Shinsei toire no Hanako-san
Release : Jul-4-1998 Duration : 95min.
©︎1998 Toei/Pony Canyon/Arcadia Pictures
Japan is no stranger to crazes, or "booms" as they are called here. Twenty years ago, when a wave of stories of ghost-sightings swept through the nation's school yards, one tale in particular, "Hanako, the ghost in the toilet" almost achieved the status of a national phenomena. For every child who cannot name the prime minister there are ten who have a "Hanako" story to tell. The stories, of course, are many and varied but every schoolchild in Japan, at one time or another, has stood in dread and anticipation as he or she ventured into the school toilet alone. Many of the strange and unexplained "Hanako" sightings were gathered together into one of 1993's biggest selling books. The subsequent series became a best-seller and the "Hanako boom" was born. The mass media couldn't give, nor get, enough of "Hanako, the ghost in the toilet" and the story was filmed in 1995. This first film depicted Hanako as a protective deity, in direct contrast with this current version's evil spirit which lures children through the door, past the portal and into the dark depths of torment from which there is no return.
After watching this chilling journey into the depths of horror, it will be a brave viewer who dares to peer into a night time mirror, much less a lonely school toilet. A curiosity towards things frightening is not a monopoly of early teens. Adults, too, will shiver in fright as the film draws them ever deeper into the supernatural maw.
The merry music of a brass band marks the entrance ceremony for freshmen at the Midoridai Junior High school. Satomi Kurahashi, a new student at Midoridai, takes her seat with all the hope of a freshman. Her friends, Kanae Sawaguchi and Kosuke Kashiwagi, have also been assigned to the same class. Satomi's parents, Takeo and Eiko, learn that Mr. Asaoka is in charge of the junior year. All three look back to an incident that took place eleven years ago in the old school building. Satomi had a sister, Kaori, who was a student at Midoridai at that time. But Kaori suddenly disappeared and in spite of an intensive investigation, no trace was ever found of her. Rumors abounded - she'd been kidnapped or spirited away by unknown malevolence. As the first day of school draws to a close, the friends are walking in the school grounds when they come across an old shrine at the back of the school. It is the same shrine Satomi noticed in a photo of Kaori which was taken just before her disappearance. As Satomi stares at the rusty lock on the shrine she hears a voice whispering her name. After that many strange incidents begin to occur. Satomi, Kanae, and their teacher, Mr. Yabe, all collapse after an encounter through a mirror in the upstairs' toilet. Before long the school yard rings with stories of "Hanako, the ghost in the toilet." As Satomi investigates Kaori's disappearance by looking through old school records, she can't help but note the name Reiko Kashima keeps reappearing throughout the narrative.
One of Satomi's friends, Etsuko, suggests to Satomi and Kanae that they consult the Ouija board. Wary at first, Satomi's curiosity finally wins over and they begin trying to contact the spirit world.
Terror strikes the girls when a spirit does indeed reply. Kanae collapses to the floor, her eyes rolling back in her head. The doors to the shrine slowly creak open and strange noises come from overhead. The wave of horrific experiences continue to mount as the evil which had lain dormant for eleven years returns with a chilling fury that will change their lives forever.