the Grudge

Ju-On: Origins/The Grudge (Netflix 2020, SPOILER FREE)

This article is part 1 in a series about the cast and characters in Japanese horror Ju-On: Origins (a 2020 Netflix series in The Grudge canon).

WELCOME!

Let’s talk about the incredible characters from Netflix’s 2020 series, Ju-On: Origins. I’ll present the characters one by one! You’ll get all the major characters’ backstories, and all the major actors’ info, including some very interesting surprises! Hint: one of the actresses was a now-forgotten J-Pop idol in the 1980s!

DISCLAIMER: the title says this article is “spoiler free,” but there are MINOR spoilers.

One more thing, these articles take a lot of time and effort to research, write, and edit, so I’m going to chop up the larger article into smaller parts. It’s easier to write that way. This “part 1” will include the first two characters we meet, Haruka and Yasuo. You can find part 2 here.

Haruka Honjo (Talent, Girlfriend)

Ju-On Origins Haruka
タレント:はるか

Haruka Honjo’s Occupation

First of all, that’s Haruka in the picture above, and the card in front of her reads, “タレント:はるか” (literally, Talent: Haruka). “Talent” is one of those English-turned-Japanese words whose original meaning has changed. A “タレント” is sort of blanket term that seems to refer to someone who is essentially an entertainer without a specific set of skills.

(“Talent”) is often used for people whose job titles are difficult to determine.

Wikipedia

In pop American terms, the Cardashian family comes to mind.

When you look at it that way, in the 1980s, Japan was way ahead of its time.

Ju On: Haruka Honjo’s Backstory

As the story goes, Haruka moved out of her apartment after she heard some creepy noises, and her boyfriend, Tetsuya, convinced her to leave.

Tetsuya is an crazy guy, but I’ll cover him (and his crazy mom) in part 2.

At any rate, although Tetsuya was terrified, he was obviously not telling Haruka the whole truth about WHY HE WAS TERRIFIED. Yet, despite that AND the fact that SHE HERSELF heard footsteps in the hall, Haruka seemed not to want to press Tetsuya to give her more information.

Surely, Tetsuya would tell her what he REALLY SAW in that house, in time…

WARNING: Minor Ju On Spoiler!

Fortunately, by episode 1, Haruka and Tetsuya have moved to a new apartment. Unfortunately, that won’t stop the spirits from following them beyond the scope of that haunted house…

Yuina Kuroshima: The Actress Beyond Ju On

Haruka is played by Okinawan actress Yuina Kuroshima (黒島結菜), born 1997. Follow Yuina Kuroshima on Instagram, or check out the trailer below for Ju-on: The Beginning of the End, a Grudge film (in official canon) in which actress Yuina Kuroshima plays a completely different character, a girl named Yayoi:

Sorry, Japanese only!

Yasuo Odajima (Paranormal Researcher)

呪怨 Netflix

Yasuo Odajima: Occupation

Let’s start at the beginning: Yasuo Odajima is a paranormal researcher.

What’s more, Mr. Odajima is writing a book about PARANORMAL ACTIVITY. Throughout the Grudge episodes, he conducts recorded interviews, performs library research, and investigates the haunted scene more than once.

But why? What is his purpose, really? What is he trying to achieve?

Haruka: Why are you gathering scary stories?

Yasuo: Oh, I’m going to write a book.

Haruka: That’s not what I mean. For what purpose?

Yasuo: Good question

Ju-On: Origins, Episode 1

Check out that dialogue! It gives hints about who Yasuo Odajima is. Unfortunately, we don’t get an answer right away. Fortunately, we do get an answer later on down the line (in season 1).

WARMING: MINOR Ju On SPOILERS — Yasuo Odajima’s Backstory

Yasuo Odajima used to live in the haunted house, too! Unfortunately, season 1 doesn’t tell us why he hasn’t died. Horrible tragedies have befallen every person who has entered the house (come to think of it, I suppose that rule also excludes the police chief and the real estate agent!)

Why did Yasuo Odajima not fall victim to horrible tragedy? What about the police chief and real estate agent?

We don’t have an answer yet. COME SEASON 2, the writing team is going to have some SERIOUS explaining to do.

Yoshiyoshi Arakawa: Actor (beyond Ju On)

Yasuo Odajima is played by Yoshiyoshi Arakawa (荒川 良々), whose real name, however, is not Yoshiyoshi, but Yoshitomo (良友). Interestingly, he is a stage actor, and has also been known by the stage name, Jozu Arakawa (荒川 上手). The characters ” 上手 ,” or “Jozu,” literally translate to “skilled” or “talented,” and is an interesting nickname in its own right. Mr. Arakawa apparently changed his name to Yoshiyoshi after people kept misreading his name (source: Wikipedia).

Whatever his first name is, Mr. Arakawa once played a character in 2008 that looks exactly the same as the the guy he plays in Ju-On: Origins. I’m telling you, from his haircut to his interest in giving people the willies, Mr. Arakawa was definitely typecast.

Below, you can check out the trailer for Fine, Totally Fine (全然大丈夫, comedy, 2008). It’s amusing to notice the differences between Yasuo Odajima (Arakawa’s character from The Grudge: Origins, 2020) and Teruo Toyama (Arakawa’s character from Fine, Totally Fine):

Ju On Cast PART 2!

You know what sucks? It takes a lot of energy to research, compile, write, and edit everything, so when I sat down to write this beast, I decided to divide the work into a few parts.

You just finished part 1, about Haruka and Yasuo. In part 2, I cover Haruka’s boyfriend, Tetsuya, and his mom. You’ll be surprised to learn what she used to do in the 1980s! Just below, you can find the link to part 2, or just click here.

More Horror Content

Be sure to check out some of my horror reviews! Here’s one I did of Ju-On: Origins episode 1 (just reactions to the first episode):

More International Horror Movie Reviews

I’ve been on an INTERNATIONAL HORROR kick, reviewing Thai, Malaysian, British, American, Australian, Japanese, Korean, Basque Country, and more.

At the time of this writing, ALL of them are available on Netflix (I happen to live in Japan, so they’re available where I live).

Here are a couple of my favorites:

The Whole Truth (2021)

This low creepy, low budget Thai movie actually genuinely terrified me.

The Maid (2020)

Here’s another Thai gem. More of a thriller than a straight horror flick, The Maid does include some supernatural elements that sets it apart from the mundane. And there’s a surprise ending, with lots of blood!

The Rezort (2016)

Straight outta the BBC, if you like Zombie movies, you’ll like The Rezort.

Just beware: it’s fun and action-packed, and the premise is hilarious. But it’s also really, really stupid. A movie to watch with your bros with a beer.

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