the Ring 2 Vol. #1 (Mania.com)
By:Eduardo M. Chavez
Review Date: Thursday, December 23, 2004
Release Date: Saturday, May 01, 2004
Translated by:Naomi Kokubo and Stephen Hoffman
What They Say
The fabulously creepy story of The Ring takes a side step from the plot of the original Japanese film, taking the reader into life after all of that tragedy and mystery. And guess what? Sadako, the psychic killer from the bottom of the well, isn't so easily disposed of. Drafted wonderfully by the adept manga artist Meimu, Ring 2 takes the reader into the life of Mai Takano, after her beloved Professor Ryuji is killed by Sadako. Adding to the sci-fi element, both Mai and little Yoichi, son of Ryuji and Reiko, have developed psychic powers of their own and are often haunted by the powerful Sadako. Ring 2 takes on the kind of sci-fi action and horror reminiscent of Steven Speilberg's Poltergeist, and gives it a fascinating scientific bend.
The cover is taken from the original version used by Kadokawa Shoten. The front cover has an image of an ominous looking Yoichi underneath the logo. The opposite cover has some random panels from the manga above the large volume description.
Logo Check!! (2003 Megs)... the logo has a typewriter type look with all letters in lower case. Shadowing the words "the ring." is the logo in kanji. I like how this was done as it does not really take much away from the original cover design (I actually like it better).
The printing has improved quite a bit from the first Ring series title DH/DMP published. Where the previous title was very dark, this one looks sharp and does not lose detailing in screen tone areas and on the volume header. There are no extras for this manga, but there are some ads for Digital Manga Publishing titles: Worst, Desire, Passion, and Only the Ring Finger Knows.
Meimu's character designs are a complete contrast to those used for the Ring. While they are still very comical, with very dramatic expressions, the designs have a lot more detail and do not feel a flat as Inagaki's designs. While Inagaki's art was very deep in the horror genre, Meimu's appears to come from more of a seinen style where faces and eyes, especially, have great detail. Having read the novels, I questioned Meimu's designs of Takano Mai as she is supposed to be tall, slender and mature looking for a student. Ryuji's design was very different as well, but this whole manga is a mix of two novels and a sequel that flopped. So, why not continue changing things, right? I will say Meimu's designs work well with this creepy story, but at times some expressions (because of Meimu's funky jaw-lines and asymmetrical eyes) look more funny than they do creepy and evil.
Backgrounds are hit or miss. At times, they can be pretty detailed, but to help work on the mood Meimu uses a lot of manpu often to the point where they are taking up whole panels. The layout does not look very fancy, but Meimu has a lot of variation in regards to panel size and character point of view. Meimu's art is not in the traditional horror style, but the designs and the layout give a feel that is as creepy as the story.
SFX are not translated. I have to admit I feel cheated when this happens, and with a series where the sound and mood is so important to the story translated FX are really missed.
From the looks of things the translation looks pretty good. I haven't read the original but the story moved much like the film of the same name with a few parts of the television series as well. Honorifics are not left in so instead of "-san" and "-kun," we have misters and misses.
Contents: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Those who experienced the Ring know the great power of the spirit that survived for decades in that well before it finally struck. That power was strong enough it projected mental images onto a VHS tape and then tried to spread through the populous that way. Reiko and Ryuji were able to solve the riddle. Well they thought they did. In the Ring we know one of them does not survive the tape‘s curse, but we are left wondering if their son survived.
Reiko's hunch was right, but the power of the ring is much stronger than she imagined. The ring has no start or end; Reiko now being a part of this story, will now have to live with its power. Sadako's power survived in that well for years. Her spirit waited there for three decades, to be exact, so a few copied tapes and a few dead bodies will not stop her. Something like that would possibly perpetuate this evil even more. Now with Reiko and Yoichi having watched and survived the curse, Sadako's spirit will continue in them. The curse will torture Reiko, it will grow in power within Yoichi (who apparently also inherited psychic abilities from his father) and it will evolve in the mind of another character: Takano Mai.
Takano-san was a student of Ryuji's and one of his biggest fans. She was there as Ryuji and Reiko were in the middle of their riddle. She was also there to experience Ryuji's final minutes. And once Meimu-sensei finishes the recap of the Ring, it is Takano that will be the focus of this story. Where Meimu takes Takano in this story will go deeper into the supernatural aspects of Sadako and the Ring. What she will experience now will bring her closer to Ryuji, but it will also end up haunting her for the rest of the manga. She will have to face Sadako's power, as it appears to be spreading. While Sadako begins to prey on everyone who has been involved with this case, Takano starts to slowly be wrapped into this mystery. If she does not figure out what everyone else has missed, she will most likely suffer like everyone else. She has to both accept this seemingly impossible task and expect this madness to continue or fight it and hope she does not end up like practically everyone before her. Ryuji's logic, Reiko's determination, and Yoichi's courage will get her through this.
In this version of the Ring, we are given a version that retells the first manga and moves on to the second movie in the series. This version is more faithful to the movie, but it also removes itself from the novels. What readers get is a retelling of the first movie and how it continues into its sequel. Few outside Japan have watched the sequel, which this manga takes its inspiration from. When looking at the Ring’s movie franchise chronologically the sequel to the first movie is the Ring 2 not Rasen (AKA Spiral). In this original concept, this sequel uses characters and ideas from Suzuki's works (novels Ring and Spiral) and creates a new story, which moves away from the logic, math and science that were so vital to Suzuki's works. Characters are different from the novel, relationships are completely different and instead of a logical Ryuji, there is supernatural psychic Ryuji. Fans of the movies are in for a treat and fans of the novels are treated to a new adaptation of a great property.
Fans of the novels could easily be turned off by how different this story is from Suzuki's original concepts. They might notice how science and logic is missing from this story; replaced with fantastic supernatural ideas based on the concept of Sadako and her powers while ignoring the other factor to the ring (Read the novel. Hint: it is tied into the concept of copying the video tape). The writing is a mumble-jumble of too many factors so at times it is more confusing than creepy. With a cast from one version (give or take a few superficial changes), personalities from another, and a concept from another this version of the Ring ends up completely falling flat in comparison to the previous manga and the novel.
If the story were a little tighter, this manga would be like a well-produced doujinshi where the characters take on different roles and looks. Such creations do not need to follow set plotlines or themes; instead, they entertain by presenting a new perspective from a fan's point of view for fans of the original work. As I look at this title and the previous manga this way, I tend to appreciate them more as individual works, just like the films they are based off. Tossing aside the sci-fi for psychic horror, Mai's struggles are full of confusion and fear which horror fans usually eat up. Her story is one that was an interesting part of the Spiral novel and seeing it fleshed out in this version made for an interesting side-story. If only Meimu could string together this creepy story better, cause her equally creepy character designs deserved better.
Mania Grade: C-
Art Rating: B+
Packaging Rating: B+
Text/Translatin Rating: B-
Age Rating: All
Released By: Dark Horse
Orientation: Right to Left