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Ju-on (呪怨 Juon, lit. "curse grudge") is the title of a series of Japanese horror films, created by Takashi Shimizu. Shimizu attended the Film School of Tokyo, where he studied under Kiyoshi Kurosawa. Kurosawa helped Shimizu shepherd the Ju-on projects to fruition. The Ju-on movies revolve around a curse created by the violent murder of a housewife in a house in Nerima. It was said that when one person dies with a deep and burning rage, a curse is born. The curse gathers in the place where that person has died or where they were frequent at (in the series' case, the house in Nerima) and repeats itself there. The curse manifests on those who encounter the curse by any means, such as entering the house or being in contact with somebody who was already cursed. The curse's manifestation is mainly death, where the victims' bodies may or may not disappear. The following deaths may create more curses and spreads the curse in other places. The franchise consists, to date, of six films, alongside several tie-in and merchandise products.

CreationEdit

Before the creation of Ju-on, Shimizu initially worked on short horror films. In 1997, at the suggestion of Kiyoshi Kurosawa, Shimizu was asked to direct a couple fo short segments for Haunted School G (Gakkô no Kaidan G, 1998), part of Kansai TV's hit series. Kurosawa, one of Shimizu's film school lecturers, had been involved with the series since 1994 and put his student's name forward as a pontential contributor. Shimizu met actress Takako Fuji at a theater and, according to him, he knew she was "perfect for" his ghost "as soon as she walked out on stage".[1] Shimizu then produced two three-minute short segments, Katasumi and 4444444444, in which the characters of Kayako and Toshio Saeki were introduced respectively. Ringu producer Takashige Ichise and a distribution deal with Toei video enabled Shimizu to expand the two Haunted School G short films in Shimizu's first full length films, Ju-on: The Curse and The Curse 2. Ringu's scriptwriter Hiroshi Takahashi served as Shimizu's "creative consultant".[2]

FilmsEdit

Ju-on: The Curse (2000)Edit

Main article: Ju-on: The Curse

The first Ju-on follows the lives of the people connected to a house in Nerima, Tokyo where a gruesome murder of a housewife occurred. School teacher Shunsuke Kobayashi visits the home of his absent student, Toshio, where he discovers the boy beaten and bruised. He waits for Toshio's parents to come. He realizes what the Saeki family has become and is killed, his wife and unborn child being murdered by Kayako's crazed husband Takeo after he learnt Kayako had a stalker-like crush on Kobayashi. He is in killed by Kayako's ghost. The movie also explores the fates of the next family to live in the house, the Murakami family, as well as two people who come into contact with them. This timeline of the film also extends the stories of Tsuyoshi and Kanna from Gakkō no kaidan G. The last timeline shows a snippet of Suzuki Kyoko's experience, a psychic invited by her brother to look into the house that he was going to sell, which was the cursed Saeki house.

Ju-on: The Curse 2 (2000)Edit

Main article: Ju-on: The Curse 2

Ju-on: The Curse 2 continues the story of Kyoko Suzuki and shows how the curse affected everyone in her family. It also shows the story of another couple, the Kitadas, living in the house and the extended storyline of Detective Kamio from Ju-on. Ju-on 2 also shows a snippet of a scene that plays in the theatrical versions of the films, being the fate of the school girls who had snuck into the house, one of which is Toyama Izumi, whose story would be continued in Ju-on: The Grudge.

Ju-on: The Grudge (2002)Edit

Main article: Ju-on: The Grudge

Ju-on: The Grudge centers on the fate of social worker Nishina Rika. Rika comes to visit the house of Tokunagas (the old Saeki house) where she was summoned after the social worker assigned to the house has disappeared. Surviving a terrible experience in that house, she discovers the real reason about the deaths connected to the house. It was later revealed that Rika was the one destined to play out the curse: she was to die the same way as Kayako and become the next fulfiller of the Ju-on. In this movie, it was revealed that the curse has some time-traveling capabilities (or residual haunting) where a victim may see another victim from another time frame. An example is that Det. Toyama Yuji saw what will happen to his daughter, Izumi, years after his death when she entered the house. Izumi was just 12 when Yuji died and when she entered the house at 16, she sees her father just before he encounters Kayako. However, this is not just prior to his death, because he runs out of the house and it is later revealed by Izumi's mother that he went crazy before he died.

Ju-on: The Grudge 2 (2003)Edit

Main article: Ju-on: The Grudge 2

Ju-on: The Grudge 2 revolves around the actress Harase Kyoko's pregnancy. After a car accident caused by Toshio's ghost, Kyoko apparently miscarries. When her doctor assures her of a healthy pregnancy, Kyoko becomes perplexed. It is revealed that Kyoko was involved with a television production filmed at a haunted house - the house of the Saekis in Nerima. Producer Keisuke finds Kyoko and informs her that most members of the film crew have been killed or gone missing. The outcome of Kyoko's pregnancy is horrifyingly revealed as she gives birth to Kayako. As another incarnation of the curse, this showed that the curse could cause a pregnant woman to carry Kayako in her womb.

The Grudge (2004)Edit

Main article: The Grudge

The series began with The Grudge, premiering on October 22nd, 2004. The story follows Karen, an exchange student studying social work, living with her boyfriend Doug in Japan who innocently agrees to cover for Yoko, a nurse who didn't show up for work. When she enters the assigned home, she discovers an elderly American woman, Emma, who is lost in a catatonic state while the rest of the house appears deserted and disheveled. As she is tending to the stricken old woman, Karen hears scratching sounds from upstairs. When she investigates, she is faced with a supernatural occurrences more frightening than she could ever imagine. Within this house, a chain of terror has been set in motion resulting from tragic murders that occurred years before. As more people die, Karen is pulled into the cycle of horror and learns the secret of the vengeful curse that has taken root in this house while simultaneously trying to keep her boyfriend from getting involved. The film was a major box office success, grossing over $180 million dollars at the box office, far exceeding the expectations of box office analysts and Sony Pictures executives.

The Grudge 2 (2006)Edit

Main article: The Grudge 2

The second installment was released on October 13th, 2006 and is set within two years after the first film and between two countries. It follows Aubrey Davis, Karen's younger sister who, after receiving a phone call from her mother regarding Karen's confinement in a mental hospital after the events of the previous film, travels to Tokyo, Japan to meet her. When she witnesses Karen dying horrifically, she sets out to find the source of the curse along with a journalist named Eason. An American teenager called Allison studying in a Japanese International School named Allison Fleming also has to deal with a terrifying supernatural event inflicted by a prank by her classmates. Meanwhile, in Chicago, Jake Kimble is also caught up in the curse that seems to have spread to his apartment after Allison Fleming moves back there with her family. Like it's predecessor, the film was a box office success, earning $70 million worldwide.

The Grudge 3 (2009)Edit

Main article: The Grudge 3

In Chicago, Jake Kimble, the sole survivor of The Grudge 2, is interned in a mental institution and his therapist Dr. Francine Sullivan does not believe that he is haunted by the malevolent ghosts of Kayako and Toshio. When Jake is killed in his cell with nearly all his bones broken, Dr. Sullivan decides to investigate further with an open mind. Meanwhile, Lisa, the sister of the building's superintendent, Max, steals the key of apartment 305 to have sex with her boyfriend Andy. When she realizes that the apartment is a crime scene, she immediately returns to her apartment, where she resides with Max and their ill sister Rose. In the meantime, Naoko Kawamata travels from Tokyo to Chicago to stop the curse of her sister Kayako. She meets Lisa and tells her that she needs hers and Rose's help to stop the fiend of her sister, but Lisa refuses to participate. When Max is possessed by the evil spirit of Takeo, Lisa decides to reconsider Naoko's offer. Unlike the first two films, The Grudge 3 did not receive a worldwide theatrical release. In Mexico, the film received a limited release on June 25, 2010 and a nationwide release on August 6. It's reported sales of 2,271,177 DVD units (approx. $38,610,009 USD in sales) recouped its $5,000,000 budget, marking yet another successful release in the franchise.

Ju-on: White Ghost / Black Ghost (2009)Edit

Main article: Ju-on: White Ghost / Black Ghost

In honor of the 10th anniversary of the Ju-on series, the fifth and sixth installments titled Ju-on: Shiroi Rōjo (Ju-on: White Ghost) and Ju-on: Kuroi Shōjo (Ju-on: Black Ghost) premiered in simultaneous screenings in theaters in Japan on June 27, 2009. Takashi Shimizu and Taka Ichise return to supervise the films, each with a different director.

Ju-on: The Beginning of the End (2014)Edit

Main article: Ju-on: The Beginning of the End

An elementary school teacher named Yui (Nozomi Sasaki) visits the home of a boy named Toshio Saeki (Kai Kobayashi) who's been absent from school for a long period of time. When she arrives, she re-lives the horrifying events that occurred in the Saeki household 10 years earlier.

NovelsEdit

In 2003, novelizations of stories from the series written by Kei Ohishi were published in Japan by Kadokawa. The first novel, Ju-on, elaborates on events and characters from Ju-on: The Curse, The Curse 2 and Ju-on: The Grudge. The novel was published by Dark horse in the U.S. in September 06, 2006.[3] A novel titled Ju-on 2 was released the same year, which elaborates on the events from Ju-on: The Grudge 2.[4] Novelizations of Ju-on: White Ghost and Black Ghost were published in 2009. Ju-on 2, White and Black Ghost did not receive English translations. In 2014, a novelization of the seventh film, The Beginning of the End, was also published by Kadokawa.[5]

ComicsEdit

Two manga adaptations were released in 2003 in Japan and 2006 in the US (also by Dark Horse[6][7]), titled Ju-on: Video Side and Ju-on: Vol. 2. The manga follow other events from the series that were omitted in the novels (such as Mizuho's background).

Video gameEdit

Main article: Ju-on: The Grudge (video game)

In honor of the series' 10th anniversary, a game, titled Ju-on: The Grudge - Haunted House Simulator was developed for the Wii. The game was released in Japan in 2009 by AQ Interactive under the title Kyoufu Taikan: Ju-on (Fear Experience: Ju-on), and in Europe under the title Ju-on: A Fright Simulator.

The video game was confirmed on May 22, 2009. Shortly afterwards, a demo of the game was unveiled at E3 2009, where Xseed Games described it as a "haunted house simulator," rather than a traditional survival horror game. The game does not feature any combat, as its format relies on subtle exploration and scare tactics. Joystiq reviewers who were present for the demo's screening at the E3 justified this, observing that, "In most horror games, a skilled player can actually defeat the creatures (with notable exceptions like Silent Hill 2's Pyramid Head ...), making the game more of a power fantasy than a true fright. In both of these games [Silent Hill 2 and Ju-on: The Grudge], you can escape the creatures at best".[8]

ReferencesEdit

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