The cursed commercial… or not

I heard my wife talking the other day about this Japanese Kleenex commercial back from the 80’s that supposedly is cursed. The whole thing sounds totally ripped off from the movie Ring or Poltergeist.

So the story is this commercial for Kleenex tissues was shown on Japanese TV back in 1986 or so. It features an actress in a white dress sitting next to a child made up to look like a baby ogre. There is a really creepy song in a foreign language that when researched, is actually an old German folk song with the words “Die, die, everyone is cursed and will be killed.” Soon after the debut of the commercial, alot of people complained that it was creepy, or 気持ち悪い, and it was quickly pulled off the air. Soon after though, accidents started to befall the actors and crew of the commercial, including the child playing the baby ogre dying of sudden organ failure, the actress being committed to a mental institution where she is either still there, or at some point hung herself (depending on the version of the story). You can see where this is going, it’s pretty much a standard urban legend. Just like the movie Ring, anyone who sees the commercial will have anything from bad luck to a violent death, etc. BTW, research on this got me to the Japanese word for urban legend: 都市伝説. It’s literally just ‘urban legend’, which is very boring. I was hoping for something like 現代怪談 (modern-day horror story) or something, oh well.

Pumping my wife for further information was prettly useless, since she was totally buying the whole story and didn’t want to talk about it or she wouldn’t be able to sleep that night. So I was on my own. Unfortunately there is no easy equivalent of in Japanese. Fortunately though, a google search quickly gave me this site, which gives a long and methodical explanation of all the versions of the urban legend and then debunks them one by one. It didn’t have any links to the actual commercial though, which is what I was interested in if I was going to invoke the wrath of the little baby ogre ghost and all. While google video and YouTube came up empty, there is fortunately a similar type of site more prevalent in Japan called fileman. On there I found a video of the cursed commercial.

To say the least, I was not impressed by the lack of spookiness in this commercial. Not only was the little ogre-kid cute and the lady pretty, the song is in English, and is called “It’s a fine day” by Miss Jane. The ‘accursed’ lyrics are:

It’s a fine day
People open windows
They leave their houses
Just for a short while
They walk by the grass
And they look at the grass
They look at the sky
It’s going to be a fine night tonight
It’s going to be a fine day tomorrow

Not really the kind of lyrics that people associate with curses and fatal accidents. I’ll give the rumormongers that it is in a minor key and the song could sound a little strange if you didn’t understand the lyrics. Also, of course, there haven’t been any string of accidents or deaths among the people associated with the commercial. In fact, the actress in the commercial is a woman by the name of Keiko Matsuzaka 松坂慶子 and she is still working as an actress and is active in Japanese celebrity circles. Other interesting roles of hers are that of Princess Fuse in the 1983 movie production of the Hakkenden, and next year she will have a role in 犬神家の一族 The house of Inugami (dog spirit). This sounds like a horror/thriller to me, so those looking for her in a horror role will finally be rewarded, I suppose.

Also, there was a second Kleenex commercial called 天使編 (angel version) that viewed around the same time as the original 赤鬼編 (red demon version). I actually find the music in the angel version much creepier than the red demon version, reminding me of the bizarre music in Ghost in the Shell.

Update: I went ahead and uploaded the two commercials to YouTube. The links are here and here.

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8 Responses to The cursed commercial… or not

  1. John says:

    I hadn’t heard of this before, but the Japanese seem to be bigger suckers of urban legends than even Americans. Look at all the shows with “ghost pictures”, exorcisms, and psychic messages from the dead. The best one of these shows is hosted by Beat Takeshi and is called…Unbelievable.

  2. Rita says:

    I agree. The angel version scared me. It sounds like there’s a scream at the end.

  3. neil says:

    hmmmm… atleast it was cleared that there are nothing special about this commercial.

  4. hey says:

    It’s the Bulgarian Women’s Choir on the second song. It is beautiful music, but can be chilling. This is great, by the way, thanks a lot.

  5. Alexandra says:

    I agree, the angel commercial was far more creepy than this one. The first time I watched this, I was freaked out, but the fourth time I saw it, I thought it was cute! There is no way this is cursed.

  6. kleenex tissue. of course they need a commercial as an easy way of endorsement. the only thing is, why they are(specifically the commercial producer)fun of making the commercial of an tissue creepy? why?

  7. Zawqete says:

    @epifanio lepsie:

    I’d guess the ad agency was trying to play off the popularity of Urusei Yatsura’s Ten-chan (an ogre-kid prone to getting crushes on older women) without being so similar as to constitute copyright infringement.

    They lacked the deftness of Urusei Yatsura’s creators, though, and wound up with a result that was creepy rather than cute.

  8. Matt says:

    The trick is to play both YouTube videos at the same time. The angelic choir over the lilting lyrics of the ‘ogre’ video really tips it over the edge.

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