A Different Kind of Luck

In Bullet Train, Brad Pitt plays a rather unlucky assassin. From freak accidents spoiling his jobs to getting chased, stabbed, and shot for all the wrong reasons, code name “Ladybug” seems to stumble from one mess into the next.

When he tries to explain the irony of being named after a supposedly lucky animal to an old man on his Shinkansen train, the elder offers a different perspective: “Do you know what they call a ladybug in Japan? ‘Tentoumushi.’ As a boy, I was told there is a spot on its back for each of the seven sorrows of the world.”

The Japanese kanji for “tentou” spell “heaven path.” It is an allusion to the path traveled by the gods — fate. “You see,” the old man continues, “tentoumushi is not lucky. It holds all the bad luck so that others may live in peace.”

What if your good luck is just bad luck avoided? What if your bad luck is a service to someone else? Perhaps it’s all destined to unfold exactly as it does. That’s the lesson Ladybug learns from the stranger on the train: “Maybe it is just about how we frame it. Like, how do you know it’s a bad thing?”

If you think you’re having bad luck, give it a day, a month, or a year. What seems like a tragedy at one point might prove to be a blessing at another. What feels like being a beetle stuck on its back might prove to be a disaster averted.

As for Ladybug, chaos may ensue wherever he goes, but in the end, he usually comes out unscathed. “Maybe there’s no bad luck or good luck,” he eventually concludes. “Maybe we’re all just agents of fate.”