- The Grudge characters
- Ju-on Male Characters
- View history
- 2.1.1 Early Life
- 2.1.2 Death
- 2.1.3 Afterlife
- 2.1.4 Beginning of the End
- 2.1.5 Sadako vs. Kayako
- 2.2.1 Early Life and Death
- 2.2.2 Hauntings in America
- 3 Etymology
- 5 References
Toshio follows the resented spirit of his mother on a spreading grudge curse that sets on anyone who steps inside their house . He is the more passive ghost overall, usually just appearing and doing little other than staring and startling people with his signature unsettling cat sounds.
His ghost is trademarked by his menacing, yet innocent aspect with pitch-black, wide-open eyes, pale skin, and the haunting meowing sounds he makes. He is often spotted in just his underwear; white in the Japanese films or black in The Grudge. He is capable of posing as a living being, his skin regaining normal color.
Toshio shares a main role with his mother Kayako, becoming an icon of Japanese horror and the horror genre in general.
Are you my real mother?
Toshio draws as his mother is murdered.
Toshio was born to Takeo and Kayako Saeki , a Japanese couple residing in Nerima City, Tokyo on July 27, 1985 as seen in Ju-on: The Grudge . He had a teacher named Kobayashi who happened to be an old flame of his mother, but who never really noticed her.
Takeo discovered a journal in which Kayako wrote intensely about her love for Kobayashi. Blind with rage, he obsessed over the mistaken idea that Kayako was cheating on him. He attacked Kayako when she came home and violently killed her.
The Ju-on film series never actually makes it clear how Toshio died, even though Kobayashi already finds him meowing and able to communicate to his mother, suggesting that her spirit took him herself. Her murder brought a curse upon the house, in which the ghosts of Kayako, Toshio, and Takeo (killed by Kayako's ghost soon after her murder) attack anyone who enters, re-enacting the murders and following the victims wherever they go.
Noticing his absence, Kobayashi went to the Saeki house and found a trail of blood, and Toshio acting lazy and covered in bruises. Toshio only told him his parents were "out" and later was heard talking to an unseen woman about his father, inside his room. Toshio complained that Mar was killed and told her his father had left for good. The woman promised that she would stay with him forever, to whom Toshio asked back if she was really his mother. The voice remarked to Toshio that she would always be behind him, and Kobayashi entered the room, finding Toshio alone and making several drawings of his cat. After the teacher discovered Kayako's corpse in the attic, he tried to run out of the house with Toshio, only to be surprised by her ghost, as Toshio only meowed.
Later, Rika found him with his cat inside the closet and thought he was an actual boy until she was told by Detective Nakagawa that he had been murdered years before. While the curse followed Rika, an old man noticed Toshio and started playing with him. A passerby also was able to see him as well. Kayako came back to life when the curse gripped Kyoko Harase 's pregnancy. Kyoko's last vision before being possessed was Toshio repetitively calling her "mother" while in her childbed. This implies that Kayako and Toshio were reborn as one, but is not made clear.
Beginning of the End
See: Toshio Yamada
Megumi Okina with Yūya Ozeki filming Ju-on: The Grudge .
In the 2014 reboot, Toshio is actually the reincarnated self of a boy named Toshio Yamada. He still maintains his more passive role in haunting cursed victims alongside his mother. Murdered by his own family in 1995, Toshio Yamada died being tied up in a closet and left to die during a heatwave. The domestic violence that led to his death brought a grudge curse over the Yamada household, condemning anyone who stepped into it. His teacher, the police, and a photographer investigate the house and find his corpse, and when the police and teacher go to find help Toshio reanimates and kills the photographer.
As portrayed in The Beginning of the End .
When Takeo and Kayako Saeki later moved into the Yamada house, her husband's absence made Kayako incredibly lonely and although she desired to have a child they seemed unable to conceive. While sleeping, Toshio entered her body causing her to become pregnant as she wanted, being reborn as Toshio Saeki. Finally, Taeko accused Kayako of infidelity, asking if Toshio was his son. When she replied he was "only hers" he murdered her, killing Toshio as well as his cat Mar soon after.
Along with Kayako and Taeko, Toshio would go on to haunt anyone who stepped foot on the premises, often appearing right before an attack by Kayako.
Sadako vs. Kayako
Toshio is re-established as the secondary antagonist alongside his mother in the crossover with the Ringu franchise. The film seems to discard the events of the reboot and outright contradicts them. Compared to other depictions of Toshio, this version shows him to be malevolent, violent, and even sadistic.
The character spoofed in Scary Movie 4 .
When three school bullies force a schoolboy to enter the Saeki house, Toshio has the boy lure the bullies in and murders them all while Kayako kills the boy. Keizo and Tamao arrive at the house but do not enter, with Keizo throwing a stone to drive Toshio away.
That night, schoolgirl Suzuka thinks she sees one of the kids inside the Saeki house and goes inside herself. She sees Toshio and her screams prompted her parents to rush in, but Toshio kills her father by tearing his head off as well. Keizo arrives in time to save Suzuka, although she is already cursed.
Yuri and Suzuka agree to team up for Keizo plans to trick Kayoko and Sadako into fighting each other to the death. When Toshio appears, Sadako drags him inside the TV with her hair prompting Kayako to attack her and they brutally confront each other. At first, both spirits seem to overpower the other but ultimately the bout ends in a stalemate. Keizo's plan to trap the two spirits in Sadako's well also fails, resulting in his brutal death, Yuri's body being possessed, and both Kayoko and Sadako combine into a horrific, more powerful entity: Sadakaya. As it attacks Suzuka and Tamao, Toshio appears behind them, taunting their fates (which are ultimately left unknown.)
Early life and death.
Kayako fell in love with an American professor named Peter Kirk . After discovering her inner feelings towards Peter, her husband Takeo became obsessed with the idea that he was not his son, killing her in a rage. He subsequently killed Toshio as well as his cat Mar by drowning them in the bathtub before hanging himself in Toshio's bedroom. The spirits of the boy and the cat then merged and formed a demonic entity that haunts anyone who enters the Saeki house, alongside Kayako's angry spirit.
Following Kayoko's address from her letters, Peter went to the Saeki house and found Toshio acting lazy and covered in bruises in the middle of a complete mess. Peter later discovered Kayako's corpse and saw Takeo's hanged body. He ran from the house but later committed suicide. Karen Davis eventually found him trapped in the closet with his cat, thinking he was a living boy until told he had been murdered there three years before.
Hauntings in America
The curse then reached a Chicago apartment building , following a young girl who had stepped into the house and returned home, in an attempt to run away from the ghosts. There, Toshio posed once again as an ordinary boy that enjoyed playing with Rose 's toys, such as the Mr. Potato Head she gave him. Her older sister Lisa also met him in his ghostly form but also mistook him for a human being. Not long after, his true nature was revealed. Toshio's ghost supposedly vanished after the banishing ritual performed in the building by his aunt, Naoko .
He does not appear in The Grudge (2020) , only being indirectly mentioned and featured in a photograph.
- The name Toshio means "talented, handsome" (俊) ( toshi ) and "hero, manly" (雄) ( o ).
- Toshio's surname Saeki means "help, aid" (佐) ( sa ) and "chief, count, earl, uncle, Brazil" (伯) ( eki ).
- Also in the novel, Toshio buries his own cat in the dirt, after both of their deaths.
- In the Japanese films, Toshio is six years old at the time of his death. Meanwhile, in the American films, he was either seven or eight years old (the online newspaper article that Karen reads states Toshio's age as seven, but a link to another online article on the search engine she uses states Toshio's age as eight).
- Toshio attended the press release of Shimizu 's 2011 film Tormented . http://news.livedoor.com/article/detail/5724723/
- Yūya Ozeki , one of Toshio's actors, was reportedly terrified of cats, which made filming scenes with the cats used to play Mar rather difficult.
- The character is parodied by Garrett Masuda in Scary Movie 4. Bill Pullman also spoofs Peter Kirk in this film, as the boy's father.
- Takeo killed Toshio in the Japanese films as he wrongly suspected that he was Kobayashi's child and not his. Given that his American counterpart Peter Kirk is Caucasian, this was likely not the case for the American films. The implication is that Takeo killed Toshio because he walked in on him killing Kayako, and had to kill him because he was a witness to his crime.
- 2 Kayako Saeki
- 3 Saeki House
One of Japan's scariest ghosts has an Instagram account
By Rich McCormick
Source Kayako with Toshio (Instagram)
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Kayako is the white-faced, wide-eyed antagonist of classic Japanese horror movie Ju-on ( The Grudge ), a malevolent spirit of a murdered woman who kills everyone who steps into her house. She is also — according to her Instagram account — a devoted mother to her similarly ghostly son Toshio and a social media fan. A series of filtered pictures show the pair posing in parks, at the breakfast table, and in the garden, each with the same caption — " aaah... aaah... aaah... " — famously the only thing the dead Kayako can say.
The account was created to promote the upcoming Sadako vs. Kayako movie , a semi-comedy horror that promises to pit two titans of J-horror against each other. In one corner, Sadako, the well-dwelling girl from The Ring ; in the other Kayako, along with her black-eyed son Toshio. Kayako's got numbers on her side, but Sadako's the real horror OG, the lank-haired originator of the spooky ghost girl trend that still persists in Japanese — and western — horror movies to this day.
あ゛あ゛あ゛あ゛あ゛（…成長してる？） #あ゛あ゛あ゛あ゛あ゛ #ニャー #さだかや A photo posted by 伽椰子と俊雄のほのぼの親子日記 (@kayakowithtoshio) on Apr 20, 2016 at 12:18am PDT
In the years since The Ring 's release, Sadako's become something of a national institution in Japan. In Osaka's Universal Studios Japan, for example, she's wheeled into the park on Halloween, "haunting" rides with regular appearances, appearing during Jurassic Park and Jaws attractions to terrify audiences expecting to see dinosaurs or giant sharks. But Kayako's Instagram, with its pictures of ghosts enjoying cherry blossom viewing picnics and spring walks, might help win support for Ju-on 's undead duo before Sadako vs. Kayako arrives — it's the epitome of kowakawaii , a neologism that combines the Japanese words for "scary" and "cute."
あ゛あ゛あ゛あ゛あ゛（ようやくお花見日和） #花より団子 #あ゛あ゛あ゛あ゛あ゛ #ニャー #さだかや A photo posted by 伽椰子と俊雄のほのぼの親子日記 (@kayakowithtoshio) on Apr 5, 2016 at 10:30pm PDT
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Ju-on: The Grudge
A mysterious and vengeful spirit marks and pursues anybody who dares enter the house in which it resides. A mysterious and vengeful spirit marks and pursues anybody who dares enter the house in which it resides. A mysterious and vengeful spirit marks and pursues anybody who dares enter the house in which it resides.
- Takashi Shimizu
- Megumi Okina
- Misa Uehara
- 223 User reviews
- 145 Critic reviews
- 48 Metascore
- See more at IMDbPro
- 1 win & 1 nomination
- Rika Nishina
- Hitomi Tokunaga
- Izumi Tôyama
- Katsuya Tokunaga
- Kazumi Tokunaga
- Yûji Tôyama
- (as Yoji Tanaka)
- Fukushi Sentâ Jimuin
- Takeo Saeki
- Erebêtâ no Onna
- All cast & crew
- Production, box office & more at IMDbPro
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- Trivia This film is actually the third installment of the Ju-on series, and the first to get a wide theatrical release. It was preceded by two low budget films from 2000 known as ( Ju-on: The Curse (2000) and Ju-on: The Curse 2 (2000) ), whose storylines are continued in this sequel.
- Goofs (at around 1h 18 mins) When Rika wakes up in bed to a room full of yowling black cats, several of the cats are obviously statues. Some of them are even clearly replicas of the same statue.
Hirohashi : Thanks for the effort.
- Alternate versions In the Technical Specifications link for the film, there are two versions of this film listed, one with a runtime "1 hr 32 min (92 min)" and another clocking in at "1 hr 43 min (103 min) (original cut)".
- Connections Featured in Nightmares in Red, White and Blue: The Evolution of the American Horror Film (2009)
- Soundtracks Kagi ga akanai Music by Hiroyuki Hamamoto Lyrics by Kei Noguchi Performed by Suitei Shôjo Courtesy of Epic Records Japan
User reviews 223
- Nov 9, 2004
Reboots & Remakes
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- What exactly is the grudge?
- January 25, 2003 (Japan)
- Official site
- Nerima, Tokyo, Japan
- Pioneer LDC
- See more company credits at IMDbPro
- $3,500,000 (estimated)
- Jul 25, 2004
- Runtime 1 hour 32 minutes
- Dolby Digital
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The grudge’s ghost origin story explained.
The Grudge's ghost origin story is rooted to Japanese culture, and served as the basis for the original film as well as the 2004 American remake.
The Grudge has already been made twice, had lackluster sequels, and will be remade in 2020 . The reason the franchise has been so successful is partially do to the rich lore surrounding its ghost's origin story, which is rooted in Japanese culture.
The writer and director of Ju-On: The Grudge , Takashi Shimizu, created the original story as the third installment in the larger Japanese franchise, Ju-On , which Shimizu started in 1998. The original The Grudge was released in 2002, and after the success of The Ring in the US, Shimizu was asked to remake his own film for American audiences. More often than not, Americanized versions of foreign films fall flat, but under Shimizu's directorial hand, the 2004 American remake of The Grudge , which starred Sarah Michelle Gellar , Jason Behr, KaDee Strickland, and Clea DuVall, was successful.
Related: The Grudge Is Getting ANOTHER Remake: Why That's Unnecessary
The Grudge and The Ring are responsible for the uptick in Japanese-style horror made for American audiences, and still holds up as terrifying films. Like many other foreign horror franchises, The Grudge maintains its success and effectiveness through its ability to tell a good story.
The Grudge's Ghost Origin Story Explained
The entire Ju-On series focuses around a curse that has become attached to a house after being created by a deceased family's rage. In some ways, the effects of the curse are viral; it affects everyone who comes in contact with it. Though much of The Grudge franchise is presented in a non-linear fashion, it is important to note that the curse persists throughout time and only grows stronger as it claims more victims. Though many families have succumbed to the curse, the Saeki family's tragedy is one of the most potent contributors. Kayako Saeki was a housewife who lived in Tokyo and fell in love with her college professor. After her husband, Takeo, found out about the affair, he brutally murdered Kayako, their son Toshio, and their pet cat, then hid their bodies in the house. Takeo was later murdered by his son's vengeful spirit.
Kayako's role in the franchise is linked to the Japanese folklore of the onryō, which translates to "vengeful spirit." According to folklore, onryō are spirits who can return to the world of the living to exact physical vengeance. They can kill living enemies, and even create natural disasters to aid them in their plight. All of this is done in an attempt to right the wrongs they suffered whilst alive, as they are usually created when a person dies in a state of extreme rage, pain, or sorrow. Onryō are a popular myth utilized throughout Japanese horror , not just in The Grudge franchise. However, the lore goes deeper than onryō, and Kayako's story is loosely based on the Yotsuya Kaidan ghost story, which is a traditional Japanese onryō story .
Originally written in 1825 as a kabuki play, it is one of the most well-known Japanese ghost stories. In the story, Oiwa and Tamiya lemon are a married couple; lemon is a rōnin of unscrupulous morals, and murders his own father-in-law. After the granddaughter of Oiwa and Tamiya's wealthy neighbor falls in love with Tamiya and wishes to marry him, the granddaughter's family schemes to have Oiwa disfigured; they give her a poisoned facial cream, which causes extensive scarring. After seeing Oiwa's disfigured face, Tamiya is disgusted by Oiwa and plots to have her raped, since he needs an honorable reason for divorce. The man he hires to commit the crime cannot go through with it, and shows Oiwa her disfiguration, which enrages her when she realizes she's been deceived; she ends up tripping on her own sword in an attempt to exact vengeance and kills herself.
After her death, Oiwa's ghost (an onryō) tricks Tamiya into murdering his new bride and her grandfather on their wedding night. Oiwa continues to torment Tamiya until he fully descends into madness. Japanese legend states that those who retell Oiwa's story can suffer major illness or even death, so many within the film industry travel to Oiwa's grave to ask for her blessing before proceeding with their various projects; perhaps this was even done with The Grudge .
Next: What To Expect From The Grudge 2020
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Film / Ju-on
Note: This page is for the Japanese films only. For the American series, see The Grudge .
Ju-on is a Japanese horror film series, directed by Takashi Shimizu . There are currently nine films in the series, including a crossover film, as well as two short films ( Katasumi / In A Corner and 4444444444 ), which were released prior to the first film (and are featured on the Director's Cut DVD release of the first remake as special features).
The title of the films translates roughly to "Curse Grudge". The first two films in the series were so-called V-Cinema, or made for TV releases , but became surprise hits as the result of favourable word of mouth. The curse of the title, ju-on, is one which takes on a life of its own and seeks new victims. Anyone who encounters a ghost killed by the curse is killed himself and the curse is able to be spread to other areas.
The plot focuses on the curse created in a house in Tokyo when Takeo Saeki, convinced that his wife Kayako was having an affair with her crush, murdered her, their son Toshio and Toshio's pet cat, Mar, in a jealous rage. Takeo was later killed by the vengeful spirit of his wife. The spirits now haunt the house, cursing anyone who dare enter - and, by extension, anyone who is even remotely connected to those who have entered the house.
The plot of each film is told in a series of non-linear storylines , with many intersecting subplots.
Following the success of the two TV movies, screenwriter Hiroshi Takahashi helped Shimizu develop Ju-on as a theatrical feature. The resulting film, Ju-on: The Grudge , was released in 2003. Shortly after, the US remake rights were purchased, with Shimizu himself attached to direct. A sequel, Ju-on: The Grudge 2 , was released later that year. In 2004, the US remake, The Grudge , was released.
In 2009, two new Ju-on films were released simultaneously, to celebrate the franchise's 10th anniversary. These are Ju-on: Shiroi Roujo and Ju-on: Kuroi Shoujo . These films are not directly connected to the previous installments, instead focusing on different ju-on curses.
The franchise was rebooted in 2014 with the release of Ju-on: The Beginning of the End , which alters much of the background story. Shimizu did not have a hand in the production, nor did Mrs. Takako Fuji as Kayako, who was replaced by Misaki Saisho . It was followed in 2015 with the release of Ju-on: The Final , which, as the name suggests, serves as the franchise's Grand Finale . A crossover with The Ring series was released in 2016.
There is also a novel adaption of the movies, as well as two manga volumes based on the series.
- Ju-on (aka Ju-on: The Curse ) - the first V-Cinema release.
- Ju-on 2 (aka Ju-on: The Curse 2 ) - the second V-Cinema release.
- Ju-on (aka Ju-on: The Grudge , aka Ju-on 3 ) - the first theatrical release.
- Ju-on 2 (aka Ju-on: The Grudge 2 , aka Ju-on 4 ) - the second theatrical release.
- Ju-on: Shiroi Roujo (aka Ju-on: White Ghost ) - one of the two spin-off sequels released to celebrate the series' 10th anniversary. The film has no connection to the rest of the series, following its own storyline.
- Ju-on: Kuroi Shoujo (aka Ju-on: Black Ghost ) - the second of the spin-off sequels, following its own storyline and being connected to White Ghost .
- Ju-on: Owari no Hajimari (aka Ju-on: Beginning of the End ) - the 2014 addition to the franchise and its Continuity Reboot .
- Ju-on: The Final - Exactly What It Says on the Tin . The series came to an end with this 2015 film. Or did it?
- Sadako vs. Kayako - You read that right . Our two ghostly ladies with the penchant for killing people will finally meet and show off their powers to those poor humans. First teased as an April Fools' Joke, but later turned out to be real. Released in 2016.
It is worth noting that the theatrical releases are not remakes of the V-Cinema films, as is commonly believed, but are, in fact, sequels. The first two films, which are quite hard to find outside of Japan, do not have to be seen to understand the later two films, however.
- Katasumi (aka In A Corner ) - marks the first appearance of Kayako.
- 4444444444 - marks the first appearance of Toshio.
These shorts are set during the first movie, and offer a little more insight into the incidents surrounding certain characters from that film.
In 2009, feelplus developed a Wii game based on the franchise known in the US as Ju-on: The Grudge Haunted House Simulator . Storyline-wise, it is unconnected to any of the films or shorts, and it tells an original story about a family of four who find themselves facing Kayako and Toshio's curse in an episodic fashion.
A series made by Netflix Japan, known as Ju-On: Origins , was released on July 3, 2020.
Not to be confused with Ju-Rei , a different Japanese supernatural horror film that shamelessly rips off this franchise .
Provides Examples Of:
- Abandoned Hospital : Episode two of Ju-on: The Grudge Haunted House Simulator literally uses the trope name, although it would be more aptly called a deserted hospital. Still, some scares courtesy of Kayako and Toshio are on-hand.
- This extends to the antagonists of White Ghost and Black Ghost , the little girl Mirai murdered by her possessed uncle, and the absorbed twin of Black Ghost 's central character.
- The Alcoholic : Kobayashi may or may not be one. Kayako claims, in her diary, that Kobayashi drinks too much and that she once witnessed him throw up in the street.
- All There in the Manual : You won't know what happens to Tsuyoshi unless you've seen the 4444444444 short. Likewise, you won't know what happens to Kanna's friend Hisayo (who is mentioned, but not seen, in the first movie), unless you've seen the Katasumi short.
- One of the first scenes in the very first film is a view of a spider with the Saeki house (the roof and the attic to be exact) behind it.
- Kayako's often seen (or heard) in the attic, which is a common place for spiders to live.
- Female spiders are commonly considered more dangerous than males - Kayako is (excluding the two reboots) the most threatening of the ghosts and has the largest body count.
- Females of some species are known to eat their partners - Kayako's first victim (if you don't count Toshio, who might or might not have been killed by his mother) is her crush - Kobayashi, and her second victim is her husband.
- The curse itself has a resemblance to a spider's web - when you enter the house it's only a matter of time before you die at the hands of (most likely) Kayako. No matter how far you escape, the curse is stuck to you just like a spider's web.
- The way Kayako moves, i.e. on all fours, head first and in some cases she appears on the ceiling or from other place improbable or outright impossible for a human being.
- Kayako emerging from a plastic bag (both in the stairway scene and before killing Takeo) reminds of an arthropod molting or leaving a cocoon.
- Victims are often seen unresponsive or even catatonic in the face of immediate danger such as Kayako approaching them - spiders most commonly poison their prey with venom and then eat them unable to move but still alive.
- Anachronic Order : The story of every movie is told in a non-chronological order.
- And I Must Scream : The fate of every single person who is taken by the curse.
- Anyone Can Die : There is no way to escape the curse. It may kill some characters quickly, in some cases it may wait (in Rika's case, for years at a time), but it will eventually get them.
- Apocalypse How : Heavily implied to be happening at the end of the third movie... although, since only shots of Tokyo are shown, it is unknown if the curse has spread further or not . Also, given the Anachronic Order of the series, it is unknown just how far into the future this scene is.
- Apocalypse Maiden : Kayako, quite possibly.
- Asshole Victim : Takeo ends up as one of the curse's earliest victims.
- Ax-Crazy : Takeo's a rather jealous sort of chap, can't you tell?
- Bedmate Reveal : Played for horror when Kayako appears in Hitomi's bed.
- In the reboots, their roles are reversed.
- White Ghost and Black Ghost each have separate ones since their stories are unrelated to the Saeki family. Mirai serves as one in the former, while Fukie's Evil Twin does the job in the latter.
- Big Little Sister : Yui is noticeably taller than her older sister, Mai. Midori to Yayoi, too, but that's because the middle school-aged Yayoi had died when Midori was still a toddler, so we didn't get to see her fully grow up.
- Big Sister Instinct : Mai will stop at nothing in search for her missing sister, Yui. Even when Kyosuke already tells her to get off the Nerima house case as far as she can . Even when ghosts start haunting and tormenting her and her boyfriend.
- Bittersweet Ending : White Ghost has one, probably the only time where the character supposedly comes out of the hauntings relatively unscathed. Our leading lady (girl?), Akane, is haunted by her guilt of letting her childhood friend, Mirai, be abused and murdered horrifically by her uncle. At the end, Akane apologizes to Mirai, and the latter in turn leaves her bear keychain before disappearing for good, having forgiven her. She doesn't want to kill her friend after all. Warm feelings...
- Blood Is the New Black : Kayako is frequently seen drenched in blood.
- Kanna's jawless ghost in the first film.
- Manami Kobayashi is hinted to have suffered from this, since Takeo removed her unborn child .
- Kanna's friend Hisayo Yoshida, who only appears in Katasumi , is described by the police and a mortician as being twisted beyond compehension, with both the remains of a school rabbit and Kanna's jaw being found within the body!
- Kayako suffers this at Takeo's hand, with a broken neck, crushed windpipe, further subjected to Takeo's violence, and then stuffed into a plastic bag.
- Kyoko Harase during both her pregnancies, having a miscarriage of her first thank to Toshio, and then has to endure a mystical pregnancy of a reborn Kayako.
- Mirai and her entire family in White Ghost . Mirai's mother is doused in petrol and set on fire by her possessed brother, who then proceeds to remove Mirai's head with a chainsaw.
- Body Surf : Toshio in the reboots, is revealed to have this.
- Break the Cutie : Most of the characters, but particularly Rika, Izumi, Chiharu and Reo.
- Broken Smile : Izumi (combined with a healthy dosage of Slasher Smile ), during her Freak Out .
- A much more disturbing version of this trope occurs in the fourth movie. At the beginning of the film, Kyoko and Masashi are involved in a car crash (thanks to Toshio's little visit) which causes Kyoko to miscarry their child. Later on, however, her doctor assures her of a healthy pregnancy, which understandably causes her some confusion. She later gives birth... to a reborn Kayako.
- The Cameo : Toshio has brief appearances in both White Ghost and Black Ghost .
- Cats Are Mean : Justified , given that said cat is a part of the curse.
- Played with in the first TV movie, where toy cats are staring at Yuki. She is so creeped out that she has to turn the toys away, but it looks like they were moved to look at her.
- Ceiling Corpse : A variation in The Final . Midori gets her sister throw her upwards so hard that her head gets stuck in the ceiling.
- Changing of the Guard : The protagonist of The Final is Mai, the older sister of Yui, the protagonist of its preceding film, The Beginning of the End .
- Clingy Jealous Guy : In the novel, Takeo, before he became a full-blown Green-Eyed Monster .
- Also, in the first movie, Takeo's death is shown when Kayako's ghost claims him on the street. In the third and fourth movies, the fact that his body was discovered on the street is mentioned.
- In the fourth movie, Keisuke discovers several letters addressed to "Tokunaga" inside the Nerima house. Those letters are in fact the same ones that Kazumi took from the mailbox in the third film. Since almost a decade has passed between the two films (evidenced by the appearance of Chiharu, who's Izumi's high school friend), either they're the product of the house's time-travel thingy or people are just too afraid to enter the house and remove the letters.
- Cradling Your Kill : Kayako does this to Nobuyuki in the second film.
- Creator Cameo : Well, sort of. Kayako's death rattles are provided by Takashi Shimizu himself.
- In Black Ghost , there's something...off about Fukie, even before her Evil Twin takes over. Once the latter event happens, well, the creepiness turns up to eleven.
- In The Final , there's Ena, who's like Fukie v.2, from having psychic powers, to not talking much, and, eventually, becoming possessed by a spirit.
- In the reboots, Kayako wasn't always like this. Post-mortem Kayako will speak like this whenever others are lucky enough to meet her in her human form. In contrast, while in pre-mortem, Kayako's a certified Genki Girl .
- Kayako's death. Not only does she have her neck broken by her own husband, she also has to endure being left paralysed in a plastic sack for an unknown (to the audience) amount of time before said husband returns with a utility knife... (By extension, Rika's death also counts.)
- Hisayo's death, also offscreen, also counts. Although her body is never shown (the only thing the audience gets to see is a bloodstained blanket covering a ghastly, misshapen lump), it is mentioned that she was found dismembered, and appears to have been "twisted and torn by some unnatural force".
- Reo in The Final . Kayako breaks her spine by slowly moving her downward.
- Cute Monster Girl : Kayako. Toshio, too, though he's more on the adorable side (he's about 6, mind you).
- Darkness Equals Death : Although a lot of the deaths happen in bright daylight, some occur in (of course) the attic of the house, and in assorted dark rooms. In addition to that, the curse also seems able to cause electric lights to suddenly stop working (perhaps the creepiest example of this is in Yuki's segment in the first movie).
- Death by Childbirth : Averted in the sense that it isn't the mother who dies... just everybody who happens to witness the birth at the time .
- Death by Falling Over : Kyoko Harase , although in her case it definitely wasn't an accidental death.
- Death by Looking Up : Played with during Kobayashi 's death scene - he doesn't die from anything falling on him, but he does die after he looks up and sees Kayako staring down at him, and she moves in for the kill with freakish speed.
- Death of a Child : Toshio dies, as does Manami and Kobayashi's unborn child . That's right, not even a fetus survives this series.
- Atsushi Isobe is implied to have been possessed in White Ghost , causing him to sexually abuse his niece Mirai and then murder his family.
- Demoted to Extra : Of all people, Kayako gets much less screen time in The Beginning of the End and only appears once in her ghost form at the end, helping Toshio corner Yui, .
- Die Laughing : Kayako in The Beginning of the End . Laughing while having her neck snapped, yeah.
- Dirty Old Man : Subverted - it initially looks as though Saitô (the old man in the wheelchair) is perving over Rika's ass - until it is revealed that he is playing "peekaboo" with what appears to be thin air ...
- Dragged Off to Hell : Presumably what Kayako does to her victims. Hitomi and Izumi being the more prominent examples since they're just dragged off into darkness.
- Ju-on: The Curse - Kobayashi loses both his wife and unborn daughter to Takeo and soon gets killed by Kayako. The entire Murakami family, except for the father, plus Yuki, succumb to the curse. The house is having a new owner, whose seller's paranormal sister, Kyoko, senses that they will eventually fall to the curse as well.
- Ju-on: The Curse 2 - The entire Suzuki family (Kyoko, Tatsuya, their parents, Tatsuya's son Nobuyuki) are killed by the curse. The curse also claims two survivors from the previous film: Kamio and Yoshikawa ( and his wife ).
- Ju-on: The Grudge - The entire Tokunaga family perishes to the curse , and what is left of the Toyama family is the wife, who has to watch both her husband and daughter going mad before their eventual death by the curse. Oh, and Rika is destined to play the curse, too - after she has died, of course.
- Ju-on: The Grudge 2 - Everyone in the set meets their doom as soon as they step inside the house. Kyoko's husband commits suicide, while Kyoko herself gives birth to Kayako and becomes her servant before she gets offed as well.
- Ju-on: Black Ghost - Fukie's Evil Twin takes over her body and kills her aunt, Mariko ( and her completely innocent husband and son ), before getting killed by her mother, Kiwako, in a double suicide, which only worsens the curse, as this means that Fukie's twin now can roam free of her mortal body. She then proceeds to kill her nurse, Yuko, and the latter's neighbor, Tetsuya.
- And finally, Ju-on: The Final , where every other single main character, except for Kyosuke Takeda (who not only manages to live for over 10 years and counting after having first contacted the curse, but is able to warn the protagonists of it, futilely, of course ) are killed, and the last shot of the film is our last protagonist, Mai, who can only watch helplessly as Kayako, now jawless (!) comes closer to her for her inevitable death. So yes, the series started and ended with a downer note, and indeed, there's no stopping of Kayako and Toshio once they're in to hunt you...
- Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette : Kayako and Toshio, obviously. Add that to most other dark-haired characters who are seen after becoming curse victims (such as Rika and Kanna ).
- Elevator Snare : A supernatural example in the third film. Hitomi flees into the elevator of her apartment complex and rides it up... not noticing that Toshio is lurking on every single floor she passes.
- Everyone Went to College Together : Kayako attended college with Kobayashi and his future wife Manami.
- Even Creepy Dead Boys Love Their Mamas : Toshio to Kayako, especially in the first movie and the manga.
- Reo and her mother, after their death , do this to Mai in the eighth film. Combined with the lighting that turns their faces into Scary Flashlight Face , it's incredibly unsettling.
- Evil Phone : Many a character receives a phone call, only to hear Kayako's death rattle or Toshio's meowing. The best example would probably be the sinister phone calls from the number "4444444444" in The Curse .
- Evil Twin : Fukie has one in Black Ghost .
- Evil Uncle : After becoming possessed in White Ghost , Mirai's previously kind, caring uncle Atsushi turns into a monster who starts sexually abusing her, before going on to brutally murder her and the rest of their family.
- Express Delivery : And how. Kyoko, who is nowhere near full-term, starts going into labour the moment she encounters Kayako for the first time. Also, given that it isn't made clear just how far into the future the end of the film is it is entirely possible that the child aged really fast thanks to the curse's influence, instead of ageing naturally - so the film could be set not too long after the birth, instead of several years.
- Face Full of Alien Wing-Wong : In the fourth movie, the curse manages to impregnate Kyoko with Kayako (or a child possessed by her, at least) .
- Face-Revealing Turn : Kanna.
- The Faceless : The face of Kyoko's child is never clearly shown.
- Facial Horror : Kanna missing her bottom jaw.
- Fan Disservice / Fanservice : The shower scene in the third movie is a combination of both. Replayed in the seventh film, courtesy of Yui.
- Fatal Family Photo : Jeez, Midori, do you really need to pull out a photo, just to establish to the audience that you're the younger sister of Yayoi? Because your sister's going to do the killing, real fast...
- Feminist Fantasy : Swap fantasy with horror and replace Action Girl with The Everyman . More than 80% of the characters are female, either as heroes, victims, and background characters, and the main villain is also a female. Male characters do take part a few times as protagonists (and one is a Greater-Scope Villain of the series), but even if they are, all films are headlined by the females (Kyoko in both The Curse and The Curse 2 , Rika in The Grudge , Kyoko (no relation to the first) in The Grudge 2 , Akane in White Ghost , Kiwako and Mariko in Black Ghost , Yui in The Beginning of the End , and Mai, Reo and her mother in The Final ). All films of the series also passed The Bechdel Test . This seems to be a trend with J-Horrors in general.
- Fetus Terrible : Used in the fourth movie.
- Not to mention the entire "Tomoka" vignette in the same movie. When the reason for the mysterious "banging" on her wall every night is revealed, it's downright horrifying.
- The "wig room" scenes from the same movie. When Megumi arranges the wigs and starts brushing them, one of the wigs is suddenly much, much longer than it was when she first placed it on the mannequin - in fact, it is much the same length as Kayako's hair. Megumi doesn't become aware of this, and a little while later the wig is mysteriously back to its normal length. Of course, this is the same wig that Kayako shortly emerges from to kill Megumi.
- You might not notice due to the Jump Scare , but all of the deaths in The Beginning Of The End are done by a single person: Toshio. It's to show you who the real cause of the curse is .
- Four Is Death : "4444444444" is not a number you want to see on your cell phone.
- Not to mention Izumi's equally frightening and heartbreaking one from the third movie.
- In the third movie, it is quite hard to spot just who Saitô is playing "peekaboo" with, unless you concentrate on the reflection in the glass door as he and Rika approach - turns out that Toshio's tagging along, too. He's only visible for about a second.
- Keen-eyed viewers will notice an ominous black shape in the mirror during the "wig room" scene in the fourth movie, which then silently moves behind the curtain when Megumi isn't looking.
- In the earlier scene in which Megumi returns to the house to collect something, it is quite difficult to spot the dark shape of Kayako sitting on the floor if you're watching the film on a TV with a low brightness setting.
- Also from the fourth movie: When Keisuke wakes up in the monitor room after unexpectedly dozing off in his seat, look behind him. He ducks his head down almost out of shot - nothing behind him. He moves his head back into shot and then leaves the room - and suddenly Kayako is standing right there . She is slightly out-of-focus and only visible for a couple of seconds.
- The fourth movie loves this trope. Another example can be seen near the beginning of Tomoka's vignette. When her drink suddenly tips onto her script, it appears as Kayako's blood-splattered journal for a couple of seconds.
- Frying Pan of Doom : Near the middle of the second movie.
- Full-Frontal Assault : In ghost form, Toshio is either this or he's wearing an underwear. It's played for creepiness, since he's a pale-white young boy.
- Gainax Ending : Some of them can be viewed as this, due to the series' and genre's style and nature.
- Tomoka. She's a presenter, after all. Her boyfriend, Noritaka, also has shades of this.
- In the reboots, believe it or not, Kayako! At least before her inability to have a child screwed her up and made her a mild Ax-Crazy .
- Ghostly Goals : The second type, though not by choice.
- Giggling Villain : In the one of the last shots of the series, Yui does this in front of Mai , shortly before she's fully consumed by Kayako .
- In the manga, her death and the events surrounding her are even worse - not only do we see her face start to rip , after she appears to her mother sans jaw , her mother becomes possessed. Later, when her husband returns home, he discovers that his now very-possessed wife is cooking a meal - made out of Kanna's now-dismembered body , with her jawless head lying on the table . To make matters even worse , Kanna's mother then starts chopping up her own arm while being completely and utterly nonchalant about the whole thing.
- Gratuitous Rape : As revealed in he novel adaptation, Takeo rapes Kayako before killing her. Towards the end of it, he also rapes Rika before killing her as well, recreating Kayako's death.
- In the reboots, Toshio Yamaga .
- Kayako also has shades of this - in her diary she expresses bitter jealousy towards Kobayashi's wife Manami, referring to her as "that bitch".
- Hand in the Hole
- Hell Is That Noise : The dry, croaking death rattle that tends to accompany Kayako and Toshio whenever they appear.
- Rika suffers one after she encounters Kayako for the first time - although her reaction afterwards could also be due to the fact that this is when Kayako's possession of her begins.
- Kyoko Suzuki also becomes completely insane after Takeo shows her how he murdered Manami, although her insanity is suggested to be a combination of this event and Demonic Possession .
- The other Kyoko shuts down for a while after the Toshio-induced car crash at the beginning of the fourth movie - understandable, since it puts Masashi in a coma and causes her miscarriage. Later, she shuts down mentally after giving birth to her horrific offspring - although this could also be interpreted as Demonic Possession (or perhaps both).
- Kobayashi just silently slumps to the ground in shock after Takeo kills Manami and their unborn child.
- Hot Teacher : Mariko from the third film and Yui from the seventh film (portrayed by a real-life glamour model, people). Kayako also certainly thinks that Kobayashi is one, although she had a crush on him long before he became a teacher.
- Housewife : Kayako (before she was murdered and became a really, really angry ghost, anyway).
- Also averted with Mirai, who didn't get spared from having her head chopped off by a chainsaw . Fukie, too, except unconventionally ( her spirit gets expelled from her body, so she still kind off exists in this world ).
- Kayako sports this appearance as she is about to kill Mai at the end of the eighth film.
- Jerkass : The teacher from Mizuho's vignette. It is mentioned in Ju-On: The Curse 2 that she has been reported missing.
- Jump Scare : Many and varied.
- Kick the Dog : Takeo's murder of Manami and subsequent removal of her unborn child , then the fact that he actually phoned Kobayashi to tell him what he'd done is a particularly extreme example.
- Kill It with Fire : Toyama attempts to burn down the house in the third movie, but it doesn't work. Namely because he gets distracted by the curse's time distortion and then freaks out when he sees Kayako coming for him.
- Kill the Cutie : That is, kill all the cuties.
- Kiss of Death : While Kayako doesn't physically kiss him, Kobayashi's death has shades of this.
- Kubrick Stare : Katsuya, during his Demonic Possession .
- Laughing Mad : Takeo, at the end of his phone call to Kobayashi.
- Not only does it not work, but Sadako and Kayako end up FUSING INTO ONE BEING.
- Made-for-TV Movie : The first two films.
- Mama Bear : The final film reveals another trait of Kayako: never ever try to hurt Toshio. Reo, or rather, her spine , sure learns her lesson the hard way. Sota, too.
- Marionette Motion : Kayako almost exclusively moves like this.
- Matchlight Danger Revelation : Yuki switching on her lighter in the attic in the first V-Cinema film. BAM .
- In Toshio's first scene in the first movie, while Kobayashi looks outside, meowing is heard. We see Toshio's face and it's clearly him doing the meowing.
- Mind Rape : In the second movie, Takeo does this to Kyoko Suzuki , driving her completely insane by forcing her watch what he did to Manami .
- In-universe, the curse itself loves to screw with the minds of its victims, both before and after killing them. (The case of Chiharu is a notable example.)
- Mirror Scare
- Toshio does this to Naoto in the seventh film.
- Never Found the Body : Toshio's body was never found - he just disappeared, much like several victims of the curse, who end up getting pulled into nowhere (such as Hitomi and Izumi ).
- To make matters worse , the curse is spread when those who have entered the house come into contact with those who have nothing whatsoever to do with the house. This is made explicit when the security guard from Hitomi's workplace is consumed by the curse.
- Kiwako does this in Black Ghost , with her decision to kill Fukie's mortal body. No, it won't stop Fukie's twin rampage. It worsens it.
- Nightmare Sequence : Rika has one in the third movie (involving lots of cats).
- Not Me This Time : The deaths of the four teenagers in The Beginning of the End are caused by Toshio and only Toshio; Kayako doesn't come into the picture until a year after this incident happen.
- In The Grudge , you never see Takeo as he possesses Katsuya... you can only hear his breathing.
- In White Ghost , it is never explained what, exactly, is wrong with the mirror and how it was able to possess Atsushi.
- Off with His Head! : Poor Mirai ...
- Offscreen Teleportation
- Oh, and X Dies : Due to the Anachronic Order of the series' chapters, Rika 's death is mentioned in Izumi's chapter, quite a while before her death is even shown (her body is seen at the end of the third film ). Mind you, since there is no known way to survive the curse, it's pretty much a Foregone Conclusion that she dies, but, still.
- In the third film, Rika has such a moment when she realises that Mariko is calling from the Saeki house. Later, she has another Oh, Crap! moment when Takeo is coming for her.
- Ominous Music Box Tune : Also used a few times in the soundtracks.
- Once More, with Clarity : Third movie: After The Reveal that Rika has been possessed by Kayako , previous scenes featuring Kayako are played out again, except this time Kayako has been replaced with Rika in full Stringy-Haired Ghost Girl mode.
- There are also two characters named Mariko, the first being Rika's friend in The Grudge , while the second is one of the protagonists of Black Ghost . This time, the kanji spelling of their name is the exact same (真理子).
- Orifice Invasion : In the manga version of the first movie, this is how Kanna meets her end, when a bunch of possessed cats leap into her mouth and tear her jaw off . (In the movie, it is never explained how she lost her jaw , but in the short film Katasumi / In A Corner , her ghost - with her jaw still intact, for some reason - is seen shortly after she is attacked by Kayako, revealing that she died at school.) Kanna having her jaw intact in Katasumi could signify that her friend Hisayo mutilated her face with her trowel in self defense after the film cut to black, and that it wasn't Kayako who did that to her.
- Our Ghosts Are Different
- Pater Familicide : The main plot is kicked off when Takeo kills Kayako, Toshio and Toshio's cat. Takeo himself later becomes one of the curse's earliest victims.
- Peekaboo Corpse : The discovery of Kayako's body in the first movie.
- Also happens when Kyoko discovers that her mother has died in her sleep.
- Done in The Final , when Mai discovers Sota lying dead in their apartment.
- P.O.V. Cam : The above-mentioned Impending Doom P.O.V. shots, a few non-deadly variants from Kayako's POV, and a few from Chiharu's POV in the fourth movie.
- Prehensile Hair : In the second theatrical film, Kayako uses her hair to hang Tomoka and Noritaka .
- Ena in The Final . She is able to share her memories just by other people touching her.
- The curse didn't start with the Saeki murders. It began looooong before that, like a decade before the murders happened. It's not known whether murder was involved, or just a simple error like, oh, leaving your child to succumb to the heatwave?
- There are two Toshio. The first has the surname Yamaga, and he's the cause of the curse (the one dying in the aforementioned heatwave). The second is our one and only Toshio Saeki, who's a reincarnation of the former.
- Toshio really was not Takeo's son. Kayako, who's frustrated by her inability to have a child with Takeo, suddenly became pregnant one day (a security footage showed that Toshio Yamaga somehow went inside her womb).
- More additions from The Final : Toshio has the ability to do Body Surf . By doing this, he managed to escape Takeo's rampage and after killing him, transferred to his old body to masquerade so someone could adopt him and thus spread the curse.
- Revisiting the Roots : White Ghost and Black Ghost look and feel a lot more like the first two made-for-TV films as opposed to the theatrical features, right down to utilising the same opening and closing theme tunes .
- Also, when Kobayashi discovers Kayako's corpse, the room features a pile of cut-up family photographs, with Kayako's face removed from all of them.
- "Masashi! MASASHI!!"
- Scream Discretion Shot : Kazumi lets out a terrified scream after following Toshio into an upstairs bedroom, and the viewer does get to see an extreme close-up of her screaming face, but nothing else.
- Shoot the Shaggy Dog
- Shout-Out : The ending to the fourth movie (Where Kayako comes out of Kyoko's birth canal and slaughters the doctors ), might be a homage to It's Alive .
- Shower of Angst : Rika takes one in the third movie. She isn't alone, however...
- Slasher Smile : Toshio in the first movie only. When shown a drawing of his parents early in the movie, he does manage a rather endearing little smile, but later on, when Mizuho encounters him... brrrr.
- Spared by the Adaptation : Rika in the novel - but it is made clear that she's become possessed/influenced by the curse, which isn't much better .
- Spooky Photographs : In the school trip photos depicting Izumi and her friends, their eyes are covered by mysterious black smears.
- Stalker with a Crush : Kayako towards Kobayashi.
- Stringy-Haired Ghost Girl : Kayako. Rika ends up as one by the end of the third movie, as well. Averted in the case of Megumi , who, while seen as a ghost on several occasions, doesn't turn into an onryo. Also averted in the case of Kyoko's mother , who, for reasons unknown, appears as a non-malevolent spirit.
- Stylistic Suck : The Film Within a Film that Kyoko Harase is acting in.
- Back in the VHS films, Kyoko, Tatsuya, and Yoshimi were originally introduced in The Curse . They all succumb to the curse in its sequel, The Curse 2 . It's downplayed, since the two films were made to be a single story and were shot back-to-back, only Divided for Publication .
- Yui's fate was left ambiguous in The Beginning of the End , since all we see of her is waking up from her supposed dream to meet her still-decapitated boyfriend. Come The Final , and we see that she has indeed fallen to the curse, since her ghost haunts Mai along with others.
- Suddenly Speaking : Downplayed. Kayako does talk once in The Curse to Toshio, but it's offscreen and not the focus of the scene, and she also narrates the diary that Kobayashi found in her room. In the last two reboot films, however, she is shown to hold full conversations with other, living characters, and the two films in general made her more human (but still murderous of course).
- Taking You with Me : Kiwako decides to commit suicide alongside her daughter, Fukie's mortal body, which contains her other daughter's spirit (Fukie's spirit having been expelled) to end her rampage. Unfortunately, it only succeeds in killing the mortal body, as her spirit is able to roam free .
- Tears of Blood : Kayako is sometimes seen with blood trickling out of her eyes, notably during her actual death. Rika also seems to be crying blood at the end of the third movie.
- Done in White Ghost . The film is set in two different timelines, though it's quite easy to distinguish the stories. "Akane" and the epilogue is set a decade after the murders; everything else is set before or after the murders.
- Zigzagged in The Beginning of the End . The film is set in two different time periods: one set in 2004, and the other in 2014. A brief scene is also set in 1995. The vignettes constantly switch back and forth between the periods and which stories are set in which timeline are not fully explained until near the film's end.
- Time Travel : In a sense - the nature of the curse can cause the past, present and future to merge temporarily.
- Twist Ending : The third movie features one of these. It is revealed that Rika has, throughout most of the movie, been "possessed", of sorts, by Kayako, and is destined to suffer the same fate as Kayako and therefore "become" her, in a sense . (It's all a bit of a Mind Screw .) A similar ending is presented in the US remake sequel .
- Typecasting : In-universe examples: Kyoko, an actress primarily known for horror films, complains about being typecast as "the Queen of Horror" near the beginning of the fourth movie. Megumi also complains that she is always being cast as a ghost in TV productions, after playing one in one of Keisuke's TV shows .
- Undead Child : Toshi more or less. Likewise the ghost girls that haunt Izumi.
- Vader Breath : Takeo's heavy, unsettling breathing can be heard in the third movie when he possesses Katsuya .
- Versus Title : Sadako vs. Kayako .
- The noise she makes might not even be her death rattle - it's the same sound as the clicking of the utility knife that killed her.
- Wham Moment : The ending of the third movie, in which Rika realises just what the curse has in store for her. The ending of the fourth movie, also counts, when it reveals the reason why Kyoko is still pregnant, and what - or rather who - she is pregnant with ...
- What Happened to the Mouse? : The fourth film continues the story of Izumi's friend Chiharu, who was a minor character in the third film. However, what happened to Izumi's other friend, Miyuki, is a mystery. Although given that Chiharu is a mess from the moment we see her and the general nature of the series the implication isn't good.
- Why Did It Have To Be Cats : Yuki has an intense phobia of cats. Mar (Toshio's cat) uses this to his advantage.
- With Friends Like These... : The multiplayer component of Haunted House Simulator has the second player control the haunting to a limited degree.
- Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds : Kayako and Toshio.
- Kayako towards Kobayashi.
- You Have Outlived Your Usefulness : Likely the reason Kyoko Harase is killed.
Kayako crawling down the stairs.
Example of: Stringy-Haired Ghost Girl
Alternative Title(s): Ju On The Grudge
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The Myths Behind The Film: Ju-On The Grudge
Trigger warning: This article contains references to murder, including the murder of animals and children.
And we are back for the next in the series of our look into the myths, legends, and inspirations behind some of the most interesting and influential J-Horror (Japanese Horror) films and some others from the Asian horror movie scene during the late 1990s and early 2000s. This month, we take a special look at Ju-On: The Grudge .
Ju-On : The Series That Started It All
Ju-On , also known as Curse of Grudge, is a Japanese American horror film franchise that includes 13 films and one television series, created by Takashi Shimizu. In 1998 Shimizu would create two short films, Katasumi and 4444444444 while attending the Film School of Tokyo. He would study under Kiyoshi Kurosawa, a legendary horror director with a 15-year career by this point in time, and with his help, Shimizu would bring the Ju-On project to life.
The series is centered on a curse that emanates from a house in Nerima, Tokyo, Japan where a horrendously violent crime took place. Within the mythology of the films, when someone dies with a deep and uncontrollable rage, a curse is created, affecting not just the location of the crime but anyone who enters the building. This also extends to anyone who comes in contact with an already cursed individual, allowing it to spread like a virus.
What is Ju-On: The Grudge ?
In the third installment in the series, released in October 2002 during the Screamfest Film Festival, we meet social worker Rika who is asked to visit a house in Nerima, Tokyo to check in on an elderly lady named Sachie. The story is told in a non-linear narrative, making the viewer piece together what is truly happening while the true horror of the tale isn’t revealed until the end. The film is bookended by Rika entering the house for the first time and for the last time—everything in between is told in a deconstructed narrative, jumping back and forth over a five-year period. But this story is about Rika and her journey from being a social worker to becoming a cursed spirit herself.
The curse in Ju-On arises when, in a jealous rage, Tekeo Seaki murders his wife Kayako, their son Toshio and the family cat. His family becomes vengeful ghosts, haunting the house and all who enter it, the ghost of Kayako is the one to murder her husband, trapping them all in the house forever.
Ju-On: The Grudge was loved by critics but did receive comparisons to Ringu/The Ring , even though both these films are vastly different in story and visual stylings. It inspired an American franchise simply called The Grudge .
Yotsuya Kaidan and Its Influence on Ju-On: The Grudge
The film has loose connections to the Japanese tale of Yotsuya Kaida which is one of the most influential and widely adapted folk stories in Japan. Over 30 films are influenced by the tale of Oiwa and Tamiya Lemon. The story was written in 1825 with the original title of Tōkaidō Yotsuya Kaidan as a kabuki play by Tsuruya Nanboku IV.
As with any adaptation, the details of this tale have been altered over time from its original telling, with subplots and the cast of characters expanding. The story still keeps its key themes of the exchange of power, social unrest, the repression of women, revenge, jealousy, and murder. The story follows Tamiya lemon and his descent into madness and the chaos around him as he goes on a rampage of murder to get what he wants. We also follow Naosuke, a man obsessed with a prostitute he meets at a brothel, as well as the story of two sisters Oiwa, the wife of lemon, and Osode, the aforementioned prostitute who is married to another man, known as Yomoshichi.
The story is full of intrigue and complicated relationships, with lemon’s wife being disfigured and eventually dying at the hands of the Itô family in an attempt to marry Oume, the head of the family’s granddaughter, off to him. Lemon is haunted by the ghost of his deceased wife, Oiwa, who tricks him into murdering Oume, her grandfather, and the rest of the household in revenge. Naosuke, after killing a man and continuing to pursue Osode, who he marries, finds out after a returning Yomoshichi accuses Oume of adultery leading to her death, that in fact Naosuke’s new wife, Oume, is his younger sister.
This is written in a letter from Oume to Naosuke, who is so filled with shame over this discovery that he takes his own life. In the last act of the play, Lemon has completely descended into madness with Oiwa’s ghost still haunting him. Yomoshichi, full of vengeance and compassion over this man’s plight, kills him, leaving Yomoshichi as the last surviving member of the core five characters.
This story also has a historical context. It combines two real-life murders in order to create a truly authentic and terrifying ghost story. The first was that of two servants who murdered their masters. These two incidents took place separately, with both being caught and then executed on the same day. The second true-life crime is that of a samurai who has his concubine and servant, who he discovers is having an affair, nailed to a wooden board and thrown into the Kanda River. You can see in the original story how these influenced the writing of the original Kabuki play.
The story didn’t just become popular in kabuki theatres all over Japan, but also in ukiyo-e art. For those who don’t know ukiyo-e is a traditional Japanese art form where artists create woodblock prints and paintings mainly depicting women, flora, fauna, and erotica, becoming popular between the 17 th and 19 th centuries. One of the first depictions of Yotsuya Kaidan in art is by Shunkosai Hokushu, who produced The Ghost of Oiwa.
Hauntings & Exorcisms in Japanese Culture
Hauntings and exorcisms are prevalent in Japanese culture and ghost stories, focusing on Yurei who fall under the Obake, which means to change, in this instance from the natural realm to the supernatural.
While yūrei have a specific time period for their hauntings and purpose when they strike, between the hours of 2:00 AM–2:30 AM, the Obake can strike at any time, while not being bound to a specific place and can roam how they wish. That Obake have no purpose behind their hauntings is a terrifying idea. While yūrei are driven by revenge or completing unfinished business, Obake have no such ideas or limitations.
The ghosts in Ju-On: The Grudge are earthbound spirits that do not seek to fulfill any exact purpose. They are considered a rare type of spirit, fuyūrei, who are bound to specific situations and places, haunting not just the location but the people who enter it. Ju-On: The Grudge is a clear example of this along with Okiku at the well of Himeji Castle .
Famous hauntings tend to go hand in hand with folklore in Japan. This includes the previously mentioned well at Himeji Castle, which is said to be haunted by two ghosts, Okiki and Aokigahara, but there are two others I will be focusing on.
The first haunting is of Aokigahara , known to westerners as the suicide forest, which is a forest located at the northwest base of Mount Fuji. There are many different tales and legends relating to ghosts, daemons, yūrei, and yōkai roaming the forest and preying on innocent travelers. By the 19 th century, it had become commonplace for poorer families to abandon children and the elderly in Aokigahara, resulting in even more stories being told about the forest. Its dark past has come to light in recent years, with its reputation for being the third most popular suicide spot in the world being a topic of discussion.
The second is the hauntings by Oiwa, who is classed as an onryō. It’s said that she will bring vengeance on any actress who portrays her on stage or screen. She, along with Okiku and Otsuya, make up the San O-Yūrei, who are the three most well-known characters in Japanese folklore as their stories have been the most popular and widely circulated via word of mouth, stage productions, and into the modern-day with film and television.
So how do we exorcise a Yurei? We ask this question as we delve into a franchise here where the hauntings don’t seem to ever end. Very much like Ringu , Ju-On as a series seems to have a never-ending collection of disappearances and deaths; the spirits always seem to win before an exorcism takes place. But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t practices and ways to exorcise a spirit in Japanese culture.
As you might suspect, the easiest way to exorcise a yūrei is to help them fulfill their purpose, be that revenge or justice. This will normally allow the spirit to leave his plane of existence. The family of the victim or spirit are traditionally those who will help the spirit move on, be that by enacting revenge, helping the ghost consummate its passion/love, or by finding the remains and performing the correct burial rituals. These methods will not work on an onryō as their emotions are particularly strong and will stay in this realm to cause as much destruction as they can.
Colours and their Meaning in Asian Horror Tales
White is the most well-known colour used in Asian horror films, from the ashy white/grey of a ghost’s complexion to the long white outfits that are traditionally adorned by these characters. Every aspect of why white is used to represent ghosts and death can be traced back to the Edo period and its use in kabuki, art, and funeral traditions. The white signifies how in kabuki a white kimono would often be used in the costumes of ghosts, which directly relates to the burial Kimono used in the Edo period. White is also the colour of purity in the Shinto traditions of Japan and is often reserved for only priests and the dead.
Black hair is traditionally long and disheveled when it comes to Japanese folk tales. This look is carried over from Kabuki theatre productions that included ghost stories. This isn’t the only place that this comes from; women used to grow their hair long, wearing it pinned up most of the time. The only time a woman would let their hair down was for funerals and burials. This tradition surrounding death has seeped into the very fabric of ghost stories and their visual language.
Blue, green, and purple are used normally in kabuki but have been used in legends of Yūrei. They are ghostly flames that are produced by the spirit known as will-o’-the-wisps , or Hitodama in Japanese. These eerie colours bring a more menacing look to the spirits and enhance the supernatural elements of these stories.
Look out for the rest of the series coming soon, where I look at other Japanese horror films including Pulse, Dark Water, and Uzumaki . I also will look at the South Korean film, A Tale of Two Sisters , the Thai film, Shutter, and the Hong Kong production, The Eye .
J-Horror japanese horror Takashi Shimizu Ju-On: The Grudge Ju-On franchise
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Written by Amber McCrudden
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Copyright @2020-2023 by Horror Obsessive
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Ju-On: White Ghost / Black Ghost
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JU-ON: WHITE GHOST tells the story of senior high school student Arkane whose strong ESP power induces him into seeing Mirai, the tragic ghost of an old school friend. JU-ON: BLACK GHOST tells the chilling story of a young woman called Fukie who discovers that she's carrying an unborn 'grudge', which vengefully curses all those around her.
- MPAA rating : NR (Not Rated)
- Product Dimensions : 0.7 x 7.5 x 5.4 inches; 2.72 Ounces
- Item model number : WGUS1220DVD
- Director : Ryuta Miyake, Mari Asato
- Media Format : Color, NTSC, DTS Surround Sound, Subtitled, Multiple Formats, Widescreen
- Run time : 2 hours and 1 minute
- Release date : May 17, 2011
- Actors : Al Kago, Akina Minami, Hiroki Suzuki
- Subtitles: : English
- Studio : Well Go Usa
- ASIN : B004O63TWW
- Number of discs : 1
- #4,500 in Horror (Movies & TV)
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