Saturday, August 7, 2021

REVIEW: Sadako-san and Sadako-chan (manga) by Aya Tsutsumi, original concept by Koji Suzuki, translated by Thomas Zimmerman

Sadako-san and Sadako-chan is based on Koji Suzuki's Ring franchise, but this one-shot is actually a comedy. It's licensed by Seven Seas Entertainment. I bought my copy brand new.


Sadako-san, the ghost from the Ring movies and books, has been summoned to a padlocked closet, the location of her newest victim. Inside the closet is a little girl who says her mother calls her Sadako's reincarnation. Her mother supposedly keeps her locked in the closet because she's "special" (the girl can read minds, which is how she can understand Sadako-san) and only lets her out for short periods when she's home.

The little girl has been called "Sadako's reincarnation" for so long that she can't remember what her real name is, so Sadako-san calls her "Sadako-chan." Sadako-san laments the fact that people don't have CRT TVs or watch videos much anymore, so Sadako-chan proposes that she upload cursed videos and become a streamer. Through these activities, Sadako-san eventually meets Kazuma, a streamer who's a little creeped out by her but also impressed with the number of views she's been getting.

I stopped by a B&N Starbucks to get some coffee and a snack. I felt bad about not buying a book as well, so I browsed the manga section until I finally found something something that interested me and that I didn't already own. One of the appeals of this was that it appeared to be a one-shot, so I didn't feel like I was potentially committing to anything by getting it.

Don't go into this expecting it to be scary. As the author states in their afterword, "I'm a manga artist that can't draw horror manga." This was more of a slice-of-life comedy with a few surprisingly sweet moments.

I've read the first couple Ring books and I've seen the US movie adaptation. From what I could tell, this Sadako-san probably had more in common with the movie versions, but a few features that I recalled from the books were present here and there in things like Sadako-chan's telepathy.

Most of the humor was derived from Sadako-san's not always successful efforts to adapt to the times. She was a creature of habit and really, really would have preferred to curse people via a VHS tape viewed using a CRT TV. Unfortunately, hardly anyone owns CRT TVs anymore, and streaming and DVDs/Blu-ray discs are more popular than VHS tapes. (So why not a cursed DVD? That was never really explained, but it still wouldn't have solved Sadako-san's "I would prefer to emerge from a CRT TV" problem.)

Sadako-san and Sadako-chan were surprisingly cute together. Sadako-chan's mother was never shown on-page, but it was clear that Sadako-chan wasn't being treated well, no matter how much she tried to claim otherwise. The manga didn't dwell on that too much, but it definitely didn't ignore that aspect. There was a really great and bittersweet moment in which Sadako-san did a nice thing for Sadako-chan but told that her mother had done it for her. In a way, Sadako-san was like Sadako-chan's surrogate mother or older sister. The hair episode was another example of that.

Kazuma had a relatively minor but still important role - he could help Sadako-san with the things she needed or wanted to do that Sadako-chan, a child who'd been confined by her own mother, couldn't.

It's probably for the best that this is just a single volume. While I can think of a few things I wish had happened in the story, like so many gimmicky comedies it'd be easy for the jokes to quickly get old. As it was, it was a little weird but nice. It didn't really make me laugh, but I appreciated its quirkiness and overall sweetness.


A couple full-color pages, a 2-page comic style afterword by the author, and a 2-page spread black-and-white version of the cover art.

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