‘Lumberjack The Monster’ Ending Explained: Are Akira And Takeshi Dead Or Alive?


Celebrated and controversial Japanese filmmaker Takashi Miike’s latest film, Lumberjack the Monster, is a horror thriller with a dash of the usual Miike gore. The film revolves around a crude experiment carried out by a couple on abducted children. While many died, some survived. When the police arrived at Midori Toma’s house, she slit her throat, and her husband, Kazuo Toma, was apprehended. He died in prison. The mystery behind the sudden disappearance of children was finally solved, but that was not the end of the case. After over thirty years, the case once again caught the attention of the police when a mysterious serial killer started targeting orphans. It was soon discovered that the victims were once the subject of Toma’s experimentation. But why was the serial killer after them?

Spoiler Alert

Why Did The Serial Killer Target Akira Ninomiya?

Akira Ninomiya was a psychopathic killer and a lawyer. He lacked empathy, and he did not mind getting rid of people as long as it benefited him. His friend, Sugitani, was a reputed doctor who secretly conducted illegal experiments on humans. They were both messed up, and they took care of each other’s dirty business. They knew that society would never understand the monster that resided in them, and it was easier to simply conceal their crimes. Things took a turn when a serial killer attacked Akira out of the blue. Akira survived the attack, and when he woke up in the hospital, he was told by his doctor that a neurochip had been found embedded in Akira’s brain. This was the first time Akira had heard about the neurochip. It was fragile and had been in his brain for a long time. Sugitani informed Akira that the neurochip was used previously to suppress emotions and that it was banned thirty years ago. Sugitani suspected that Akira’s chip was used to modify his brain’s moral and empathy centers, and the chip was the reason why he never felt guilty or upset about his killings.

Forensic profiler Toshiro was assigned the serial killer case, and when she realized that the days between each killing were shortening, she wondered if a failed killing had triggered the killer all the more. Upon studying recent attack incidents, she came across Akira’s case. The killer used an axe and always attacked his victims’ head, and Akira was approached the same way, which resulted in his head injury. Akira was also an orphan, and Toshiro assumed she could get some clues from him. But Akira refused to share any details about his attack, and that was when Toshiro decided to secretly steal his medical information from the hospital.

Toshiro consulted a doctor to understand the report, and she discovered that Akira was possibly attacked with the butt of an axe. When she found out about the neurochip, she could finally connect the dots. The killer was also known as the ‘brain thief’ because he was obsessed with taking apart his victims’ brains, and Toshiro realized that the only possible explanation for it was that the killer did so to get access to the neurochip. All of the victims must have had the neurochip, and it was connected to some illegal medical experiment. Her hunch was proved right when a victim’s medical history record indicated that she had a neurochip in her brain. The killer was not killing people at random; he had a particular motive. The victims were abducted when they were children, and after they were used for medical experiments, they were left in orphanages. Chief Hirose mentioned that the Shizuoka serial child abduction case, aka the Toma case, matched the description.

Why did Midori Toma abduct children?

Midori Toma abducted children at random to conduct medical experiments on them. It was found that her son showed signs of psychopathy, and even though she had tried to correct his behavior, nothing worked. So, she decided to abduct children and plant neurochips in their brains to suppress their moral and empathy centers and convert them into psychopaths. Her goal was to use these man-made psychopaths to test her medicines. She was researching to create a drug to cure psychopathy, but before she could do so, she was caught by the police, and she ultimately died by suicide. The psychopaths that Toma had created continued to live, and the serial killer was after them. After the head injury, Akira realized that his neurochip was damaged, and that was why he experienced a lot more emotions than he ever did. Akira desperately wanted to repair his chip, and the only way to do so was by gathering his old data. He suspected that the masked killer had his data, and getting hold of him was the only way for him to become the ruthless man that he used to be.

Why did Unit Chief Hirose suspect Inui?

Assistant Inspector Inui was demoted and transferred after his involvement in a case in Shinagawa. He was investigating the death of a housewife who died after falling off the stairs of her house. It was evident that her husband, Takeshi Kenmochi, had killed her, but there was no evidence or witness in the case. Kenmochi was ultimately found not guilty, and he ended up getting the insurance money that he was after. One day, when Kenmochi’s father-in-law confronted him, Kenmochi pushed him aside, and that was when Inui intervened. Inui had been investigating the case on his own, and when he overheard an indirect confession, he could not help but punch Kenmochi in the face. After Inui was transferred, he was assigned to work on the ‘brain thief’ case.

It is gradually revealed in Lumberjack the Monster, that Takeshi Kenmochi was one of the many victims of the Toma experiment. He was the first to have survived the brain surgery, and it was evident that the neurochip had affected his personality. He lacked empathy and was extremely short-tempered, and he did not feel guilty about killing his wife. Given the past Kenmochi and Inui shared, Unit Chief Hirose considered it highly likely that Inui was the masked killer. Toshiro, too, remembered her conversation with Inui when he lightly suggested that maybe the killer was on their side since they were getting rid of all the psychopaths. Toshiro, Hirose, and their team broke into Inui’s house to find out if he was involved in a killing. Inui was surprised to see his team at his house, and it proved that he was indeed innocent.

Was Takeshi Kenmochi the serial killer?

After the damage to his brain chip, Akira started to think more emotionally. He struggled to kill people, and he stopped being the cold, apathetic man he used to be. Akira started to feel a connection with his fiancée, Emi Hasumi, and he genuinely started to enjoy her company. He was discovering himself all over again, and it was not easy. He was afraid of disappointing Sugitani, but at the same time, he was not entirely sure if he wanted to become a psychopath all over again. Life had given him a choice—something that he never thought would ever be possible. The masked killer had taken Emi hostage, and he texted Akira to come to Toma’s house to save her. Soon after Akira arrived, he and the killer got into a scuffle, and finally, the identity of the killer was revealed. The lumberjack monster killer was Takeshi Kenmochi. 

As it turned out, after Inui punched Takeshi, his brain chip was destroyed, and he turned into a compassionate person. He could not forgive himself for killing his wife, and to repent his sins, he decided to think beyond himself and do something that would help society in some way. He believed that the person he used to be did not deserve to exist, and therefore all man-made psychopaths should be killed. Takeshi had briefly considered helping the psychopaths become better human beings, but after finding out what Akira had been up to, he lost faith.

What troubled Takeshi?

Takeshi was about to kill Akira when the lawyer outwitted him by pulling out a dagger and holding Emi hostage. Akira knew that Takeshi would not lay a hand on Emi, and keeping her close would help him escape easily. At that moment, it seemed that Akira was still the same self-centered man that he used to be. Akira confessed to killing Emi’s father, Mr. Hasumi, to take over his law firm; he was proud of the lengths he went to get things done his way. Akira tactically managed to stab Takeshi with his dagger and ultimately hit him with the butt of his axe. Akira went on to reveal that he knew exactly how Takeshi felt after his chip got damaged. Akira had come to realize that Takeshi hated himself more than anyone else for killing his wife. Living with the guilt was not easy, and getting rid of the psychopaths was his way of coping with the damage he had caused.

How Did Takeshi Die?

Akira found information about his parents from the data that Takeshi had stored on his phone. Takeshi had read the data, and he had learned that Akira was born into a crime- and violence-free house. He was extremely caring, and he prioritized his loved ones over himself. He protected the vulnerable kids from the bullies; his personality was completely different from the person he had become. Takeshi wondered if Akira wanted to become the person he was born as or the monster that he was turned into, and he was glad to find out that after being with Emi, Akira had started to appreciate all the emotions he experienced, and he did not intend on going through with the surgery.

Lumberjack the Monster‘s ending confirmed that Takeshi had tried to protect Akira when he was taken for surgery by Mitori Toma. Even though he had failed then, he indirectly ended up helping Akira. Had Takeshi not attacked Akira, he would have never understood what it was to be human. Takeshi was wounded, and he had lost the desire to continue with his life. The guilt only got worse with time, and no matter what he did to ease his pain, it did not get any better. By the time Toshiro connected the dots and made it to Toma’s house towards the end of Lumberjack the Monster, Takeshi had already started a fire, and it was impossible to save him. Takeshi burned down the house that held traumatic memories of the past, and he perished with it.

Did Akira live or die?

Akira managed to leave Toma’s house with Emi before the place was burned down. Even though Toshiro had reasons to believe that Akira had started the fire, she did not have any evidence to arrest him. She hoped Akira would confess to his crime, but he did not, and she had no choice but to walk away. Before leaving Akira’s office, Toshiro promised to take him down soon. When Akira returned home, he found Emi waiting for him. Akira was still learning to become a human, and even though he had realized that he should not have killed Mr. Hasumi, he did not quite process how deeply the truth had affected Emi. He did not take the fact into consideration that the soft-spoken woman who had taught him to love and emote could take a drastic measure.

In Lumberjack the Monster‘s ending, Emi stabbed Akira to death. Even if Emi knew the whole truth, it would not have been surprising if she still chose to stab Akira. She was about to marry the man who had killed her father, and perhaps she would have been forever unable to forgive him. Akira slapped Emi and choked her. While it seemed that the psychopath in him was still alive, within seconds, Akira chose to let go of Emi and explained that he did it to help her prove before the court that she stabbed him out for self-defense. At that moment, Emi felt terrible for what she had done, but maybe it truly was impossible for Akira to absolve all his sins and start a fresh life. The final scene confirms that Akira succumbed to the wound. Akira was no longer the monster he used to be, but even then, it seemed he had to pay the price for the pain and harm his actions had caused. Throughout the film, a children’s story is recited where a monstrous lumberjack killed people and went on to create more monsters like itself out of babies in other villages. Would these babies now, with their vicious features, turn into monsters or regular lumberjacks? The monstrous lumberjack hoped to find the answer to it someday. The story is similar to the lives Akira and Takeshi lived. They were born a certain way, and they were transformed into cold, detached beings capable of committing the most heinous acts. But life took a turn when the chips were destroyed and they discovered their true selves. Were they monsters for their past mistakes, or did they deserve to be forgiven and treated as ordinary human beings because they were not in control of their minds before? The film questions the audience’s idea of morality and how they would choose to judge a character such as Akira.

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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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