‘Evil Does Not Exist’ Ending, Explained: Did Takahashi Kill Hana?


Ryusuke Hamaguchi’s eco-drama film Evil Does Not Exist is breathtakingly beautiful, and the message it delivers is of great significance. Unfolding in a quaint Japanese village, a father enthusiastically teaches his daughter about the woods that surround them. Just like the father benefitted from the fruits of nature, he hoped that his daughter too would learn its importance in their everyday existence. The villagers had learned to coexist with nature seamlessly, and they strongly believed that the secret was maintaining balance. This balance was disrupted when a talent agency bought a piece of land there that they aimed to convert into a glamping (glamorous camping) site. It was not just that the outsiders would invade their space; the planning was not thorough, and the construction process would damage the environment. The company representatives, Takahashi and Mayuzumi, assumed that convincing the villagers would be an easy task, but it was only after talking to them that they realized how severe the problem was.

Spoiler Alert

What was the company’s solution to the villagers’ concerns?

When Takahashi and Mayuzumi introduced the company’s project to the villagers, they raised a few concerns. They were worried that the septic tank that only had the capacity for 50 people would fail to fully treat water when the glamping would be at full capacity (64 people). The company believed that the small percentage of water that the septic tank would fail to treat would not pollute the river stream as much, or at least that is what they wanted the villagers to believe. The villagers were concerned about the location of the septic tank as well. They believed that the water drained from the spot would eventually pollute wells downstream. The water was almost sacred to the locals, and they refused to allow the company to destroy its purity. They were also afraid of the fire hazard since the campers would be left unsupervised at night. They proposed hiring a caretaker, and the company considered their suggestion.

Takahashi and Mayuzumi expected the locals to be ignorant, and they assumed the briefing would be an easy task, but they were quite surprised by how well aware the villagers were, and they realized that their demands were logical. When they went back to discuss it with the consulting firm, they were told to ignore the concerns of the locals. They conducted the briefing to prove on paper that they respected the locals, but they had no intention of taking into account any of the suggestions made. They considered appointing a 24/7 caretaker, but they had to cut down on the number of employees to afford it. The company agreed to change the location of the septic tank, but they were quite convinced that the pollution concern would remain. Takahashi and Mayuzumi were instructed to bring Takumi on board. They assumed that since he was the guy who did odd jobs in the village, he could be easily persuaded by alcohol and the promise of a job. Takumi rejected both offers; he did not consume alcohol, and he had no intention of working as the caretaker of the fancy camping spot. Takahashi and Mayuzumi realized that they had embarrassed Takumi, and they apologized for their behavior. They knew that it was impossible to win over the locals with gifts, so they instead decided to genuinely take an interest in understanding the life of a local. They requested that Takumi teach them more about the village so that the company could make mindful decisions. 

As a city guy, Takahashi was completely mesmerized by the village lifestyle, and in a brief span of time, he decided he wanted to live Takumi’s life. His dream was no longer to keep a good job and make money, but to marry a woman and settle down in a village. Takahashi was not being realistic; he was simply dreaming of an idealistic possibility without acknowledging the hard work that the villagers had to put in to sustain themselves.

How did Hana die?

The odd jobs kept Takumi busy throughout the day, and he often forgot to receive Hana from school. We don’t learn much about Takumi’s wife, except that she had passed away, and Takumi often missed her and remembered their time spent together. Hana was everything he had, and he tried to spend as much time as he could with his daughter. This was not the first time Takumi had forgotten to receive Hana from school, and he assumed she would either be in the woods admiring nature or she had already gone home. Maybe Takumi would not have forgotten about his daughter if Takahashi and Mayuzumi had not pestered him with their requests. He was a good man, so he did agree to meet them, but clearly the representatives were clueless about their objective. They came on the company’s behalf, yet Takahashi seemed to be more concerned about his personal goal. Just like every other city dweller who was done with their jobs, a sudden epiphany had dawned upon Takahashi, and he wanted to live a simple life. The starkly different lifestyle was surely very attractive to him, but he had wrongly assumed that the simple life was an easy one. 

On their way to Hana’s school, they heard a gunshot. Takumi explained that the hunters were shooting down deer. Mayuzumi innocently asked Takumi if deer ever attacked humans. Deer generally did not attack humans unless they were wounded by a bullet. If a fawn is shot, its mother attacks humans out of desperation and helplessness. This conversation is significant in understanding Hana’s death. After realizing that the school teacher had allowed Hana to return home alone, the search for her began.

Day turned into night, but the search for Hana continued. It was all a big adventure for Takahashi—assisting a local man in search of his daughter—but he failed to realize that he was simply an intruder who had no sense of the world he wanted to become a part of. It was dark when, at the end of Evil Does Not Exist, Takumi finally saw his daughter. There is a disjointedness in the way Hana and the deer are shown in this scene. They did not seem to belong to the present time frame and hinted at a past possibility that Takumi seemed to be thinking about. We can assume that it was only Hana’s body that was lying on the ground when Takumi arrived at the scene. He tried to understand what resulted in Hana’s death, and that was when he was reminded of the gunshot that he had heard while driving to Hana’s school. This suggests that the event had perhaps unfolded in the afternoon, and hours later, Takumi found her. The wounded mother of a fawn had attacked Hana when she tried to approach them. She hoped to win their trust and help, but unfortunately, the mother could not trust the approaching human. She instinctively killed Hana.

Why did Takumi attack Takahashi?

When Takahashi saw Takumi lost in his thoughts, he tried to rush to the scene to find out if Hana was still alive. Takumi stopped him, and all of a sudden the father poured all his anger, frustration, and pain onto the stranger. Takumi’s condition was similar to that of the wounded mother. Just as she could not bear the sight of another human being, Takumi too lost control of his rational thoughts, especially because of everything Takahashi represented. The capitalists wanted to take over lands without any idea how their one decision would affect not just the people but the entire ecosystem. The area where the talent company intended to set up their camps was a deer trail. To keep the deer away, they had to set up three-meters-tall fences, but where would the animals go? Mayuzumi very romantically proposed that the tourists could be closer to nature if they got a chance to interact with deer, and Takumi reminded them that it was not a good idea to pet deer since they carried diseases. This goes on to show how ignorant Mayuzumi and Takahashi were, and no matter how hard they tried, they would always see the lives of the villagers through rose-tinted glasses. 

Even though Takahashi was not directly responsible for Hana’s death, he represented those who would eventually destroy the lives of the locals. If the luxury camping site was built, it would essentially mean that the deer would not be able to use the path, and if they ended up becoming a hindrance, the company would hunt them. Even the smallest actions of the outsiders could impact the lives of the inhabitants to an extent that was beyond their comprehension.

What does the final scene suggest?

Evil Does Not Exist‘s ending justifies the title; Takumi’s reaction was not driven by an evil motive but by natural instinct. It can also be deduced that the village did not have any space for evil, self-driven intentions. The locals lived in harmony, and they helped one another without any tainted motive. After losing his wife, Hana was his only family, and finding her lifeless body was devastating for him. If the representatives had not kept him occupied throughout the day, maybe he would not have forgotten to bring his daughter home from school. If the hunters had not shot the deer, maybe his daughter would have been alive. If the outsiders had stayed away from their village, maybe his daughter would have lived. He could not allow Takahashi to be near his daughter; as a father, he perhaps believed it was only he who deserved to be by Hana’s side.

Takumi lifted Hana’s body in his arms and walked towards the woods. He perhaps wanted to disappear into the darkness of the night, knowing that he did not have the strength to continue living without Hana. She was the reason why he did not give up and continued to be hopeful about the future, but with her gone, he might have lost his will to live. Takahashi’s death is not certain; he was choked, and he had passed out briefly. He stood back on his feet after he came to his senses, but he collapsed again pretty soon. Even if he managed to live, he would never step foot in the village and would perhaps ask his greedy boss to also stay away. The locals might have seemed simple, but they were not foolish. They could see through the pretense easily, and they had the courage to fight back. While evil did not exist in the village, the strength to resist and fight against wrong practices did, and we can only hope that after what had transpired, the company would decide against building the luxury camp.

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Srijoni Rudra
Srijoni Rudra
Srijoni has worked as a film researcher on a government-sponsored project and is currently employed as a film studies teacher at a private institute. She holds a Master of Arts degree in Film Studies. Film History and feminist reading of cinema are her areas of interest.

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