List of Ring characters
This article lists the characters who have appeared in the Japanese Ring films, based on a series of novels written by Koji Suzuki. The series is made up of Ring, Rasen, Ring 2, Ring 0: Birthday and Sadako 3D. The films have also been adapted into the Korean film The Ring Virus, and the American series The Ring, Rings (2005), The Ring Two and Rings (2017). In television the first novel has been adapted into the television film Ring: Kanzenban as well as Ring: The Final Chapter a 12 episode series. A follow up series, Rasen was also made.
The books and films revolve around a mysterious video cassette which is said to curse those who watch it so that they will die within a week of viewing. The main characters discover this to be true and must solve the videotape's origins to save themselves and other characters from the deadly curse.
Kazuyuki Asakawa (浅川 和行 Asakawa Kazuyuki) is the lead character in the first novel of the series, Ring. He is married to Shizu Asakawa and they have a one-year-old daughter named Yoko. His best friend is Ryuji Takayama, a college professor and alleged rapist. After his wife's niece Tomoko dies and he comes across another boy who died on the same day on his motorbike, Asakawa tries to find out why which then links him to the cursed videotape. After watching it, he is left with just seven days to figure out how to break the curse. While Kazuyuki manages to narrowly escape the curse by showing Ryuji with a copy of the video tape, his daughter and wife are not, and they are both killed before they manage to pass the video to others. Kazuyuki himself is involved in a car accident that leaves him catatonic as the sole survivor for several weeks before he dies as well, as revealed in the second novel, Spiral.
In Ring: Kanzenban (1995), Asakawa is played by Katsunori Takahashi with little difference except for an unborn child rather than a one-year-old daughter. In the 1999 television series, Ring: The Final Chapter, he is played by Toshirô Yanagiba. In this carnation, he is a widow with a young son while Ryuji is not a friend of his and it is not speculated that the two have previously known each other. In the film series, Kazuyuki's role is played by Reiko Asakawa (浅川 玲子 Asakawa Reiko), who, other than the obvious gender change and her relationship with Ryuji, is otherwise unchanged from Kazuyuki's persona. The producers opted this because they felt a woman would have more appeal to box office audience.
Ryuji Takayama (高山 竜司 Takayama Ryūji) is a major character in the series, first appearing in Ring. In Ring, Ryūji Takayama is a strange man who claims to be an occasional rapist, and seems to fear nothing. As soon as Asakawa explains the story Ryūji believes him, and wants nothing other than to see the cursed videotape. Asakawa shows it to him, and although Ryūji remains nonchalant he agrees there is a powerful aura around the tape. He asks Asakawa to make him a copy to study at home, which Asakawa does. By the end, he and Asakawa believe they have solved the mystery surrounding the series' central character, Sadako Yamamura; the following day, however, Sadako's malignant spirit emerges from the tape and kills him. In Spiral a former medical school classmate, Ando, performs the autopsy on Ryūji. He discovers a bit of newspaper sticking out of Ryuji's stomach sutures, with two sets of numbers on it: "178" and "136". Later on, it is traced to a code, utilizing a sequence of Ryuji's DNA. The message contained was "mutation". Ando later discovers that Ryuji decided to join forces with Sadako, and is blackmailed by Sadako into bringing Ryuji back to life. Sadako and Ryuji then plot to spread the virus throughout the world using the diary of his dead friend, Asakawa.
In Loop, protagonist Kaoru Futami (二見 馨 Kaoru Futami) discovers that he is actually a clone of Ryuji, who realized he was living in an artificial world right before his death and asked the outside world to help him escape. Kaoru realises that he is the cure to the virus that afflicts his girlfriend Reiko and is implanted into the Loop; in order to obtain the cure to the virus to save his girlfriend, he has to die. When in the Loop, Kaoru is reborn through Sadako instead of Ryūji, and Kaoru from then on lives under the name of Ryuji Takayama. After six months of research, Kaoru/Ryuji creates a vaccine for the Ring virus, a sample of which he gives to Ando. The vaccine is then mass-produced, neutralizing the effects of the Ring virus. He also creates a virus designed to accelerate the Sadako clones' aging rate and kill them, ridding the Loop of Sadako Yamamura forever. However, the virus also affects Ryuji, and he eventually dies his second death. His last thoughts are of Reiko and her face, attempting to say "happy birthday". In the novel S, set twenty five years after the events of Ring, Ryuji has been reborn again and takes up the identity of Seiji Kashiwada (柏田 誠二 Seiji Kashiwada). He creates a video showing him killing himself, which the protagonist, Takanori Ando investigates at. It is later revealed that he is the father of Takanori's girlfriend, Akane Maruyama, through a woman who possessed Sadako's DNA.
In the film series, Ryuji is portrayed by Hiroyuki Sanada. In the films, Ryuji is nicer and is not implied to be a rapist like in the novel. He is also the ex-husband of protagonist Reiko Asakawa, which is the gender flipped version of Kazuyuki, Ryuji's best friend in the novel. Ryuji also possesses ESP powers similar to Sadako which he passes down to his family. Yoshio Harada portrays him in Ring: Kanzenban, while Tomoya Nagase portrays him in Ring: The Final Chapter. His second resurrected form, Seiji Kashiwada, is played by Yusuke Yamamoto in the adaptations of S, Sadako 3D and Sadako 3D 2; however, this version of Kashiwada is not connected to Ryuji, but instead a person whom Sadako uses in aid of her revival.
In the television series, Ryuji is instead a sociopathic occultist who is revealed to be the son of Sadako having been passed on her powers. His relationship with Asakawa is not close but rather exists in the purpose of solving the curse of the videotape.
Ryuji's counterpart in the American film series is Noah Clay, portrayed by Martin Henderson, while in the Korean version, his counterpart is Dr. Choi Yeol.
Mitsuo Ando (安藤 満男 Andō Mitsuo) is the protagonist of the second novel, Spiral. A forensics doctor and autopsy surgeon, Ando was friends with Ryuji Takayama in medical school before he turned to mathematics and has to perform an autopsy on his body. His young son Takanori died of an unknown illness. Ando and Ryuji's student Mai Takano destroy the original tape after he watches it to end Sadako's curse for good. However, it is revealed that both are manipulated by Ryuji, who is working with Sadako to ensure his survival; in return, he will help her resurrect Sadako. Ando is forced to agree to spread the curse as he already has sex with Sadako and caused the dormant Ring virus to reside in his body; in exchange, Sadako will resurrect Ando's son by making him reborn through her DNA. In the third novel, Loop, Ando receives a sample of a vaccine for Ring virus which he mass-produces to finally neutralize all viruses in their artificial world, Loop. In the film Rasen, Ando is played by Kōichi Satō.
Takanori Ando (安藤 孝則 Andō Takanori) is the protagonist of the fifth novel of the series, S. He is the eldest son of Mitsuo, a forensics doctor and protagonist of the novel Spiral. Takanori once died of illness that led to Mitsuo becoming almost suicidal. As part of the agreement to help Sadako spread the Ring virus, she promises Mitsuo that she will resurrect Takanori through her DNA. Fast forward to twenty five years later, the 28-year-old Takanori is now an image processing specialist who works at a CG company. He is also in a relationship with Akane Maruyama, who is pregnant with his child. After being handed a USB drive by his boss, he notices a video of a man named Seiji Kashiwada who killed himself. His investigations led him discovering about Kashiwada's true self, Ryuji Takayama, and his connections with Akane and the Ring virus.
In the film series, Takanori is portrayed by Ryuichi Sugahara in Rasen and Kōji Seto in Sadako 3D and Sadako 3D 2. Unlike in the novel S, which has him as the protagonist, he is only a supporting character in the novel's adaptations, although he still played major roles; the role of protagonists are instead given to his girlfriend, Akane, and his younger sister, Fuko, in Sadako 3D and Sadako 3D 2, respectively.
Sadako Yamamura (山村 貞子 Yamamura Sadako) is the primary antagonist in most novels in the series, although she is the protagonist in the short story "Lemonheart" in the anthology novel Birthday. Sadako is born hermaphrodite (she has the body of a woman but possesses a male and female genitalia). She is the daughter of psychic Shizuko Yamamura; it is never known who her actual father was, although Sadako is hinted to be the daughter of an oceanic deity, making her a quasi-oceanic demigod. She has the ability to project imagery onto a digital recording, most notably the iconic cursed videotape.
In the film series, Sadako is not hermaphrodite but fully female. She is portrayed by Ayane Miura in Ring: Kanzenban, Rie Inō in Ring and Ring 2, Hinako Saeki in Rasen, Yukie Nakama in Ring 0: Birthday, Tae Kimura in the TV series Ring: The Final Chapter and Rasen, and Ai Hashimoto in Sadako 3D and Sadako 3D 2.
Sadako has counterparts in remakes from other countries. In the American film series, Sadako's counterpart is Samara Morgan, played by Daveigh Chase in The Ring, Kelly Stables in The Ring Two and Bonnie Morgan in Rings (2017), while in the Korean version, her counterpart is Park Eun-Suh, played by actress Bae Doona.
- Yoko Asakawa (浅川 陽子) - Kazuyuki Asakawa's one-year-old daughter. She becomes involved when she is accidentally cursed by watching the cursed videotape that Kazuyuki brought home with. Despite Kazuyuki managing to save himself, he is too late to save Yoko and his wife, Shizu, and they both died from the curse. In the film series as well as television series, Yoko's character is played by Yoichi Asakawa (浅川 陽一), portrayed by Rikiya Otaka and Yûta Fukagawa respectively. Unlike in the novel, Yoichi in the film is about seven years old and has much more involvement in the story as he is revealed to possess ESP powers from his father, Ryuji, and Sadako's possession of him becomes a major plot point in Ring 2. In the television series Yoichi is a toddler instead of a seven-year-old.
- Shizu Asakawa (浅川 静 Asakawa Shizu) - Kazuyuki Asakawa's wife. Like Yoko, she becomes involved when she and Yoko watch the cursed tape that Kazuyuki brought home with. This makes Kazuyuki determined to solve the curse not only for his sake but for his family as well. However, both Shizu and Yoko die from the curse before Kazuyuki is able to copy the tape and show it to someone else. Unlike Yoko, Shizu has no counterpart in the film series due to the change of the protagonist's gender and the subsequent merging of Shizu's role as a spouse with Ryuji.
- Jotaro Nagao (長尾 城太郎 Nagao Jōtarō) - A young doctor who was responsible for tossing Sadako down the well in the novels. He raped Sadako, passing on the smallpox strand that would become the virus in the cursed tape. He discovered she had Testicular Feminization Syndrome after raping her and threw her down the well. He is played by Kei Yamamoto in the television series and Tomorowo Taguchi in Ring: Kanzenban.
- Shizuko Yamamura (山村 志津子 Yamamura Shizuko) - Sadako's mother. Shizuko gave birth to Sadako under mysterious circumstances. She possessed the power of foresight, which was eventually put on display by Doctor Ikuma and Shizuko's cousin Takashi for the press. However, one journalist mocked Shizuko and labelled her a fraud. He was murdered by a young Sadako. Shizuko eventually went insane, spending hours on end standing in front of a mirror combing her hair. She predicted the eruption of a nearby volcano on Oshima Island, and her prediction came true the day she committed suicide by leaping into the volcano. She was played by actress Masako.
- Her American counterpart is split into two characters:Anna Morgan, played by Shannon Cochran. She was a famous horse breeder but suffered from hallucinations caused by Samara, leading to her trapping Samara down a well. She committed suicide moments after by falling off a cliff. The second one is Samara's biological mother, Evelyn, played by Sissy Spacek. She tried to drown Samara as an infant and has been living in a mental institution ever since.
- Doctor Heihachiro Ikuma (伊熊 平八郎 Ikuma Heihachirō) - Shizuko's lover and Sadako's stepfather. In the books, he had an affair with Shizuko whilst working as a professor at Tokyo University. He gained tuberculosis after Shizuko's suicide whilst to activate possible psychic powers of his own and was hospitalsied for many years. In the films, he cared for Sadako but locked her evil twin away for years. He eventually tossed her down the well after both girls reunited and killed numerous people. He died shortly after. He was played by Daisuke Ban.
- Takashi Yamamura (山村 敬 Yamamura Takashi) - Shizuko's cousin, Takashi was responsible for setting up Shizuko's public demonstration and was the catalyst for the events following to Sadako's imprisonment in the well. In Ring 2, he shows regret for his actions and allows Sadako's ghost to kill him. Played by Yoichi Numata.
- Mai Takano (高野 舞 Takano Mai) - Ryuji Takayama's student and possibly girlfriend, Mai has a minor role in the first novel and film but finds his body after Sadako kills him. She was played by Miki Nakatani in the films. Her character role differs between the sequels. In Spiral and Rasen, Mai helps Ando Mitsuo investigate what truly killed Ryuji and learns of the tape and Sadako. The two end up sleeping together, leading to Sadako's resurrection, Mai used as an incubator for Sadako in her fertile stage and is killed. Her body is oddly found in a pipe by the authorities. In Ring 2, Mai investigates Ryuji's death and learns of the tape, etc. However, she becomes attached to Reiko and Yoichi and helps them flee the police, but Reiko is hit by a truck and dies. Mai becomes Yoichi's guardian and looks after him. At the end of Ring 2, Mai and Yoichi are involved in an experiment by Dr. Kawajiri to remove Sadako's powers from the boy. The experiment goes awry and everyone present save Mai and Yoichi die, who end up in the well but escape thanks to Ryuji and Sadako allowing them to leave.
- Tomoko Oishi (大石 智子 Ōishi Tomoko) and Masami Kurahashi (倉橋 雅美 Kurahashi Masami) - A pair of girls seen at the start of the novel and film, the two discuss the rumours of the cursed tape which turn out to be true. Tomoko watched the tape a week ago in the Izu County with three others, and is killed by Sadako, while Masami witnessed the death and went mad, ending up in hospital. Tomoko's death starts the plot when her uncle, Kazuyuki Asakawa, decides to investigate the cursed tape in the place she found it. In Ring 2, Mai encounters Masami in hospital and she is used by Doctor Kawajiri in his first attempt to destroy Sadako's powers but is killed in the process. They are played by Yuko Takeuchi and Hitomi Sato.
- Kenzo Yoshino (吉野 賢三 Yoshino Kenzō) - A 35-year-old journalist who is associated with Kazuyuki. Yoshino works in Yokosuka, Kanagawa and helps Kazuyuki and Ryuji investigate the origins of the cursed videotape, following Kazuyuki's instructions and learns of Sadako's past. In Spiral and Rasen, he continues to investigate Sadako's background and meets the elderly Hiroshi Toyama. He cameos in the first film, and has a prominent role in the retconned Rasen, where he comes into possession of Reiko's journal, which carries the Ring Virus, and he is eventually killed by it.
- Reiko Sugiura (杉浦 礼子 Sugiura Reiko) - Kaoru Futami's girlfriend, Reiko is a carrier of the MHC virus; although she does not contract the virus itself, she passed it to her only son by her deceased husband, Ryoji Sugiura (杉浦 亮次 Sugiura Ryōji), who commits suicide upon learning that his mother has slept with Kaoru and eventually become pregnant by him. Kaoru's motivation to find a cure in the Loop world is to be able to liberate Reiko of the virus; as he dies in the artificial world; his last thoughts are of Reiko, attempting to say "happy birthday".
- Toru Amano (天野 徹 Amano Tōru) - A microbiologist who worked for the Loop project before it was ultimately scrapped because of the mutation of the MHC virus. In Loop, he explains to Kaoru Futami the origins of the Loop project and helps him find a cure for the virus.
- Hiroshi Toyama (遠山 博 Tōyama Hiroshi) - Sadako's lover. Working as the sound operator in the acting troupe Sadako joined, Toyama learnt of her nensha powers but accepted them, promising to run away with her. Unfortunately, an early form of Sadako's curse started killing troupe members and Sadako fled to avoid killing Toyama. Years on, an elderly Toyama is on his deathbed but is visited by the resurrected Sadako who eases his passing, promising that they will be together in death. In the film prequel Ring 0, Toyama is dating Etsuko Tachihara but leaves her for Sadako. He is killed by the reunited forms of Sadako, who is unable to recognise friend from foe.
- Akane Maruyama (丸山 茜 Maruyama Akane) - Takanori Ando's girlfriend. She is twenty four years old high school teacher and is pregnant with his child. After Takanori receives a USB file containing the suicide video of Seiji Kashiwada, she becomes drawn by a force to watch it. It is later revealed that Akane is in fact Ryuji Takayama's daughter, born from his relationship with a woman who possessed Sadako's DNA. In the film adaptations of S, Sadako 3D and Sadako 3D 2, Akane is portrayed by Satomi Ishihara. Unlike in the novel, Akane is protagonist of Sadako 3D, taking it over from Takanori, and her connection with Ryuji is not present. Instead, Akane possesses special psychic power that makes her becoming targeted by Sadako to be her vessel. Her surname is also changed to Ayakawa (鮎川)
- Okazaki (岡崎) - A journalist who works alongside Reiko Asakawa. He only appears in the film series. Okazaki has a brief role in the first film, but reappears in Ring 2 investigating Reiko's disappearance and helps Mai for a part of the film. He gets a copy of the tape from a girl named Kanae Sawaguchi who he promises to save after she watches the tape, but lies and allows her to die. This comes back to literally haunt him as Kanae's ghost stalks him until he ends up in hospital.
- "S". J'Lit. Retrieved April 13, 2014.