Ring (novel series)

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Ring (リング Ringu) is a series of horror novels written by Koji Suzuki. The novels were initially a trilogy, consisting of Ring, Spiral, and Loop. A short story collection called Birthday was released shortly after, introducing extra stories interconnecting the trilogy. Two further books, S and Tide, were published in 2012 and 2013 respectively.

The novels revolve around a curse, embodied within a videotape, unleashed by Sadako Yamamura, the ghost of a psychic who was raped and murdered before being thrown into a well. Though the curse was initially presented as a supernatural force, it is eventually revealed to be a cataclysmic virus which Sadako utilizes for her own misanthropic ends.

The success of the novels led to the release of numerous film adaptations in Japan, South Korea, and the United States of America.

Books[edit]

Ring[edit]

This story is set in present-day Tokyo. When four teenagers mysteriously die one night at the same time, Kazuyuki Asakawa, a journalist and uncle to one of the teens, takes a particular interest in the case and investigates. This leads him to a holiday resort called Hakone Pacific Island, where the four teens stayed one week before their death. There he watches a videotape left behind in their room which contains a series of abstract and realistic images. At the end of the sequence of cryptic and disturbing images, a warning appears: "The one who saw these images is destined to die in one week at this time. If you do not wish to die, do as will be said from now on. That is-" but the rest is erased by an advertisement. This has a strange mental effect on Kazuyuki, who immediately believes that the tape has now placed its mark on him.

He enlists the help of his best friend, Ryuji Takayama, a philosophy graduate and an admitted rapist. When Ryuji hears Kazuyuki's story, he watches the tape, and asks Kazuyuki to make him a copy for him to study at home. Their investigations lead them to the volcanic island of Oshima. After Kazuyuki's wife and child also watch the tape, Kazuyuki realises he must find the truth and perform the "charm" to prevent the deaths of both his family and his friend.

Then their investigations lead them to search for a person named Sadako Yamamura. Sadako was the daughter of Shizuko Yamamura, who was known for her exceptional ESP abilities but later branded as a charlatan. In depression, Shizuko jumped into Mount Mihara's crater. Later they learn that Sadako, who lived 30 years ago, was still missing. The evidence leads them back to Hakone where they find a well. At the bottom lie Sadako's remains; Kazuyuki sets her free by giving her a proper burial. Thinking he has performed the charm, Ryuji and Kazuyuki go home convinced. At Ryuji's deadline, he is watching the videotape; the space around the TV becomes distorted. He dials Mai Takano, his assistant. The television shows the scene of rolling dice. Ryuji tries to telephone Kazuyuki and yells "Get me out of here!" before screaming as he is killed by the curse.

When Kazuyuki realizes that the charm was to copy the tape and show it to somebody else, he rushes to his family to save them.

Spiral[edit]

The events in the story occur a day after Ryuji's death. By chance, Ando Mitsuo, Ryuji's former university classmate, is assigned to do the autopsy of Ryuji. He and his colleague, Miyashita, found a benign tumor in Ryuji's throat which is believed to be the cause of his death. They are puzzled because the tumor that they find resembles a smallpox tumor that was eradicated 30 years ago. Ando, along with his colleague, Miyashita, find out that an organism called the Ring Virus causes this tumour. The virus is transferred to the body through the tape and begins to grow into a tumour inside the viewer's throat. When the charm is not performed, the tumor grows until it blocks the airway and kills the person. To stop this, the tape must be copied and shown to another person. Inside his stomach they find the word RING and a series of cryptic messages. This further perplexes Ando.

In search for the cryptic messages meaning, he comes to meet Ryuji's assistant, Mai Takano. Mai, who seems to know something about the videotape, tells Ando about the curse but is unsure how Ryuji died. As a scientist, Ando laughs at Mai's explanation. He goes to talk to Kazuyuki but finds that he and his family were involved in a car accident. It is discovered that Kazuyuki's wife and child were dead before the crash. Kazuyuki is critically wounded and unable to talk. At the accident site there lies a crushed videotape. When Mai suddenly disappears, Ando is further motivated to investigate. He stumbles upon Ryuji's files which contain the title, THE RING. He is uncertain about the discovery because it contains supernatural explanations and contradicts scientific ones.

The virus mutated and uses the report as a medium. After reading the report, Ando has thoughts of Sadako and the well. Through a series of events, he is led to the well in Hakone.

Days after Mai's disappearance, he meets a beautiful woman named Masako who introduced herself as Mai's older sister. He falls in love with her. In doing so, they make love one night and Masako ends up pregnant. Later he finds out that Masako and Sadako are the same. One night he receives a letter from Sadako/Masako stating; "Don't ever disobey me because you don't know who you are dealing with." Ando chooses Sadako and is told to publish Ryuji's files and dominate the world.

Loop[edit]

A medical student named Kaoru Futami has a father who has contracted a deadly disease called Metastatic Human Cancer (MHC), a cancer involving both animals and plants. He discovers that his father was involved in a massive supercomputer project named LOOP. The LOOP was a computer simulation of the emergence of life but that did not succeed. It is known that everyone who was involved in the LOOP has died by the same type of cancer.

In the course of events, Kaoru meets a woman named Reiko and falls in love with her. They sleep together, and Reiko becomes pregnant, which makes Reiko vulnerable to MHC. Kaoru continues his investigations, which lead him to a man (and the last surviving person involved in the LOOP) named Amano. Amano reveals that LOOP was a project involving 100 supercomputers strung together and aiming to recreate life. Amano tells Kaoru of a lab in New Mexico where another scientist might be alive. Kaoru goes there only to find the scientist dead. Then, he enters the lab and finds a pair of virtual reality goggles and gloves. He tried it, and minutes later he is in the LOOP.

In the LOOP, he sees everything, but one event intrigues him, the emergence of the Ring Virus. He sees in detail all the events of the previous novels from different angles. After some discussion with Amano, he knows that the LOOP's creator wanted to recreate Ryuji's death and in so doing could clone him and insert him into someone's womb. The cloned Ryuji, however, had the Ring Virus in him. When Ryuji was born, the virus escaped and mutated into MHC.

Kaoru is desperate to find a cure for MHC, but he encounters a storm that leaves him dying. He is saved by an old man named Cristoph Eliot, the leader of the LOOP project. He reveals that Kaoru was Ryuji's clone and so has an exceptional gift, immunity to MHC.

Kaoru has to be analyzed so that his immunity can be understood. An analysis machine is created. The analyzed object, however, has to be molecularized in order to be scanned accurately, meaning that Kaoru might die. Heroically, he agrees to this.

The old man transfers Kaoru's analyzed molecules into the LOOP. He promises that Reiko, his wife, can see him through the VR Goggles and that she will not be alone. In the LOOP, Kaoru is reborn through Sadako as Ryuji. He creates a vaccine for the Ring virus which he gives to Ando, reenacting the epilogue of Spiral. The book ends with Kaoru/Ryuji sitting watching the stars, thinking that Reiko is watching over him.

Birthday[edit]

This short story collection consists of stories related to the Ring novels. It is also the conclusion to the Ring series.

Floating Coffin – These are the final moments of Mai Takano's life within the premises of Spiral.

It begins when she watches the tape. She starts ovulating then, and Sadako's DNA is planted in Mai's eggs. After viewing the tape, she feels nausea. Unknown to her, Sadako is being conceived in her womb. Days later, Sadako has total control of Mai since she lacks the will to resist. Exactly seven days after viewing the tape, Mai gives birth to a baby Sadako. When Sadako is reborn, she kills Mai with her psychic powers.

Lemonheart – The second story of the collection tells the story of Sadako when she was 19 years old in Tokyo. This is 30 years prior to the Ring.

When Sadako graduated from high school, she joined the Hiroshi Acting Troupe as an apprentice. As days go by, she falls in love with Toyama, the soundman. Once, she is caught doing nensha with a turned-off TV. This alienates her from the group. While Sadako and Toyama are intimate, a spiteful member of the troupe records their conversation. When the member plays this recording, everyone who hears it dies five days later. Because of these events, Sadako flees to Hakone to her father, who is in the hospital.

At a well, a doctor rapes her, but she defends herself with a psychic attack on the doctor. He retaliates by strangling Sadako, which incapacitates her power. Helpless, she is thrown into the well. As she dies, she has a vision of being reborn inside Mai Takano's womb, which occurs in the first story.

Happy Birthday – The final story develops the plot of the last novel, Loop, while incorporating new information disclosed in the previous two short stories. It depicts the last events taking place in the Ring universe chronologically and is also the conclusion of the series.

Reiko is questioning the worth of giving birth to a child if the only world he'll arrive in is full of death. Her older son has died, and the father of her unborn child still missing. There she goes to a lab and learn the final secrets of the LOOP.

S[edit]

S is a 2012 Koji Suzuki novel and the fifth entry of the series.

Following on the story told in the series of novels that began with the runaway bestseller Ring, this work starts with 28-year-old image processing specialist Takanori Ando being handed a USB memory stick by the president of the CG production company where he works. Tasked with analyzing its contents, Ando gasps at the graphic images he sees, and quickly concludes that they cannot have been faked or generated by CG software. Assuming the man in the video did indeed kill himself, what could his purpose have been in leaving this footage behind? Ando saves the file to his PC. When he plays it again the next day, the man's body has shifted to a lower position, and in subsequent viewings, the video undergoes further changes. Meanwhile, Ando's fiancée Akane Maruyama, a 24-year-old high-school teacher, learns she is pregnant with his child. When she is at Ando’s apartment, she is drawn as if by an irresistible force to watch the suicide video on his PC. After examining the video more closely, Ando manages to identify the apartment building where he believes it was filmed. He also realizes that someone is following him, though intermittently, and that he may in fact be in danger . . . The man who holds the key to the story is philosophy instructor Ryuji Takayama, who appeared in previous volumes of the series. Twenty-five years ago, Takayama had died after watching a video that transmitted a curse, but, miraculously returning to life, he has been battling the evil villainess Sadako to prevent the Sadako Virus from spreading. Akane is in fact Takayama's child by a woman who carries Sadako's DNA, and the man who kills himself in the suicide is a way of informing Ando about the intervening events. .

Tide[edit]

Koji Suzuki - Tide, 2013.

Released in 2013 and the sixth entry to the series, Tide is linked most directly to its sequel Loop. Cram-school math instructor Seiji Kashiwa is a creation of the supercomputer LOOP, and the biological information implanted in him reflects the lives of Ryuji Takayama, who appeared in both Ring and Loop, and Kaoru Futami, who appeared in the latter volume; but due to a system error, portions of his memory have become lost. One day, student Rie Yoshina comes to him for advice regarding her friend Haruna Tajima, who inexplicably fell into a coma after seeing a female dogu figurine of the Jomon Period (ca. 12,000–300 BCE) depicting the release of a snake. It is a baffling story, but as he listens to Rie's account, Seiji senses intuitively that it is a message directed at him. As if guided by some unknown force, he begins going back over the events that took place in Ring. The reader learns about the conflicts between Shizuko Yamamura and her daughter Sadako, who were central to the events; about the early years of the ancient ascetic who gave Shizuko her special powers; and about the surprising secret of Ryuji Takayama's birth. In the process, Seiji becomes one with Ryuji, and begins filling in the missing pieces of his memory. At the same time, he comes to feel a connection with the unbroken tides of human passion and memory that have ebbed and flowed since time immemorial, and in turn, to understand why he has been given life in this world . . .

Film adaptations[edit]

There have been at least a dozen films made which are either direct adaptations of Suzuki's Ring books, or which create new stories using the same characters and background story of the books.

Four adaptions have been made of Suzuki's 1991 book Ring. The first was the Japanese TV film Ring, released in 1995. This remained very close to the book but didn't have the success of later films.

In 1998, Hideo Nakata made a new Japanese adaptation of the book in his film Ring. The original sequel to this was Rasen, an adaptation of Spiral (Suzuki's sequel to his first Ring book). However, due to poor reception, a new sequel, Ring 2, was released in 1999 which continued the storyline of Ring but was not based on Suzuki's books. This was followed in 2000 by Ring 0: Birthday, which was based on the short story "Lemonheart" from Suzuki's 1999 book, Birthday.

One Ring film has been made in South Korea, the 1999 film The Ring Virus.

Three full-length Ring films were made in the USA, plus one short film. In 2002, The Ring was released. This was an adaptation of Nakata's 1998 film. A short film, Rings, was released in 2005 to fill the gaps between the 2002 film and the second full-length film The Ring Two, also released in 2005. A third full-length film, Rings, was released in 2017.

In 2012 Sadako 3D was released, adapted from Suzuki's book S, and in and 2013 Sadako 3D 2 was released.

In 2015, Hikiko-san vs Sadako was released. It is a crossover of the Japanese Hikiko-san series of horror films.

In 2016, Bunshinsaba vs Sadako was released. It is a crossover of the People's Republic of China Bunshinsaba series of horror films. (The South Korean Bunshinsaba series is unrelated.) trailer and review

In 2016 Sadako vs. Kayako, directed by Kōji Shiraishi, was released. It is a crossover of the Ju-on and Ring series of horror films. It features Sadakaya, a ghost that resulted from the fusion of Sadako and the Ju-on antagonist Kayako Saeki.

Ring references in other films[edit]

The 2003 film Scary Movie 3 significantly parodies the American remake film The Ring.

The 2009 season 5 episode of Ghost Whisperer, "Head Over Heels", contains horses going crazy. The episode makes a direct comparison with Samara driving the horses crazy in her barn with her nensha powers

The 2013 season 5 episode of Castle, "Scared to Death", contains a haunted DVD so scary that it kills people three days after they watch it.[1][2] The episode makes a direct comparison between the curse and The Ring.[3]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ TV.com, "Scared to Death"
  2. ^ BroadwayWorld.com, "VIDEO: Sneak Peek - 'Scared to Death' on the Next CASTLE", 15 March 2013
  3. ^ Castle episode "Scared to Death", airdate March 18, 2013

External links[edit]

  • (in Japanese) Loopkai Project
  • the Ring AREA - Contains the cursed videos of the Ring cycle and their scene-by-scene analyses, as well as lots of other useful information.
  • Vertical Inc. - Publisher of English translations of the Ring novels.