J-Horror fans united! I think. Anywho, I love The Grudge and all it’s iterations, including the manga adaptations and sketchy sequels. Brannyk didn’t choose our first Throwdown movie. Imagine finding out that Ju-On is getting a Netflix series!

3 binged hours later, I have questions.

General Opinion

It says season 1 and is 6 episodes long. Japan’s live action tv shows are usually 12 episodes long. This is long hand for saying I doubt the show is finished, so there isn’t a satisfying conclusion.

The tone and atmosphere is always mute or tense. Take that however you will. Sometimes it works and sometimes no. There are genuinely scary moments, but nothing to write home about.

ju-on effects
Some scares may cause giggles.

Trigger Warning: The show depicts rape and I plan to spoil and expand on that portion of the timeline. Know it before venturing forth.

What did You Expect?

With a title like Ju-on: Origins, I thought Kayako and family would haunt viewers in a less ghost-y way. Don’t sit around and wait them. They never show. They pay a lot of homage to the original source material, but not in an unbearable rehash kind of way.

Ju-on
I felt good seeing this effect again.

Since the sequels of Ju-On became more streamlined, I didn’t expect the anachronistic ordering (the original did this). More on that later.

Honestly, the series feels like what might have been if The Grudge 2020 turned into a tv show. (What the movie needed to be good.)

Ju-On Not Made for the USA

If you listen to the commentary track of The Grudge 2003, the culture differences and how both the actors and director needed to learn and adjust themselves accordingly pop up frequently. Without that American grounding, some things you need to either learn quick or know already.

The movie tropes like nobodies business. But these are Japanese tropes, so American audiences might not relate. If you are familiar, congratulations! You see everything coming a mile away.

I didn’t pay much attention to costume design until I watched this video addressing the importance of it. As par for the course the outfits and hair say who they are as people. Watching a lot of Japanese movies, I know that this :

ju-on hair

is an outdated look. Instinctively, I pick up on the timey-wimey shenanigans going on. The show doesn’t clue you in until the beginning of the second episode; it only tells you what it wants you to know in that moment. This gets frustrating to keep track of characters.

Yes. The original did this, but was at most a 2 hour movie whose segments were divided by the people: Katsuya, Izumi, Rika. And The Grudge 2003 specifically changed this storytelling device to smooth over any confusion. Pulp Fiction, Origins is not.

Rape and All That Entails

Two bullies whisk someone somewhere abandoned, a guy rapes her, and then blackmails her. It’s a common enough depiction in Japan storytelling. The rape itself I have no problem with because it serves A LOT of purpose in the story.

The rape puts all of them in the house, shows the girl’s virginity (which is important to develop 3 parent-child relationships), leads to a kid (I think. It got weird), and provides decent blackmail. The reactions are my issue.

Let’s wave away some things with a ‘the house made them crazy’ argument. Why did the bully give the girl the blackmail photos? Why did the guy decide to take responsibility for the rape? I mean he was dating bully girl before and acted totally apathetic to his victim. Okay, she blackmails him with the photos bully handed over, but then how was bully supposed to use them?

A large chunk of the story hinges on the rape. It needs to make sense.

And as long as I’m spoiling things, people melted. It was funny.

Conclusion

As it stands? 2.5 out of 5 stars (2.5 / 5)
I don’t dislike it, and it isn’t finished yet. Mostly I’m confused and need people to nerd out and compare notes here. When season 2 comes out, maybe everything will be clear. If I retain the necessary info from season 1.

If.

About the Author

Hi. I'm judgemental and have a horrible sense of humor. Read my stuff and validate me pls.

View Articles