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|“||Why were you the only one saved?||„|
|~ Sadako lamenting over her own preventable fate after Mai and Yoichi were saved.|
She was a tragic young woman whose supernatural abilties caused her to become an outcast throughout most of her life. She was eventually imprisoned inside a well and after her supposed death, she returned as a vengeful ghost and created a cursed videotape, which killed the viewer 7 days after viewing it unless they copy and pass it onto someone else.
Her character was portrayed by 7 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 also the primary influence of Samara Morgan, her American remake counterpart.
On the night of a full moon in 1946, a woman from Oshima Island named Shizuko Yamamura recovers a mystical ancient stone statuette of En no Ozunu from the ocean floor. Soon after, she managed to gain supernatural abilities of her own.
Against the advice of her friends, Shizuko leaves Oshima Island and travels to Tokyo. She collapses shortly after arrival, after receiving severe migraines that have plagued her since the awakening of her powers.
While hospitalized she encounters Heihachiro Ikuma, a university professor. Ikuma is intrigued by Shizuko's growing psychic abilities, a fascination that ultimately led to their marriage. After having sexual intercourse with Ikuma, Shizuko returns to Oshima Island to avoid Ikuma from being involved in a potential scandal. She later gives birth to a girl named Sadako, who inherited her psychic abilities. Shizuko entrusts the child to her grandmother to return to Tokyo and reunite with her lover. Shizuko also gave birth to a baby boy but he died four months later due to an illness.
Ikuma convinces Shizuko to give a public demonstration of her psychic powers. However, Shizuko bows out of the demonstration due to migraines brought on by her powers and is labelled a fraud by the press. Shizuko eventually goes into a deep depression and commits suicide by jumping into Oshima Island's volcano, which Shizuko had correctly predicted would erupt at a specific date and time. Sadako remains living with her family on the island, while Ikuma attempts to awaken potential psychic powers within himself by standing under waterfalls. This experiment succeeds only in making him sick, and he is hospitalized for many years.
At the age of nineteen, Sadako joins a Tokyo-based acting troupe and falls in love with the sound operator, Hiroshi Toyama. He learns of her powers but accepts them. Unfortunately, an early form of the curse is created in the form of a sound recording which kills four people including the troupe's director, resulting in a heartbroken Sadako leaving Toyama. Sadako visits Ikuma in hospital, only to be raped by a doctor named Nagao Jotaro who cared for her father. However, he discovers that she had Testicular Feminization Syndrome, possessing the genitalia of both sexes. When Sadako attacks him with her powers, Nagao throws her down a nearby well and seals her within. Foreseeing herself being reborn years later, Sadako vows revenge on the world before she dies.
As a vengeful ghost, Sadako creates a virus known as the "Ring Virus" in the cursed videotape since she will "live on" in it, as long as her DNA merged with that of a strand of the smallpox virus still exists. This was to ensure her that she will reproduce, which she cannot do herself due to being intersexual, or in other versions, to find a host in order to be reborn. In some incarnations, the "Ring Virus" is simply treated as a mysterious phenomenon rather than a biological virus; in these versions, she is portrayed as having created it to wreak vengeance on humanity. Sadako's goal is to make mankind aware of her suffering in life and uses the videotape through various means to achieve
In the novel Spiral, it unfolds that Sadako intended on resurrecting herself through the power of her curse, actually a mutated biological virus that cause heart attacks or pregnancy in women if the right requirements are met. After Mitsuo Ando and Mai Takano have sex, the latter goes through a rapid pregnancy, giving birth to Sadako, who grows into her adult self in a matter of hours. She uses the virus to clone and resurrect Ryuji Takayama as well, and convinces Ando to spread the virus in the form of Kazuyuki Asakawa's journal of the curse in return for resurrecting his own son Takanori.
In Oshima Island, there was a psychic named Shizuko Yamamura, who was always considered strange by the other inhabitants in her home island as she would sit on the beach and stare at the ocean for hours. In reality, Shizuko was talking to a sea demon, who shortly after impregnated her with a strange daughter named Sadako who possessed strange abilities. Shizuko intended to abandon Sadako at the beach but Sadako was still there even when the waves washed her away, leaving her with no choice but to raise her as her own.
Shizuko had also predicted the eruption of Mt. Mihara, the island's volcano, with her psychic powers. Hoping to make money off of Shizuko, her cousin 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 and visited Shizuko, where they began a love affair and eventually married each other. Noticing that Shizuko was pregnant, Ikuma was assumed to be Sadako's father. After Sadako's birth, Ikuma took her and her mother to Tokyo to use their powers as evidence for his experimental studies on the existence of ESP.
A few years later, Ikuma decided to hold a public demonstration of Shizuko's powers, with members of the press present. Ikuma and Shizuko proceeded with the demonstration, while Sadako watched from backstage. Shizuko never once failed, but the demonstration was interrupted by a reporter who stood up and declared that Shizuko was faking her abilities.
This started an uproar, with other observers joining in the declarations of "fraud", "freak" and "fake." Enraged by the treatment of her mother, Sadako snapped and used her powers to kill the reporter who initially caused the uproar by giving him a heart attack., leaving his face gruesomely distorted. After the demonstration, Ikuma was fired from his university. He took Sadako with him to his home on the Izu Peninsula, while Shizuko returned to Oshima, eventually killing herself by leaping into Mt. Mihara, an active volcano during the time. Ikuma, who loved Sadako as his own daughter, wanted her to have a normal life, but he realized that Sadako split into evil and good "clones" of herself after the failed demonstration. Ikuma imprisoned and drugged the evil clone of Sadako so that the evil clone will never develop during puberty. Meanwhile, he took great care of the good clone of Sadako and allowed her to live a normal life. In order to overcome her anxieties and nightmares which Sadako often experienced after the suicide of her mother and her evil clone constantly tormenting her, Sadako joined a local acting school in Tokyo as recommended by her psychiatrist.
During her time in the acting school, Sadako's beauty and charisma charmed most of the members of the acting troupe, especially the sound manager Toyama, whom Sadako fell in love with. However, the members of the acting troupe (except for Toyama) began to fear and bully her after discovering her powers. Her powers also accidentally initiated a curse via a sound tape, which killed one of the troupe members after listening to the sound tape. The evil clone of Sadako began to taunt the good clone of Sadako which led her to be more alienated and drive her into killing her psychiatrist during a live performance of a play whilst he tried to calm her down. This led Sadako to be attacked and eventually killed by the angry mob of the troupe members led by the fiance of the reporter who was killed during Shizuko's demonstration.
The angry mob later soon realized that there was an evil side of Sadako and wanting to save themselves from the curse that Sadako unleashed, they arrived at Izu Peninsula to kill the evil clone. However, the dead body of Sadako's good clone being in close proximity to her evil clone allowed both of them to merge into a freakish and maniac monster that Sadako was most well-known for with long black hair concealing their faces. In their merged form, Sadako accidentally kills Toyama off-screen and goes on a murderous rampage against all of the members of the angry mob, who all died of a sudden heart attack. Two remaining members attempt to hide in Sadako's childhood home but Sadako approaches them and both members shoot themselves in order to avoid being killed by her as Sadako watches.
The good clone of Sadako eventually recovers in her home but she realizes that Ikuma is planning to drug her with poison. Sadako escapes into the forest outside but Ikuma bludgeons her in an attempt to stop her powers from harming anyone and throws her body into a nearby well. Ikuma tearfully breaks down and looks at the body of his daughter in the well one last time before he seals it with a stone lid. Sadako, however, remained alive for 30 years inside the well until her uncle retrieves her body from the well and is summoned to identify her.
Meanwhile, a set of rental cabins were built over the well and inside, it contained a blank videotape where Sadako psionically transferred her twisted and pessimistic views of her own life into the videotape. The videotape became cursed and anyone who watched it would be killed by Sadako's vengeful ghost 7 days after initially viewing it. The viewer also receives a phonecall notifying about their 7-day deadline but this only happens if the viewer watched the videotape in the cabin.
In the form of her vengeful spirit, Sadako usually kills her victims by crawling out of her victim's TV screen and revealing her rolled back eye to them in order to frighten them and ultimately kill them via a heart attack. If her victim is not nearby a TV, she can still appear through any reflective surface and frighten them to death or in some versions, drive them insane to cause them to commit suicide. Her victims often die immediately and a distorted facial expression of fear is left permanently on their faces in a similar fashion to the reporter that Sadako killed when she was still alive.
Scientists and doctors are also drawn into Sadako's mysterious supernatural abilities but their experiments with her abilities often lead to unfortunate and fatal circumstances for the other characters such as Masami in Ring 2 where she was killed after having an intense mental overload during a medical experiment that tested her ability to burn images onto surfaces after being exposed to the presence of Sadako when she killed her best friend Tomoko after watching the cursed videotape.
Sadako vs Kayako
Sadako is featured as the main antagonist in Sadako vs. Kayako along with Kayako and Toshio. In this film Sadako creates a new cursed tape with a footage of a derelict mall from Sadako 3D on it. The tape somehow ends up in the possesion of an old woman named Yasue. Yasue watches the tape. Sadako appears in the TV, and approaches the screen. Apparently scared, Yasue tries to turn off the TV, and pulls out it's cord, but it doesn't work. Sadako emerges from the TV, and kills Yasue, cowering the cord with the hair, and disappering. A social worker Machimane visits Yasue's residence, sees her ghost, and finds her dead in front of TV, clutching a hair covered TV cord. The video player plays the tape. As Machimane watches, Sadako appears behind her. Machimane brings the player with the tape to the store. One of the store's employees, Keiko, finds, and watches the tape, while Sadako kills Machimane. Meanwhile, two friends, and university students, Yuri Kurahashi, and Natsumi Ueno, are attending the lection of their professor, and an author on urban legends, Shinichi Moprishige, who is obsessed with the idea of meeting Sadako. Morishige tells the students about Kuchisake Onna, Hanako-san, Red Cloak, Saeki house, and Sadako's tape. Natsumi asks Yuri to help her burn a copy of her parents' wedding tape onto CD. They come to the store, and buy Yasue's player with the tape inside it. They find Sadako's tape inside the player, and a curious Yuri plays it. Yuri is then distracted by her phone, so she ends up not watching the footage, only Natsumi watches it. Sadako appears in the TV. Natsumi sees her, and is horrified. Meanwhile, Sadako kills Keiko, and surviving epmloyees learn of Machimane's death. Natsumi, and Yuri return to the store, and learn about Keiko's, and Machimane's deaths. They go to Morishige. Yuri gives him the tape, and he watches it. He becomes ecstatic, and immediately copies the tape's contains on the CD. Morishige contacts the exorcist Horyu in the hopes that she can save them. Morishige, and the girls arrive at the temple, and meet Horyu and her assistants. Horyu calls for help a psychic named Keizo Tokiwa, and his partner, a blind psychic girl, Tamao. Horyu, and her assistants perform the ritual, and try to banish Sadako. However, the ritual ends in disaster. Sadako possesses Natsumi, and forces Horyu's assistants to kill themselves, and then influences Horyu herself. Horyu tells Morishige and the girls that she failed and that she called Keizo and he is on his way to help them. Horyu then begins to strangle herself under Sadako's influence. Morishige tries to help her, but Sadako kills them both. Sadako leaves Natsumi's body and she falls on the floor. A despondent Natsumi sees the carnage, tells Yuri that this is very bad, and blames her for what happened. Yuri watches the tape, hoping that this will pass the curse on to her, and Natsumi will be spared. Sadako once again appears in the TV, approches the screen, and then appears behind Yuri. Keizo, and Tamao arrive at the temple, meet Yuri, and Natsumi, and tell Yuri that the curse cannot be passed on. Keizo decides to pit Sadako against Kayako in hopes that they will obliterate each other. As an alternative they hope to seal them in Sadako's well. Keizo, and Tamao visit the Saeki house, and meet another young psychic, and a high school student, Suzuka Takagi, who recently moved in nearby, and started having dreams of the Saeki house. Tamao states that the house attracts her, and Keizo warns Suzuka not to enter the house or she will be killed. Tamao and Keizo also visit Sadako's well. Natsumi uploads Morishige's CD to the internet. Natsumi tries to commit suicide, but Sadako appears, and kills her. Keizo, Tamao, and Yuri come to Saeki house, and Keizo saves Suzuka from Kayako. Suzuka teams up with Yuri, Keizo, and Tamao to stop Sadako and Kayako. Yuri, and Suzuka enter the Saeki house, so that Suzuka can watch the tape inside, in hopes that this will make Sadako and Kayako fight over them. Toshio appears to them. Sadako pulls Toshio into TV, and emerges from it herself. Kayako appears, and crawls down the stairs. Sadako and Kayako attack each other. Kayako violently lunges on Sadako, and drags her away. Sadako ensnares her with her hair, impales it in her eyes, and mouth, and tears her into bloody mess. Kayako appears again, and Keizo yells for the girls to flee, because the plan failed. Keizo comes to the Saeki house and tosses Sadako's tape to Kayako who breaks it. Sadako grabs her hand with her hair. Keizo, and the girls flee from the house, but Sadako grabs Keizo's leg with her hair. The girls, and Keizo come to the well, and Keizo reveals their last resort: one of the girls has to sacrifice herself, and lure the spirits into the well so they can be sealed inside. Yuri decides to sacrifice herself so Suzuka and the others could survive. Sadako and Kayako appear, and approach Yuri. They then rush toward her, and Yuri jumps in the well. Sadako and Kayako jump after her, collide with each other in the air, and explode upon impact, killing Keizo, who shielded Tamao, and Suzuka from the blast, and fusing into Sadakaya, who takes the from of a giant contorting mass of flesh, hair, and eyes, and falls into the well, and on Yuri, killing and possessing her. Suzuka then seals the well, but Sadakaya rips off the seal, crawls out of the well, emitting death rattle, and approaches Suzuka, and Tamao, while Toshio appears behind them. Suzuka screams, and Sadakaya kills them both. Later, she appears on a TV in the Saeki house, and approaches the screen.
- Journalist Miyaji
- Aiko Hazuki
- Dr. Wataru Kuno
- Hiroshi Toyama
- Five unnamed troupe members
- Kaoru Arima
- Etsuko Tachihara
- Akiko Miyaji
- Nagao Jotaro (novels only)
- Heihachiro Ikuma (presumed)
- Tomoko Oishi
- Iwata Suichi
- Tadehiko Nomi
- Yoko Tsuji
- Ryuji Takayama
- Kōichi Asakawa
- Kanae Sawaguchi
- Reiko Asakawa (implied)
- Takashi Yamamura
- Dr. Kawajiri
- Two unnamed medical assistants
- Two unnamed students
- Numerous viewers of the cursed video in Sadako 3D
- Seiji Kashiwada
- Detective Koiso's partner
- Nagi Ando's victims (influenced by Sadako)
- Unnamed woman
- Unnamed social worker
- Unnamed store worker
- Shin'ichi Morishige
- Several of Hōryū's assistants
- Natsumi Ueno
- Her fate was more brutal and graphic in the novels. A doctor, who cared for her terminally ill father, raped Sadako and transmitted a smallpox strand that would later be embedded within the cursed videotape. The doctor exposes Sadako's genitals during the rape and discovers that she has Testicular Feminization Syndrome and tosses her down a nearby well out of disgust. He later commits suicide out of guilt.
- Fans consider Sadako to be more powerful, frightening yet tragic than Samara, who on the other hand was viewed as being more evil and sadistic. Sadako expressed more remorse in her actions, even as a vengeful ghost, and primarily killed those who tormented her in her lifetime. Samara was alienated by people who were genuninely concerned by her powers and harmed and killed innocent animals in her lifetime and even manipulated the protagonist into viewing her as a victim.
- Sadako's character is very similar to Carrie White as both are outcasts in society and struggled to fit in due to their potentially deadly supernatural abilities. They also have been isolated by members in society and have been sent to schools to "fit in". While staying in their schools, they have also developed feelings for a man who was well-liked amongst the crowd but their powers eventually go out of control, which leads to their boyfriends' deaths and they also go on a rampage to kill their tormentors. Both characters have also been abused and eventually killed by their parents and they both were restless beyond their grave after their cruel death.
- She is also similar to Kayako Saeki as they are both onryo spirits in white clothing, and were killed by their relatives, causing them to hate the world and want to destroy humanity. Their curses are extremely powerful and few people survive them and they coincidentally fuse together into one entity in a crossover.
- She is also very similar to Carmen Winstead as both have been thrown into an underground place (Sadako-well, Carmen-manhole) and manipulated technology in order to seek revenge and kill anyone who refuses to believe them or pass their stories to others.
- 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 (this is explained in the original novels).
- 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.
- The concept of Sadako's good side and evil side and both sides merging together near the end of the plot is similar to Alessa Gillespie, who also splitted her souls into a good version of herself and an evil version of herself. Adding onto that, both characters originated from Japan, both have unknown fathers, both have mothers who had contact with demonic entities, both possess supernatural abilities that cause them to be alienated, both are considered to be demonic incarnations (Alessa was accused of being one whilst Sadako was literally one since her father was an actual sea demon), both were attempted to be killed by members of society who feared and ultimately outcasted them because of their powers and both have initiated a powerful curse that holds immense control over the settings that the characters live in in both films.
- 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".
- In the novel, Sadako was raped by a doctor who cared for her terminally ill father and was thrown into the well after the doctor discovered that she possessed the testicles of both genders.