Junji Ito’s Lovesickness has been partially adapted into an episode of Junji Ito’s Collection and into a live-action film, Love Ghost or Lovesick Dead. But who is The Crossroads Boy, and what does he want?
Does he hate Ryusuke, and what does fortune-telling have to do with suicide and angry ghosts? If you haven’t read Lovesickness: Junji Ito Story Collection, this review will only focus on the Lovesickness chapters.
The first five stories in the book are The Beautiful Boy at the Crossroads, A Woman in Distress, Shadow, Screams in the Night, and The Boy in White.
If you’ve seen The Junji Ito Collection, you already know how the story starts. Ryusuke and his parents move back to Nazumi after being away for eight years due to his father’s job.
Ryusuke isn’t pleased to be back, but he soon reconnects with Midori, his first crush, and the two hit it off. But things begin to become strange right away.
There’s a type of fortune-telling unique to Nazumi. The manga calls it Crossroads Fortune, and it has simple rules.
You stand at a crossroads and ask the first person to appear to tell you your fortune. Some hide their face, but the most effective time to do this is when it’s foggy.
And the most popular fortune is romance. But sometimes, when the fog is incredibly thick, a boy dressed in black will appear, and his fortunes drive women crazy.
Ryusuke doesn’t want anything to do with the Crossroads Fortune-Telling, but he’s soon dragged into it when we learn about his past. When he was six, Ryusuke fought with his mother about having to move and leave his friends.
He storms out of his house and encounters a woman seeking a fortune. She tells him she’s having an affair with a married man, but she’s pregnant, and he doesn’t want her to keep the baby.
Ryusuke, being six and in a bad mood, didn’t want to listen to a stranger’s problems, and told her she’d never win the man back. Later that night, Ryusuke feels guilty and heads back to where he left the woman.
Only to see that she killed herself with a box cutter. Ryusuke finds out that the woman is Midori’s aunt and feels he doesn’t deserve to be with her.
But while he tries to make things right by giving people positive fortunes, Midori’s best friend encounters The Crossroads Boy, and he tells her to think about what she wants instead of her friends.
The difference between love and obsession!
Over the five chapters, we see Ryuseke dealing with increasingly complex situations. First, he has to deal with Midori’s best friend until she commits suicide.
Then people begin saying Ryuseke is The Crossroads Boy! Someone even sticks thumbtacks into his earlobes, and hordes of women start stalking him.
He eventually has to run away to escape his stalkers, but the police treat him as a suspect because people claim he’s behind the surge of suicides. Yet, Midori finds him, and Ryusuke tells her about her aunt’s death.
Midori encounters The Crossroads Boy, and he tells her to hate Ryusuke for the rest of her life. She then proceeds to condemn Ryusuke and attempts to stop The Crossroads Boy.
But the dead girls still love The Crossroads Boy, and Ryusuke somehow transforms into The Boy in White. He also tells fortunes, but his are positive, and the ending panels have a satisfying conclusion.
There’s room for more chapters, but it feels complete as well. I read the manga and watched the movie on the same day.
Both tell decent stories, but the movie holds very little in common with the manga. Midori is the new girl, and the fortune-telling has different rules.
The Junji Ito Collection is the closest adaptation to the manga, but if you like ghost stories with bittersweet endings. But Lovesick Dead or Love Ghost isn’t a bad way to spend a couple of hours.