20 Facts About Ringu/The Ring

 

The patrons of the Tyneside Cinema voted the original Japanese version of The Ring (リング) (which from this point on will be referred to as “Ringu” for ease”) as the North East’s favourite scary movie. Which is rather nice to hear that there is such demand for Japanese films at Halloween, we covered some Japanese films to get you in the Halloween mood in a previous article and one of our recommendations was Ringu. In order to get you in the mood for the Tyneside’s screening we present Geordie Japan’s 20 facts about Ringu to get you up to speed for Monday.

 

  1. Ringu is based on a book of the same name by Koji Suzuki (鈴木光司) in 1991, Suzuki has also written all of the sequels. The officially released books are : Ring (1991), Spiral (1995), Loop (1998), The Birthday (1999) and S (2012)
  2. Suzuki latest novel in the series is titled ‘S’ and reportedly features the video being uploaded to the internet and the curse travelling via cloud computing.
  3. Suzuki has drawn comparisons to Steven King due to his popularity in Japan with Ringu, Dark Water and other terrifying novels.
  4. It is a little known fact that the first adaptation of Ringu was in 1995, this was a television movie named Ringu: Kanzenban (リング 完全版) which literally means Ring: Complete Edition.
  5. The original novel was once again turned into a feature film in 1998 called Ringu by Hideo Nakata (中田 秀夫).  This is the more famous adaptation of Susuki’s book.
  6. Ringu was released in tandem with an adaptation of the sequel novel Spiral in a ploy to generate more revenue. This film was made by Jōji Iida (飯田譲治) and is often referred to as the ‘forgotten sequel’ due to the fact that it bombed because of the success of Ringu. Its events are ignored by later Ringu films.
  7. Ringu was remade in Hollywood as The Ring in 2002 by Gore Verbinski starring Naomi Watts. The film went on to have one sequel.
  8. Hideo Nakata made his English language debut with The Ring Two, a sequel to the remake of his original film.
  9. While The Ring is the most famous remake of Ringu it is not the first. Just one year after Ringus release it was remade in South Korea as The Ring Virus (1999).
  10. In total there have been 9 official films (6 Japanese, 3 remakes/spin offs), 2 television series, 2 video games and one short film in the Ringu series.
  11. The latest film in the Ringu franchise was Sadako 3D. The film has yet to be given a UK release and sadly a cinematic release seems unlikely, a dvd release is expected at some point.
  12. When Sadako 3D was released in Japan last year the country went Ringu crazy and some of the more unusual marketing tactics included unleashing hundreds of Sadako’s in Tokyo, driving a giant Sadako around the capital and having Sadako throw out the first pitch at a baseball game. You can watch all this insanity here.
  13. According to a recent survey by Oricon Ringu is still considered to be the scariest Japanese film ever
  14. Ringu is also the highest grossing horror film ever in Japan
  15. When the film was released on VHS in England in 2001 the back of the box was labelled with a disclaimer stating the distributor was not responsible “for any injuries or fatalities that may occur during or after the viewing of this videocassette.”
  16. Sadako may seem to Westerners like a novel and original idea but in fact she is actually a very common ghost of Japanese horror tales. She is an Onryō, a vengeful spirit, often represented in a white burial kimono, white and indigo face paint and having unkempt long dark hair. Onryō are usually women and commonly returning from the dead to exact vengeance on those who have wronged them in life.
  17. Sadako was played by Kabuki theatre actress Rie Inou, to achieve her jerky movements she was shot walking backwards and then the film was reversed, giving Sadako her trademark freaky walk.
  18. The iconic shot of Sadako’s eye was not actually Rie Inou’s eye but a male crew members!
  19. A series of Manga novels has also been released in Japan based on the franchise
  20. Scarily the tale is inspired by real events. You can read about them here, however this page contains spoilers for Ringu.

 

The Tyneside Cinema will play Ringu at 6pm on the Wednesay  31 October 2012. Details here.

 

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Do They Celebrate Halloween In Japan?

 

It’s October! The month of spooks and scares, all hallows eve approaches and all over the world children prepare to go trick or treating dressed as whatever takes their fancy (I was a ninja turtle I seem to remember). But the question on everyone’s lips is… do they celebrate Halloween in Japan?

 

Idol band AKB48 hawking Halloween costumes

The answer is yes…and no. Halloween is a relatively recent concept in Japan that has slowly been working its way into the mainstream for many years now. A celebration that was once relegated to Tokyo Disneyland with their annual Halloween parade has been gradually leaking out into the rest of Japan since the late 80s. Now most major cities in Japan have some form of Halloween parade, highlighted by the Kawasaki Halloween Parade and the ‘Hello Halloween Pumpkin Parade’ in Harajuku, Tokyo. However Japan has plenty of its own festivals, including ones honouring the dead such as Obon, and as a result Halloween is more of a co-opted Western festival rather than a national event. Few Japanese know of the actual origins of the holiday and only know it from the mass of American pop culture that arrives on Japans shores by the day.

 

As a result Halloween in Japan in recent years has become a marketing goldmine, with pumpkins, candy and Halloween decorations being sold by the bucket full. This would make you think that Japan was celebrating Halloween en masse, but that’s not really the case it seems. As one Japanese friend described to me when I was researching this article “We celebrate Halloween, but not so much”. The parades are there, the decorations are up, the costumes are worn if you go to the right places and pumpkins are carved but the majority of the population outside of the major cities are don’t partake in any Halloween activities. Trick or treating is practically unheard of in Japan too for the most part, one area that is on the rise though is dressing up as Japan’s youth is seeing a rise in cosplaying for Halloween, however cosplaying is on the rise year-round, so maybe it’s just another excuse to do it!

 

Sadako, an Onryō (怨霊) spirit as portrayed in The Ring.

It’s not that Japan doesn’t like scares, Japanese culture has a long history of horror starting with Kaidan (怪談), traditional supernatural tales often associated with the Edo period. These Kaidan tales were told either through storytelling, Kabuki and Noh theatre, books and later films. Nowadays everyone all over world is familiar with J-Horror introduced to the West in the late 90’s with the festival appearances or The Ring and Audition, a plethora of other J-Horror films soon flooded the Western market place and it seemed like a different English language remake was due every other week. Let’s not forget either that Japan popularised the survival horror video game genre with the debut of Resident Evil (coincidentally the rather terrible Resident Evil films do better in Japan than in any other market in the world) and Silent Hill amongst others. So it’s not that Japanese culture is adverse to the concept behind the holiday, it’s just that it hasn’t quite caught-on on a national scale yet.

 

To answer the question then, does Japan celebrate Halloween, the answer has to be yes but just not on the national scale that we do here in the UK or that other countries do. One thing is for sure though, Halloween is increasing every year in Japan and looking at what they already do to celebrate it…the future is sure to be packed with scares.
Expect more Halloween articles this month, until then check out this video of the Kawasaki Halloween Parade!