Sadako at the End of the World balances delicately between a cute slice of life story and a new entry into the Ring franchise that holds up as true canon. Featuring supervision by Koji Suzuki, the author of the original book series that started off all things Ring, Sadako at the End of the World explores what would happen if the cursed videotape was found by two young girls during an apocalypse.

Sadako at end of world panel

While such a story sounds incredulous, it works quite well, with Sadako deciding to follow the girls for seven days to see how many people, or victims, she can find along the way. They encounter different characters for dynamic, bittersweet interactions. You even get to find out what would happen if someone tries to cut Sadako’s hair!

Judiciously balanced, the art style is applied to the story aptly, cute where it should be and duly creepy as well. Koma Natsumi didn’t try to stylize Sadako or lose any of her defining features. The story’s tone balances along those same lines, bittersweet and melancholy, celebratory, or pensive, depending on the scene. It’s a manga that will seek shelter in your mind for days after reading, both for its themes and originality.

Not content with only Sadako, Koma Natsumi draws from other Japanese ghost origins as well; including one that served as the inspiration for Sadako and many Japanese cinema yurei to follow. Those who would like to learn about “The Dish Mansion at Banchou” are in for a treat, as the yurei is referenced not only in the manga, but also in a write up in the back. Another worthwhile bonus included is a timeline for all things Ring, ranging from the 1991 novel to the most recently listed 2019 film, with many lesser known items inserted.

Sadako at the end of the world panel

Sadako at the End of the World is one complete volume from Yen Press consisting of only 120 pages, plus some bonus content. It’s the perfect way to wrap up a movie marathon and end on a cuter note, but not suffer too much tonal whiplash. For fans of the Ring franchise, it’s not to be missed; for those looking for something different in their Asian horror repertoire, it’s a unique story that presents a well-known yurei in a complex way.

I adored the ending, and found it perfectly suited for such a tale. Throughout the manga, you can feel that everyone involved in the project cared about the subject material and wanted to honor it. Though it carries such a fresh perspective, it still heavily adheres to the rules set in previous media, and feels true to the character’s paradigm.

It’s not often that spin-offs like this have the original author supervising, go visit film sets, and do research to make such a different story feel authentic. The mangaka’s care shines through like the adorable siblings’ smiles- like a ray of hope during the apocalypse.

Sadako End of World Panel

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