|The Ring series character|
|Gender||Intersex, lived as female|
|Race||Asian/Onryō, and possibly a quasi-oceanic demigod|
|Relationships|| Shizuko Yamamura (Mother)|
Ikuma Heihachiro (Adoptive Father)
Takashi Yamamura (Second Cousin)
En no Ozunu (Alleged Father)
|Enemies|| Nagao Jotaro|
|Modus operandi||Nensha, Revenge, Infection|
|Weapon of choice||The Cursed Videotape|
|Portrayed by:|| Ring & Ring 2|
Ring: The Final Chapter
Ring 0: Birthday
Sadako Yamamura (山村貞子 Yamamura Sadako?) is the antagonist in Koji Suzuki's novel Ring and the 1998 film adaptation. She returns as the antagonist in Rasen, is the protagonist in Ring 0: Birthday, and appears in the Korean and American remakes of the Ring cycle films.
In the original novel, Sadako was portrayed with testicular feminization syndrome, meaning that she was anatomically male. In both the novels and movies, it is possible to infer that she is the daughter of some oceanic based entity, making her a quasi-oceanic demigod.
Her name combines the Japanese words for "chaste" (sada) and "child" (ko).
Sadako's character is not directly portrayed in Ring, but is expanded briefly in Rasen and to a much greater extent in Ring 0: Birthday, although there are differences in these various portrayals.
Most other incarnations share one thing in common - Sadako's need to reproduce, something she can not do herself, as she is portrayed as an intersexual. This is generally the reason why she creates the "Ring Virus", since she will "live on" in it, as long as her DNA (merged with that of the smallpox virus) still exists. In some incarnations where the "Ring Virus" is just treated as a mysterious phenomenon, and not a biological virus, she generally created it for the purpose of seeking vengeance on humanity.
In the Ring novel Jotaro Nagao claims that when he raped Sadako (shortly before murdering her), he discovered she had Testicular Feminization Syndrome; despite having the external appearance of a beautiful woman, chromosonally she is XY, a male. The only external sign of her condition is the fact that she has external testes. Internally, she lacks a uterus or ovaries, meaning she could never conceive a child. This aspect of Sadako's character is not included in the film versions of Ring (or its American remakes), though that aspect was included in the television serials and the Korean remake.
When Sadako is reborn in Spiral she has changed, physically; The "new" Sadako has a womb and ovaries, and also states in a letter to Ando that "the man in me can ejaculate." However, it would appear that she does not have a penis as such; rather, her ejaculations are internal - into herself.
Although Sadako inseminates herself twice in Spiral, she never carries an egg fertilised only by herself to term - and as such it cannot be said how such a pregnancy would operate. The following details are based on her "resurrections".
By removing the DNA in one of Sadako's fertilized eggs and replacing it with that of another (then returning the egg to her womb) Sadako can "resurrect" the dead (or potentially clone the living). Her pregnancies, in these cases, last about a week, and the offspring grows back to their age/level of physical development from when the sample was taken in another week. The offspring retain all their memories from when the sample was taken, which Suzuki explains by claiming that memories are stored in the intron of DNA.
The filmed version of Ring 0: Birthday introduced the concept of two Sadakos - an idea not present in the earlier Ring books or films. The movie implies that sometime in her early youth Sadako split into two identical girls. One is relatively normal, while the other is a violent sociopath. This second Sadako is imprisoned by her father and drugged so that she would not physically mature. The second Sadako is never seen clearly, so it's not clear just what her physical state is, only that she has the size and proportions of a child.
Both Sadakos possesses psychic powers, although it is never clear whether they are the same. The "normal" Sadako exhibits, at one point, healing powers and the ability to see ghosts. She is also linked to the other Sadako, who wields more destructive powers (such as psychokinesis) and uses them to defend the "normal" Sadako when she is under duress - even if it is her own powers causing said duress.
After "normal" Sadako is murdered, the other Sadako merges with her. This merger involves no physical contact, as the child Sadako is locked in a room when it occurs (and vanishes afterwards), and two characters watching over the nearby corpse of older Sadako witnesses only the reanimation of her corpse.
The "restored" Sadako is mostly based on the older one, although when provoked her powers surface and her appearance change to resemble her younger form (her face obscured by her hair, moving mostly through shadows, etc).
The split between the two Sadako's in the film canon is detailed in a prequel manga to Ring 0.
Sadako's initial origin story is related in the novel and the first film. She lives on Oshima island with her mother Shizuko, a deeply disturbed woman who also has psychic powers. Shizuko gives birth to Sadako in a cave, where she hopes her child would be carried away by the waves. When she returns the next day, however, Sadako is still there, and so Shizuko keeps her.
As a child, Sadako is painfully shy and rarely socializes with other children. One day, a cousin, Takashi, decides to profit from Shizuko's powers and contacts Dr. Heihachiro Ikuma, a scientist fascinated by psychic powers. Heihachiro and Shizuko eventually form a romantic relationship, and they marry. This union, however, becomes strained when, during a public demonstration of her powers, Shizuko is mocked and insulted by reporters who accuse her of being a fake. Sadako, in defense of her mother, launches a psychic attack which kills the reporter who started the chaos. Sadako suddenly splits into two people; one kind hearted and timid, the other violent and psychotic. The good Sadako is allowed to live on while the other is kept in seclusion and forced to take growth inhibiting drugs. Shizuko eventually breaks under the strain and throws herself into mount Mihara.
Sadako's full origin is revealed in Ring 0. At the age of 19, she joins an acting troupe in Tokyo Osaka kōchi, and is immediately looked upon with suspicion when a number of actors die under mysterious circumstances. Unknown to Sadako, her twin is the actual culprit, using her twin as a conduit. Sadako enters a relationship with a sound editor named Toyama, the only person who shows her any acceptance. A set of calamitous circumstances result in Sadako being beaten to death by the acting troupe and taken to Dr. Ikuma's home, where they intend to finish off the evil Sadako. The plan fails disastrously, resulting in the two Sadakos merging into a single entity of pure destruction. Sadako kills the entire troupe, including Toyama. Dr. Ikuma beats her over the head with an axe and throws her down a well, where she survives by sheer will for over 33 years.
During her entrapment, a summer resort is built over the well. Using her powers, Sadako projects a series of images from her past into a blank videotape which, when watched, would kill the viewer after seven days.
The most recognizable image of Sadako is a shadowy woman whose face is covered in hair, crawling out of a television. This appearance is typical of Japanese ghosts, who are known as yūrei. Specifically, Sadako is a type of yūrei known as an onryō, a yūrei bound by a desire for vengeance.
Yūrei are Japanese ghosts, ones who have been bound to the physical world through strong emotions which do not allow them to pass on. Depending on the emotion that binds them, they manifest as a particular type of ghost.
Like many creatures of folklore, yūrei have a traditional appearance and follow a certain set of rules. They are generally female, although male yūrei do exist. They wear white clothing, which is the color of clothing that corpses are traditionally dressed with in Japan. They have long, often unkempt black hair and white faces, which comes from Kabuki theater where each character has a particular type of wig and make-up that identifies them to the audience. (Although it may also come from the fact that while Japanese women usually wore their hair in a bun, for funeral and burial, their long hair is let loose)
In addition to the standard yūrei appearance, Sadako is also an amalgamation of two famous Japanese ghosts, Oiwa and Okiku. From Oiwa, Sadako takes the single, misshapen eye. From Okiku, the style of murder, of being thrown down a well and then having the ghost rise from the well to seek vengeance.
The success of the 1998 film Ring brought the image of the yūrei to Western popular culture for the first time, although the image has existed in Japan for centuries. This image is often used in J-Horror films, such as Ju-on (and its remake The Grudge), One Missed Call and Dark Water.
Sadako has a variety of psychic powers throughout all the Ring cycle books and films. The most famous is her ability to create the "cursed" video tape.
In the films her method of killing with the video curse is not explained, but when someone is killed by it she is seen climbing out of the nearest reflective surface (the most famous portrayal of this being her crawl from a television screen) and approaching them. The corpses are discovered with looks of unearthly anguish on their faces, so it could be presumed that they "die of fright", i.e. a heart attack. In Rasen, the curse is explained in detail, and is discovered to in fact be a virus. When someone watches the cursed tape (or something else carrying the curse) some of their DNA is changed to become that of the Ring Virus (i.e. a hybrid of Sadako's DNA and that of the smallpox virus). This travels through their body and in most cases causes a sarcoma to form on one of the arteries of their heart. If the curse has not been appeased within seven days, the sarcoma detaches from the artery and clogs it, causing heart failure.
In Ring 0 Sadako exhibits a variety of abilities (mentioned above), including telekinesis, the ability to kill people instantly with psychic powers, healing abilities, ESP, and possibly the ability to split herself into two beings and merge them again.
In Ring 2 the protagonists discover that Sadako was alive in the well for 30 years, dying shortly before she was uncovered in the previous film by Reiko Asakawa. This implies that she had remained alive until she imparted her curse onto the tape, meaning that she also had superhuman endurance and longevity, as well as inedia (the ability to live for extended periods without nourishment).
In the original Japanese films, Sadako's tapes cause their victims to have odd and malformed images when photographed. These images remain until Sadako kills the victim.
Lastly, she imparts her curse onto the video tapes, implying the ability of projected thermography.
Influences and referencesEdit
As stated earlier, Sadako's image is based on the legend of Oiwa, itself based on a real incident occurring in the 17th century. Sadako is also based on the life of early-20th century psychic Sadako Takahashi, who in 1931 was studied by psychologist Tomokichi Fukurai for his book, Clairvoyance and Thoughtography.
Sadako, in turn, was the source for Park Eun-Suh from the Korean remake, The Ring Virus. She was also the main influence on Samara Morgan from the American remake, The Ring and its sequel, The Ring Two; like Sadako, she is born with supernatural powers, and is murdered by someone close to her (her foster mother, Anna.)
In August 2000, The Ring: Terror's Realm was released on Dreamcast, that played much like Resident Evil. It portrays a world where the cure to Sadako's virus resides in virtual reality. All references are primarily from Ringu.
The Dutch metal band Thanatos released a song titled "The Sign of Sadako" on their album, Undead, Unholy, Divine. The lyrics directly relate to the character, with lines such as "One became two, then two became one" (referring to the splitting into good/evil Sadako, and subsequent remerging) and "The curse was spread and visualized/Watch the images within seven days you'll die".
Like many aspects and symbols of Japanese pop culture, she has also been referenced by 2ch and 4chan in memetic fanart depicting her in a more positive way. She has been called "Japan's most popular psychic ghost."