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|“||Nobody made it. It wasn't made at all. That video... is the pure, physical manifestation of Sadako's hatred.||„|
|~ Ryuji explaining Sadako's curse.|
|“||Why were you the only one saved?||„|
|~ Sadako lamenting over her own preventable fate after Mai and Yoichi were rescued from her wrath.|
|“||Sadako! Did you do that? Sadako!||„|
|~ Shizuko after witnessing Sadako psychically killing someone for the first time.|
She was a young yet troubled psychic who was brutally murdered by her father or his doctor, depending on the continuity, in an attempt to stop her powers from spiralling out of control. However, the plan failed as she returned as a ghostly serial killer, using her powers to create a cursed videotape that will kill anyone who watched it 7 days later.
Her character was portrayed by the seven actresses, being Rie Inō in Ring and Ring 2, Hinako Saeki in Rasen, Yukie Nakama in Ring 0: Birthday, Ayane Miura in Ring: Kanzenban, Tae Kimura in the TV series Ring: The Final Chapter and Rasen, Ai Hashimoto in Sadako 3D, and Sadako 3D 2, and Elly Nanami in Sadako vs Kayako.
In addition, she is incarnated as Park Eun-Suh in the South Korean remake and Samara Morgan in the American remake.
In the summer of 1946, Shizuko Yamamura brought up a statue of an oceanic deity, En no Ozunu, from the ocean floor with the help of her childhood friend Genji. Soon after, she began to exhibit psychic powers. The following year, against her friends' advice, Shizuko travelled to Tokyo, where upon arrival, she collapsed due to a migraine, which was revealed to be a side effect of her newly gained powers.While in the hospital, she met Dr. Heihachiro Ikuma, a professor of psychiatry. Ikuma was fascinated by Shizuko's powers, and had an affair with her but when she conceived, she traveled back to her hometown on Oshima Island to avoid causing a scandal for Ikuma. Later that year, on October 31, 1947, a baby girl named Sadako was born, and Shizuko handed her over to her grandmother whilst Shizuko moved and stayed with her lover. In 1950, when Sadako turned 3, Shizuko returned for her, and they left Oshima, not to be seen for 5 years. After 4 years, Shizuko gave birth to a boy, but he died from illness after 4 months. Sadako had psychic powers like her mother but grew up isolated and socially awkward, unable to make any friends.
At an ESP demonstration hosted by Dr. Ikuma, Shizuko was branded a fraud and charlatan after she abruptly ended the demonstration. Because of this, Ikuma divorced Shizuko, the latter falling into a deep depression. The following year, Sadako suggested that she and Shizuko go back to Oshima to escape the press. Before the year was over though, Shizuko committed suicide by leaping into the volcano, Mt. Mihara, and Sadako went to live at Yamamura Villa, run by her cousin, Takashi.
At the age of 11, Sadako predicted the eruption of Mt. Mihara, which was proven correct, but denied having any psychic powers. Knowing what could happen if her powers grew, at the age of 19, Ikuma sent Sadako to Tokyo, where she joined the Hisho Acting Troupe. Five people, including the troupe director, mysteriously died via a heart attack after listening to a cursed sound recording after Sadako's powers went awry. It is reported that Sadako fell in love with Toyama, the sound manager, but after a spiteful troupe member exposes their intimacy through an explicit recording, Sadako left Toyama and never returned.
In the summer of 1966, her father contracted tuberculosis after trying to gain psychic powers on his own. Sadako visited him frequently at the sanatorium. On one of her visits, she was raped by a man named Nagao Joutarou, a young doctor who watched her bedridden father. When he raped her, he found out that, while appearing female, she had external testes due to Testicular Feminization Syndrome. It was a secret she kept hidden throughout most of her life and, ashamed, she telekinetically attacks him. However, he strangled her and threw her down a nearby well.
Sadako survived on sheer willpower for 20 years in the well before dying. In the late 80s, a resort is built over the site, with the sanatorium converted into a restaurant, and log cabins built. In late August, a family from Tokyo stayed in cabin B-4, which conveniently had the TV and VCR placed directly above the well. The son, who was a devoted fan of a certain comedy show, wanted to watch it. But his parents, being the ones in control, were watching something on NHK. The son agreed to record the show, which gave Sadako, as a vengeful ghost, the opening she needed. The channels were different in Hakone—but of course some child would never know that. Embedding the ring virus into the tape and burning the images, the original tape was created.
After four high school students are killed by Sadako's curse, investigators Asakawa and Ryuji postulate that Sadako mutated the smallpox virus, which she contracted from Nagao, with her own DNA and her psychic powers, planting it in the tape she made through nensha. The virus passes on to those who watch the tape in the form of a throat tumor which kills the victim within a week, forcing them to hallucinate their own rotting face shortly before death. The only way to survive is by copying the tape and passing it to someone else.
In 1951, Shizuko Yamamura, a psychic from Oshima Island, sat on the beach where she stared at the ocean for hours. In reality, Shizuko was communicating to a sea demon in an inhuman language. Eventually, the sea demon impregnated Shizuko with a baby girl named Sadako. Shizuko intended to abandon the baby girl at a nearby cave but Sadako was still there, even when the waves tried to wash her away. Reluctantly, Shizuko raised Sadako as her own child.
At the same time, Shiuzko predicted the eruption of Mt. Mihara with her psychic powers. Hoping to make money off of Shizuko, her brother Takashi leaked this to the press, and Shizuko became famous overnight. This attracted the attention of Dr. Heihachiro Ikuma, a university professor from Tokyo who wanted to prove the existence of ESP. He sailed to Oshima Island and visited Shizuko, where they began a love affair and eventually married each other. Noticing that Shizuko's daughter Sadako had no father, Ikuma took the role of being her father. After their marriage, Ikuma took Shizuko and Sadako to Tokyo to use their powers as evidence for his experimental studies on the existence of ESP.
A few years later, Ikuma held an ESP demonstration in Tokyo with members of the press present. Ikuma and Shizuko proceeded with the demonstration whilst Sadako watched from backstage. Even though Shizuko never failed in proving her psychic abilities, Miyaji, a journalist, denounced her as a fraud. Other journalists also joined in the slander against Shizuko. Having enough of this unfair treatment, Sadako used her psychic abilities to kill Miyaji via a heart attack. The journalists noticed that Miyaji's post-mortem face was left with a grim expression and immediately blamed Shizuko for his death. However, the true killer simply scuttled away.
After the demonstration, Ikuma was fired from his university and Sadako split into two clones of herself: one was good whilst the other was evil. He moved his wife and the Sadako clones deep into the forest of Izu Peninsula, where his home was. According to Miyaji's fiancé Akiko, all of the people who were involved in the slander against Shizuko were found dead. It is implied that Sadako, particularly her evil clone, killed them one by one. Meanwhile, Shizuko was gradually driven insane and she often spent her time combing her hair in front of the mirror with a grim expression on her face. Shizuko eventually returned to Oshima Island to jump into the crater of Mt. Mihara during the same day she accurately predicted it to erupt.
Ikuma allowed the good Sadako clone to live a normal life whilst he drugged the evil Sadako clone to prevent her from growing and locked her in an attic. In 1970, the good Sadako clone, whom everyone simply referred to as Sadako, joined an acting school in Tokyo as recommended by her psychiatrist. Her natural beauty and charisma captivated her fellow troupe members, especially Toyama, whom Sadako fell in love with. However, the evil Sadako clone tracked her down and tormented her everyday. She also created a cursed sound recording which killed several troupe members via heart attack, causing the other troupe members to fear and turn against Sadako.
Meanwhile, Akiko, the vengeful fiancé of Mijyaji, tracks Sadako down at the acting school and arms herself with a gun to protect herself from Sadako's presence. Akiko tries to gain evidence that Sadako really does possess psychic powers and after successfully gaining evidence, she convinces Toyama's ex-girlfriend Etsuko to play the recording of the fateful ESP demonstration during Sadako's theatrical performance. This causes Sadako's powers to go awry and kill her psychiatrist, leading the other troupe members to angrily beat Sadako unconscious.
Returning to Sadako's childhood home in Izu Peninsula to kill the evil Sadako clone, Akiko enters the attic to kill the evil clone but finds her missing. Meanwhile, the evil Sadako clone merges with the unconscious good Sadako clone, reviving her. In her merged form, Sadako kills all the troupe members, including the sympathetic Toyama. Akiko and Etsuko survive the killing spree and hide in the house but Sadako corners them and forces them to shoot themselves. Ikuma returns and fearing what his daughter might become, he plans to drug her with poison. Knowing his plans, Sadako flees outside to an old well. Ikuma chases her and grabs a nearby machete where he bludgeons her with a machete and dumps her body inside.
Many years later, Ikuma's house was sold after his mysterious death and it was later converted into a set of rental cabins, which were built directly over the well. According to an urban legend, a Tokyo schoolboy travelled to the cabins for a vacation with his family. Not wanting to miss his favourite TV program from Tokyo, the boy found a nearby blank videotape and recorded the TV program, completely unaware that the channels in Izu were different than the ones in Tokyo. Meanwhile, as a vengeful ghost, Sadako transferred disturbing images onto the blank videotape and the boy unknowingly watched the entirety of the cursed tape. He received a phone call from Sadako, warning him that he'll die in 7 days later. Seven days later, the boy was found dead and its presumed that Sadako found him and killed him on the 7th day. Many people dismissed this as a mere urban legend until four teenagers were killed in the exact same manner after watching the exact same tape in the exact same place, prompting a prolific investigation.
Sadako vs Kayako
Sadako also appears in a crossover film called Sadako vs. Kayako, where she battles her rival, Kayako Saeki, who is also a bloodthirsty vengeful ghost. The film is centered around two teenagers named Yuri and Suzuka, who are cursed by both entities, as they attempt to find a way to permanently end both curses.
The cursed videotape has also been upgraded and instead of 7 days, the victim would only have 2 days to live, presumably because by now, Sadako was extremely impatient to unleash her misanthropic wrath upon humanity in a much faster time frame. In the cursed videotape, it shows an abandoned run-down building instead (a possible reference to Sadako 3D) which briefly ends with static and later on, Sadako appears in the doorway of the building and menancingly stares at the viewer. Sadako can also manifest behind the viewer once they have finished watching the cursed videotape and at some occassions, she can possess people to kill other people or possess her victims to kill themselves in brutal ways.
After multiple deaths and failed exorcisms related to the cursed videotape, Yuri enlists the help of an exorcist named Keizo, who recently saved Suzuka from being brutally murdered by Kayako. Together, they devise a plan together, where Yuri shows Suzuka the cursed videotape in the cursed Saeki house in order to make Sadako and Kayako fight over the girls, which would hypothetically obliterate both entities in the process. Suddenly, Toshio appears in front of them and meows at them, frightening Yuri and Suzuka. Toshio notices the static on the TV and whilst curiously investigating, Sadako drags him into the TV screen with her own hair.
Sadako proceeds to crawl out of the TV screen and prepares to kill her soon-to-be victims but at the same time, a bloody Kayako menancingly crawls downstairs. Yuri and Suzuka, cornered by both entities, are left with no choice but to watch as Sadako eerily walks towards them in the hallway. Suddenly, Kayako races towards Sadako in the hallway and jumps on her, seemingly dragging her away to her defeat. Just as they thought the horror would be over, Kayako emerges but her eyes and mouth are impaled by Sadako's hair. Keizo then warns them not to look at Sadako in the eye over the phone.
Looking away in fear, Sadako reveals her infamous death stare eye as Kayako looks up, only to have her body brutally blasted in a bloody mess. The puddle of blood vanishes but Sadako continues to menancingly walk towards them. Keizo then rushes into the house, realising that the plan has failed. He grabs the cursed videotape and scalds Sadako that she's a demon as he hurls it towards her. At the same time, it is revealed that Kayako quickly survived from Sadako's attack as she emerges from the darkness. The cursed videotape fails to hit Sadako and as it falls onto the floor, Kayako crushes the tape with her hand but Sadako bounds her hair to the tape with her hair.
Keizo tells Yuri and Suzuka to go to the well outside and Yuri sacrifices herself to be a bait in order to lure Sadako and Kayako into obliterating each other. Whilst Yuri stands on top of the well, Sadako and Kayako exit the house and they stand opposite to each other, determined for a brutal fight. Yuri falls into the well as Sadako and Kayako race towards each other and unexpectedly fuse into a much more powerful demonic entity that combines both of their respective curses called Sadakaya.
Powers and Abilities
Over the course of the Ring series, Sadako displayed a vast array of psychic powers when she was alive. After her death, Sadako returned as a vengeful ghost with long, black hair concealing her face and fingernails torn off and wields more destructive psychic powers, which were fully manifested in her creation of the infamous cursed videotape.
- Nensha: Sadako can transfer disturbing sounds and images onto electronic devices, mainly through sound recordings and videotapes. Any technology affected by her nensha powers were cursed, killing anyone who used them.
- Emerging out of screens: As a vengeful ghost, Sadako can break the laws of physics by emerging out of TV screens. Her body size is dependent on the size of the screen, as shown in
- Telekinesis: Sadako can move objects into different positions, which was demonstrated through her ability to reposition her mother's mirror on the other side of the room as a childish prank.
- Telepathy: Sadako knows exactly who has watched her cursed videotape and where they watched it and even gives them a phone call to remind them of their 7 day deadline.
- Resurrection: Sadako was infamously resurrected as a vengeful ghost after her death and can even resurrect some of her past victims. She is immune to any harm inflicted upon her and remains seemingly immortal.
- Possessor: Sadako can possess her victims into being like her by tormenting and killing other people.
- Death Staring: Sadako can instantly kill her victims via a heart attack by revealing her grotesquely malformed eye to them. Despite this, some of her victims can instantly drop dead of a heart attack by just seeing her ghastly stringy-haired presence.
- Precognition: In the novels, Sadako was able to predict the eruption of Mount Mihara and envision herself being reborn in Mai Takano's womb.
- Teleportation: Sadako can suddenly reappear in front of victims and corner them, no matter how far they run away from her. As a vengeful ghost, Sadako does not need to scale the walls of the well she was thrown into and can simply appear wherever she wants.
- Dream Manipulator: Sadako can invade the dreams or subconscious of the people who have viewed her cursed videotape. She can also re-enact scenes from her life and the cursed videotape and even physically attack the dreamer by grasping onto their arm, leaving a bruise.
- Biokinesis: In the novels, Sadako combines the smallpox virus she contracted from her rapist and her own DNA to form the Ring Virus, which is then transmitted onto a videotape. Once the tape was viewed, the Ring Virus clogs their arteries and ultimately kills them via a heart attack in 7 days. The Ring Virus can be transferred onto books, journals, reports, movies about Sadako and into a supercomputer project known as LOOP.
- Healing Abilities: In Ring 0: Birthday, Sadako's good clone used these abilities to heal those around her, including her lover Toyama and an elderly disabled man.
- Mediumship: When Sadako was alive, she could see the ghosts of Shizuko and Miyaji and the other journalists present at the infamous ESP demonstration. This often causes her to break down, often resulting in her powers going awry.
- Clone Splitting and Merging: Sadako was able to split into two clones of herself in Ring 0: Birthday and merge with another entity to form one in Sadako vs Kayako.
- Exposing Others to Powers: A bystander witnessing someone being killed by Sadako can gain some of her psychic abilities themselves as a result of being exposed to her presence.
- Body Manipulation: Sadako can contort the limbs and audibly crack the bones within her body, causing her to walk in a jerkingly inhumane fashion. She can also use her hair as a weapon, mainly to drag, impale or take others captive as seen in Sadako vs. Kayako.
- Superhuman Strength: Despite being able to effortlessly slaughter numerous people without using any weapons or physically attacking them, Sadako displays her physical poweress by violently dragging others, instantly snapping and breaking people's necks and driving her victims to commit suicide in a violent and gruesome manner.
- Paralyzing Others: Sadako is able to paralyze her victims to prevent them from escaping by her mere presence.
- Manipulating Her Curse: Sadako can adjust her curse to modern technology and even change the rules (e.g. in Sadako vs. Kayako the curse videotape deadline was limited to 2 days) to her own liking.
- Miyaji- Heart attack.
- Several unnamed journalists- Killed one by one via a heart attack over an unspecified period of time.
- Aiko Hazuki- Heart attack.
- Yusaku Shigemori- Neck forcefully sprained and broken.
- Dr. Wataru Kuno- Breaks neck and spine after collapsing on top of candles due to shock.
- Hiroshi Toyama- Heart attack.
- Five unnamed troupe members- Heart attack.
- Kaoru Arima- Heart attack.
- Etsuko Tachihara- Shot by Akiko, who was under the influence of Sadako.
- Akiko Miyaji- Forced by Sadako to shoot herself.
- Heihachiro Ikuma (presumed)- Heart attack.
- Unnamed schoolboy from Izu- Heart attack.
- Tomoko Oishi- Heart attack.
- Iwata Suichi- Skull smashed in motorcycle accident.
- Tadehiko Nomi- Heart attack.
- Yoko Tsuji- Heart attack.
- Ryuji Takayama- Heart attack.
- Kōichi Asakawa- Heart attack.
- Kanae Sawaguchi- Heart attack.
- Masami- Heart attack.
- Reiko Asakawa (implied)- Hit by truck after being distracted by a vision of Yoichi, who was influenced by Sadako.
- Takashi Yamamura- Drowned.
- Dr. Kawajiri- Electrocuted in swimming pool.
- Unnamed nurse- Electrocuted in swimming pool.
- Tominaga Tetsuo- Hit by truck.
- Noriko Morisaki- Thrown off building.
- Numerous viewers of the cursed video in Sadako 3D- Heart attack.
- Seiji Kashiwada- Heart attack.
- Detective Koiso's partner- Committed suicide under the influence of Sadako.
- Nagi Ando's victims- Possessed by Sadako in an attempt to be reborn and her victims are killed in multiple ways.
- Yasue- Strangled by cord.
- Machimane- Throat slit by knife.
- Keiko- Falls off the second level of a store to her death.
- Shin'ichi Morishige- Face smashed by a possessed Hōryū.
- Hōryū- Smashes her own skull whilst being possessed.
- Several of Hōryū's assistants- Necks twisted and snapped in the presence of Sadako.
- Natsumi Ueno- Hanged by a belt.
- Her name means "chaste" (free from any sexual intercourse) in Japanese which may hint to her inability to reproduce due to her Testicular Feminization Syndrome and her obsession of procreating by successfully allowing herself to be reborn (this is explained in the original novels).
- Sadako was thrown into the well in 1970, which is coincidentally the same year her American remake counterpart Samara Morgan was born. Sadako survived in the well for many years using her power of hate and darkness before her death during the same day Reiko in the first Ringu film watched the cursed videotape.
- Despite her ghastly image, she was described to be very attractive whilst she was alive. However, her Testicular Feminisation Syndrome in the novels turned off most of her potential lovers.
- Sadako's character is very similar to Carrie White:
- Both were imprisoned in their homes throughout most of their childhood (Ikuma however imprisoned Sadako to prevent her from harming anyone else rather than to be abusive like in the case of Carrie's mother)
- Both were teenage social outcasts who possess powerful psychic abilities.
- Both fell in love with a young man who already had a girlfriend of his own.
- Both their tormentors tried to humiliate/expose her on stage during an important event.
- Both their powers went lethally awry as a result and their lovers are unintentionally killed first.
- Both quickly kill their other tormentors afterwards in their signature appearances.
- Both brutally corner and kill the two main culprits who were responsible for driving her to commit a murderous rampage in the first place.
- Both their parents feign their comfort towards them before killing them, to stop their powers from growing stronger.
- Both ultimately return from the dead (this is confirmed in Sadako's case whilst Carrie's revival is implied).
- She is also similar to Jason Voorhees. Unlike Jason, Sadako has no qualms in killing small children who are exposed to her curse, although this is heroically prevented by the film's lead protagonist. Her remake counterpart also enjoys torturing and killing animals.
- Both were social outcasts who were alienated by their peers.
- Both rarely speak (with the exception of flashbacks).
- Both of their biological fathers were absent during their childhood.
- Both of their mothers descended into insanity after experiencing a traumatic event (Shizuko became insane after the infamous ESP demonstration whilst Mrs. Voorhees became insane after Jason's supposed death).
- Both have a fear of water and ultimately die by drowning.
- Both the sites where they supposedly died were converted into camping vacation sites and briefly run by their family members.
- Both managed to return as supernatural serial killers and ironically have power in water.
- Both conceal their faces whilst killing people.
- Both initiated their killing spree by killing a group of teenagers who camped at the site where they supposedly died a few days prior.
- Both initiated a powerful death curse to those that encounter them.
- Both rivaled against another horror icon in a crossover.
- Sadako is similar to Alessa Gillespie:
- Both characters originated from Japan.
- Both were social outcasts who possessed psychic powers.
- Both had unknown fathers, who were presumed to be demonic in nature.
- Both had long, black hair covering most of their faces.
- Both split into good and evil clones of themselves due to rage and managed to fuse again by the end.
- Both were tormented and eventually nearly murdered by members of society who feared her powers.
- Both were raped prior to their supposed death which in part, contributed to their vengeful fury against humanity.
- Both initiated a powerful curse which heavily affects anyone who encounters it, even if they manage to escape it.
- Both seeked to be reborn to have a better life, which was proven successful.
- Sadako Yamamura was based on the character Okiku from the Japanese folkloric tale caled "Banchō Sarayashik", who was the servant of a samurai, who eventually killed her by throwing her in the well as she rejected his amorous advances. She became a vengeful ghost like Sadako who haunted the samurai day and night.
- Sadako is based on the life of early-20th century psychic Sadako Takahashi, an apparent practitioner of nensha, the art of projecting images onto film by thought alone. In 1931 Takahashi was studied by psychologist Tomokichi Fukurai for his book "Clairvoyance and Thoughtography".