The first winner of Essay Writing Competition in National English Competition ( 2023), held by English department, Binus University. 

By Qania Atillah


When people think of the word ‘evil’, what is the first thing that usually comes to mind? One would either think of a manipulative person who’s willing to do whatever it takes to achieve their desired goal or someone who lacks empathy and simply does not care about the well-being of others. Perhaps someone exhibiting anti-social characteristics such as psychopathy and sociopathy disorder who easily disregards the rights and feelings of others (Bhambhani, 2021). Or maybe someone who straight up wants to commit a massacre that involves innocent lives and does not take any great consideration as long as they get what they want. If all those ticked your boxes on what it takes to be considered evil, then Shuya Watanabe is the perfect subject for this essay. The long-time debated question of whether someone is ‘born evil or made evil’ will be one of this essay’s main highlights in terms of analyzing Shuya’s core characterization. This analysis will deliver insights into how Shuya’s devilish nature was shaped by his childhood trauma and the cruel environment that led him to commit horrible acts.

Before delving deep into the main topics, the reader should grasp the movie’s general idea to understand this essay better. The movie Confessions (2010) starts with the main character, a junior high teacher named Yuko Moriguchi announcing her resignation in class due to her ailing husband and the recent death of her daughter, Manami, who died from an ‘accidental drowning’. The students barely paid her any attention. Some were even happy to see her go, or too busy sipping down their milk carton that was being handed out by the school that day as a national milk campaign. Through her lengthy monologue in front of the class, it was later revealed that her daughter was actually murdered in cold blood and the perpetrators were none other than two of her own students, whom she referred to as ‘Student A’ and ‘Student B’. Yuko divulged to the class that she had deliberately tainted the perpetrator’s milk with HIV blood belonging to her sickly husband, immediately striking terror into everyone. In this particular scene, two of the perpetrators were then exposed as their apparent shock was obvious. Student A was Shuya, smart but known to be disturbed and student B was Naoki, the typical school loser. Since both perpetrators are still minors under the protection of the Juvenile Law, Yuko intended to seek revenge and take matters into her own hands, believing it is her responsibility as a teacher to teach them a lesson and let them reflect on life’s preciousness.

Image 1.Yuko’s monologue on seeking revenge over her daughter’s murder.

What follows next in this movie pretty much depicts the aftermath of Yuko’s revelation. Naoki became a shut-in because he believed he might have contracted AIDS from the milk. Shuya on the other hand attended school as usual, but none of his classmates were having it. They started to bully him relentlessly, except for one person, Mizuki Kitahara, who later became romantically involved with him. As the movie progressed, Shuya’s troubled nature gradually got worse as his growing hatred towards everyone and the obsession to be known, especially by his mother who had abandoned him, led him to commit despicable acts. More details of the movie will be further explained in each topic down below considering its intricacies.

For the main topics of this analysis, the main subject’s character will be broken down into two parts. The first topic, an Evil Byproduct of Parental Negligence, will first explore more on Shuya’s traumatic childhood and personal background involving his limerence towards his mother which serves as a root of his cause. The second topic, Depths of Depravity, will focus more on the consequences of Shuya’s childhood trauma that shaped his evil traits based on his behavior, personality, relationships, emotional state, and objectives.

Topic 1: An Evil Byproduct of Parental Negligence

Child abandonment is no doubt one of the worst things a parent could ever do, yet unfortunately remains a common occurrence. Compared to those who are blessed with good parenting, neglected children are less likely to achieve normal psychological and physical development (Green, 2016). This is also the case with Shuya, whose mother abandoned him when he was merely a child. Shuya described his mother as a ‘promising researcher in her field’. Shortly after he was born, she left her research life to become a full-time mother. But gradually, she regretted her choice and resented little Shuya for it. Thus, his childhood was filled with emotional and physical torment from the person he looked up to the most. Not long after, his mother left him, not leaving behind many things aside from her books and her inherited genius in Shuya’s blood.

Image 2. Shuya being abused by his mother.

Image 3. Shuya’s mother walking away from him.

Shuya’s mother never gave him the childhood he deserved, but that didn’t stop him from getting infatuated with her. He wanted to employ the genius she bestowed by creating various inventions and posting them online as a way to gain her attention, yet she never came back to him once.

You don’t understand. Shuya’s just lonely. He just wants to be noticed by his mother because his mom had abandoned him. He just needs recognition. – Mizuki to Yuko.

In consequence, Shuya did something sinister by publishing graphic animal abuse content on the internet just to get the slightest bit of attention. Unsatisfied by constantly being in the shadows and having always gone unnoticed by his mother, he then planned on doing something big the entire media would cover by trying to cause a massive incident, such as murder that only a genius like him could carry out. Hence in the first place, he had already planned out the entirety of Manami’s murder with one of his inventions, including taking advantage of Naoki to become his accomplice so he would blurt out Shuya’s crime to the entire world.

Topic 2: Depths of Depravity

Shuya is referred to by many of his peers as an intelligent individual, whose genius could be seen by his accomplishment of receiving the award of excellence at the National Junior High Science Fair by creating a Shocking Anti-Theft Purse that would shock someone the moment they touch the purse zipper. His tech-savviness can be seen throughout the movie, such as creating various makeshift devices in his spare time or having his private website. During Yuko’s monologue in the opening, she also described Shuya as ‘a student with excellent grades who outwardly presents no problem’. But despite that, Yuko claimed that she occasionally heard some disturbing rumors about him. These rumors include Shuya’s disturbing behavior since elementary school where he would torture cats and dogs with his handcrafted execution machine and then publish the gory aftermath on his private website. Prior studies have indicated that this bizarre behavior of animal cruelty has often been described as a warning sign of greater violence such as homicide or even mass murder (Arluke, 2014)[3].

Shuya’s unsympathetic behavior was also shown during his interaction with Yuko when he was asked about Manami’s death. Near the pool where Manami would eventually meet her demise, Yuko found a pink bunny purse that her daughter had longed to own but couldn’t because she wouldn’t buy it for her. Inside that purse was the very same electric mechanism that Shuya had applied for his Shocking Anti-Theft Purse. When confronted about it, Shuya seemed carefree and even discussed his invention quite happily, as if he was unaware that the mother of the murdered child was before him when in fact he is very much aware.

Pride is also inherent within Shuya’s character. He wants the world to acknowledge his genius and acclaim him as superior. Despite having achieved great honor and publicity on his science project, it wasn’t enough for him as news of his accomplishment was quickly overshadowed by the news of a middle school girl referred to only as ‘Lunacy’ who murdered her entire family by cyanide poisoning.

You win praise for doing good but nobody notices. That Lunacy thing was no special. Why is potassium cyanide even special? If it were me, every single thing I’d create with my own hands.– Shuya to Yuko.

This piece of dialogue will play an important foreshadowing later on that led Shuya to carry out his final plan. His shameless pride went as far as unremorsefully confessing to Yuko about his genuine involvement in Manami’s murder. Shuya told Yuko that he had intentionally befriended Naoki and manipulated him into his dreadful plan of testing out his advanced version of the Shocking Anti-Theft Purse on a human being. Naoki, who was upset at the moment because Yuko hadn’t come for him when he was at troubled times, suggested her daughter as their guinea pig, as she was often seen near the school pool. The pair approached Manami and lured her with the pink bunny purse that she always wanted to own. Manami who was enticed, touched the purse and was immediately zapped down by the electricity. Feeling amused, Shuya declared her dead and ordered Naoki to disclose to everyone that he (Shuya) had killed her, and then left the scene. Panicked Naoki who was afraid that the incident might be traced back to him, carried Manami’s body and threw her inside the pool. Shortly after the incident, Yuko discovered the pink bunny purse near the crime scene and kept it as a piece of evidence. She had the purse checked thoroughly and said that it was incapable of even stopping an infant’s heart let alone killing them, revealing that Manami’s indisputable cause of death was from the drowning and not the purse.

 It’s so ironic. Student A had homicidal intent but wasn’t able to kill. Student B did not but brought about her death. – Yuko’s Monologue.

The fact that Naoki was actually the one who managed to kill Manami deeply hurt Shuya’s pride, considering he always wanted to be known for something by his own hands. As a result of the incident, Shuya was constantly bullied by his classmates and this intensely fueled his hatred toward Yuko and everyone around him even more

Mizuki, one of Shuya’s classmates, also fell victim to the bully because she didn’t partake in his bullying. There was a scene where the whole class coerced them both into kissing, knowing full well that Shuya had drunk the HIV-tainted milk.

Shuya then invited Mizuki over to show her the result of his HIV test which was proven to be negative, implying that Yuko had lied about tainting the milk. As time passed by, her relatability with Shuya as an outcast in school got them both closer together until eventually, romance sparks between them. During their relationship, Shuya couldn’t stand how the class also harassed Mizuki. He daringly stood up by smearing his supposedly ‘infected blood’ on his bully’s face, even as far as kissing them on the lips in hopes of scaring them off with his ‘HIV disease’. Not long after, the bullying ceased.

Shuya and Mizuki had no one but each other and they would often hang out together at Shuya’s hideout. Both of them formed an inseparable bond, even giving away one another’s deepest secret.

That’s all I needed. I just wanted someone to praise me. I’d been without a mother for so long. I’d been so alone. – Shuya to Mizuki.

Everything I’d never been able to talk about, I opened up to Shuya. The Lunacy Girl. I revealed the real me that nobody knew. – Mizuki’s confession of her true identity as Lunacy.

Despite everything they’ve been through together, Shuya’s selfishness came to light once again. Irritated by Mizuki’s Lunacy identity, he mocked and belittled her. Feeling frustrated, Mizuki then said something to him that would seal her fate once and for all.

Mother complex. That’s all you are. Hung up on a mother who abandoned you, yet without the balls to go see her. Scared in case she rejects you, right? You know full well she abandoned you.– Mizuki to Shuya

What Mizuki said to him about his mother actively triggered his childhood abandonment trauma and Shuya didn’t take her words lightly in the slightest. Enraged and in an act of recklessness, he beat Mizuki to death, mutilated her body, and stored her remains inside his fridge. Shuya couldn’t care less about what he did as he only sees Mizuki as a way to kill time.

Desperate by the obsession to be seen by his mother, Shuya then planned his final big act. Armed with homemade bombs, he planned the massacre of not only his classmates but also his own death, indicating that he didn’t have any regard for anyone even for himself as long as he could have the slightest bit of notice from his mother. He believed by committing a massive incident, the news might make its way to her.

Image 4. Shuya recording his final plan confession for his website.

            What I wanted my mother to embrace wasn’t this body of mine, but something bigger. My talent and the great exploit I’d leave behind. To leave my mark on the world, I’d found a use for my bomb. The imminent mass murder won’t have some idiot like Naoki for a witness, but all of you who gather on this site. – Shuya’s confession.

At last, Shuya’s pride was the very thing that destroyed him. Turns out, Yuko was already way ahead of him, as she had known of his plan by stalking his website where Shuya had confidently announced his grand scheme. The bombs Shuya had rigged in the school grounds were then moved immediately by Yuko someplace, the last place Shuya wanted his bombs to be in, his mother’s research office, ultimately killing her. In conclusion, his final act resulted in the death of someone whom he cared about the most and left him broken with nothing to live for.


Without a doubt, Shuya fits the criteria of an evil person. His nefarious actions and corrupted morals have jeopardized the lives of others, even resulting in death. Shuya should be fully blamed for what he did, but it is not fair to fully blame him for turning out the way he did. His mother’s absence played a big part in his already deteriorating behavior that eventually shaped his evil nature, as she was the only thing Shuya ever truly cared about. The presence of a parent plays a huge part in a child’s development and under no circumstances should a child be abandoned just like Shuya did.


Arluke, A., & Madfis, E. (2014). Animal abuse as a warning sign of school massacres: A critique and refinement. Homicide Studies, 18(1), 7-22.

Bhambhani, L. P., Prakash, S., & Tripathi, M. A. (2021) Psychopathy and Sociopathy: A Modern Understanding of Antisocial Personality Disorder. Indian Journal of Social Studies and Humanities. Vol. 1 (5)

Green, A. H. (2016). Child abuse, neglect, and depression. Depression in children and adolescents, 55-62.

Nakashima, Tetsuya, dir. Confessions (告白). DesperaDo, 2010. Film