancy, for her sluttiness, for abusing her supposed power over men. Saki is not being rejected by her peers for what she did, but rather what they think she did, for the image she cast from a certain angle.
She is not conforming with society, and while the true culprits are not her, they are men, they are numerous, and Saki is a more convenient target. This is how she is viewed by the girls rallying the class in this public display of bullying, and rather than view this act as bullying, they view it as a way to correct a problem. Saki is bad in their eyes, and as such, they want to shame her, make her feel horrible, and make her feel as if she is unwelcomed among their numbers.
I would say that this is in any way a unique way for a Japanese student to bully or ostracize others, but this is actually a pretty textbook example, as Japan has a persistent problem with bullying in schools that, like most issues in Japan, stems from a bevy of other cultural issues. Japan is a nation where people are discouraged from sharing their burdens with others, even loved ones. Where teachers and parents often lack the time and knowledge to properly address bullying. Where maintaining social harmony and all related collectivist conformity is paramount. Where deviancy is discouraged. And where academic pressure is high. These all cause bullying to be especially aggressive in Japanese schools and are just one of the many social issues that Metamorphosis highlights throughout its duration, and… it only gets more overt from here.
As Saki looks over her defiled desk, she runs. She has lost any and all faith in the support network that school provides as she sees her desk and is met with such passive-aggressiveness that she leaves the building entirely. She should contact a teacher or counselor about this, inform them of the issue, and bring up the fact that she was raped, because, at this point, this issue has become too large to be contained as a secret. However, Saki is not thinking rationally at the moment, what 15-year-old girl would, and chooses to go someplace where she knows she will find somebody to help her, somebody who said these cherished words just a few nights ago:
“Just know that no matter what happens, I’ll always be on your side.”
She returns home, wishing to confide with her mother, but is slapped shortly after stepping foot into the door. Mrs. Yoshida learned about what Saki and her father have been doing for days if not weeks on end, and because her father is unemployed, she was able to broach the subject with him first, who fed her a false narrative. That Saki was pursuing him. That he tried to fight back against her, but she kept going at it, indulging in her lustful ways against his wishes. …And Mrs. Yoshida believed him. She accepts the narrative that a 15-year-old girl raped her 50-something-year-old father.
Now, I could decry Mrs. Yoshida for being stupid here, and she is— this two-faced cunt has fucking rocks in her head for believing that this kind of shit happens. Yes, minors can rape majors, women can rape men, and by extension, daughters can rape their father. The scenario that she believes does indeed happen… but the act of fathers raping their daughters is dramatically more common. However, it is important for one to stop and ask why she is so inclined to believe this bullshit.
Saki and her mother have had a distant relationship for years, and while it was recently rekindled through a day of beautification, she had not had the best impression of her daughter since then. She has been coming home late, she has likely been carrying a scent around her, and after that fateful night that concluded chapter 2, Mrs. Yoshida has likely been imagining what her daughter, what this “full-grown woman” could have been doing. And all signs point to sex. To Mrs. Yoshida, Saki has changed, she has undergone a metamorphosis from her little girl to a little whore, and to her, that is an easier truth to accept than the alternative.
The alternative that the man she married, the man she promised and has tried to satisfy in every way she could, that the person who conceived a child with and slept side by side with for at least 16 years, was an incestuous statutory rapist. If that were the case, it would reflect badly on her ability as a wife, on her ability to satisfy her husband, and her family at large, because then the head of the household would have proven himself to be a demon in human skin. It would mean that Mr. Yoshida would need to face the consequences. That he would be unable to support the two. That she and Saki would be alone. And that would be inconvenient compared to the alternative.
To not believe Mr. Yoshida would also mean to defy him, to disagree with him and argue against him without any evidence, and while we do not see how their conversation went down, while it is unknown what bullshit he spouted to get out of this situation, the results are clear. This old ass motherfucker, this degenerate, this deplorable piece of regurgitated fecal matter, managed to repeatedly rape his daughter, and got away scot-free! But he is not even reveling in this fat dank W. Instead, he is sitting back on his sofa couch, putting on a stern face, and never so much as acknowledging Saki. Sometimes you need to step back and admire just how evil somebody is, and this is one of those times.
Tangent aside, Mrs. Yoshida is convinced that Saki is in the wrong here, and when Saki voices an objection, tries to argue her innocence, she is met with violence. Mrs. Yoshida punches her 15-year-old daughter in the face repeatedly, forcing Saki to flee into her room, where she frantically shoves everything she can into her premium handbag and cries.
Everything she had has been lost. Nobody wants to believe her story or even listen to it. In the past day, she has been assaulted sexually, physically, socially, and mentally. The one person she thought she could always put her trust in has given up on her, and is bashing on her door, shouting at her to leave her room… so she can continue to beat her more. So she can vent her anger and frustrations on her and maybe, and this is pure conjecture here, fuck her face up so bad that nobody would ever dare to think about putting their dick in her general vicinity.
As this happens, as Saki looks upon her phone, that she recalls one person who she can still call on. Somebody who was always ‘‘‘nice’’’ to her, somebody she felt safe with. Her boyfriend. Also known as Hayato the drug peddling pederast! And in case you forgot that he was a heinous cur of a lifeform, the story cuts ahead to show him deep in the underbrush of the red light district, in the middle of the day, casually snorting up some cocaine at a bar owned by a black man by the name of Obata.
Obata is quick to point out that Hayato has a building drug debt that he needs to pay, but Hayato, having just received Saki’s cry for help in the form of a text message, tells him it is a non-issue. Hayato is quick to reply to the message but he does not look at it with shock, horror, or any other acceptable emotion. Instead, he smiles at his phone and informs Obata that he just found a way to pay his debts with the help of “his sex friend.”
Even after being together for over a month, even as Saki is at the end of the worst day in her life (so far), claiming she has no home, that is all Saki is to Hayato. A sexual partner…
I think now is a good time to pump the brakes and establish something that became apparent at this point in the story, and becomes painfully obvious, in more ways than one, as the story goes on. Everybody in Metamorphosis is fucking awful… except for Saki. Hayato, Kumataro, and Mr. Yoshida are all deplorable pedophilic rapists who deserve to have their dicks chopped off for taking advantage of minors. The boys at Saki’s schools are also rapists who use blackmail because it is the only way they get their rocks off. The girls at Saki’s school deserve to be reprimanded at the very least for facilitating such a cruel event in Saki’s life (but I’ll give them a pass until chapter 7).
And Mrs. Yoshida… regardless of what her internal logic and justification are, abused her daughter physically, and accused her of rape. She betrayed her daughter’s trust, turned her back on her when she needed it the most, and if she was empathetic, if she heard her out, if she fucking listened to this person who she supposedly loves, then everything after this could have been avoided.
Saki changed herself, underwent a metamorphosis because she wanted to see the world, she wanted to be a part of it, she wanted to be loved and accepted, she wanted to cast aside her fears and realize that life is beautiful. But as she entered this world, from the day she adopted a new person, she’s been abused, she’s been used by other people, blamed for their actions, had people declare that she wanted to be raped, and now… well, we’re not even at the halfway point, and it only gets worse from here!
Chapter 4: Enter The World of Adulthood
We resume Metamorphosis an unspecified amount of time later to learn that Saki has indeed been living with Hayato in his filthy apartment. Where the two spend every night ‘making love’ until dawn, and while somebody else might find such a position demeaning, Saki actually enjoys it. Not needing to go to school, being able to dress how she wants, and looking down at high school girls from a self-erected platform of smug superiority, believing that she has entered the world of adulthood. For a moment, it seems like things will be ‘okay’ for Saki going forward assuming she can find some stability in her new life, make more friends, and enter the working world early.
However, rather than allow Saki to bask in the light and forge her own path, Hayato brings her to down and into the darkness, with the two stumbling into Obata’s bar, where she meets him and is promptly given a… serving, dose, platter— she’s given some cocaine and doesn’t recognize what it is, because never received proper education on drugs. Rather than tell her or explain the process, Hayato prepares it like a pro, cutting it into lines with a credit card, cutting a straw, and telling Saki to snort up, because this is “the good stuff”. Saki is scared by this, but with her boyfriend, and only support line in this world, nudging her on, she really has no choice and aims to “grow up” by doing a line of the jolly old coke, but only gets through half of it.
As Saki reels from the harsh burning sensation of snorting something, she learns that he is ¥8,000,000 in debt, which is basically $80,000, which is more than most people can hope to make in a year. Upon hearing this, Saki should probably think about leaving ASAP. But instead, she doubles down on the love she believes Hayato and her share, promising to help repay his debt as a way of repaying the debt she owes him for taking her in when she had nowhere else to go. She gives Obata all the money she has to her name, a whopping ¥240,000, but before she can do anything else, the cocaine finally hits, and Saki becomes overwhelmed by the foreign stimulant coursing through her body.
After going potty in her pants, a common side effect when snorting crack, Obata and Hayato begin selling Saki’s drug-riddled body to a man by the name of Testu, a stereotypical Yakuza-type (or maybe he’s a black thug, I seriously cannot tell with this shading), who proceeds to do her as part of an elaborate sex scene. Which is peppered with business talk, Hayato asking Saki to whore out her body for his benefit, and ramming her face into more cocaine. Saki goes into a drug-filled craze, begins foaming at the mouth, and is reduced to a cum-leaking twitching mess sprawled out over a table once more.
But rather than help her, leave her as is, or just look at her as she gets down from her high, Hayato looks over Saki’s crazed foaming person and tells her that he wants to give her body piercings. Saki, desperate to please her boyfriend and so high off crack cocaine she probably can’t tell the difference between a dodecahedron and a trapezoid, agrees to this proposition, and endures the sensation of Hayato jamming chunks of metal through her nipples and clitoris before passing out in a pool of her own genital juices.
As the chapter continues from here, Saki’s physical appearance undergoes its second metamorphosis, with her changing everything about herself as soon as Hayato makes his desires and preferences known. Over the span of 10 pages, Saki, a character whose design could be reductively surmised as that of a pure Japanese heroine, transforms into someone almost completely unrecognizable. She becomes a slutty gyaru, more specifically a kogal, with tanned skin, blonde hair, and a body stained in ink. On her crotch are stars, her small is adorned with a butterfly, her most sensitive spot is marked with a special symbol, and the top of her chest, placed in the general proximity of her heart, is Hayato’s name. Something he specifically requested so that no matter who Saki is with, they will know who she “belongs” to.
She does all of this to herself, not of her own fruition, but because of Hayato. Because aside from Hayato, Saki has nothing else. It is through him that she defines himself, and he is all too inclined to groom her into being his ideal girlfriend, his ideal whore, his ideal sex friend. Hayato does not value, respect, or even really care about Saki. To him, she is not a person, but a thing. A thing that goes out, fucks men, acts like a spunky genki gyaru girl. A thing that subsists off of Ecstasy, sprinkles of dick cocaine, and the semen of desperate men, but returns dividends.
Yet to Saki, Hayato is her… everything. Saki has no family, no friends, no home, no future prospects due to the fact that she is a high school dropout, and no support network she can fall back on. All she has is an abuser. One who is very handsome, casual, and acts as if he cares… but he doesn’t. He just wants to indulge in vices and make himself feel good. Hayato tells her what to do, how to act, and molds her both physically and mentally into his ideal woman, with little regard for what she wants. Hayato transforms Saki into a woman who can also help him make money and who will willingly throw herself into the streets and also, much like himself, enjoys the illegal drugs.
Now, the thing about sex and drugs is that even if one has linked them to a horrific or traumatic experience, like what Saki has undergone throughout the story so far… they are two things that are meant to fill people with euphoria. Human beings secrete happy brain chemicals during and around the act of intercourse, and drugs are deliberately designed to fill people with happy chemicals in the form of stimulants or depressants, allowing people to reach extremes that are seldom found elsewhere in one’s life. Also, her body is covered in piercings meant to stimulate her erogenous zones, so whatever enjoyment she previously got out of sex would only become greater, and she was very sensitive (because hentai), to begin with.
Saki is a young woman— a minor— a child, who is given substances that make her feel really good, is told to do things that make her feel really good, and is compensated with money that she gives to her Hayato who, through his own brand of affection, makes Saki feel really good. She is locked into a loop of positive reinforcement where every day and night are events that assault her senses with happiness. But even as she is in the thick of it, doing Ecstasy while getting railed by a mighty fine penis, there is a part of her that seems to realize how wrong and warped this all is. A part that she represses by placing somebody else, Hayato the drug-pedaling pederast, before herself.
“For Hayato’s sake… I… will change. As much as I need to…”
Chapter 5: Depreciate Into Darkness
Chapter 5 jumps ahead what I assume to be several months, where Saki is in the bathroom, bags developing around her eyes, and her face lacking the same youthful veneer she once held. Partially due to the nights of relentless sex and drugs, and partially due to the object in her hand, a pregnancy test that turned out positive, and after being a sex worker for so long, Saki has no idea who the father could be. She sorrowfully approaches Hayato to inform him of the news as he plays a first-person-shooter rather than do his job… which we never see in the story, and I’m sure that is for a good reason.
Saki approaches him in as coy and loving a manner as possible as she informs him that she is pregnant, but he is unphased by the revelation, telling her to just get an abortion tomorrow, saying that if Saki is going to have a kid, he wants to make sure it, like Saki herself, is his child.. And seeing as how Saki is indentured to Hayato due to his obsessive grooming, she complies, promising Hayato that she will bring him larger sums of money before going in to thank him for his kindness by sucking his dick as he passively plays his game and fills the room with the sound of gunfire.
After aborting her child in a silent but harrowing scene that strains Saki both physically and emotionally, she returns to her profession as a sex worker, and is with none other than… Kumataro. Yes, the man who broke the rules of compensated dating from minute one by fondling Saki, only to then lie to and rape her. He is surprised that Saki so much as contacted him again after how their last time together went, but rather than indulge in his lust immediately, he chooses to speak to Saki about what she has done to herself, identifies that she may be in a bad situation, advises that she talk to her parents, and offers to help her out of it.
While Kumataro has been a repulsive excuse for a human leading up to this point in the story, as he says this, he does seem genuine. It is a curious addition to his character that serves as one of the few instances of empathy seen in the latter half of Metamorphosis and is a reminder of how, if Saki were to identify her situation for what it was, she might be able to return to a purer version of herself and be able to get her life back on track. However, in broaching the issue Kumataro indirectly callsHayato a scumbag, to which Saki begins defending him because, as previously explained, Hayato is her everything. Her master, her pimp, and her sole support in this world.
Kumataro leans back in response, satisfied that he at least tried to help her, and explains to Saki that he will not compensate her like he did last time due to how her value as a sex partner has decreased. How she lacks the dignity of a supple 15-year-old JK, how now has less respectability than street slizz, and how she is no longer the sort of person he wants to pay for. He simply gives her ¥10,000 as a form of compensation for coming out here, but Saki promised Hayato to bring in the bread today, so she winds up begging and pleading with Kumataro to give her more, saying that she will do anything he wants. To which Kumataro, obviously, agrees.
Within the span of a few months, maybe even a year, Saki has gone from a character who was fleeing from the idea of compensated sex to somebody who indulges in the act and is now begging for it. Somebody who is now actively demeaning herself before a man in order to be paid, heeding his every command, begging for him to abuse her “worn-out worthless pussy,” shouting that “being a whore makes me happy,” and gleefully declaring “I’m gonna get pregnant” as she implores Kumataro to shoot off inside her.
This is the personality she was taught to express before others, the personality that Kumataro asks her to present before him, and the personality that helps her enhance the act of sex. She knows what works for her, urges people to push her buttons (both figuratively and literally), and her body has been customized for sex thanks to the piercings all over her erogenous zones. It’s because of them that she squirts like a goddamn pussy fountain when in the thick of it and wails like a banshee when her tits get slapped around.
After a 17 page two-part fuck session (because you gotta hit a sex quota when making a hentai), Saki returns to Obata’s bar while searching for Hayato, who she wants to please by showing him the money she made off of Kumataro. Unfortunately, she winds up arriving during a shady dimly lit deal where she is threatened by some drug loving thugs. Obata defends her at first, but as his hands embrace Saki’s body, he begins using her to… negotiate a better deal with his suppliers.
Saki is then drugged by Obata, injected with heroin, and gangbanged by two of Obata’s associates while higher than she has ever been before, her mind leaving her body as she is raped in the mouth hole and the baby hole. Because I guess the sex quota was not quite filled yet. It is while in this situation, being fucked harder and with less respect than ever before, that Saki floats through a sea of happiness, one that washes away all the filth that has accumulated from her body. Her piercings vanish, her tattoos leave her lightening skin, and her hair not only returns to its established black, but it begins to curl up, almost like the braids she wore at the very beginning of this manga.
However, this is merely a fantasy, and Saki, the Saki that currently exists in the corporeal world, is passed out and for the… I dunno, tenth time in this comic, just overflowing with semen and sex juices. As her two rapists pull out and look over her, they, being wretched people, decide the best course of action is to “toss her back out with the trash” because that is the “perfect for a cumdump like this.” A sentiment that perfectly encapsulates both the cruelty of those around Saki, and reinforced Kumatro’s earlier claims about her value depreciating.
Chapter 6: Human Garbage
Saki, as a character, has fallen significantly throughout the course of this story. A girl who was once a promising student who was finally making friends has become a person whose only real claim to anything in this world is her gaudy looks and the ability to function as a human cocksleeve. And in case that was not made especially clear, chapter 6 begins with Saki thrown out into a back alley, topless, laying in a pile of old trash, asking herself how many times she was thrown out by her patrons like a sack of old uncollected refuse crammed into an alley.
As she gets her bearings, Saki learns that she has been robbed, meaning she has no money, no drugs, and no way for her to help pay back Hayato’s drug debt which, knowing his seedy habits, has probably only grown beyond the initial ¥8,000,000 since Saki started helping him. With nowhere else to turn, Saki makes her way to Obata’s bar in search of a way to cover up her mistake. He is very terse with Saki, saying that she is “not a little girl anymore,” needs to take responsibility for her actions and work for her money. While Obata says that Aski lets him “fuck [her] for free all the time,” this time he promises to pay her for intercourse. But rather than simply paying her with a government-issued legal tender, like your typical transaction, he gives Saki a choice between ¥300,000 and… a dime bag of white powder.
Saki knows that this is a trick. That she should be asking for the money. But after being drugged up by Hayato and Obata for what I can only assume to be the better half of a year, she is no longer able to think rationally. She is addicted, and when people are addicted, their mind narrows in on the one thing their body craves and needs to function going forward. Obata, a successful drug dealer, knows this, and he is offering this to Saki to make her indentured to him, to keep her coming back, for her to continue to crawl to him as an eager sexual partner with a tight-ass puss.
Much like every other person Saki has formed a relationship with throughout this story, Obata is a quantifiably awful person. He abuses Saki, rapes her, and is responsible for locking her into the vicious cycle of sex and drugs, informing her view of the world in one of the worst possible ways. He allowed Hayato to accrue massive drug debts that he is unlikely to ever pay back due to his lack of income and restraint. And he is feeding into Saki’s addiction by offering her this deal, and by injecting her with more drugs that further her addictions, and make it harder and harder for her to break out of the vicious cycle of selling her body for money so that she can buy drugs that keep her regular and her addictions at bay… but we’ll see the true ramifications of this later on.
After a day of sex and drugs, Saki returns to her trash heap of a home emptyhanded, and Hayato is absolutely furious at her, berating and intimidating Saki before snatching her purse in search for any money she might be “stealing” from him, where he finds the dime bag of white powder that she took instead of the money she promised Hayato. Saki is crestfallen as Hayato confronts her, and justifies her actions. She says that she uses the drugs to unwind, to make sex more appealing and fun, so she can let loose as she does her job, her job where she works to support Hayato above all else. Because, even after all of this time, Saki is still loyal to Hayato, and she still loves him. However, as I have established, Hayato does not feel the same way about her.
As Saki pleads for forgiveness, Hayato slaps her into a wall, calling her a junkie, and ordering her to get out of his sights. He denies her a chance to redeem herself, grabs her by the arm, and throws her outside of his apartment. Hayato slams the door tells Saki to never come back, and blocks her number from her phone, ridding her of any way to contact him. With nothing but the clothes off her back and a few possessions in her purse, Saki loiters on the stairs in silence, only leaving Hayato behind as another girl with skimpy clothes, a prominent tramp stamp, and light hair comes up to his apartment. As the woman reaches Hayato’s apartment, she says, “I was surprised you invited me over to your place for once.” and from that line alone, Saki realizes that she truly was not special to Hayato. That during the sections where he went dark, like in chapter 5, that he was with another woman. And that he truly does not care about her any longer… as if he ever cared about her. Which he didn’t.
After all, how could somebody ever do this to a loved one? Beat them, refuse to listen to their pleas, and send them out the door with only a few belongings to their name? It’s absurd, it’s vile… and it’s how Saki lost her family. It’s how she lost her home, her family, and her last ties to her childhood. Even then, she still had Hayato, she still had something. But with no more Hayato, no more home she may seek shelter in, and no more support she can receive, Saki is left with nothing. She has no money, no home, and is now a garish whore walking the city streets late at night, unable to so much as blend in with the rest of the society after the way Hayato had Saki alter her body in accordance to his preferences. She truly has nothing to her name… except for a bag of heroin, a spoon, a lighter, and something to tie around her arm.
Fraught with sorrow, Saki decides to shoot up on a slide at a deserted playground, loses herself in a high, and becomes overcome with arousal. With nobody around to sexually satisfy her, Saki does the deed herself, ramming a hand down her jorts as she begins to masturbate in the middle of a dark park, her moans echoing into the night before she attracts the attention of two homeless men. A pair who approach Saki bearing concerned comments, advising her of the dangers of public masturbation, and telling her to get somewhere safe. Saki tries to sell herself to the men, but being penniless, the most they can offer is a cardboard bed and a cold meal, which Saki accepts, as it is at least better than nothing.
The two smelly men then double team Saki on the playground, placing their rancid mouths onto hers and ramming their unwashed disease-rich cocks into her lower holes. Saki, predictably, loses her composure as she is overwhelmed by the stimulation of sex and drugs simultaneously, and passes out. However, being noble homeless men aware of the cruelty of society, the pair stay true to their word and take Saki to the homeless village they are a part of. As she wakes up the following morning, one of these men offers her a hot meal, while offering to make her a part of the community, citing that they mostly consist of men who are “starving for female attention”.
While this entire situation is laced with scumminess, as the two homeless men did indeed take advantage of a character (who I assume is still a minor at this point) as she was under the influence of heroin, they are willing to help her out, showing her a degree of empathy that those around her never expressed when she needed it the most. For a moment, it seems like Saki is getting support and that she may be able to make do with her new living arrangements, at least for a short while. However, as Saki prepares to eat the food, she is taken aback by a foul feeling rising from her stomach, causing her to vomit into her hands and onto her legs in my favorite single panel of Metamorphosis.
It so succinctly captures the misery and pain that Saki has undergone as she empties her stomach onto her body, dressed in very little, and looking like a stereotypical gyaru slut. The name and symbol of her love for the man who abused her is as prominent as always, and her eyes are glazed over as she is overcome in both pain and disgust, crying, sweating, and dirtying her body with half-digested food. It is so gross… but is drawn with the same care and talent as every other frame of this comic, and has a certain twisted sense of beauty to it.
Diatribe aside, the homeless men look over Saki as she recovers from her spontaneous vomiting and they realize that she must be pregnant. Saki is perplexed at first, as she has been on birth control, but recognizes the feeling of a life growing inside her, and begins to contemplate what she will do next. She has nothing to her name, and the best, or at least the most responsible, option available to her would be to save up enough money to abort it. Yet as she thinks back on her first visit to the abortion clinic, the physical and emotional pain she felt by losing a child that was growing inside her, Saki decides that she will keep her newly conceived child.
As I have been saying and emphasizing, Saki has nothing at this point, but by being raped by these two homeless men, she was given something. A child. A person who needs her, who will love her unconditionally, one who will motivate her to do better, and one that she hopes will be the inspiration she needs to turn her life around. She declares to herself that this is the start of a new beginning for her. That she will never take drugs again, that she will become somebody worthy of taking care of a child.
This causes the chapter to end on an optimistic note, implying that things will get better going forward and that Saki’s story may just have a happy ending… But Saki has not done anything yet. She made a declaration, a decree, and said some words. In order to make a better future for herself, Saki will need to undergo hardships aplenty, and while she has the drive needed to do such a thing, there are hurdles working against her. Hurdles that most cannot surmount, and why would Saki, the girl of eternal misfortune, be any different? Well, let’s just see how this fares for her as we go into the final chapter.
Chapter 7: Dying Amidst the Dregs of Society
Chapter 7 opens up with Saki 8 months pregnant, fucking some dude in a box fort… yeah, so that whole plan of hers about getting her life together? That did not go as planned, and she’s only sunk deeper and deeper, reaching the true bottom rung of society. Where she is fucking a disease-riddled degenerate who gets off to the idea of cumming on babies as they are still in the womb. This is what Saki does for money now. And while she is still a good “cum bucket” according to the man, she is an absolute wreck otherwise. Her body is sagging, she’s been losing teeth, and her hair has become a long black/blonde mop that sits limply on her head. But the stains on her person, the tattoos she got to appease the pedophile she lived with, they still remain, the same as they ever were.
It all makes for the most visually disgusting scene of the manga, and one that so extremely summarizes the path of destruction that Saki is on. Her body is unwell, her baby will not experience a comfortable birth after being pelted with cock like this, and to make it all worse, Saki is still addicted to drugs. She tries to ignore it as best she could, but her body is hurt and aching from all of the unprotected sex she’s had over, from her horrible living conditions she’s been subjected to over the months, from all the strain the pregnancy has put on her, and from the pains of drug relapses. She is weak and vulnerable because of these things… and I see no reason to blame her for this. For failing to heed her declaration at the end of chapter 6.
Only the strongest of the strong could even conceivably get out of a situation like this on their own and Saki, well, try as she might, she is not strong enough. Her life has been so fucked, so fraught with misery, that she needs these highs to get by, and so she shoots up some heroin and wallows in a drug-induced state of euphoria, her body almost completely unrecognizable from what was seen in the first chapter.
However, the nasty thing about addiction is that it keeps coming back. Once you are addicted, relapses become common, and one’s genuine need for drugs only grows more imposing and destructive over time. So Saki scours the city for drugs, unable to rely on Obata after he cut her out from his cycle for an unexplained reason. Instead, she ventures to a dealer in the subway, one who looks at her with scorn, reluctantly accepts her stinking money and kicks her away as she gets a bit too close for comfort. But Saki is too far gone to do anything but thank the man and fawn over her dime bag of white powder.
She leaves for a storage locker deeper into the subway and does her drugs, commenting that it is not enough, but that she needs to save her money. That she needs to ensure she is in a good financial position when her baby is finally born. She turns to open up her locker, tossing another roll of ¥10,000 bills into her purse, which is overflowing with money. For everything she has been doing wrong these past months, Saki has remained diligent about saving her money, and while I can only vaguely gauge the value of the money she’s accumulated, she just might have enough to forge a future for herself and her unborn child.
One might ask why she is sticking to cash instead of, say, opening a bank account. Well, that is what she should be doing, but banks around the world have procedures in place for people who deposit money like Saki, as they do not want to store and manage money from illegal activities Even if these restrictions were not in place though, Japanese banks to not allow minors, which Saki most likely still is, to open bank accounts without their parents, and to open a bank account, one also needs a usable photo ID, which I doubt Saki still has considering how much she has physically changed over the span of Metamorphosis. Furthermore, the world she has been dealing with for so long has been cash-based, so it’s not too surprising that she thinks that way too.
Still, even though it is a bad idea to just store money like this, so long as it is kept in a safe place, it should be secure, right? Right? No, of course not. As Saki goes to close her locker after depositing her cash, she is met by a group of familiar faces. The two girls who called out to her on the first day of school. The two girls who suggested she look into compensated dating as a way of making some spending money. The two girls who conducted her bullying, and who were eager to watch tears trail down Saki’s face. Through some miraculous circumstances, also known as good writing, the girls have found Saki once more, but neither party seems to recognize the other. For Saki, she met these people a lifetime ago, and for these girls, the woman before them is a mere stranger.
These two girls are joined by three boys, all of whom have surrounded Saki as she went through her locker and made note of the millions of yen stored away. Upon realizing their presence, Saki tries to shut the locker door, but then jump her, check her shit, and begin crafting a narrative to justify their actions.
From the way she looks, dresses, and smells, they rightfully assume that Saki is a homeless person. Meaning, to them at least, that she is an undesirable. A leech on society who failed to conform to it and fell by the wayside due to her own devices. She lacks a home, so she must be unemployed, and because of that, she could not possibly earn this much money. Therefore, she must be a thief. She is a criminal. Therefore, they must be in the right. They are the good guys in this scenario. They can do whatever they want to her. That includes punching her to the ground, picking up the stolen money she stole from innocent hard-working people like them. The money she practically stole from them.
They continue to demean Saki, calling her a liar, and as she reveals her pregnant belly, as she says she’s been saving this money for her unborn child, the light-haired girl, the unnamed leader of the duo, declares the following:
“The world doesn’t need more babies… coming from the dregs of society! There are decent people like us trying their best to enjoy life, and then shit like you comes out of the woodwork to spoil the fun! If you don’t have the decency to take a bath… then don’t show your face around other people! You make me sick. How do you live with yourself knowing that you offend everyone around you? You’ve got no common sense what-so-ever.”
As she says this, she repeatedly stomps down on Saki’s growing womb as her darker-haired friend films her speech and the sight of Saki’s pain.
Her words are indicative of the same desire for conformity that she previously expressed as she bullied Saki. A willingness to accept the safe reality that she is right, and that one who does not conform is not only wrong, but somehow malicious. This girl, and by extension her group, by extension the group she represents, does not actually want to better others, they just want to maintain the status quo they are enjoying, and reap whatever benefits they can while feeling as if they are superior to others.
They do not want to understand others or to help them, they want to use them as tools for their own gain, and there is nothing that brings these sick twisted fucks more pleasure than the suffering of those they despise. While their actions may have been a mere misunderstanding before, they are free from any prying eyes and limitations. They let their true colors show, and it is a cold oppressive black.
The rest of the group join in on kicking Saki, berating her as they reveal her body, calling her a slut, saying she is “conceited” for doing this to her body, and declaring that the world does not need someone like her. They beat her to a pulp, ram pens, bottles of shaken up cola, and random shit up her vagina, and shout at her for having the audacity to ejaculate from excessive stimulation while doing so.
The only thing that causes them to stop this assault is the sight of blood, the realization that they might actually murder somebody. This would be a great time for the group to stop and acknowledge just what they are doing. That the person they have been so viciously abusing is a human being and deserves happiness just as much as they do. Instead, they decide to continue believing that they were righteous for doing what they did, steal all of Saki’s millions of yen, and head out to a swanky restaurant, eager to move onto the next event in their bright and happy high school lives.
As they leave, Saki slowly gets up, blood pouring out of her vagina, and her face stained with tears. A businessman passes by her and takes note of the sorry state before him, but then turns away, not wanting to involve himself in such an unscrupulous situation, let alone call for help and then bail. You could decry this nameless man for such an action, but who truly wants to dirty up their schedule by aiding undesirables. Very few people.
With nobody to help her as she is leaving a trail of blood behind her, Saki finds refuge in the train station restroom. She affirms to herself that she will get through this. That someway, somehow, with no support, no money, and bleeding on the floor, that she will get through this. But as she passes by the restroom mirror, she sees her face. Wet, beaten, missing teeth, and sad. Oh so very, very sad. Only now does Saki internalize just what she has lost over the past few months, or years, and to remind herself of this, she pulls out her old glasses, damaged and cracked, and puts them on while braiding her hair. Reminding herself of who she was back in middle school.
She had a life. A simple life where she was longing for more, and as she pursued more, as she deviated from and improved upon her original appearance, everything got worse. She became hated by those at school, rather than ignored. Her family, rather than leaving her be, turned against her— removed her from their lives. And she was assaulted, she was raped, again and again, before becoming lost in the world of adults. Where a life of sex, drugs, and dirty money ruined her physically and left her with nothing.
It did not be like this. If she had only said no. If she had only pushed him away. If she had turned her back on those who abused her. If she had never taken that money. If she had come clean to her mother. If she had accepted being a person in the background for the rest of her life. If she had really stuck to her word and never gotten drugs again and dealt with her relapse properly. If… if she did a lot of things, she would not be in this situation. She had some control, she could have saved herself from such a miserable fate, but she was a victim all the same.
I hope that throughout this summary and analysis that I have explained this, but Saki is not a stupid or bad person. She is simply a child who was thrown into situations she did not know how to handle, and while you can call her every nasty thing in the book with at least some justification, she never acted with any malice. She never willingly harmed anyone. She was pure, innocent, trusting, and needed help, but either felt that she could not ask for it, or thought that she didn’t need it. She thought that the life she was living was a great one. And, for a time, it was full of happiness and glee, albeit in more of a warped and twisted way.
But it was unsustainable, and as she was cast away from others, as she was left alone, she learned what the world does to those with nothing. It ruins them. It breaks them. It pushes them down because the lower you are, the lower you fall, the harder it is to get somewhere safe, somewhere stable, somewhere comfortable. Try as she might, and my goodness do I believe that she tried in the unseen months between chapters 6 and 7, she could not do it… and now here she is.
Saki shatters the mirror with her hand as she is confronted by her reflection and sinks to the floor, apologizing to her unborn child for being so weak, and for being unable to survive long enough to bring her to life. She knows she is at death’s door. Whatever hope she was clinging onto died once she saw what she became with her own eyes. All that awaits her now is death. And much like every other pain she’s experienced over these past few months, she aims to suppress and deal with it with drugs. Using the last of her heroin, Saki fills her body with one last gasp of happiness as her vision fades to white.
But rather than be met with death, she is met with a glimpse of something better. Something she could never have. Her body is clean, her skin is light, and her hair is dark. She is in a park while a young girl looks at her, calling her mommy. She explains to her child, named Hana, how she was recalling her past, the person she was before she realized what was truly important to her, and the hardships she underwent to get to where she is now. Hana comforts her mother, saying that everything is fine now, that they have each other, and the two press their faces together.
Saki looks at Hana with a smile and ends Metamorphosis with the following line:
“When you came into my life… that was when… I was finally… reborn.”
However, that was merely a dream. A fantasy. A glimpse into what Saki hoped would become her life. But her plans were cracked as she spent the past 8 months going against her own words. Even if the child were to be born, they would be flushed with disease and suffer from withdrawals the moment they leave the womb. Their odds of survival would be low, and the odds of them being allowed to leave the hospital with Saki are even lower. Truthfully, her future prospects were limited… but then they were shattered. Shattered by the same people who once strived to be friends with. The people who inspired her to take this trek. And while these same people are in no way wholly responsible for what became of her, their hands are as stained in blood and cum as any others who helped forge Saki’s path.
With thoughts of happiness filling her mind, Saki passes away. Her body is too weak, strained, and wounded for her to recover from her intentional overdose, and with no mother to support her, her unborn child dies before they can ever be born. Her death was avoidable. She could have been saved in numerous instances. But she wasn’t. The girl who only wanted validation from others, who wanted to be part of the world she kept a distance from, saw the word in a way few people do. She saw the ugliness of humanity, how it treats those who deviate from certain molds, and how when one gets so far down the castes of society, it becomes all the more difficult to reclaim what one has lost.
…But the most heartbreaking thing about Saki’s story is how, for all its extremities and all the hyperbole to be found within it, everything is based in reality. There are people like Saki in this world. In Japan, in America, in nearly every country. There are people who get into situations that they cannot handle, who are too uneducated to identify the warning signs, and who lack the support network needed to pull them out of hardships.
It is this tragedy and its proximity to reality that is why this comic has endeared, why it managed to become something more, and it’s just one of the many reasons why I think Metamorphosis is such a brilliant manga.
Chapter 8: Big Moral Theatre
So, what did we learn here? What was the big message of Metamorphosis as a story? Well, there is definitely a lot to unpack here, but as I am reviewing what I have written before this, I am left with four core takeaways.
Moral Number One: Educate children about sex, drugs, and the dangers of the world.
At the beginning of the Metamorphosis, Saki does not understand a lot of things about the dangers she is putting herself in. She does not know the dangers of illegal narcotics and using them repeatedly. She does not know how to identify a predator. She does not know how to sustain a healthy romantic relationship. She is sheltered, she is ignorant, and while telling her of these things may shatter her innocence, it is ultimately her own good. It is true that even with knowledge of these things that one can get lost in the moment, or simply forget over time. But a proper education is the best tool that you can give to any child as they are set out into the world, and while Saki mostly lived between her home and school, that does not mean she was safe. She was never safe, but things only got worse as she became more ‘desirable’.
Moral Number Two: Never turn against somebody who depends on you.
One of the most important things one can do in life is to foster and create a support network. A group of friends, family, and professionals who can help you when life gets hard, things go bad, and you need help or direction. For Saki, her network has always been limited, starting with mother and father, and eventually growing to include Hayato. However, nobody stuck with her. They did not offer her aid when everything around her was crumbling down and her life was going to shit. They turned their backs on her and I find that to be one of the most deplorable acts within Metamorphosis.
While both the Yoshidas and Hayato had reasons for their actions, they are the barriers that Saki leaned upon during everything that happened in her life, and they were a resource she came to when in trouble, offering her advice, aid, food, and shelter. By denying her these things they are, at least to some extent, responsible for what happened to her, because they could have prevented this. All it would have taken is some conversation, patience, and kindness. But they did not offer her any of that, they acted emotionally and lost somebody because of that. And while the circumstances that surround these two acts of abandonment are extreme, the message is simple. Do not push those you care about or those who depend on you, away when they need you the most. Talk out your issues, approach the matter with a desire to understand them, and maybe you can avoid losing somebody you cared about.
Moral Number Three: Be more understanding and empathetic of those around you.
The story of Metamorphosis, the story and character arc of Saki Yoshida, is one of a person being dragged down to the into the bottom rung of society as she is socially ostracized, abandoned by those appointed to care for her, and abused by people who she thinks are her allies. She ends the story sifting amongst the homeless, the destitute, and those who live in the streets and sleep in public spaces. As this happens, she is viewed with disdain, as something wretched, lowly, and unsavory, something worthy of hate, something worthy of abuse, and something undeserving of the life they’ve been given.
The hatred directed towards her comes from people who want to believe a simplistic and digestible narrative, something that is easier to understand with clear absolutes at the cost of diluting if not destroying the truth. The truth and the fact that every person who winds up in a situation similar to Saki has a tragic story to tell, where the things they depended on fell through, and they were left unable to sustain themselves, afford rent, or purchase hygiene-related necessities. These people may be desperate, reckless, chemically imbalanced, or ‘unpleasant’ to the senses, but they don’t deserve to be treated with malice. Relatively few people do.
This extends from the false narrative spun about Saki being a conceited whore at school to the assault she underwent at the hands of her former classmates. Just because a narrative fits, just because persons or groups can be viewed as a problem, as quantifiably bad, does not make it true, it does not make it right. In a world as radicalized, dark, and angry as the one, you should strive to view other people for what they are, people, and not be blinded by prejudices, hatred, and assumptions.
…Okay, maybe that’s going a bit too far, but when you have an anti-abuse message regarding a single group, it’s easy to roll that into an anti-abuse message regarding everyone.
Moral Number Four: Fuck pedophiles, fuck rapists, fuck child predators.
…Yeah, I’m not going to bother explaining this one. Everybody in this story who raped Saki (Hayato, Kumataro, Mr. Yoshida, the schoolboys, Tetsu, Obata, and the rest) deserve to have their dick chopped off with a butcher’s knife and have their wounds disinfected with boiling goat piss.
Chapter 9: Shindo L the Cool Creator
As if everything I’ve said so far is not enough of an indication, I think Metamorphosis is a wonderfully devised and amazingly executed story. And while I would have liked for the story to have slightly different priorities (more societal commentary, more prolonged monologues, and less sex, please and thank you), it is still one of the best comics I have ever had the privilege of reading.
However, I have mostly been talking about the story thus far, which is half of the appeal of a comic. The other half is the artwork, which is yet another area that Shindo L excels in. Character expressions frequently left me floored at the sheer amount of personality that was put into them. The story is well laid out, with each page being seamless, easy to read, and using their space well. Well, except for the sex scenes, but that’s just how hentai works, I suppose. Scenes are often framed at creative angles that show the artist’s understanding of proportions and 3D space. And in going through the officially licensed scans of Metamorphosis available through official English distributor Fakku, I was routinely surprised and delighted by the amount of detail put into… just about everything.
It is clear that Shindo L is a true and genuine professional in his craft, which is further exemplified by the fact that he is one of the few foreigners who managed to enter the Japanese comics industry. Having originally been born in Queens, New York before honing his skills over the years before getting where he is today. Now, he is a seasoned smut peddler who regularly puts out new works, has a successful Patreon, and has his works officially localized for English speakers.
It actually got me curious enough to check out some of his other work, both old and new, to take better note of his artistic evolution and developing skillset, and it’s genuinely amazing how much he’s improved from his earlier work in the late 2000s to the mid-2010s when he began releasing works like Metamorphosis. But I was not feeling the story for most of them, which occupy the standard mold of hentai storytelling, where characters are established in the first few pages, over half of the pages are devoted to sex, and things conclude on a flat note about how the characters continued their perversions forevermore.
I really don’t like stories about people becoming whores, sluts, or general semen receptacles, as I believe that is an especially reductive way to view sex. Sex is an intimate experience between two or more people that can be painful, pleasurable, or formative to one’s identity, and I strongly believe it is an excellent tool for facilitating character development, which is absolutely the case with Metamorphosis.
But when your path to character development begins with a character with a personality and ends with a character who only wants sex, cum, and cummy yummy messy sexy funsies, then your character and story are shit. I have nothing against characters who are promiscuous, who like to fuck, but when that is the defining trait of a character, then they cease to be a character and become a toilet that begs people to bust in their tank (because it’s kinkier than bustin’ in the bowl).
Incidentally, this is why I really did not care for TSF Monogatari, which is one of Shindo L’s best-known works, having received an anime adaptation back in 2011 and 2012. It is a microcosm of just about every trope I dislike in TG and TSF stories, as it posits an interesting enough beginning, but it gradually devolves into the story of a young man losing their sense of identity as they learn to love sex due to their supremely sensitive female body and begin to adopt the role and personality of a whore. I will give the story props for becoming so extreme with sex scenes later on, but the protagonist is so cock-hungry, so dirt stupid, and loves sex so much that I found it hard to care about them or anything they stumbled into, because so long as they have a penis inside of them, they’re good, and they’re happy.
Thankfully, that is just one example of Shindo L’s work, and I did enjoy a fair share of his other stories. Such as Barrier Free, a wholesome story about a young man and his wheelchair-bound female childhood friend coming to terms with their feelings in light of a tragedy and consummating them during their final day at their crummy ableist high school. Single Nabe x Double Nabe, a sweet tale about a young woman who barges into a guy’s home, shares a meal with him, and later a bed, inviting him to make love to her before he learns of why she ran from home and promises to protect her.
Fragile and Tough, which about a middle-aged office worker guy embracing his long-dormant feelings for his co-worker after blaming himself for an accident where she lost all her limbs and had to undergo extensive physical therapy before she was given dope amputee claw hands. Hell, I even thought The Good Wife had a great introduction and a promising conclusion despite ultimately being a blackmail rape story.
Shindo L is certainly a talented storyteller and an excellent artist, but none of his other works hold a candle to Metamorphosis simply because of its ambitions, its length, and its depth. It is a story that aims for the stars and delivers upon it, offering something that goes above and beyond whatever limitations and restrictions most hentai has to contend with by prioritizing its tragic story and rendering every unsightly detail. It is a story that, even after describing as much as I have, I would recommend to anybody with a strong threshold for misery and the deplorable, and will most assuredly remain drifting through the recesses of my mind for years to come.