The following review will have spoilers, because while a lot of terrible things happen in the beginning of the book, some terrible things happen later in the book which need to be mentioned. The following review has triggers for rape, domestic abuse, suicide, and victim blaming. Here we go.
The only thing that really kept me reading this terrible book was the hope that Asakawa and his friend Ryuji would meet a horrible, painful death. Asakawa and Ryuji are just straight up horrible people and I really can't think of anything positive to say about either of them. Our first introduction to Ryuji comes with a discussion of how many women he's raped. Ryuji practically brags about it to Asakawa. Cementing his status as third most terrible person in this book, Asakawa goes on to say that Ryuji disgusts him, but he still hangs out with him, because there's just something about him. Asakawa proceeds to bring the confessed rapist into his house with his wife and young daughter after his wife has begged him never to bring Ryuji home, which is a totally reasonable request. It gets worse.
Asakawa, fully believing that after watching the tape he will die, attempts to off everybody he has a passing acquaintance with. He first shows the tape to Ryuji, which can be somewhat forgiven because Ryuji insisted on watching it. But Asakawa then goes on to offer to show it to his boss and a colleague. It gets worse.
I guess at this point the author didn't think there were enough reasons to hate his characters, so he added another one. Our budding serial killer leaves the tape laying around his house, unmarked and his wife and young daughter watch it. No warning about the tape, no note, just leaves it laying out. His response, he calls his wife an idiot
several times and thinks about hitting her for endangering their daughter, never mind that he was the one that left the tape out. It gets worse.
Asakawa and Ryuji discover that the tape was created by a woman named Sadako who was killed by Dr. Nagao. Dr. Nagao raped her, killer her, and then dumped her body in a well. Dr. Nagao tells Ryuji and Asakawa that some force compelled him to rape Sadako and then kill her. Way to shift the blame to somebody else. It gets worse.
It's revealed that Sadako was intersex and that she was a virgin. Asakawa goes on to misgender her several times (I hate these characters). Asakawa and Ryuji then proceed to theorize that Sadako was unable to have sex with anybody (really hate them) and so fed up with life, she forced Dr. Nagao to rape her so she wouldn't die a virgin and then kill her (these people are the worst). Asakawa then comes to the conclusion that maybe, note the maybe because he's still unsure, she didn't force Dr. Nagao to rape her, but she definitely forced him to kill her. I can't really say it gets worse from here because I think we've reached the peak of this books awfulness, but it certainly doesn't get better.
It's revealed in the end that Ryuji has never actually raped anybody and he just told Asakawa that to impress him (I can't even). Moving on, our horrible excuse for a human being, I refuse to use hero to describe this guy, rides off into the sunset to save his family, by showing the tape to his wife's parents.
As far as plot goes, I was too focused on the casual attitude to rape, spousal abuse, victim blaming, misgendering, suicide and Asakawa's horror that anybody should die a virgin to focus on it. Did I mention how much I hated Asakawa?