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|~ Mitsuko first words to Yoshimi Matsubara.|
Mitsuko Kawai is the main antagonist in In the Depths of Dark Water. She accidentally fell in the water tank of the apartment building in which she lived and died, returning as an Onryō, a vengeful Japanese ghost.
She was portrayed by Mirei Oguchi.
While not much is known about Mitsuko's life when she was alive, what is known is that both her mother and father were extremely negligent. Her mother would neglect to pick Mitsuko up from school, often leaving the responsibility to her father to tend to the little girl. Some time after that, Mitsuko's own father himself stopped picking her up from school, eventually leaving it to Mitsuko herself to walk her way home. Unfortunately, her constantly being left unattended would soon be the girl's downfall, as she would then tragically die from drowning in a water tank in a futile attempt to retrieve her red bag which fell in after making her way to the top of the apartment building out of curiosity as to what was there.
Since that day, Mitsuko, now a restless and vengeful spirit, haunted the complex, lonely and with no one to love or care for her. But it wouldn't be long before a young woman named Yoshimi Matsubara, a divorced mother in a bitter custody battle with her ex-husband over their six-year-old daughter, Ikuko Matsubara, does Mitsuko start manifesting her presence, first appearing in the elevator when Yoshimi first enters the elevator along with her daughter and the real estate agent, Ohta. As the water dripped through the cracks of the ceiling of the elevator, Mitsuko's spirit appears and holds Yoshimi's hand. At that moment, Mitsuko had felt some measure of peace at having finally received the love and attention she never had in life, but that moment was cut short when Ikuko called her mother. Yoshimi then looks at her hand, wondering exactly whose hand it was she was holding, but lets her curiosity subside, and mother and daughter both leave the elevator together happily. As the landlord, Kamiya watched Yoshimi leave the elevator through one of the surveillance cameras, Mitsuko in the form of an obscure figure of a little girl briefly appears on the screen. Upon seeing this, the elderly man, simultaneously confused and scared, is in bewilderment as to how that is, as he only saw one young girl, Ikuko, with her mother, leaving the elevator together. He looks more closely but she disappears.
During a porously rainy day, Mitsuko appears at Ikuko's school on the same day the little girl stays behind after school waiting for her mother (who is at a job interview to get hired by a publishing company) to pick her up. Losing patience, Ikuko started to walk home. Knowing that Mitsuko was watching, she sees the small child standing there from a far distance by a tree in an idle position, looking at her. Ikuko then continued on her way. Mitsuko later appears at the rooftop of the apartment building where Yoshimi catches a glimpse of her moving by the door. When Yoshimi and Ikuko walk through the door, to her horror, the red bag that she has been disposing of throughout the entire film reappears on the ground. Ikuko, eager to own the bag, sees it and runs towards it and begins to pick it up but Yoshimi quickly snatches it back out of her hands. Fearing for her daughter's safety and for her own sanity and safety, she throws the bag away once more in a nearby garbage bin, hoping never to see it again.
However, the next morning, the bag would disappear. Yoshimi takes her daughter to school and Ikuko makes new friends. Alone in the apartment building, she cleans up the apartment, but tips over a bowl full of water, which she used to prevent the leakage from the ceiling from dampening the floor and molding it. As Yoshimi glanced upon the ceiling, the leak has now spread across the room, with more water dripping from the ceiling. Seeking to put an end to this once and for all, Yoshimi makes her way up to the floor of the apartment above and asks if anyone was home. With no one answering, she makes her way back down towards her apartment and as she descends back down to the lower floor inside of the elevator, the door of the empty apartment appears to open by itself and a Mitsuko appears out of nowhere. Upon seeing this, Yoshimi desperately pushes the button to stop the elevator from progressing any further and when she ascends back up, she returns to the apartment and rings the door again. Once again, there was no answer. At this point, Mitsuko then formulates a plan to take Ikuko's place as Yoshimi's daughter.
Mitsuko then appears at Ikuko's school, which is the same school she used to go when she was alive. During this time, Ikuko is with her fellow classmates and is playing hide and seek. After her new friends tell her to find another place to hide, Mitsuko walks slowly towards Ikuko as the latter looked on at her feet while crouching underneath a table. Mitsuko then stops and starts to use her water powers to make Ikuko pass out. Ikuko only looks on and remains in the same crouched position while she was being attacked. A few moments later, Yoshimi receives the news and rushes to the school, demanding to know what happened to her daughter and why she fell unconscious. Her teachers tell her that she passed out under mysterious circumstances, and one of the teachers and Yoshimi walked down the hallway as they talk about Ikuko's strange behavior in class. They come across a wall of pictures drawn by every student in Ikuko's classroom, including one of Ikuko herself, which read "Come home soon, Mitsuko". Yoshimi views the picture and sees the same red bag that she has been repeatedly seeing in the drawing, and the teacher then tells the story about the disappearance of Mitsuko Kawai, a young girl who was a former student about the same age as Ikuko with a negligent mother and father, pointing divorce and parental neglect as the catalyst for the similarly strange behavior she exhibited as Ikuko.
Sometime afterwards, Yoshimi requests help from her Aunt, who tends to and nurses Ikuko back to health after her incident at the school. Thankful for everything she's done, Yoshimi compliments her Aunt and tells her that she's the only one she can rely on. Her Aunt then tells her that she's available at anytime and that Yoshimi has been a good mother to Ikuko, a far cry from the utter selfishness that her sister (which was Yoshimi's mother) displayed. Yoshimi then tends to Ikuko and eventually falls asleep. While she was asleep, she has a flashback of when Mitsuko was alive. Mitsuko is seen waiting at the school for her mother, but she never shows up. Mitsuko walks home in the rain in her yellow slicker. On her way back to the apartment building, she goes into the elevator, takes off her hood and goes up to the roof. When the dream ended, Yoshimi wakes up to find the bedroom ceiling dripping with water and an empty, water-soaked bed. Yoshimi finds her daughter missing and looks everywhere for her within the apartment. Yoshimi then goes down to the bottom floor of the apartment building and goes to the landlord's desk, attempting to find her daughter through the surveillance cameras. After a flashback of Ikuko happily skipping along on the building's rooftop with Mitsuko's red bag, Yoshimi then enters the elevator to the rooftop where Mitsuko can be seen through the surveillance cameras behind her. She goes to the roof where she catches a glimpse of Mitsuko behind the building's water tank in her human form before disappearing. Yoshimi then looks behind the tank and sees no one there but sees the bag again.
Concerned, Yoshimi calls her ex-husband and inquires of Ikuko's whereabouts. He reveals that their daughter is not with him. Yoshimi then hears footsteps from the floor above and immediately rushes to the apartment above to find Ikuko. Upon approaching the apartment, a pool of water is seen leaking through the crack of the bottom of the door. After ringing the doorbell and knocking on the door to see if someone was there, Yoshimi receives no answer and then sees that the door is unlocked. Upon entering the apartment, she sees that the floors, walls and the sinks are flooded with water. Concerned, Yoshimi desperately calls Ikuko's name. She eventually finds Ikuko semi-conscious and drenched in water and picks her up. However she sees what appears to be a shadow of Mitsuko and she rushes out of the apartment. Upon exiting, she sees that the apartment was once occupied by Mitsuko Kawai and her mother, Shoji. At this point, Yoshimi realizes that, in order to ensure both her daughter's and her own safety, she decides to move, but her lawyer warns her that doing so would result in the permanent loss of custody over her daughter. He then confronts the landlord and the real estate agent for their indifference towards Yoshimi's needs and their criminal negligence. Sometime afterwards, the bedroom ceiling is tended to and renovated. Yoshimi's lawyer then tells her to prepare for the next phase in the custody battle.
One evening, Ikuko and Yoshimi are eating dinner and briefly chat. Ikuko tells her mother that she is ready for school the next day and Yoshimi goes into Ikuko's room to prepare her things. Upon opening the bag with Ikuko's belongings inside, she once again discovers the red bag inside. Yoshimi then asks her daughter if she put it inside. Ikuko insists that she didn't and Yoshimi tries to contact her lawyer through the phone but finds that he's currently unavailable. Yoshimi then sees her daughter unzipping the red bag and Yoshimi quickly snatches it away from her. Upon touching it, Yoshimi receives a flashback of the bag falling into what appears to be a vat of water. Determined to investigate, Yoshimi tells her daughter to stay within the apartment. Yoshimi is drawn to the roof of the building, and while examining the huge water tank she notices that it was last inspected, and thus opened, on July 14, 1999, the day Mitsuko was last reported seen. She comes to the horrific realization via a vision that Mitsuko had fallen into the tank while trying to retrieve her red bag, and drowned. As the flashbacks end, knocking from inside the tank can be heard. Suddenly, dents from within the tank are made, leaving Yoshimi screaming and terrified.
Meanwhile, Ikuko, left alone in the apartment, turns on the bathroom sink for a glass of water, only for it to spurt a clump of black hair and Ikuko then discovers that the bath tap has mysteriously turned on. She attempts to turn off the bath tap, which has started to spurt filthy water. Mitsuko's spirit emerges from the flooded bathtub and attempts to drown her.
Yoshimi finds Ikuko lying unconscious on the bathroom floor, telling her that she will never leave her again. Seeing the bathtub gurgling with an apparent malevolent force inside, Yoshimi quickly leaves the apartment carrying her daughter. She rushes into the elevator, only to find it malfunctioning. Upon desperately getting it to operate, streaks of water suddenly seep through the ceiling and the elevator is eventually drenched in water. Yoshimi then sees the door to their apartment opening by itself. Terrified, Yoshimi desperately attempts to get the elevator to function, but to no avail. As the door opens wider and wider, she sees that the figure pursuing her in fact was her own daughter. Yoshimi is confused as her daughter calls her. She then comes to the terrifying realization that the girl she was carrying wasn't her daughter but Mitsuko, who then shouts "Mama!" as she lunges towards Yoshimi, claiming her as her mother in a torrent of water. Yoshimi begs Mitsuko to let her go, but Mitsuko does not relent. Ikuko runs toward the elevator and Yoshimi tells her daughter not to come any closer. Yoshimi realizes that Mitsuko won't let her go and Yoshimi was left with two choices; either continue to put Ikuko's life in harm's way or serve as Mitsuko's mother for the rest of eternity. Yoshimi chooses to sacrifice herself, and with Ikuko looking on in tears, she stays in the elevator to appease Mitsuko's spirit. As the door closes, Ikuko cries for her mother as her and Yoshimi sadly look into each others' eyes. The elevator ascends and Ikuko follows, but when the doors open, a torrent of murky brown water gushes out and flood the hallway and nobody emerges. Laying in the puddle of water, Ikuko pitifully and vainly calls for her mother.
Ten years pass, and Ikuko is now sixteenyears old and with a couple of friends. She then returns to her old kindergarten school where she noticed that there was a little girl standing and waiting for her mother, reminding her of how Mitsuko and herself once stood in that very same position. When the little girl's mother finally arrive at the school, Ikuko is relieved that another little girl won't experience the same cycle of neglect. Seeking closure, she returns to the building and notices their apartment oddly clean, apparently unchanged within the past ten years. Ikuko then looks at a picture of her and her mother. Seemingly finding nothing there, she begins to leave the apartment until Yoshimi's spirit appears, looking exactly as she did ten years ago. Ikuko is elated to see her, asking her if she has been living here this whole entire time as no one informed her of her mother's disappearance. Her and Yoshimi briefly talk and Yoshimi is happy that Ikuko is well. Ikuko then asks Yoshimi if she still felt that as long as the two were together, everything would be okay. She does. She then asks her mother if she can stay with her again as she did ten years ago when she was a child, since Ikuko's father has since remarried with a new family and has two more daughters. Yoshimi sadly declines, as she fears that if she returns to the building, Mitsuko will hurt her again, which she didn't want to happen. Ikuko then hears a drop of water from behind and as she begins to turn around, Yoshimi smiles and says that they can't live together. Ikuko can then feel Mitsuko's presence behind her and quickly turns around to see her, only for Mitsuko to vanish. She then turns back around and sees that her mother has also vanished. Ikuko then sadly calls her mother, a scene echoing the tragedy that occurred ten years prior and then leaves the apartment building. She then realizes that her mother has been protecting her this entire time as a spirit.
Very little is known about Mitsuko's personality in life, but considering how she was a severely neglected child who only wished for her mother's return, it's unlikely that she displayed any antisocial/criminal tendencies in life. There is no evidence of a malevolent or sociopathic nature while she was alive, thus Mitsuko was likely a perfectly innocent child who only wanted a loving mother, and it can be concluded that the tragic circumstances of neglect culminating into her drowning with no one knowing or caring what happened her, turned her into a murderous spirit.
In death, Mitsuko is a manipulative, calculating, spiteful and malicious entity who commits a series of harmful actions against Ikuko, ranging from numerous occasions of controlling and possessing her to her numerous attempts at drowning the innocent living child. In the film's climax, she uses Ikuko's form and appearance to cruelly trick Yoshimi into picking her up instead of her daughter, who was actually submerged in the bathtub which was flooding with murky water. Unfortunately, this places Yoshimi in an inescapable position, prompting her to make the ultimate sacrifice by acceding to Mitsuko's demands for a mother and Mitsuko succeeds in gaining a mother.
Powers and Abilities
As an onryo/yurei, Mitsuko Kawai is able to exhibit a variety of supernatural abilities:
- Hydrokinesis: Mitsuko can secrete a vast amount of water from her body and can manifest and dematerialize from any source of water. She can also cause a plethora of water-related situations to occur (i.e. forcing water out of taps, flooding sinks, bathtubs, apartments, elevators & hallways).
- Telekinesis: Mitsuko can manipulate various things, as shown when she prevented the apartment building's elevator from functioning and again when Yoshimi was trapped inside the elevator with her when she caused the elevator door to close upon hearing the mother's eternal promise of motherhood to her.
- Shapeshifting/Metamorphosis: Mitsuko can take any form she desires, as shown in the film's climax when she assumes Ikuko's appearance in order to receive Yoshimi's love.
- Manipulation/Possible Demonic Possession: Mitsuko is shown to be able to influence people to do certain things they wouldn't otherwise do, as shown when she supernaturally compels Ikuko to repeatedly pick up the red bag throughout the movie and finally open it towards the films climax.
- Mental projection: Mitsuko can give people flashbacks of her life while she was alive, as shown when Yoshimi dreams of Mitsuko's abandonment by her mother and again when she receives a vision of how Mitsuko disappeared years before.
- Super-strength: Mitsuko possesses an inhuman degree of physical strength, as displayed when she put dents in the complex's water tank as Yoshimi watched in horror and again when she attempts to drown Ikuko, with the latter vainly fighting against her comparatively superior strength.
- Soul-stealing: Mitsuko can kill people and turn them into ghosts, as shown when she claims Yoshimi's soul and binds her to the apartment building, forcing the latter to be the former's mother for all eternity.
- 'Kawai' is a Japanese expression of cuteness.