If you’re a Japanese samurai movie buff, you know that there’s always at least one guy who dies in the most peculiar manner. He’s stabbed, or slashed, or sliced with a Samurai sword, and then he twists into weird shapes before he keels over and dies. Well, now you get to know the man himself – Seizo Fukumoto. He’s been dying in Japanese cinema for over 50 years now, and he’s one of the top ‘kirareyaku’ actors – stuntmen who specialize in being killed by the hero samurai.
Being the bad guy who always gets might not sound like much, but Fukumoto says that it’s a crucial part in the movie. “The way my characters die has a huge impact on the impression the lead character gives in a film.” The more ‘cringe-worthy’ the death, the better the hero looks. According to the 71-year-old thespian, a true kirareyaku is “the one who can make them ask, ‘Is he okay?’”
He deliberately adds an awkward grotesqueness to his movements while dying; this is called ‘buzama’ in Japanese. “Whenever we die, we have to do it in a way that is unsightly or clumsy, not graceful,” he explained. “In this buzama, we find beauty. To die in an uncool way is the coolest.”