Ring Volume 0, The

Dark Horse sure knows how to cash in on the Ring/Ringu phenomenon. Not that I can blame them. Their manga division has managed to get out translated versions based on the Ringu series of films, books and television shows. The overarching story (for those not in the loop) features an urban legend in which a haunted tape kills anyone who views it seven days after the viewing. A reporter (Asakawa) and friend (Ryuji) are forced to solve the mystery of the tape before their own demise. At the core of the mystery is Sadako, a young woman with psychic powers who is left for dead at the bottom of an abandoned well and is taking her post mortem revenge through this tape.

Following the Japanese prequel almost to the letter, The Ring Volume 0 tells of how Sadako came to find herself in the well thirty years before Ringu. As part of an acting troupe, she's thrust into the main role when the lead actress is found mysteriously dead. Being standoffish as she is, Sadako makes the rest of the actors a bit paranoid and when events lead to the murder of the director, they proceed to beat her to death and take her back to her home where they plan to kill the "other" Sadako. Yep, the big twist is that there is, in fact, two Sadako and bringing them close to each other is a bad, bad thing.

Except for a few minor edits and the addition of a short epilogue, the story from the movie is pretty much scene-for-scene. There's little embellishment or variation from the source material. Not that this is a bad thing as it's so rare to see a adaptation of a film get taken so seriously.

As an illustrator, Meimu's work on this offering is a bit dry and boring. I've seen some of his work elsewhere and it looked a far bit more interesting. This time around, though, the story is laid out with little quality detail and only a few panels really show a uniqueness to the artist's style. Some of the more odd, grainy visions and Aiko's death sequence are nicely done, but most of the manga feels pretty pedestrian.

On a side note, I find it odd, and a bit confusing, the fact that the prequel movie this volume is based on has the subtitle of Birthday, but the manga The Ring Volume Four is based on the shortstory book named Birthday. I have to wonder if there's something lost in the translation, so don't be worried if you saw Ringu 0 and wondered why two manga seem to reference the film's title.

If you're a hardcore fan of the series, then the The Ring Volume 0 manga is worth the money to pick up to fill your collection. But, if you just enjoy the movies, then might want to skip this as it doesn't do much different and the art doesn't stand out on it's own enough to make it worth the purchase.

- - Kinderfeld

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