The Cannibal Celebrity: Issei Sagawa

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The Cannibal Celebrity: Issei Sagawa

Post  Naim Le Victoria on Sun Jul 27, 2008 10:56 pm

The Cannibal Celebrity: Issei Sagawa

By Katherine Ramsland

While studying at the Censier Institute in Paris in 1981, Sagawa spotted another tall, beautiful northern European woman woman, Renee Hartevelt. He says that when he sat next to her in a class, he fell instantly in love and could not stop thinking about the white skin of her arms. She was the perfect woman for what he wanted to do, but this time he had to be more careful. He had to be ready.

Renee was 25, blonde, and independent. She spoke three languages and had a bright future, with the aim of getting a Ph.D. in French literature. Sagawa asked her to teach him German, and since his father was quite wealthy he could pay her well. She accepted.

According to him, she liked his obvious intelligence and ability to discuss everything from Impressionist paintings to Shakespeare to European literature. He wrote her love letters and invited her to concerts and exhibits. He was small, feminine, and walked with a limp, yet she often went with him and invited him to her apartment for tea. They even danced together, allowing Sagawa a more physical sense of his fantasies. He found these Nordic women overpowering, and even as he claimed he loved them, he wanted to posses and destroy them.

One day he invited Renee over to his apartment for dinner. He asked her to read a poem by his favorite German expressionist, which she did. After she left, he smelled and licked the place where she had sat and vowed that he would eat her—that would allow him to possess her forever.

Soon he asked her to come over again for dinner. He had a cassette recorder, he said, and he wanted to record her reading of the poem. She accepted for the evening of June 11, 1981, and Sagawa prepared himself to act out his ultimate fantasy.

Upon arriving in Paris, he had purchased a .22-caliber rifle "for self-protection." He had it ready when Renee arrived. He seated her on the floor, Japanese-style, to drink tea. Into her drink, he put some whiskey to make her more pliant. They talked for a while as Sagawa waited for the whiskey to have its effect. Then he told Renee that he loved her and wanted to take her to bed.

She resisted him. She found him engaging but not sexually attractive. She wanted only to be his friend.

Sagawa nodded. He then got up to get the book of poetry, while Renee sat on a chair. Sagawa handed the poem to Renee to read and started the recorder.

While Renee recited the poem in her native language, Sagawa came up behind her with his rifle and shot her in the back of the neck. She fell off the chair. He continued to talk to her but she failed to answer. He was surprised by how quiet it was. Then he noticed the amount of blood that flowed out of her wound. At first, he attempted to clean it up, he finally gave up.

He then undressed her, finding it difficult to remove clothing from a corpse. But he was pleased that now she could no longer refuse his advances. She belonged to him. Then he got a knife and used it to cut off the tip of her left breast and a piece of her nose. These he consumed.

"I touched her hip," he later wrote in his fictional account, In the Fog, "and wondered where I should bite first." He chose her right buttock, but he found it difficult to bite into, and then realized he had a headache. He then went on to describe, moment by moment, the appearance of her fat and muscle, and the taste of it.

As fat oozed out of one stab wounds, Sagawa said it had the consistency and appearance of yellow corn. He smelled it and found that it had no odor. Cutting deeper to find the flesh, he placed a chunk into his mouth. "[It] melted in my mouth like raw tuna in a sushi restaurant."

To him, there was nothing more delicious, and he looked into Renee's dead eyes to tell her so. He was ecstatic now that he had indulged himself in his fantasy. He had this gorgeous body all to himself. It had taken him until the age of 32 to consummate his desires, but he had done it.

Then he got serious. Using an electric carving knife, Sagawa began to cut Renee into parts. He laid out strips of flesh to store for later and nibbled on a few pieces raw. Then he made a quick meal of fried human flesh with mustard. He took photographs of the mutilated corpse and had sex with it. "When I hug her," he recorded, "she lets out a breath." He told her that he loved her.

As he cooked and ate more of her remains, he listened to the recording he had made of her reading the poem. When he was finished, he used her underwear as a napkin to wipe his mouth. He then returned to her body, cut off a breast and baked it, but disliked the greasy consistency. He found that he preferred her thighs.

When he finally felt exhausted, he took what was left of the corpse into his bed to sleep with it. He knew that in the morning he would have to prepare to get rid of the evidence.

The next day, finding that the body did not yet smell, he continued to try parts of it, in particular the arm that had so fascinated him. He chewed on it all the way from the underarm to the elbow. "I had no idea," he wrote, "that it would taste so good."

Sagawa was curious about a few of the body parts that seemed more repulsive. He hesitated over what to do, but decided to go ahead and indulge. Cutting out the anus, he put it into his mouth, but the smell overpowered him, so he spit it out. He tried frying it, but that failed to diminish the odor, so he gave up and returned to the body.

By this time, several large flies swarmed around the corpse, so Sagawa took that as a sign that he'd lost Renee. The "honeymoon" was over.

He then used a hatchet to chop her into pieces that would fit into the suitcases he'd bought specifically for this purpose. Yet even as he dismembered her, he grew excited, so he used her hand to masturbate. Then he chewed on her nose and heard the noise of the cartilage crunching. Since he'd often thought about chewing on her lip, he removed it and set it aside. That part he would keep for later pleasures.

"I want her tongue," he said in his fictional account. "I can't open her lower jaw, but I can reach in between her teeth. Finally it comes out." He cut it off, popped it into his mouth and watched himself chewing it in the mirror. Then he went for the eyes.

The final step for Sagawa was to explore the internal organs, which stung his hands with digestive acid, and then used the hatchet to cut off her head. With so many parts removed, it looked like a skull. He grabbed the hair and hung the head in front of him, an experience that in retrospect caused him to say, "I realized I am a cannibal."

It pays to be rich, and his father, Akira Sagawa, president of Kurita Water Industries in Tokyo, eventually worked out a deal in 1984 to have Sagawa transferred to the Matsuzawa psychiatric hospital in Japan. The superintendent there believed that he was sane and ought to be in prison. There Sagawa remained for only 15 months before he was granted his freedom in August 1985, again, thanks to his father and very much against the advice of the superintendent. After killing a woman and consuming her remains, Sagawa was able to go freely about in society only five years after the crime. He was even granted a passport to go to Germany.


This article has made me lose my appetite for dinner.
Anyway i feel that cannibalism is a crime as it is basically unthinkable for any sane human being to eat another.
It is even more grotesque when some people actually find it as a sexual fetish, like what our friend Mr Issei Sagawa has long craved for.
His description of his crime was very detailed, too detailed that any readers would have graphic images falshing in their heads as they read it.
Well, I feel that a crime like this is warrant of at least a jail term of a lifetime or at least a death penalty, if this sort of crime is commited in Singapore.
He deserves a much more harsh punishment than just being set free due to his incurable mental illness.
Our friend here should not even be walking around freely in society which he is currently, i think, as no one knows when such a tragic beastly ritual could practised by him.
Naim Le Victoria

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Re: The Cannibal Celebrity: Issei Sagawa

Post  Jonathan on Mon Jul 28, 2008 7:47 pm

Now I know what Wei Liang and SeeKian feel like when they see us eating meat...

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Anabelle's reply

Post  Ana on Fri Aug 01, 2008 4:25 pm

Hi! Unique article. For your review, I think that it could be longer as what Ms Quek say, about 400 words. Anyway Saga is not my friend!! Also, perhaps there is a possibility of curing such mental illness.
For my opinion, I think that Saga has been too pampered by his Dad. This could be mostly attributed to his rich dad. By being born with a silver spoon, Saga does not need to trouble over basic neccessities and he will most probably get what he wants. In this case, his strong desire to have full control over Renee shows that Saga will never give up as he often gets what he wnats!! Thus, the crime committed by him could be caused by his parents too, the wrong upbringing. Also, Saga's preverted mind could be due to many other issues like watching too much pornography, etc. Hence, Saga may not be fully responsible for the crime he has committed.
Secondly, Saga's 'unique' mindset on how to deal with the corpse is very disgusting. His act of eating human meat shows that he no longer is in a stable state of mind. Thus, most probably, he committed the crime in an unstable psychological state. His initial love for Renee has developed into a serious obsession to have her. This shows that love can be blind at times! Also, it proofs that one can do almost anything to get and 'own' their loved ones.
Thirdly, I think that Saga should deserve a harsher sentence(agree with Niam). This crime is too serious and a few months sentence is insufficient. I believe that with a harsher punishment, more people will be deterred from committing the crime. However, this may not be true in Sinagapore as there was a period of time where a surge of crimes relating to victims being dismembered into various parts and thrown into the sea occurred. All these criminals committed the act when they were not in a stable state of mind, quite similar to Saga. Thus, I suggest that these criminals should be given a death sentence.
However, I think that a death sentence is not suffice. The strong emotional damage Saga has brought to Renee's family and the loss of a life is irreversible.Perhaps Saga's family should give Renee's family a large sum of money and apologize publicly for the crime Saga has made.
Finally, I disagree with Saga's father's act. By using money to lighten his son's penalty, he is not doing justice to the society and Renee's family. Worst of all, it is encouraging a corrupt judicial sysytem and is setting a bad example for future crime cases. It is wrong for the judicial court to accept the bribery and I hope that stricter laws could be set. For example, a double penalty should be given to the suspect if they are found to be involved in bribery. Hence, I believe in the quote that 'poverty is the parent to crime and punishment'.
In conclusion, I hpe that this incident will serve as a case study for the government in Japan to fine tune its judicial system. I hope that they will realise that stigmatization of the society towards mentally impaired people is one of the causes that have led to serious crime cases. Hence, the government should try to encourage those suspected to have mental illness to step forward. Also, they should change people's mindset that being mentally ill is embarassing. Instead, we should praise those who are wlling to step forward for their courage. Rememer, we have the power to change and only we can ensure a better day for everyone! flower

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Re: The Cannibal Celebrity: Issei Sagawa

Post  Vishaal on Fri Aug 01, 2008 11:18 pm

This is article is indeed unique. With its amount of descriptive writing and on the punishment the guy had gotten, we can use them as good proof for two of our major topics, such as crime and punishment and mass media.

Firstly, if we look into how Saga had claimed his victim we can see that not all guys who appear to be god are good, they could be insane canibals. Furthermore, looking at the way the article was written we can see that there is an increasing need for censorship in the media, or atleast the writters need to know the extent of descriptive writting they can include. I aslo feel that the journalists should put a disclaimer to pre-warn the readers on wht they can expect. Reason being that nobody chooses to be a captive audience.

Also, later on in the article it talks about the punishment recieved by the canibal and how he was let free later on. I do agree with Anabelle that the use of money to bail out such a criminal talks volumes about the judicial system. I also agree with Naim that the caniballism deserves harsher punishment. However, we need to look at the type of society the person is living in, because each ruling party in different nations would have a different method of dealing with such cases, assuming that the ruling party is civilised. I also feel that the punishment based on one's mental stability is not really proper because only in extreme cases am I willing to accept that those who committed the crimes are not fully in control of their mind, but for partial mental instabity the full punishment should be meeted out.

Moving on to Naim's review, eventhough this is a forum you need to address the article as if it is an AQ so that you improve better. I suggest you cut out the parts where you write 'our friend' because that is usually informal speech. Besides that, your review has tackled quite a few of the key points in the article. Good job on that. However, you need to provide better evaluation and elaboration on your sentences.

Other than that, cool article and I read it after eating my dinner. Not bad what. (ok ok this part a bit informal tongue )


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Post  hafizuddin on Sun Aug 03, 2008 5:16 am

naim, ur sick.

aniways, this article can be used in " crime and punishment". Mental illness that pose a threat to society should not be treated lightly, instead patients should be rehabilited and treated thoroughly, away from the public till it is comfortably safe to rejoin the community (even if the containment is permanent). Relatives and friends of the patient should also be consulted and receive psychiatric treatment so as to ensure their minds are sound and prevent future related cases by examining the root causes of such crimes.

A too lenient government by sentencing light judgements on criminals reflects upon the security and vulnerability of the country and might have adverse effects on its social,economic and political development. i believe the government and its people should introduce suitable modifications to the country's security system otherwise foreign intervention is to be encouraged.


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Re: The Cannibal Celebrity: Issei Sagawa

Post  ~*~ Amirah ~*~ on Sun Aug 03, 2008 5:10 pm

This article is OH-MY-GOD-DISGUSTING! and the discriptions are very graphic. Nonetheless, a great choice of article, yeah. haha. Gives me more insight into a cannibal's mind. Gosh. It's sick. Shocked
~*~ Amirah ~*~

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Re: The Cannibal Celebrity: Issei Sagawa

Post  tzuhui on Sun Aug 03, 2008 9:01 pm

Eww...No thank goodness this is just friction..

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Re: The Cannibal Celebrity: Issei Sagawa

Post  giselle on Tue Aug 05, 2008 12:30 am

naim, his 'your' friend not ours!!! felt so... after reading it.

This article shows the changing mindset of some people, who are uncertain of what is possession, mentally unstable and carries out actions that are definitely not socially accepted. Some questions can be asked on the causes of the changes that are occurring around the world(changing patterns). For this article what can be the cause? This man might have suffered devastating periods in his life or enduring stress and pressure from his surrounding which results his inhumane actions.

I also feel that the law and order in countries should be revise to obtain a common or at least of a similar punishment for same crimes. The law and order of countries should be uphold accordingly and not work though affliation, which in this case sets a murderer with mental disorder out in the society as the father has the 'authority'. If such murder cases are not given the attention it might have adverse effects on the society where crime rate might increase due to failure of deterrence, voices of victims will not be justified which might incur fear in the mind of potential victims. This shows the unstability of the society making the countries not safe to stay, where people might leave the country just for good. Also, foreign people would also avoid going to a country which is not safe, many economics aspects would be affect. Furthermore when a criminal is allow to roam freely around more than just his/her own country, it expands the possibility of crimes that could occur. Hence i would feel that the kind of punishment criminals received should tally with the crime they have done.

More questions can be asked on eg "should the government take up the full responsibility to 'educate' the criminals", "what kind of punishments are justified for the right crime" and also " how far should the criminals given the chance to be accepted by the society"

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