The Ring: Volume 4: Birthday

Suzuki Koji, Author, Sakura Mizuki, Illustrator
Suzuki Koji, Author, Sakura Mizuki, Illustrator , based on the novel by Koji Suzuki. Dark Horse/Digital Manga $12.95 (154p) ISBN 978-1-59307-267-4
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The Japanese media franchise the Ring reached American shores in 2002 with the hit film based on a series of horror novels by Suzuki. The manga series, recently translated by Dark Horse, explores the Ring universe, deepening readers' knowledge of the characters and histories. The series' central story line follows the vengeful spirit of a girl named Sadako, who was mysteriously killed. This volume is a trilogy of stories, the longest of which, "Sadako," concerns the protagonist's upbringing and the circumstances that led to her death. It offers a fine twist at the end and some eerie moments along the way. Another story, "Lemon Heart," details the later life of one of Sadako's old boyfriends, who now suffers from an unknown ailment. Suzuki's work hinges on building up quiet levels of dread and unease. Adapter Mizuki manages to pace the stories with some success, and there are some moments of genuine suspense and horror, but these scenes are hampered by Meimu's generic drawings. Birthday is really only for serious Ring fans; anyone else will find themselves baffled by its somewhat arcane plots and subplots. (Nov.)

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