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Literature / Now Youre One Of Us

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Now You're One of Us is a 1993 mystery/thriller novel by Asa Nonami. An English translation by Michael and Mitsuko Volek was published in 2007.

Newlywed Noriko Shito has spent the past two months living with her husband Kazuhito's extended family, and she couldn't be happier. Her new relatives are always happy and always treat her kindly, their business is thriving, and they live comfortably on a large estate in the suburbs of Tokyo. Everything seems perfect until Noriko begins noticing little things that don't add up about her in-laws. Everyone downplays her suspicions, nobody will answer her questions, and Norkio begins questioning whether she can even trust her own senses or whether something very sinister is happening in her new home.

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Contains examples of:

  • Ambiguous Disorder: Takeharu has some unnamed mental disorder, though based on his behavior he seems like he might be somewhere on the autism spectrum. It's later stated that at least one of Fumie and Matsuzo's other children had such a mental illness too. This is attributed to said children being products of incest.
  • Babies Ever After: By the end of the novel, Noriko is pregnant. It is NOT a happy ending.
  • Big, Screwed-Up Family: The Shitos have nine people across four generations living in one household, and Noriko begins to suspect that they have many dark secrets.
  • Break the Cutie: The novel is one breaking scenario for Noriko after another. Her friend Tomomi ends up going through the same process at the end.
  • Brother–Sister Incest: Early on, Noriko catches her husband's siblings Ayano and Takeharu in the bath together and suspects something untoward. She's correct, but Ayano turns out to be adopted, making them Not Blood Siblings. Double Subverted in that her mother and father-in-law, Kimie and Takeo, are actually siblings, as are their parents Fumie and Matsuzo. Parental Incest also seems to be practiced by the family.
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  • Disappeared Dad: Despite the Shitos' fixation on family, great-grandma Ei's husband is never mentioned in detail. He presumably passed away at some point before the book's events.
  • Downer Ending: Noriko breaks under the family's emotional manipulation and constant use of drugs to keep her compliant, allows them to induct her into the family in a gross orgy, and in the end helps them begin doing the same thing to her friend Tomomi after killing Tomomi's boyfriend.
  • Gaslighting: As things progress, Noriko grows less and less sure of her perception of reality, helped along by her in-laws' treatment of her.
  • Henpecked Husband: Takeo to Kimie.
  • Hope Spot: Tomomi's visit towards the end of the book and Noriko slipping that Matsuzo had been faking his disability leads the reader to think that Tomomi might catch on to what's happening and find a way to help her escape. Nope.
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  • More Than Mind Control: It's unclear who, if anyone in the family has a will of their own outside of Ei's directives, and they all seem perfectly happy that way. By the end, Noriko has bought into it too, broken down by their abuse and her isolation.
  • Never Suicide: Noriko quickly suspects that her in-laws' tenant who apparently killed himself and his family was actually murdered, and wonders if her husband's family could be the culprits. They are, and it only gets worse from there.
  • Obfuscating Disability: Ei and Matsuzo, as part of the ploy to bring Noriko into the family.
  • Only Friend: Tomomi seems to be this for Noriko. They went to high school together and hadn't really seen each other for years until Noriko got married, but Noriko never sees anyone else outside her family and makes no mention of even having any other friends.
  • Pater Familicide: The main plot is kicked off by an old man that Noriko meets in the first chapter committing suicide and killing his own family by blowing their house up with a gas explosion, though she quickly begins to doubt that it was actually his doing.
  • Perfectly Arranged Marriage: Noriko and Kazuhito met through a matchmaker, and while she's unsure about him to begin with, things seem to be going this direction at first.
  • Sanity Slippage: Noriko, thanks to her isolation from anyone besides the Shitos, their continuing to act like everything is normal even in the face of her questions, and the fact that she's constantly being drugged.
  • Slipping a Mickey: After Noriko freaks out, her husband and father-in-law make her drink drugged tea to calm her down. The whole family starts drugging her with psychedelic mushrooms to keep her in line and mess with her perception of time.
  • Stepford Smiler: One of the first things that Noriko notes about her in-laws is that everyone seems happy and content at all times, no matter what's happening, and as time goes on, it becomes clear that it's not all genuine.
  • Title Drop: Variations of the titular phrase are said to Noriko throughout the book, in progressively sinister contexts.
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