Plot: A girl named Sawai has been struggling with emotional issues. She refuses to go to school no matter how many times her teacher, Fukasawa, goes to her house to beg her to return or at least talk to him. Sawai only finds some sense of solace in her online friend known only as Cheppo. Likewise, Fukasawa is struggling day after day being a teacher, despite him having a strong passion for school and teaching. As both of them struggle to stay afloat, there’s one burning question – can hell be a paradise?
Breakdown: This episode starts off in an interesting manner. We see that Sawai already has the curse mark before we get a flashback to what lead her to that point.
Sawai is berated day after day to go back to school by her teacher, Fukasawa, but she stays holed up in her room. It’s unclear if there was a particular event that triggered this behavior or if she just succumbed to long-standing depression. Either way, Sawai is adamant in staying home and only finds some form of comfort in her daily messages to a mysterious person named Cheppo, who sympathizes and sends her pictures of unique and beautiful locations.
Most episodes start off with the main character being incredibly angry or betrayed by another, which eventually leads to the familiar contact with Hell Girl. This doesn’t seem like the most unique setup, but when it’s eventually shown that Sawai really was just fed up with everything, it allows us to explore the concept of people using Hell Girl when they don’t actually have a deep vendetta, which leads me to why this episode is very confusing in my eyes.
While it’s obvious that Sawai doesn’t particularly like Fukasawa, it’s very unclear as to why she dislikes him enough to enter his name into Hell Correspondence. Most we get is that, despite his daily pleas to come to school or at least talk, she doesn’t believe he really cares or would ever understand her problems. Even if she did hate him for that, hate doesn’t equal having a wanton need for vengeance on someone because he didn’t do anything to her or anyone she cares about. She never seems that tempted to pull the string once she gets the doll.
It’s later revealed that Cheppo was Fukasawa. He didn’t have any idea that the person he was talking to was Sawai, and she eventually believes him. Connecting after a while, the two become close friends, but she soon realizes that Fukasawa is miserable as a teacher. He always loved school and loves teaching, but he’s met with nothing but problems when he does teach. His students never listen to him, disrespect and insult him behind his back, and his boss berates him constantly.
Hearing that Sawai called Hell Girl on him, he actually asks her to pull the string to end his misery. Sawai continues to see more and more evidence that Fukasawa is indeed miserable and suffering on a daily basis, so she decides to grant his wish and pull the string.
Fukasawa is happy to be in hell, but is saddened when he realizes that Sawai had to damn herself to hell in order to send him there. He watches as she solemnly yet happily proclaims that they’ll reunite in hell some day.
I’m definitely not one to say ‘Oh his problems weren’t that bad. Definitely not bad enough to be suicidal over.’ I know all too well that depression is a mighty demon to fight. No matter how a situation might look to an outsider or how ‘good’ someone seemingly has it, they can still be experiencing their own personal hell every single day.
I also don’t have anything to say on Sawai’s situation in that regard.
I will, however, ask why these two find more solace in hell than taking their chances and committing suicide? Again, I’m not aiming to judge the perceptions of these two, but it’s a question even Ai brings up. Can hell be a paradise to some people? Can some people really find comfort in such a horrible place?
The reason I’m asking this question is because, while I’m well aware that suicide is taboo in many religions and cultures, why would you secure a one-way ticket to hell instead of taking your chances and maybe reaching some form of actual paradise on the other side by committing suicide? Even if it’s just nothingness, surely it’s better to take your chances than reserving a spot on that boat.
Maybe they just wanted a clean and simple method. I don’t know. Rational choices aren’t exactly a cornerstone of depression either.
Finally, you can argue that Fukasawa is ridden with guilt for not knowing Sawai would need to send herself to hell too in order to send him there, but you can’t say he didn’t know the weight of what he was asking. He was asking this teenage girl to murder him. No ifs, ands or buts. You can’t get around that. He saw her with a metaphoric gun and asked her to put it to his head and pull the proverbial trigger.
Just the act of doing such a thing, no matter if they believe it’s for the best or not, is a titanic weight on anyone’s shoulders. Walking around with that guilt day after day will only grow and make her situation worse.
Unlike other episodes, there’s no need to argue if the target in this situation ‘deserved’ to be sent to hell. No one deserves depression, and these two didn’t deserve such a fate. It’s a sad situation all around. While I think it could’ve been handled better, it’s a rather sadly beautiful story.