Last month, I discovered a book at work by the name of Audition. I was surprised to see it sitting on our new book shelf because 1. we don't really carry many books like this and 2. I didn't know a book existed. I only knew of the spine tingling movie created by the great Takashi Miike. So, I was immediately interested to read it.
The story is about a widower by the name of Shigeharu Aoyama who recently lost his wife to a serious illness. Day in and day out he thinks of the great memories she shared with him and characteristics he admired about her. We learn that he's a simple man and cared for his wife and their son, Shigehiko Aoyama, a lot. In the book, they go further into detail with his grieving stage and fairly close relationship with Shigehiko.
Shige grows up and seven years have past. Aoyama is soon hit with a surprising proposal of getting remarried by Shige. Aoyama later brings this thought to his producer friend and they discuss the details of what he's looking for and how to go about searching for his future wife. The producer friend, Yasuhisa Yoshikawa, reminds Aoyama of a story he submitted and gives an idea to use it to find his wife. Hold an audition for the leading lady. He uses his connection to a radio station to promote the event and Aoyama can look at the participants' profiles beforehand.
Aoyama accepts the idea, after being assured no legal issues will come of it. He later receives all the applicants' submissions and is advised not to base his decision from photos alone as some women have their photos retouched. So, he goes home, turns his late wife's picture away on his desk, and begins going through the applications. After going through several and feeling a bit restless with the process, he finally finds a submission that catches his eye. This one submission stands out to him so much that the other women don't matter to him anymore.
Soon the audition is held and Yoshikawa asks each woman impersonal and personal questions. He encourages Aoyama to participate as well, but his focus is all on his dream woman. He immediately changes his posture and begins speaking more when this amazing woman by the name of Asami Yamazaki enters the room. once her time is over, Yoshikawa requests a break for the two to talk alone. He immediately picks up that Aoyama had already decided on Asami. He voices his opinion that something didn't feel right about her, but Aoyama goes on and on about how he understands her and has a feeling they would have a good connection. We assume they wrap up the remaining applicants and Aoyama heads home with fantasies of Asami being a part of his family and how happy things would be.
Aoyama soon asks for Asami's contact information and meets with her. He continues playing along with this audition idea until the time is right to reveal the truth or at least part of the truth. Everything seems normal and Asami gradually feels more and more comfortable with him to the point she encourages him to contact her whenever he has free time. After their first meeting, Aoyama calls Yoshikawa and tells him about their "date". Yoshikawa feels uncomfortable with Aoyama's happiness and expresses his concern of moving too fast in addition to some invalid information Asami gave at her audition. Aoyama inputs the information she gave him from their meeting, but agrees to back off a little and suffers for about a week with no contact. This causes concern among his coworkers and Shige. Eventually, he contacts Asami and they meet again. His energy changes immediately and all future thoughts of her being in his and Shige's life dance around his head again. He soon reveals that she didn't get the part of the movie, develop their relationship a little further than business, and tells her about Shige, after hearing about her background and agreeing to love her and only her.
As described above, this is how both stories go. It is a bit slow paced but eerily intriguing. You hear bits and pieces of Asami's tragic past which you can understand even further after reading the book. Takashi does a wonderful job keeping true to Ryu Murakami's original vision and keeps you on edge of what twisted thing is waiting to be fully exposed at the end. Every detail has a purpose and the book fills in any gaps you might have in your mind when you approach the high rising action.
A few things were executed a bit differently in the movie, but these differences don't show up until the end. Most times this distorts the overall feeling of the audience, but Audition leaves the same impression whether you watch it or read it. Murakami also goes into further detail of Yoshikawa and one of Aoyama's female co-worker's background compared to the movie as well.
I'm glad American entertainers acknowledged this great piece of art in 100 Scariest Movie Moments. They give away the ending some, but it's to be expected as "crazy mates" have been an element in media for a while. The reason this was praised was because it was different from the typical secret axe murderer or whatever. This delved deeper and tied it with the common emotion of security and love...or rather being blinded by love.
I highly suggest checking out both kinds of medium. Both of them keep your interest whether you know what's going to happen or not. You still feel this shock factor clenching your heart and your perceptions change a little when you switch to the next medium. You notice how easily it is to be caught up and advance forward too quickly with that perfect person, but I assure you that not everyone is crazy like Asami Yamazaki.