Hibari's Tale of Pathos

Director: Watanabe Kunio
Year: 1962
Duration: 86 minutes

On the rural island of Sado, which lies west of Niigata, is a legend of two lovers named Omitsu and Gosaku. Gosaku was an outsider who had landed ashore on the island nearly dead and been nursed back to health by Omitsu and her father, but locals were not suppose to fall in love with those from outside and Omitsu sings “Don’t love a man from another land. You’ll end up crying like the crow.” According to legend, once Gosaku returned to the mainland a heartbroken Omitsu paddled the 60 kilometers from the island to Kashiwazaki in an open tub boat to be with her lover. On occasion people today still take up this challenge to see if they can do it. From this quick foreword, the film jumps into the present (1962) and a reenactment of the legend happens once again.

Kimie (Hibari Misora) is a tour guide in a jaunty cap who takes visitors to the island’s most scenic places (though likely skipping the mines where I read Japan used slave labor during WWII and felons before that) and often would break into song to entertain the guests. A big shot businessman Mr. Akiyama from Tokyo is on the island to consider building a big resort and vacation spot on the island and the local yakuza very much want him to as they are buying up land in hopes that they can make a financial killing. Akiyama leaves his son Shinje behind to check things out, but Shinje primarily wants to check out Kimie who he falls for instantly. Complications intrude their ugly heads into this simple love story as the head of the Ono gang also has his eye on Kimie and has a hold as well – Kimie’s unfilial brother has joined the gang and her father is deeply in debt to them. They urge her strongly to persuade Shinje to buy their land to build the resort and when this doesn’t go according to plan Kimie needs to escape them by boarding a small boat in a raging storm to make it to the mainland. This was an enjoyable little film primarily for Hibari, but also for good side characters such as Otaki the mistress of Ono and the brother who eventually of course is brought back into the family fold.

My rating for this film: 6.0