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Opinion: VICE’s chilling ‘Interview with a Cannibal’ leaves viewers cautious, angry

It still eludes me how this video managed to pop up on my YouTube feed, and I am still not exactly sure what led me to click on it. I usually don’t have a stomach for the morbid, gory details of real-life crimes. The title, “Interview with a Cannibal”, stood out like a sore thumb amongst my typical light-hearted subscriptions, and after careful consideration, I made my questionable decision. Aware that I was signing away any possibility of pleasant dreams that night, I proceeded to ignore the “viewer discretion is advised” warning and watched the entire 30 minute video.

The content was horrifying, to say the least. Seeing the small Japanese man, Issei Sagawa, talk about his macabre crime in such detail sent chills throughout my body. In short, Sagawa murdered a 25-year-old Dutch woman while in Paris, 1981. He was charged with first-degree murder and cannibalism. Sagawa was then deported to Japan, where he stayed in an asylum until shortly released. 

As I perused the comments section of the video, I discovered that a vast majority of the viewers felt just like me after watching: angry. How could this man, who committed such a heinous crime, be allowed to roam free? It turns out that the charges made in Paris had been dropped, which prohibited the Japanese government from making a case against him. Sagawa was, and is to this day, a free man.

But Sagawa’s crime was committed decades ago, so why talk about it now? Well, VICE Media’s interview with this troubled man highlights the importance of staying cautious. Realize that anybody can have bad intentions. Sagawa’s victim met with him to work on a project and was initially a trusted peer. However, it is important for people (especially young women) to be cautious of their surroundings.

The video itself is obviously trying to frighten the viewers, and it does its job almost too well. The eerie close-ups and the blunt but terrifying translations of Sagawa’s words left me frozen to my chair. I wouldn’t recommend this video to younger audiences because of the graphic content, but VICE did a good job of featuring Sagawa’s story. The personal interview with Sagawa himself added to the shock effect of the video while also allowing viewers to understand what goes on inside of his mind. It is safe to say that VICE sufficiently satisfied those who have a morbid curiosity with Sagawa’s terrifying story.