Review of “The Last Smoker” (1987)
Tsutsui Yasutaka (writer).
Read in 2022.
Anti-smoking sentiment reaches a murderous pitch in the movement’s sixteenth year.
In this black comedy, anti-smoking activists eventually attack the protagonist as if they were zombies. There is a brief debate on the merits of smoking, but it’s all groupthink and blind assertions; no medical facts are referenced by either side and nobody comes out of it looking sympathetic. I conclude that the story is not an attempt to imagine the future. Instead, as the elaborate smoking-car scene on a train implies, the whole thing is a meditation on losing status, for any reason, even a good one.