Toshio Saeki (佐伯 俊雄 Saeki Toshio) is a fictional character from the Ju-on series of horror films, as well as the western franchise. In both versions, Toshio is an onryō, the spiteful ghost of a boy who lost his mother Kayako and his pet car Mar under the murderous rage of his father Takeo. In the Ju-on films, Toshio is not murdered by his father and is implied that Kayako herself took him to the afterlife; In the Grudge films, he is murdered by Takeo as well, drowned to death by his father in the bathtub. Toshio follows the resented spirit of his mother on a spreading grudge curse that sets on anyone who steps inside their house. His ghost is trademarked by his menacing, yet innocent aspect with pitch-black, wide open eyes, pale skin, and the haunting meowing sounds he makes.
The character has been portrayed by several actors throughout both franchises; Daiki Sawada first portrayed Toshio in the short film 4444444444; Ryôta Koyama replaced him in the first two Ju-on films, The Curse and The Curse 2. Yūya Ozeki replaces him in Ju-on: The Grudge, Ju-on: The Grudge 2 and The Grudge; in The Grudge 2, Ohga Tanaka portrays; Shimba Tsuchiya plays Toshio in The Grudge 3; Shûsei Uto appears as the ghost in his cameos in White and Black Ghost; and finally, Kai Kobayashi portrays in the 2014 reboot film, The Beginning of the End.
Toshio shares a main role with his mother Kayako, and has became an icon of japanese horror and the general horror genre as well.
Ju-on film series
Are you really my mother?Toshio is born to Takeo and Kayako Saeki, a Japanese couple residing in Nerima City, Tokyo on July 27, 1985 as seen in Ju-on: The Grudge. He had a teacher named Kobayashi in school, who happened to be an old flame of his mother, but who never really noticed Kayako. Takeo discovers a journal in which Kayako wrote intensely about her love for Kobayashi. Blind with rage, he obsessed over the mistaken idea that Kayako is cheating on him. He attacked Kayako when she came home and violently killed her. The Ju-on film series never actually makes clear about what or who killed Toshio, even though Kobayashi already finds him meowing and able to communicate to his mother, suggesting that her spirit took him by herself. Her murder sets a curse upon the house, in which the ghosts of Kayako, Toshio and Takeo (who is killed back by Kayako's ghost soon after her murder) attack anyone who enter, re-enacting the murders and following the victims wherever they go. Noticing his absence, Kobayashi went to the Saeki house and found a trail of blood, and Toshio acting lazy and covered in bruises. Toshio only told him his parents were "out" and later was heard talking to an unseen woman about his father, inside his room. Toshio complained that Mar was killed and told her his father had left for good. The woman promissed that she would stay with him forever, to whom Toshio asked back if she was really his mother. The voice remarked Toshio that she would always be behind him, and Kobayashi entered the room, finding Toshio alone and making several drawings of his cat. After the teacher discovered Kayako's corpse in the attic, he tried to run out of the house with Toshio, only to be surprised by her ghost, as Toshio only meowed. Rika found him with his cat inside the closet, and thought he was an actual boy until she was told by Detective Nakagawa that he had been murdered years before. While the curse followed Rika, an old man noticed Toshio and started playing with him. A passerby also was able to see him as well.
Kayako came back to life when the curse gripped Kyoko Harase's pregnancy. Kyoko's last vision before being possessed was Toshio repetitively calling her "okasa" ("mother") while in her childbed. This implies that Kayako and Toshio were reborn as one, but is not made clear.
The Grudge film series
Kayako felt in love for an american professor named Peter Kirk. After discovering her inner feelings, Takeo killled her and subsequentely the boy by drowning him in the bathtub, obsessed with the idea that he was not his son. Insane, Takeo also drowned Toshio's black cat Mar, before hanging himself in the boy's bedroom. The spirits of the boy and the cat then merged up and formed a demonic entity that haunts anyone who enters the Saeki house, alongside Kayako's angry spirit. Following her letters' address, Peter went to the Saeki house and found Toshio acting lazy and covered in bruises in the middle of a complete mess. Peter later discovered Kayako's corpse and saw Takeo's hanged body, running out from the house frightened.
Karen found him trapped in the closet with his cat, and thought he was an actual boy, until she was told he had been murdered there three years before.
The curse reached a new place, a Chicago apartment building, following a young girl who had stepped into the house and returned home, attempting to run away from the ghosts. There, Toshio posed once again a an ordinary boy that enjoyed playing with Rose's toys. Her older sister Lisa also met him in his ghostly form, but also confused him with a human being. Not long after, his true nature was revealed. Toshio's ghost supposedly vanished after the banishing ritual performed in the building by his aunt, Naoko.
Notes and trivia
- Toshio often poses as a living boy and confuses people, reflecting his innocent yet menacing nature.
- Toshio's ghost talks more and in one occasion smiles in the Ju-on films. In the Grudge series, he acts more serious and mysteriously.
- In the Kei Ohishi Ju-on novel, Toshio hides in the attic from his father. Instead of coming after him, Takeo slams the cupboard door shut, leaving Toshio to starve to death. However, whilst in the attic, Toshio encounters the body (and the ghost) of his mother, so it is unknown if he did indeed starve, or if Kayako claimed him. Also in the novel, Toshio buries his own cat in the dirt, after both of their deaths.
- In the Ju-on films, Toshio is six years old at the time of his death. In the Grudge films, he was either seven or eight years old (the online newspaper article that Karen reads states Toshio's age as seven, but a link to another online article on the search engine she uses states Toshio's age as eight).
- Toshio attended the press release of Shimizu's 2011 film Tormented.
- Yuya Ozeki was reportedly terrified of cats.
- The character is parodied by Garrett Masuda in Scary Movie 4. Bill Pullman also spoofs Peter Kirk in this film, as the boy's father.