IMG_0613“Ballad: Namonaki Koi no Uta” is a new Japanese movie that has opened this month in cinemas, and is taking reasonably good returns. It’s unusual in that it’s a live action samurai-period movie that also features one of Japan’s best-loved cartoon characters, the obnoxious little brat called Crayon Shin-chan. It’s also notable for a much darker, somber reason; the film appears to be … cursed.
The timeline of bizarre events in the film’s production goes like this. In October 2008, location filming on the island of Kyushu is hit by bad weather, resulting in tractors and bulldozers required to ferry samurai and their horses through the mud (an image that would make a good movie in itself).
November 2008: Shinichi Yokoyama, an employee of the film production company, is seriously injured in an explosion when mixing gunpowder at his house-cum-factory in Shibuya, Tokyo. The gunpowder was scheduled to be used as ammunition for the actors’ muskets. Yokoyama’s wife and mother are killed in the explosion.
April 2009: The star of the movie, actor and singer Tsuyoshi Kusanagi from superstar boy-band SMAP, is arrested after being found drunk, disorderly, and naked in a park in Roppongi, Tokyo. Police reported he had no memory or explanation for his actions.
September 2009: Yoshihito Usui, the creator of the Crayon shin-chan manga, goes missing in the mountains between Gunma and Nagano prefectures. His body was found September 20th at the bottom of a cliff, and an autopsy showed he appeared to have accidentally fallen to his death. Even more macabre is that the last photo in his camera is of a view looking down from the top of the cliffside path – it appears he was in the process of taking the photo when he slipped and fell.
A curse? Or a bizarre chain of unlikely coincidences?
You decide.