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Reiko Asakawa (浅川 玲子 Asakawa Reiko) was the main protagonist in the 1998 film adaptation of Koji Suzuki's novel Ring, published in 1991, portrayed by Nanako Matsushima. She also plays important roles in Ring 2 and Rasen. She was adapted from Suzuki's original protagonist, Kazuyuki Asakawa, who was originally male. Producers changed the character's gender because they felt that a woman would be more appealing to the box office audience.


Death in the Family

Reiko Asakawa is a single mother in her mid-twenties, who struggles to juggle both her job as an investigative journalist and raising her seven-year-old son, Yoichi. After her niece Tomoko dies under mysterious conditions, she investigates the death and discovers that three of Tomoko's friends also died the same way, on the same day and at the same time.

Reiko comforts Yoichi at Tomoko's Wake

This connects to another story Reiko has been doing, the cursed videotape rumor centered around teenage girls. The urban legend, which started in Izu, claims that, "within seven days of watching a normal videotape, you receive a phone call, saying you will die in a horrible and painful way".


Reiko stares in horror as the videotape ends

After learning her niece had stayed in Izu, Reiko goes there and discovers the videotape at the resort cabin Tomoko had been staying at. She watches the video and receives a strange phone call. Deciding to take the threat of death seriously, she calls Ryuji Takayama, her scientist ex-husband and father of her child to help her. Ryuji also has ESP, similar to the supernatural instincts that Reiko herself also demonstrates, but to a larger extent. Reiko makes Ryuji a copy of the tape and he watches the video, promising to help her figure who made the videotape and why.

Reiko attempts to shield Yoichi's eyes from the videotape

They study the images of the videotape and discover several things: the face of a woman named "Shizuko Yamamura", the sign "sada", the word "eruption" and words "play in salt water, monster will come." During the investigations, Yoichi happens upon the tape and watches it. This action gives Reiko and Ryuji the extra motivation to figure out the riddle of the curse. Their investigations lead them to Oshima Island and Shizuko's family home. It is then they discover that Shizuko had a daughter: Sadako.

Search for Sadako

Sadako was the daughter of Shizuko Yamamura and her scientist lover, Dr. Heihachiro Ikuma. Just like the Takayama/Asakawa family, the Yamamura Family had ESP. Ikuma peddled the theory that some humans possess supernatural powers, such as ESP. Shizuko possessed these powers, as did Sadako. At a public demonstration, Shizuko supposedly killed one of the reporters watching, but Sadako was, in fact, the culprit. Reiko and Ryuji realise that Sadako’s powers went far beyond her mother’s; so much, that the people who knew her considered her to be a monster. This leads them to believe that Sadako created the videotape.

Reiko and Ryuji discuss actions after viewing the tape

Reiko realises that the phone did not ring when Ryuji and Yoichi watched the tape, but it did when she watched it. After threading everything together, Reiko and Ryuji return to the holiday resort and discover a well, as seen in the video, under the cabin Reiko and Tomoko had both stayed at.

Ryuji climbs down the well and they try to empty the well enough to look for Sadako's body, believing that if they find Sadako's body and lay her to rest, they will break the curse and save Yoichi. However, Reiko's deadline approaches, and she becomes too tired to pull up the buckets of water from the well. Ryuji decides it's time to trade places, so he tells her to go down the well and he can pull the buckets up instead.

Reiko embraces the corpse of Sadako

Reiko goes down the well but decides to look for Sadako rather than help empty the well. She feels around the bottom and discovers a chunk of Sadako's hair, and rather than her finding Sadako, Sadako finds her, as her hand grabs her wrist as she had in the vision. However, Reiko does not panic and finds that it is merely the skeleton remains of Sadako's body. The deadline passes and Reiko appears to be saved.

The Last Discovery

However, the next day, Reiko calls Ryuji and hears his death over the phone and rushes to his house in an attempt to help him. By the time she gets to his apartment, however, he has already died. It had turned out that Sadako crawled out of his TV and killed him; thus meaning that the curse was not broken from Ryuji. Reiko is distraught, and realises that if Ryuji has now died, Yoichi will probably die too.

Reiko remembers she made a copy of the cursed videotape

Unable to understand how it is possible she is alive and Ryuji is dead, she almost gives up hope. However, Ryuji's spirit appears in the form of the towel-headed man and guides her towards the shocking truth; she survived because she showed Ryuji the tape and copied the videotape. Realising what she has to do, Reiko gathers up her things and drives to her father's house with the intention of showing him the tape.

On The Run

After the death of his father, Yoichi has started to become more and more like Sadako and is unable to speak. Reiko and Yoichi go into hiding from the authorities but are tracked down by Mai Takano, one of Ryuji's students, and she promises to help Reiko solve the problem with Yoichi. However, when another person dies from the curse of the videotape, Mai tells the police about Reiko and they arrest her.

Vision Come True

Reiko and Yoichi flees after his attack on the doctors

Scientists plan to do tests on Yoichi to test his level of ESP. Yoichi cries out to Reiko in a panic. When the policemen call Yoichi a "monster", Yoichi launches a psychic attack on two doctors. The police chase the two of them and they try to escape.

The blood flows from Reiko's body, after she got hit by a truck

While trying to cross a road, Reiko falls into one of her terrible visions; her father telling her that Yoichi is not himself anymore. She did not have enough time to escape; she is hit by a truck and is killed. Yoichi sees this and it prompts him to attack and nearly kill Omuta in revenge and anger. It appears that Reiko's spirit is watching him still and Yoichi is saved from Sadako by the spirit of his father Ryuji.

Other incarnations

  • Kazuyuki Asakawa, in Koji Suzuki's 1991 novel Ring , a married man with a wife Shizuka and a daughter Yoko. Difference between him and Reiko Asakawa is his gender, family and relation to Ryuji, who is an old school friend rather than an ex-lover/spouse. Kazuyuki Asakawa is shown in the 1995 television film Ring: Kanzenban and series Ring: The Final Chapter.
  • Rachel Keller, in the 2002 American remake of the 1998 Japanese film, a single mother with a (supposedly 9-year-old) son. Unlike the Japanese film, this version of the character was never married to her child's father, but he was indeed her boyfriend before. There is another minor difference; the fact that in Ringu, Reiko still had slight interest in Ryuji, while in The Ring, Noah still had more noticeable interest in Rachel.
  • Sun-joo Kong, in the 1999 South Korean remake of the 1998 Japanese film, a single mother with a daughter.
  • Cindy Campbell, in the 2003 parody of The Ring (Scary Movie 3), is a single lady who falls in love with a white rapper after the devastating death of her friend, Brenda Meeks. She is also the aunt and guardian of her nephew, Cody.