First in a trilogy by a newcomer publishing house that promises high-class works from Japan.
Ring has sold three million copies in its native country, says Vertical, been filmed there, and the film remade here as a postmodern horror mystery released by DreamWorks as The Ring. In one month in 1990, four Japanese students who live fairly near each other die mysteriously of heart failure. Tomoko Oishi dies in the family kitchen, Shuichi Iwata on his motorcycle while waiting for the light to change at an intersection, and Haruko Tsuji and Takehiko Nomi in the front seat of a car while undressing for sexplay. All four have faces constricted with horror and seem to be pulling their heads off or blinding their vision. Tomoko happens to be the niece of Kazuyuki Asakawa, a journalist, who links all the deaths and sees a story in it. Japanese journalism has been through a heavy period of occult reports, and Asakawa’s editor only hopes it has all died down. A card Asakawa finds in Tomoko’s desk leads him to discover that all four victims had watched a video tape they’d been warned against viewing—a tape, as it happens, that’s something of a virus (in Asakawa, its horrific images cause sweat and shortness of breath). Then comes the message: Those who view these images are fated to die at this exact moment one week from now. If you do not wish to die, you must follow these instructions exactly . . . . Then the phone rings (hence Ring) and unspeakable bugs invade Asakawa until he slams down the receiver. Too late, though: he has a week to live. He brings in brainy Ruiji to help him, and Ruiji watches the tape. This stifling sense—is it an evil energy? Then Asakawa’s wife and daughter watch it . . . .
You have seven days to live after reading this review. Is that your phone ringing?