Reiko Asakawa

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Reiko Asakawa (浅川 玲子?, Asakawa Reiko) is a character in the 1998 film adaptation of Koji Suzuki's novel Ring, published in 1991, portrayed by Nanako Matsushima. She also plays important roles in Ring 2 and Rasen. She was adapted from Suzuki's original protagonist, Kazuyuki Asakawa, who was originally male. Producers changed the character's gender because they felt that a woman would be more appealing to the box office audience.

Ringu[edit]

Reiko Asakawa is a single mother in her mid-twenties who struggles to juggle both her job as an investigative journalist and raising her seven-year-old son, Yoichi. After her niece Tomoko dies under mysterious conditions, she investigates the death and discovers that three of Tomoko's friends also died the same way, on the same day and at the same time. This connects to another story Reiko has been doing, the cursed videotape rumor centred on teenage girls. The urban legend, which started in Izu, claims that, "within seven days of watching a normal videotape, you receive a phone call, saying you will die in a horrible and painful way".

After learning her niece had stayed in Izu, Reiko travels to Izu and discovers the videotape at the resort cabin Tomoko had been staying at. She watches the video and receives a strange phone call. Deciding to take the threat of death seriously, she calls Ryuji Takayama, her scientist ex-husband and father of her child to help her. Ryuji also has ESP, similar to the supernatural instincts that Reiko herself also demonstrates, but to a larger extent. Reiko makes Ryuji a copy of the tape and he watches the video, promising to help her figure who made the videotape and why.

They study the images of the videotape and discover several things: the face of a woman named "Shizuko Yamamura", the sign "sada", the word "eruption" and words "play in salt water, monster will come." During the investigations, Yoichi happens upon the tape and watches it. This action gives Reiko and Ryuji the extra motivation to figure out the riddle of the curse. Their investigations lead them to Oshima Island and Shizuko's family home. It is then they discover that Shizuko had a daughter: Sadako.

Sadako was the daughter of Shizuko Yamamura and her scientist lover, Dr. Heihachiro Ikuma. Just like the Takayama/Asakawa family, the Yamamura Family had ESP. Ikuma peddled the theory that some humans possess supernatural powers, such as ESP. Shizuko possessed these powers, as did Sadako. At a public demonstration, Shizuko supposedly killed one of the reporters watching, but Sadako was, in fact, the culprit. Reiko and Ryuji realise that Sadako’s powers went far beyond her mother’s; so much, that the people who knew her considered her to be a monster. This leads them to believe that Sadako created the videotape.

Reiko realises that the phone did not ring when Ryuji and Yoichi watched the tape, but it did when she watched it. After threading everything together, Reiko and Ryuji return to the holiday resort and discover a well, as seen in the video, under the cabin Reiko and Tomoko had both stayed at. Ryuji climbs down the well and they try to empty the well enough to look for Sadako's body, believing that if they find Sadako's body and lay her to rest, they will break the curse and save Yoichi. However, Reiko's deadline approaches, and she becomes too tired to pull up the buckets of water from the well. Ryuji decides it's time to trade places, so he tells her to go down the well and he can pull the buckets up instead. Reiko goes down the well but decides to look for Sadako rather than help empty the well. She feels around the bottom and discovers a chunk of Sadako's hair, and rather than her finding Sadako, Sadako finds her, as her hand grabs her wrist as she had in the vision. However, Reiko does not panic and finds that it is merely the skeleton remains of Sadako's body. The deadline passes and Reiko appears to be saved.

However, the next day, Reiko calls Ryuji and hears his death over the phone and rushes to his house in an attempt to help him. By the time she gets to his apartment, however, he has already died. It had turned out that Sadako crawled out of his TV and killed him; thus meaning that the curse was not broken from Ryuji. Reiko is distraught, and realises that if Ryuji has now died, Yoichi will probably die too. Unable to understand how it is possible she is alive and Ryuji is dead, she almost gives up hope. However, Ryuji's spirit appears in the form of the towel-headed man and guides her towards the shocking truth; she survived because she showed Ryuji the tape and copied the videotape. Realising what she has to do, Reiko gathers up her things and drives to her father's house with the intention of showing him the tape.

Ring 2/Rasen[edit]

In Ring 2, after the death of his father, Yoichi has started to become more and more like Sadako and is unable to speak. Reiko and Yoichi go into hiding from the authorities but are tracked down by Mai Takano, one of Ryuji's students, and she promises to help Reiko solve the problem with Yoichi. However, when another person dies from the curse of the videotape, Mai tells the police about Reiko and they arrest her. Scientists plan to do tests on Yoichi to test his level of ESP. Yoichi cries out to Reiko in a panic. When the policemen call Yoichi a "monster", Yoichi launches a physic attack on two doctors. The police chase the two of them and they try to escape. While trying to cross a road, Reiko falls into one of her terrible visions; her father telling her that Yoichi is not himself anymore. She did not have enough time to escape; she is hit by a truck and is killed. The shock of seeing his mother killed prompts Yoichi to nearly kill one of the policemen. It appears that Reiko's spirit is watching him still and Yoichi is saved from Sadako by the spirit of his father Ryuji.

Although she does not appear onscreen in Rasen, Reiko plays an important role in the outcome of the film. After she and Yoichi turn up dead following a car crash, her superior Yoshino finds both the videotape and Reiko's diary in her car. Following Reiko's death, many people begin to die after a week as they did after watching the video. While the hero, Andou, thinks that it is the video causing the deaths, he discovers that none of them watched the video tape. At the end of the film, it turns out that it is Reiko's diary; she and Ryuji were helping Sadako all along. Consequently, the reincarnation of Ryuji takes the diary with the intention of publishing it to spread the curse even further.

Other appearances[edit]

Reiko Asakawa also appears in the movie-tie-in manga series. In the first manga, Reiko has a similar backstory as in the films; she is divorced with one son but works for a newspaper, rather than a TV company. Also, Reiko and Ryuji discover that Sadako was killed by a doctor who attempted to rape her, as in the novel, rather than murdered by her adoptive father as in the film.

The background between Reiko, Ryuji and Yoichi is further explained. It is revealed that they were separated, rather than divorced, three years prior to the manga's beginning. None of the family shows signs of ESP. Ryuji is also closer to Reiko in age. The manga hints towards the love-interest between Reiko and Ryuji more obviously. He attempts to make her jealous throughout the manga, and she is troubled by the fact he appears to have a girlfriend, Mai Takano. However, at the end of the manga Takano later puts Reiko's mind to rest when she explains that she and Ryuji are just friends and that he has not been in any relationship.

Other incarnations[edit]

  • Kazuyuki Asakawa, in Koji Suzuki's 1991 novel Ring, a married man with a wife Shizuka and a daughter Yoko. Difference between him and Reiko Asakawa is his gender, family and relation to Ryuji, who is an old school friend rather than an ex-lover/spouse. Kazuyuki Asakawa is shown in the 1995 television film Ring: Kanzenban and series Ring: The Final Chapter.
  • Rachel Keller, in the 2002 American remake of the 1998 Japanese film, a single mother with young son. Unlike the Japanese film, this version of the character was never married to her child's father, but he was indeed her boyfriend before. Also, she is a journalist, as opposed to a television reporter.
  • Sun-joo Kong, in the 1999 South Korean remake of the 1998 Japanese film, a single mother with a daughter.
  • Cindy Campbell, in the 2003 parody of The Ring (Scary Movie 3), is a single lady who falls in love with a white rapper after the devastating death of her friend, Brenda Meeks. She is also the aunt and guardian of her nephew, Cody.

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