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Spooky Little Girl

Sadako-san and Sadako-chan

By Aya Tsutsumi 

27 Mar, 2024



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Aya Tsutsumi’s 2021 Sadako-san and Sadako-chan is a comedic manga set in the Ring horror universe.

Immured alive in a well, Sadako-san imbued a VHS tape with all her rage. Watching the tape ensures a death. While Sadako-san’s fury can be retargeted, it cannot be prevented.

Or so it seemed back in the 1990s. Now Sadako-san’s angry ghost faces an enemy that even her profound powers cannot defeat: technological change.

There are three essential elements needed to trigger the curse. First, someone must see the cursed film. Easy enough except for the second element: the recording medium has to be VHS. Nothing else will do. Were that not impediment enough, Sadako-san can only emerge to take her revenge from a CRT-style television. In this age of streaming media and flatscreens, the unhappy ghost cannot kill her victims.

Unable to kill, Sadako-san still visits potential victims in the hope she might get lucky. The latest target in the ghost’s futile quest: a nameless girl locked inside a small closet festooned with magical protections. Fated to become the next Sadako, the girl has been imprisoned her whole life.

The girl — who adopts the name Sadako-chan in Sadako-san’s honor — is surprisingly cheerful for a lifelong prisoner whose future is to unleash untold horror on a long-suffering world. Sadako-chan welcomes her guest, whom she recognizes from videos streamed on her phone. Finally, Sadako-chan has a friend!

Sadako-chan can offer Sadako-san more than an unexpected welcome and heart-felt friendship. Sadako-chan can offer Sadako-san something the psychic powerhouse lacks: familiarity with modern technology.

VHS and CRTs are long gone. However, with adorable Sadako-chan’s help, perhaps Sadako-san can explore the exciting new world of YouTube.


I need a template for I was the wrong person for this review reviews. This manga was created to poke gentle fun at the Ring franchise. But… I’ve never seen any version of the Ring in any format: not manga, streaming video, regrettable American remake1, or cursed VHS tape. Therefore, I am certain there are aspects to this manga that I am totally missing. 

On the other hand, there are more universal aspects that I could appreciate, such as a supernatural being struggling with what in retrospect turned out to be an excessively period-specific curse. It makes one wonder how many fell beings can no longer prey on hapless mortals because the specific device around which they constructed their curse no longer exists2. How terrible the fate of all those heliograph-dependent and Windows 95-based spirits…

Another source of humour is the incongruity between Sadako-chan’s

  • circumstances3 (locked in a small closet)
  • proposed occupation (helping Sadako-san kill people)

and the girl’s invincible, effervescent cheerfulness. Most horror that is focused on murderous girls depicts gloomy or angry girls. Not in this case.

It’s also odd that vengeance-obsessed, murderous ghosts seem to be so common in this setting that even the would-be victims who are not Sadako-chan aren’t terribly surprised or upset.

Alas, that gap in my experience, my almost total ignorance of the Ring series, means that if this manga is an incisive parody, I cannot appreciate that aspect. I will grant that without any Ring background, this manga still sometimes amuses. Ultimately, however, it was just not my thing.

Sadako-san and Sadako-chan is available here (Amazon US), here (Amazon Canada), here (Amazon UK), here (Apple Books), here (Barnes & Noble), here (Chapters-Indigo), and here (Words Worth Books).

1: I don’t know that the US remake was regrettable. I just assume that it was. The remake seems to have gotten mixed reviews. Could be the usual issues with US remakes. Could be slasher fans didn’t know how to react to an atmospheric horror story.

2: I might have to reconsider all those iron-is-hostile-to-magic settings. Maybe the real issue is that the old magic is stone, copper, or bronze specific and that the proper methods to enchant iron have not yet been invented.

3: As is usually the case in narrative universes featuring prophecies, nobody seems to be familiar with the notion of a self-fulfilling prophecy. That, or Sadako-chan’s mother wants her daughter to be the next Sadako-san. Is there a horror analog to show-moms?