‘Lost in Perfection,’ the Mandarin crime thriller film, invites the audience on a psychological spiral of doubt and assumptions as a TV anchor gets caught up in a murder investigation against her father’s new girlfriend. The film follows Li-mei Huang, the daughter of a widower whose father becomes involved with Hsiu-ian Ho days before the latter faces accusations of a string of murders. Thus, as Hsiu-ian finds herself entering a legal battle to combat the public’s opinion of her as a love scammer, with the death of her former lovers as their winning proof, Li-mei enters a partnership with the prosecutor Guo-iun Lee to help him build a case against the other woman.
Although Li-mei helms the narrative as the protagonist, the film delivers ample attention to Hsiu-ian, whose indecipherable morals maintain the thematic resonance within the story. As such, given her criminal record as a convicted serial killer, dubbed “Unattractive Femme Fatale,” people must be curious to know whether or not the character holds any roots in reality. SPOILERS AHEAD!
Hsiu-ian Ho Harvests Inspiration From Kanae Kijima
Hsiu-ian Ho from ‘Lost in Perfection,’ is partially based on a real-life serial killer. The film’s writer/director, Hsin Yin Sung, reportedly based her film’s premise on the real-life case of Japanese serial killer Kanae Kijima. In order to remain well-informed about her source of inspiration, the filmmaker went through factual reports of Kijima’s case— a fact that shines through in her depiction of Hsiu-ian Ho, who evidently comes across as a character crafted in Kijima’s image.
Kijima’s run-in with the law began in 2009 when the authorities started suspecting her of murder after the death of Yoshiyuki Oide, her former lover. Although Oide’s death was assumed to be a suicide at first, the theory quickly disproved itself. Instead, the cops turned their suspicions toward Oide’s supposed fiance, Kijima, who received millions of Yen from the man before his death.
From there, suspicions emerged of Kijima’s past involvement in the death of her previous lover. The running theory remained that the woman was using her lovers for money before killing them through carbon monoxide poisoning, preceded by drugging through sleeping pills. As such, this particular killing method would have allowed Kijima to disguise the murders as suicides and slip away from the crime undetected.
Thus, Kijima saw her arrest in September 2009, with the media painting her as a calculating serial killer. According to reports, the woman routinely squeezed money out of her lovers, cementing the public’s beliefs of her monetary motives. Furthermore, she also had access to prescribed sleeping pills as well as items needed to orchestrate carbon monoxide poisoning bought over the internet. Still, according to BBC, much of the evidence found against her has reportedly been circumstantial.
Therefore, the parallels between Kijima and ‘Lost in Perfection’s’ Hsiu-ian remain evident. Yet, it’s important to note that the latter is used as a means to explore a specific narrative within the film. Director Hsin Yin Sung was interested in examining the media’s impact on such cases through her fictionalized story. For the same reason, Hsiu-ian takes the form of a nuanced character shrouded in moral ambiguity. For the same reason, the filmmaker’s tale allows a happier ending for its alleged serial killer, arguing in favor of Hsiu-ian’s innocence to complement Li-mei’s moral descension.
In real life, the law found Kijima guilty of her crimes, leaving little space for nuance. As such, Hsiu-ian’s character significantly departs from her real-life counterpart. Ultimately, Hsiu-ian, a compelling character, finds her origins in the real-life case of Kanae Kijima. Nevertheless, the former only mines partial inspiration from the latter.
What Happened to Kanae Kijima?
Ultimately, the court presiding over Kijima’s case found her guilty of her crimes in 2012, with the judge asserting there was no room for leniency in her case. Consequently, the Supreme Court rejected her final appeal in 2017. According to the last known reports, the woman is on death row, for which she has changed her last name to Doi.
Sources report that the woman has married twice since her arrest and is the mother of multiple children. Nevertheless, there has been no update made available about these family members, likely in an attempt to preserve their privacy. Kijima herself was last heard of from a detention center, from where she wrote, “I hope to see you again somewhere someday,” on a blog post.
Read More: Lost in Perfection Ending, Explained