Guest review: Out by Natsuo Kirino | Japanese Fiction Week

This post is part of the Japanese Fiction Week, hosted here.
For more information about the week, head over here.


Please welcome Nina from Death, Books and Tea for a review of Out by Natsuo Kirino.

Masako, Yoshie, Kuniko and Yayoi are four women working the night shift at a boxed lunch factory. Each have no prospects, and all want to escape. Yayoi is the one who cracks, killing her gambling husband. She turns to Masako, who gets Yoshie and Kuniko to help cut up the body. When the police come looking, all four have something to hide. But they've also got other enemies who want things-Satake, the night club owner with past convictions putting him at number one suspect, and Jumonji, the loan shark who knows what they did. With these people, the police, and the things they're being asked to do, the four women can't really think about getting out.

I am so glad that I decided to read this on holiday-hours of time to just sit and read and see this intricate story develop. I know I'm reviewing this for Japanese YA week, but this cannot be classed as YA. Sex, rape and murder feature heavily and the characters are at the youngest a twenty year old hostess. So now we've established this as being not for younger readers (something I found out a little late), on with the main review.

The only thing that I really disliked was the very final rape. Although it added a bit of continuity to the story, it was just a little too much. The other gore, rape and violence was used as plot development. But that was rape for the sake of rape. The start was a little slow. It just seemed to follow their normal lives, which I understand is useful, but it was a bit boring. Around the 50 page mark, the husband is murdered. And it goes quite fast from there.

All the main character's personal stories are fully developed both before and during the main action. It's difficult for me, as a teenager at school, to get into the minds of women and men in their thirties upwards. But it was really easy for me to understand their thinking.

The thing that got to me was how easily the women lied while being questioned by the police after the murder took place. For it to have been about a week since she killed a man, she lies, fakes tears, and gets on so easily that you wonder about the girl you were introduced to and how she was changed so much by desperation. Masako especially is a very intriguing character. I liked reading about her, seeing what she'd decide next, and so on. She was definitely changed by the murder.

The quick pace and the style of the translation kept me reading. It's also really unpredictable, with some things crossing your mind as you read. They're so mean to the characters that you wonder if they really will happen. Then you dismiss it. And then it happens.

Strength 5 tea (or 5/5) to a gritty look at the backside of Japan, the ordinary people living there, and the depths of the human psyche.

Thanks for hosting this awesome event!


It sounds pretty awesome - I'm really looking forward reading it!


  1. This sounds like an interesting read though I don't think it'd be one for me.

  2. I've had this book on my shelf for awhile and I'd really like to get around to reading it but I was warned before I bought it that it isn't for the faint of heart. Reading more about what this book is about in this review, I can see more why that warning was said. Eesh. I'm not sure at all now!