‘Evil Does Not Exist’ Ending Explained & Movie Recap: Is Hana Dead?

Curiosity is bound to be piqued for a title like Evil Does Not Exist. Once you see the latest film from Ryusuke Hamaguchi, you further wonder what exactly the title of the film means, especially after the baffling ending that leaves you scratching your head. However, there are obvious metaphors and trickery, which should strike you once you start to think about it, and maybe after you re-watch the last five minutes a few times. It is a strange film nonetheless, which deals with much darker subject matter compared to his last two works, Drive My Car and Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy, both of which were released in 2021. One might find the complete tonal shift in the final act a bit too jarring, and that’s where Evil Does Not Exist is polarizing people. In this article, I’m going to take a swing at deconstructing the ending. Hopefully, I will do as good as Takumi chops his wood, if you know what I mean.


Spoilers Ahead

What Happens in the film?

Life is rather quiet for the locals of Harasawa, a pristine village near Tokyo. And the people seem to be very content with it. The film opens with Takumi expertly chopping wood, followed by him and local restaurant worker Kazuo collecting fresh spring water. The Udon restaurant is run by Sachi, an outsider from Tokyo who came to the village four years ago and then settled here. The community is about to have a meeting with Playmode, a company that is about to start a glamping project in the village. In case you’re wondering, I was unfamiliar with the word glamping, just like the locals of Harasawa.


What Is the Issue With the Glamping Project?

It doesn’t take much to understand that the glamping (the term is basically derived from the phrase glamorous camping) project is not at all good news for the locals of Harasawa. There’s more than one issue: the project is going to pollute the water upstream, which is going to affect the people who live downstream. Not to mention, the location of the septic tank is directly going to affect Sachi’s restaurant, as the clear spring water is an essential ingredient for the food she makes. In fact, that happens to be the reason for her moving to Haraswa from Tokyo. Another elderly local points out the fact that there’s not much security at the glamping site, as per the blueprint. Considering tourists, especially younger ones, tend to indulge themselves in activities like bonfiring, a wildfire spreading in the dry region is very much a concern.

The Playmode representatives, Takahashi and Mayuzumi, listen to everything, only to respond with the very routine “we’re going to take things into account” and “thank you for your valuable feedback” etc. And of course, these two are clearly not the actual authorities. They have been sent just to show that the company is actually trying to communicate with the villagers. They’re meant to behave like robots, as one of the young locals gets extremely frustrated during the meeting and compares talking to Takahashi to hitting one’s head against a wall. Mayuzumi does seem more human than Takahashi. At least from her facial expressions, it looks like she is genuinely hearing the concerns of the locals and actually wants to do something about the issues. Post-meeting, Takahashi and Mayuzumi take Takumi’s number for further communication regarding the whole thing. Given his expertise over the area, Takumi is clearly the best man to consult over this matter.


What Happens to Hana?

Evil Does Not Exist could have been just another film about capitalism versus nature, but Hamaguchi’s decision to change gear in the final act and leave us with an ending that probably nobody saw coming is what sets it apart. Takumi’s daughter Hana appears to be only a minor character in the beginning, and I don’t think anyone thought she would become so important during the climax. But if you think about it, Hamaguchi did set everything up very carefully. At the beginning of the movie, when Takumi and Kazuo are collecting water, you hear the sound of a gunshot, which Takumi perceives as people trying to hunt deer. And he’s actually right about that. Then he remembers that he has forgotten to pick up Hana from school, something that actually happens quite often. When Takumi reaches the school building, he is informed that Hana has already left, as she knew that he had forgotten. We see Hana freely walking into the wilderness, and Takumi eventually catches her up. The kid is inquisitive about everything, and Takumi is more than happy to answer all her questions. They come across a dead fawn, which is possibly a result of the hunters’ activities. 

Much later in the film, Takumi mentions to Takahashi and Mayuzumi that their glamping site actually falls on the deer trail, and they need to install at least three-feet-tall fences around the perimeter because the deer can only jump up to two feet. He also mentions that deer are harmless animals, until you attack them. A gutshot deer is a dangerous animal, as Takumi says. Soon after, we see Takumi collecting downstream water again, and this time around, Mayuzumi and Takahashi are helping him. Mayuzumi, although enthusiastic, is finding it hard to carry the heavy water cans. Takahashi, on the other hand, seems very into the activities. From the conversation he had with Mayuzumi on their way, it is quite evident that he is a lonely man who doesn’t have much in life and pretty much hates his job, where he is nothing but a middleman. When Takumi lets him chop wood, Takahashi admits that he hasn’t felt this happy for a long time. He’s, of course, telling the truth, if you go by his expressions. On the other hand, for Mayuzumi, the job is a change of pace, and she’s aware of the evil that comes with it. The evil here is people who are sitting at the top with all their wealth and running a kind of dictatorship. Steamrolling a peaceful community and ruining their lives for money-making is their clear agenda, and they don’t feel bad about it. But Mayuzumi, who actually wants to make a difference, finds it difficult to meet the demands of the bosses as the story progresses. She is empathetic enough to see that the glamping project is indeed going to be catastrophic for the locals, and she actually wants to make a difference. And when she realizes that she can’t do that, she decides to quit. Now we can’t really know for sure if she’s going to actually quit the job, but that’s not exactly relevant here. The point is that Mayuzumi is actually selfless, even though she’s pragmatic. But Takahashi is a selfish person who’s all about himself. The moment he finds pleasure in chopping wood and carrying water, he decides to stay back. He doesn’t even ask Takumi if he’s okay with it. 


Coming back to Hana, we hear the sound of a gunshot again while Takumi, Mayuzumi, and Takahashi are collecting water. Takumi mentions to the other two that it is the hunters trying to shoot deer—something with which the audience is familiar by now. At the same time, Takumi remembers that he was supposed to pick up Hana from her school, which is a clear callback to what happened earlier. He reaches the school building and finds out that Hana has already left, which is again a normal thing in the context of this film. But this time, Takumi is unable to find his daughter. It becomes alarming when Hana is not found, even after hours. The people of the community start to search for the little girl, while Takumi asks Mayuzumi and Takahashi to wait at his house in case Hana comes back. But Takahashi decides to tag along with Takumi in his search for Hana. Now this is a very important scene, as on the surface it appears to be Takahashi only trying to help out, but if you think about it, he just can’t get enough of Takumi and wants to be a part of everything he does. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration if I said Takahashi got jealous of the life Takumi has and started to envision himself having a life like that. In case you don’t feel like agreeing with me, go back to the scene in the car where he’s extensively talking about his desire to settle in the countryside and live a peaceful life after getting married to someone. 

The biggest trick that Hamaguchi plays is showing Hana, all fine and happy, looking at the deer. Just when you let out a sigh of relief, thinking that the child is safe and sound, things take a twisted turn. We see Takahashi running towards Hana, and Takumi suddenly attacking him from the back and choking him. Takumi is visibly angry, and Takahashi is dumbfounded, as he doesn’t understand why he’s being attacked. Cut to the next scene: we see Hana with blood oozing out of her nose, and she looks dead as Takumi is holding her. He takes her away, and a few moments later, Takahashi gets up and gathers himself together.


Evil Does Not Exist‘s ending leaves us, with two very obvious questions: “Is Hana really dead?” and “Why does Takumi attack Takahashi?”? Well, if you see properly, the color grading of Hana looking at the deer and (what appears to be) Takumi and Takahashi looking at Hana are different. What I believe happened here is that Takumi did a reconstruction of “what happened to Hana” inside his head, and that’s what we are shown (although we didn’t get to see Hana getting actually shot, which is a very smart creative choice, I would say). Hana died much earlier, most likely the moment Takumi, Takahashi, and Mayuzumi heard the gunshot, or a few moments after.

Now, even though Takumi’s sudden attack shocks Takahashi (and possibly many of us in the audience), he does have a clear motive. Throughout the movie, Takahashi keeps barging into the lives of the locals, mainly Takumi. By the third act of Evil Does Not Exist, it starts to get on Takumi’s nerves. Takumi, as we’ve seen, is a generally polite man. He’s not overly nice or cheerful, but he’s helpful enough to these two people, who are basically trying to disrupt his life in a major way. When Takumi requests that Takahashi and Mayuzumi stay back at his house, Mayuzumi obliges, but Takahashi will still not leave him. This understandably frustrates Takumi. He still probably wouldn’t have done anything to Takahashi if the latter hadn’t tried to go and see Hana’s lying body before Takumi. He can’t allow the outsider to do that. And that’s where he loses it. Imagine a man who has just found out his daughter is dead, and then this other guy is around who wouldn’t let him process the moment alone. Takumi’s reaction is absolutely justified if you carefully analyze Takahashi’s actions throughout the narrative. Takumi’s remarks about deer only attacking when they’re disturbed should also be taken into account here. Would it be too much if we compare Takumi himself with the wounded deer? That would make Takahashi the one who has disrupted Takumi’s peace.


Lastly, from what little of Hana we’ve seen in Evil Does Not Exist her character has been established as quite the free spirit who likes to explore nature. But nature, in this world, is always in danger. Evil does not exist in humans, but it does exist in the form of both capitalism and consumption. Be it the deer hunters or Playmode, they are basically a representation of a capitalist world that is harming nature and leading the world towards doomsday. Not that anything can be done about it, as the fact is that capitalism thrives only because of its consumption. Calling Hana a victim of capitalism might seem a little far-fetched, but it would not be completely wrong.

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Rohitavra Majumdar
Rohitavra Majumdar
Rohitavra likes to talk about movies, music, photography, food, and football. He has a government job to get by, but all those other things are what keep him going.

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