Previously: “Dear Theodore.”
Originally posted to 2ch in 2009, the creepypasta “Real” is infamous in Japan, but not as well known in the West. It’s a long one — more than 12,000 words — but it’s definitely worth your time. If anything, it’s an excellent lesson in why attempting to play a ritual game of the Most Dangerous variety may not be in your best interests — especially if it involves bowing in front of a mirror at night. The narrator of “Real” does just that, and, uh… well, let’s just say that things don’t go particularly well for them after that.
There are a few different English translations of “Real” floating around the internet. The character names tend to vary from translation to translation, which I suspect may be due to placeholder symbols having been used instead of names in the original; regardless, though, the broad strokes of the story are typically the same. The most fluid translation I’ve found is the one over at Okaruto’s defunct Tumblr, which was published in four parts circa 2014 — so that’s the one I’m excerpting and linking to as the main source here. The Haunted Bar also has one, though, if you want to compare and contrast two different translations. Meanwhile, the original Japanese version has been preserved at Nazalog.
[Like what you read? Check out Dangerous Games To Play In The Dark, available from Chronicle Books now!]
As Okaruto points out, the ritual at the center of the story does exist independently of it. It’s described in a different Japanese creepypasta Okaruto has also translated under the title “How To See The Real You” (although it’s also worth noting that I’m unsure about whether “Real” or “How To See The Real You” came first). What’s more, this particular version appears to be just one variation of the ritual — or perhaps one variety of a specific subgenre of ritual, as Kowabana creator and translator Tara A. Devlin highlights in a video on the subject posted to her YouTube channel in 2020.
If you must play it, you can find the ritual here and here.
But… maybe don’t.
“Real” tells us why.
This isn’t all that interesting, and I’ll try to keep this from getting too long. Sorry if I can’t do that, though. Anyway, here’s my story.
First, you need to know that being possessed, targeted, and followed by the unknown isn’t fun. From my own experience, getting cleansed once or twice won’t necessarily help you. This has been eating me up inside for too long because, honestly, a lot of people can’t be saved.
My own story started about two and a half years ago. I admit that for the time being, I can function just fine. I don’t have any physical problems, and from the outside it must look like I lead a pretty normal life. The problem is I don’t know when all of that will be taken away from me. Nobody does.
I guess I should start at the beginning, though. At the time, I was 23 years old, and it was my first year working full time at a certain company. I worked my ass off at my job; I had just finished college, and I wanted to do things right. The company was small, so there weren’t many people that were around my age. Maybe it was out of necessity, but those of us who were younger ended up becoming pretty good friends.
One of the guys was from the northeast. His name was Ogawa, and he seemed to know just about everything. He also had tons of friends and acquaintances. I wondered if they just didn’t tell him things because the things he knew were just… weird. For example, he’d say something like “If you do that, such and such a thing will happen” or “So-and-so is on his way here.” Most people that say stuff like that are just full of it, but Ogawa… Ogawa was something else. Whatever he said eventually came true.
Keep reading: Part 1; Part 2; Part 3; Part 4.
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[Photo via Keagan Henman/Unsplash]