The Laughing Salesman (Japanese: 笑ゥせぇるすまん Hepburn: Warau Serusuman) is a Japanese dark comedy/horror/fantasy/psychological thriller manga series created by Fujiko Fujio (best known for creating the Doraemon franchise). It began as a one-shot series serialized in Shogakukan's Big Comic magazine on 1968, later becoming a full-fledged series published by Jitsugyo no Nihon Sha's Manga Sunday magazine from 1969 to 1971.
The manga tells the story of a mysterious, smirking salesman named Moguro Fukuzo, whose job is to help people fill gaps in their souls. However, in reality, he ruins people's lives if his clients backstab him or never ask him for help in the first place.
The manga was quite popular, as in June 1999, the manga sold more than 3.5 million copies in Japan alone. The character has also appeared in 2 visual novel games of his own and has made a guest appearance in the 2012 game Girls RPG Cinderelife developed by Level-5 for the Nintendo 3DS.
It is notable in Japan as the only series by the "Fujiko Fujio" duo, Hiroshi Fujimoto and Motoo Abiko (Fujiko F. Fujio and Fujiko Fujio A), to be darker and more mature in its themes than their previous works, perhaps more mature than their very first work, UTOPIA the Final World War. An anime adaptation was produced by Shin-Ei Animation, directed by Yoshitomo Yonetani and written by Yasuo Tanami. It aired on TBS from October 17th, 1989, to March 24th, 1992, with a total of 103 episodes. A second anime adaptation was announced and aired on Tokyo MX from April 3rd, 2017, to June 19th, 2017.
Lost live-action TV series
A live action TV series adaptation was produced by TV Asahi, which stars Shirō Itō as Moguro Fukuzo. It aired from June 26 to September 18, 1999.
It is currently labeled as Lost Media due to only one of the 10 episodes (episode 8) being archived/recorded. Only the intro and a short clip along with this episode and an album of the series survive online. No true source is cited. The eighth episode also contains a preview for the ninth episode.
Plot of the series
In a society filled with people who do whatever with their lives, there are some who struggle with it or never achieved their goals. The story focuses on individuals who meet a shadowy and ominous salesman, Moguro Fukuzo (喪黒 福造), who promises them a better life if they follow his advice. However, the clients that Moguro meet often cheat, refuse to rely on his help, or worse - deny that they received assistance at all. When this invariably happens, Fukuzo punishes his clients by using their reliance on his aid against them. With their lives ruined, he is satisfied with his job and looks for more potential clients or victims, as the case may be.