Death Cash Episode 5 – The Story of Natsuko

Episode 5

We finally get to hear the origins of the death cash curse. The story is a pretty sad one when we hear it. So sad, I really had a hard time finding sympathy for the villagers of Eguiriba. As Shino continues to unravel the mystery, stupid Haitani bites off more than he can chew! (For cast and synopsis information see Episode 1)

We start where we left off from episode 4 where Yamaoka Shino (Kino Hana) is telling the story about Natsuko. She says that the Natsuko was killed by the villagers. Now, this gives even me pause and I cannot wait to hear the rest of the story. Wakamoto thinks she was murdered and Yuka wonders if Natsuko did something bad that the villagers would want to kill her. But as the story is unraveled, you get to hear what is a very sad, sad story and the events that led to Natsuko’s death. Shino begins talking fondly of Natsuko and how she was such a cute girl.

Natsuko had lost her parents at a very young age; a lively and popular girl with the villagers. Shino had asked her to come live with her. As a single woman with no children and a good friend of Natsuko’s mother, she thought it was the only right thing to do. Natsuko loved the idea and started calling Shino “mother”.

As Natsuko got older and was about to graduate from school, the village chief and his son took interest in her becoming his bride; however, when she turned 18, she ran away to pursue her dreams of becoming an actress. She left without a word to Shino and was not seen for 10 years.

Natsuko had failed to become an actress and soon married an extremely abusive man who fathered her two daughters: Akiho and Haruna. Natsuko escaped when her husband tried to commit suicide because of the money he owed loan sharks. Even though Shino welcomed her with open arms, it was the villagers that were harsh and cruel. No one would give her a job in the village as her children were hungry and she had no money to feed them. In addition, Haruna, the eldest had severe asthma and had to use an inhaler. When Haruna had an attack, she found that the inhaler was now empty. Natsuko promised her daughters that she would go and get Shichiri the next day. As you remember, we found out all about this practice from episode 4.

Unfortunately, when Natsuko went to the village office to apply for Shichiri, she was refused. No one would give her money or even explain why. The clerk gave her some lame excuse because she had left the village for Tokyo. But we all know why and who was behind her being denied. However, this sad excuse of a human being tells her that because her divorced husband is still alive, she should go after child support and walks away. When Natsuko says her ex-husband is abusive, the man actually tells her to get evidence of that! She begs just for money for medicine but even that request is refused. Douche!

When Shino tried to take food to Natsuko, she was met by the village chief that reminded her that she was breaking a rule. An asinine rule whereby if you help someone that is not eligible for Shichiri then you would also become ineligible. Now, this stops Shino cold. So, she doesn’t go and Natsuko is feeding her daughters whatever she can find. I imagine that they are eating food found in the garbage as the villagers are not helping her. Again, pretty sad and disgusting.

Natsuko returns to the village office once again to beg for money to feed her daughters or they will die. Once again the clerk denies her request. Then she hears voice behind talking trash. Who else is it but the village chief. He whispers to her that she left the village and had children with another man. Telling her she’s getting what she deserves. Then he turns around and welcomes a girl who turns out to be the new wife of the son who is expecting a baby and is being allowed to get money from the Shichiri. You see her being given a wad of ten thousand Yen bills. No one saw Natsuko again.

Finally, Shino does what she should have done in the first place and goes to Natsuko’s home with food; however, the sight that greets her is none to pretty as Natsuko and her 2 daughters are all lying on the floor dead…of starvation. As she is crying over their corpses, she spots a note that was written by one of the children that simple said “I’m hungry” over and over again.

Shino says that when the dead reach the river Styx, they are supposed have money to cross over and complete their journey. The tradition to put money in the coffin to be used for this purpose is part of the funeral rites. In the village, the practice is to put real money in the coffin. However, when Shino tried to put a ten thousand Yen bill in Natsuko’s hand in the coffin, the village chief thoughtlessly ripped it from her hands shamelessly stating that the dead doesn’t need money! From that moment on, the villagers started dropping like flies! Everyone was found with bills with black stains running from the eyes. And so the death cash curse was born.

Shino asks whether they can accept Natsuko’s feelings. Later we see where Yuka says she cannot. Her friends had nothing to do the villagers so she cannot forgive their deaths. I definitely have to agree with her. Even through their greed, they were innocent people that had done nothing to do with Natsuko personally regardless of how tragic the story.

Now the story returns to Haitani (Hayama Susumuno) as he continues to buy/sell stocks online. I guess Haitani thinks he is safe because he has been converting the death cash to digital money it seems; ten million Yen at a time. Again, his greed is fueling the death cash once again. The next day, Yuka asks Mari (Nakamura Yurika) if she knows where Haitani is. She tells her that he is doing an interview with an economics magazine because his stock earnings have been tremendous! The article states that Haitani says that people should convert their money to digital cash; it’s safer. Mari asks her why is she so hell bent on saving others? Mari doesn’t seem to hold the same philosophy and this just fuels Yuka’s angry. As you listen to Haitani’s interview, he really believes his own hype! Just listening to him, his death will be well deserved! As Yuka listens to his spiel, it’s like the village chief talking all over again.

I love what Yuka says in response to Haitani’s tirade against poor and needy people being the weak. She tells him that he may think he is a strong person but he is actually the weak one. Weak? Because of his dependence on money and that the said money huddles around the weak one. Of course, this goes over Haitani’s head as he walks away but that smile does fade eventually.

After the wonderful scene with Koyume and Yuka where they are sharing a meal of curry and Koyume says that no meal is better than one that is shared with your family, we see Haitani eating a pizza. Well, pizza wasn’t the only thing that he tried to eat. The room is full of food that had been delivered but it is obvious that the taste isn’t there. Suddenly, the doorbell rings and as he gets up from the chair, the ominous sound of another bolt falling from the chair is heard. It is a delivery of even more food and as he pays with his digital cash card, we see the computer screens behind him go black and Yen after Yen being added to his account. Back at the Minami apartment, as Yuka is washing dishes, she sees a vision. This vision has her running from the house and into the street. When she gets outside, she also calls Detective Wakamoto and tells him to head to where Haitani is!

As Haitani seems to be enjoying his bowl of spaghetti, he looks at the computer screen and is shocked to see that his digital cash total keeps climbing and finally maxes out at 999 million Yen but the computer screens go black and scares the boy! Suddenly, in red letters, the words “I’m hungry” start displaying over and over again which finally freaks Haitani out. He falls back and as food and drinks spill all over him, the computer wires start to wrap around his hands and feet tethering him to the chair. At the same time, the spaghetti he was enjoying so much starts to cascade down to his mouth literally filling his mouth and throat which eventually leads to him choking to death! When Wakamoto and Yuka come to the scene, it is this chilling sight of Haitani dead with his mouth full of food! They also eerily hear a little girl saying “I’m hungry” repeatedly, followed by another little girl and finally a woman.

Wakamoto tells Yuka that Haitani died because he choked on pasta. He also mentions that Shino called and said that someone else had contacted her about the death cash curse. And it was way before the camping trip. That person is…. The scene changes as we see an individual typing on the computer. His cell phone rings and we hear the familiar voice of who else…the Professor as he is being informed of Haitani’s death. He types this information into his computer. Lo and behold! The man is doing a study on the death cash. He gets up and reveals a wall full of pictures that seem to be detailing every single killing!! By the amount of pictures, this makes you wonder just how far does he go back?!

Thoughts
Was I right…was I right? Yup, I was right!! I’ve been saying for the last few episodes that there was something seriously sinister about the Professor. I couldn’t put my finger on it but I still think there is more to it. How else would he know so much about the death cash? This just doesn’t seem like the usual fare that an Economics Professor would write about to me. Also, we still have the mystery of the missing villager who has yet to be seen.

Admittedly, the story of Natsuko was extremely sad. To imagine that these people, out of spite would allow a woman and her children to starve to death is just unconscionable. They deserved to die in my estimation; however, like Yuka, the deaths of the students is just not fair as they personally had nothing to do with Natsuko and her family being shunned to death. The onus of this definitely falls on the village chief. I’m sure he was the one making up those silly and cruel rules! He deserved the worse death of them all!

Haitani was stupid from the beginning. It seems that he had been doing this with the death cash for quite awhile. It was once the money sensed his utter greed that the true intent of the curse took over and this resulted in his death. Dumb boy! Thought he could beat the curse and ended up sounding just like that village idiot chief. I cannot say that I mourned his death. We knew it was going to come but the death cash curse is very ingenious on getting its prey; one pasta noodle at a time!

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