The differences and similarities between Kairo and Pulse really highlight how broad a genre can be. It also shows how the same story can be represented in two different ways and each can give a different and distinct feel from the other.
The most notable difference between Kairo and Pulse is something that Kurosawa himself explained in the interview we were asked to read for this week. In it, he says that a major difference between “J-Horror” and American horror is that the ghosts do not attack people; they loom, they creep and they create a psychological terror much more lasting than that of American horror ghosts, but they do not chase and they do not physically harm people. This is so obvious when watching Kairo and Pulse back to back. In Kairo, the ghosts integrate themselves slowly into the lives of the characters and show no signs of relinquishing their hold, but they do not pursue their victims in the same way. In contrast, the opening scene of Pulse shows a ghost really messing with the guy on screen: flickering the lights, throwing books on the floor and ultimately, literally sucking the life out of him. The apparitions in Kairo are more creepy and lingering, creating a lasting psychological effect whereas the ghosts in Pulse are very in your face and very violent, leaving little time for tensions to build and expectations are met before we can even really formulate them.
Something else I noticed was that in Kairo, there is no mention of and no attempt to rid the world of these ghosts. Once again, Kurosawa explains this by saying that because they do not attack, the characters cannot defend themselves: they can only learn to coexist with them. In Pulse, Josh attempts to create a virus that can shut the ghost’s program down and Dexter tries to use it. Though the virus hasn’t worked from what we’ve seen so far, I have a feeling that Dexter and Mattie will find a way to defeat the ghosts, because this is what I’ve come to expect for the ending to an American horror film.