Hell Girl Episode 21: Kind Neighbor Review

Hell Girl Ep 21

Plot: Tsugumi’s latest vision is of a girl named Yuko Murai receiving a doll from Ai. Tsugumi knows Yuko as they have been friends for years through their fathers. They drive out to their farm and discover that Mr. Murai is dead and Yuko is now all alone. She blames his death on their neighbor, Sekine, after he tricked him and ruined their farm. All she has left is revenge. Will she get it?

Breakdown: Oh my god, guys. He did it. Hajime finally convinced someone to not pull the string! He saved someone from hell!

MAYBE!

This episode was very interesting because we’re getting concrete character development for both Hajime and the human plot device of Tsugumi. She’s been a bit off and on with her feelings of Hell Girl’s services, but now she seems to definitely be adamant towards Hell Girl doing a good thing for people. Hajime, however, is as firm in his belief than ever that revenge doesn’t solve anything and that Hell Girl needs to be stopped.

They even get into a fight over their stances, to the point where Hajime slaps her for saying the target today, Sekine, is a bastard who deserves to go to hell for what he did.

To delve a bit further into this, let’s briefly go over the episode.

Tsugumi and Hajime investigate her latest vision, which is of her friend, Yuko, getting a doll from Hell Girl. Yuko is the daughter of an old friend of Hajime’s, so they’re more determined than ever to help her.

Yuko’s father bought a farm a couple of years prior since he wanted to spend more time with Yuko and live happily and peacefully with her. Their neighbors didn’t offer them a warm welcome, but one of them did – Ryousuke Sekine. He was even kind enough to offer many tips and tricks to make their farm flourish in the first harvest. Murai was so impressed by the harvest and appreciative of Sekine’s help that Sekine convinced him to expand the farm, even though he thought it was too much of a risk.

The next year, the farm was plagued by bad weather and a slue of insects, destroying the crop. Sekine offered a batch of his own insecticide to Murai since buying it was way outside of his budget at that point.

The pesticide failed, the crops failed and Murai fell back into alcoholism. In a drunken stupor, he fell down the stairs and died. Almost simultaneously, Yuko found out that the insecticide was fruit juice and water mixed together – meaning that it was actually attracting bugs.

She later found out that Sekine had a vendetta against them. Apparently, Murai’s late uncle and Sekine had been arguing over the land for years. I assume he inherited it from his uncle and Sekine plotted this whole thing in revenge.

Yuko wants to pull the string and send Sekine to hell, but Hajime says it’s wrong and even grabs the doll from her and throws it in the garbage.

After the aforementioned fight, Tsugumi runs away. Ai gives Yuko the doll back and tells her the decision is up to her. She’s about to pull the string after seeing Sekine smiling nearby in the rain, but is interrupted by Hajime, who is searching for Tsugumi. When he finds her, he chastises her for making him worry. Even though she’s still angry at him, they hug it out.

Seeing this reminds Yuko of her father and her hugging in a similar fashion after the farm started to falter.

She decides to not use the doll. She’ll continue living in her father’s farm and try to figure things out from there. Afterall, it’s the only place where she can feel like he’s still around.

Just when you’re about to grab the chalk to put a tally in Hajime’s win column, Sekine shows back up.

He’s got news – Yuko has only a few days to pack up and haul out. Seems Murai borrowed a large sum of money from Sekine after he was convinced to expand the farm. He put up the farm as collateral. Since the crop failed and Yuko has no money, he has the right to take her farmland and her house. Hajime is about to deck the guy, but Yuko stops him stating that none of this has a point. It won’t bring her father back.

Sekine doucheily taunts Yuko over how much money he’ll make selling the farm, especially considering the improvements Murai did to the house.

Hajime and Tsugumi bring Yuko to a group home, and Tsugumi tells Hajime that she really should’ve pulled the string afterall. At least then she’d have the farm as a home and as a memory of her father. Now she has nothing and Sekine wins. She bluntly puts the blame entirely on Hajime.

As Yuko is given a tour of the place, she notices a computer and her eyes go dark. Hell Girl appears behind her and says ‘The decision rests solely with you.’ before the end credits roll.

It’s vague, so we’re not sure if Hajime succeeded here. Also, it can easily be argued that, even if he did save her and Sekine from hell, Yuko’s outlook is still terrible. This is the most morally conflicting episode to date.

Sekine does deserve to go to hell, even if he wasn’t directly responsible for Murai’s death. He still, basically, indirectly caused it, was a complete conniving asshole, made Yuko a homeless, penniless orphan and still walks away with a smile on his face and a fat wallet.

Hajime does have a point that Murai wouldn’t have wanted his daughter sending another person to hell or damning herself to the same fate, but both options seem terrible. ‘Just dust yourself off and move on’ is really tough advice. I get that he’s probably feeding this from his situation with his late wife, but he seems incapable of seeing the other side of the coin.

He also brings up the very important fact that Yuko is a child. She’s only a few years older than Tsugumi. She might not have the maturity or understanding to make such a choice. Does that mean he was right to just take her doll and throw it away? I don’t know.

Speaking of which, how have Ren and Hone Onna done this job for years and never seen anyone take the doll and discard it? Especially considering they have seen someone take the doll away in this very series.

This time, Ai just returns it to Yuko. Must be a case-by-case basis decision.

This episode was frustrating because, unlike a lot of episodes where we get our cathartic release in seeing a deplorable bastard get sent to hell, here we’re just left feeling awful in what was supposed to be a win for the ‘good guys.’

That’s not to say the episode is, by any means, bad. It explored territory we really needed to discuss and further expounded the debate on whether or not using Hell Girl’s services is the right thing to do or at least justifiable.

Not to mention, we get a touch more of Ai seeing the visions of that boy from the last episode.

Hajime really needed a win, and, despite it being depressing and awful, I think this was the win he needed, if any. It hit close to home both being a similar situation to him and his daughter and being a close friend. And, in the end, no matter what Yuko really ended up doing, the win was really partially a loss.

Can you dust yourself off and move on now, Hajime?

Rating: 9/10

Next Episode….

….Previous Episode

One Lovely Blogger Award!

I recently got nominated by the wonderful Keiko of Keiko’s Anime Blog for the One Lovely Blog Award. Thank you very much, Keiko! Not sure how lovely this nuthouse is, but I very much appreciate the nomination. 🙂

For those who haven’t yet, check out Keiko’s blog. It’s loaded with anime review goodness, topped with in-depth analysis and served with with a delicious side of good humor. Also, her blog is way lovelier than mine. Look at that layout. It’s all pretty pastel colors with a beautiful calming banner. You’re really slumming it with the Madhouse, Keiko. I haven’t even vacuumed.

Rules:

  1. Share the link of the blogger who has shown love to you by nominating you.
  2. Answer the 11 questions they ask.
  3. Nominate 11 bloggers for the same award in the spirit of sharing love and solidarity with our blogging family.
  4. Ask them 11 questions that you are dying for the answer to!

Alrighty then, let’s get down to it!

Question 1 – Do you share your birthday with one of your favourite anime characters? (If you don’t know, use this link to check. It is in Japanese but its easy to navigate. The green box with the numbers are the months so that’s where you start. The days will appear once you choose your month and then you’ll get a list of characters.)

Answer: I posted this on my birthday just because I wanted to answer this in the most proper way possible. Lol.

No. Not my favorites. Some of the more notable entries for me are Rei Ayanami and Yui Ikari from Evangelion, Aries from Saint Seiya, Eren from Attack on Titan and Rui from Boys Over Flowers.

Question 2 – Following on from that, do you share your birthday with a character you dislike?

Answer: I’m mostly just ambivalent about the characters who share my birthday. If there are two who come closest, it’d probably be Eren from Attack on Titan and Rui from Boys Over Flowers.

Question 3 – If you could be the protagonist of an anime, what type of protagonist would you be and what would you call yourself?

Answer:A dork. I’d probably be a shy but fun-loving protagonist who gets a little crazier and more open the more you get to know her. I’d love to be one of those characters who goes a little nutty and destroys stuff with that anime-ish super strength (in a funny way) As long as everything was instantly fixed afterwards a la anime editing magic lol.

As for a name, I have no clue lol. Maybe Izzi? I’ve always loved that name and it’s shared with one of my favorite Digimon Characters.

Question 4 – If you were a pirate, what would you be called?

Answer: Finn. Quick, simple, one-word, ocean-related name that sounds awesome. To make it more piratey, how about Captain Finn? Finnbeard? One-eyed Finn!

Question 5 – You have been transported to the times of King Arthur. Who would you be?

Answer: I don’t know who I’d be in a sense of the story of King Arthur. In a realistic (medieval) sense, I’d probably be a poor peasant person lol. Honestly, though, I’m thinking I’d be a rogue thief. Not glamorous, but in a romanticized sense, really cool.

Plus, I almost always answer as some sort of magic user for nearly every question like this (it’s also my go-to class for nearly every game), and I never get to stretch my thief chops.

Which are awful, but I like them.

Question 6 – Following on from that question, what would your choice of weapon and horse be called?

Answer: Hmmm, that’s a good question. A thief would need something compact and easy to wield while also being stealthy. Not necessarily something too lethal either because it’s thief not assassin. I’d go with a crossbow in that regard. Do I have to name the weapon too? I’ll name it Thumper.

As for a horse, who I suppose would be more of a companion and a getaway vehicle (lol) I’d name it Bandit. I don’t care if that’s obvious.

Question 7 – If you were caught outside in a snowstorm, what would you do?

Answer: Seeing as how we just got two foot+ snowstorms back to back at the time of this writing, this question angers my soul. However, if I was caught in a snowstorm with absolutely no protection I’d…I guess it depends on how much snow is coming. If it’s just a regular snow storm, I’d probably throw snowballs and eat snow. If it’s a massive blizzard or something, I’d throw snowballs, eat snow, build a snowfort then die in the snowfort. Because if I’m going to die I’m going to do it as empress of Snowlosia.

Question 8 – What one thing are you proud to own?

Get it? Because he’s Pride!

Answer: In regards to something I’ve bought, it’s silly, but I have a tiny little Ivysaur figurine that I bought for a few bucks on Amazon. Ivysaur’s my favorite Pokemon and it’s hard to find merchandise for him that doesn’t look like crap, so I was really happy I got a nice Ivysaur figurine on the cheap (little dude’s over 25 bucks on Amazon now) and it’s proudly sitting on my dresser.

In regards to stuff my parents have given me, I have a stuffed red bull named Red my mom got me when I was little that I proudly treasure on my bed. She got it for me during a trip to Chicago, and it was the longest I had ever been away from my mom.

And I have a miniature wooden half-pipe for those finger boards and bikes that were a fad back in the early 2000s that my dad made for me. It’s a simple little thing, but I’m very proud of it because he made it just for me and my silly little toys. I don’t even have any finger boards or bikes anymore, but I still plan on keeping it.

….Oh yeah and I have a college degree worth several tens of thousands of dollars and god knows how many hours of blood, sweat and tears. That’s kinda cool too. But you’d have to ask the banks whether or not I actually own that. /sadpoorcollegegradhumor

Question 9 – What’s the weirdest song you’ve ever heard?

Answer: I can’t think of any super weird songs off the top of my head, but I’ve heard plenty of weirdness from the awesome band Psychostick. They have songs about doing laundry, dogs liking socks, claiming the song you’re currently listening to is not a song, but a sandwich, ‘girl directions’, those spam emails about male enhancement, and even Bruce Campbell. They have an awesome discography, I suggest checking them out.

Question 10 – Have you ever started watching/reading something and forced yourself to finish it despite it being terrible? If so, what was it?

Answer: Oh God, yes. Mostly just really short things like movies or short OVAs that I plow through because I don’t find a point in quitting something so short. Some that come to mind are Eiken and 6 Angels.

The longest horrible shows I’ve plowed through are Shining TearsXWind and Amnesia, and I honestly couldn’t tell you why I completed those. At the moment, I’m slogging through the manga of Boku wa Imouto ni Koi wo Suru and I’m really only finishing this to see how far the rabbit hole goes. To its credit, there are some improvements to the story that the OVA never explored, but it’s still a dumpster fire.

Question 11 – What anime are you planning to watch from the spring season?

Answer: I don’t usually watch the newest anime because the manner in which I select the anime I watch is far too sporadic for me to typically get the latest series as they come out. One minute I’ll be watching an anime from the 60s and then follow that up with something that came out last year.

But I’ll give this season a looksee for what I am looking forward to if I ever get around to it.

*one looksee later*

Would you hate me if I said ‘None, really’? Lol

Megalo Box looks pretty cool, and Piano no Mori looks interesting, but other than that, none really. Most of the new seasons for stuff like Tokyo Ghoul and Full Metal Panic I’d probably be excited over much more if I were up to date on them, though I plan on finishing Tokyo Ghoul fairly soon.

Lovely Nominated People

Lethargic Ramblings

The Otaku Judge

Krystallina

Chizurue

The Spooky Red Head

Bloom Reviews

Irina

Oishi

shadowcat99

Dreager1

Jenn

Questions

1 – What’s the best anime OST you’ve ever heard?

2 – What’s the worst anime OST you’ve ever heard?

3 – Anime or otherwise, what’s the most minor thing that has ‘ruined’ a show for you?

4 – What’s one thing you used to hate but now like/love?

5 – Did you eat all of your vegetables as a kid?

6 – Firebender, Waterbender, Airbender or Earthbender?

7 – Congratulations! You’re the star of your own comic book! What’s it called?

8 – Congratulations! You’re now the villain in that same comic book somehow! What are you called?

9 – Have you ever gotten into a fad that you’re now embarrassed by?

10 – What’s an adaptation you know of that’s actually much better than the source material?

11 – What’s the hardest project you’ve ever had in school?

Colorful (The Series) Review

Rating: 0/10

Plot: None.

Breakdown: This is a series of 6 minute shorts about……guys being perverts and women being treated as sex objects.

I am in no way exaggerating or kidding. If there were a show called ‘Fanservice: The Anime’ it’d be Colorful. I watched two episodes of this and both episodes were about the same thing – pervy guys saying nothing but constantly perving on what women were doing. They were mostly getting insanely entranced by the panty shots or looking at their cleavage, but episode one did showcase two students getting all drooly over their hot teacher constantly repeating the differences between L and R (Watching her mouth and tongue and whatnot.)

It’s sexist to both men and women, really. It shows men as nothing but perverted braindead idiots who are always trying to get a look at women’s panties, bras and cleavage. It shows women as being nothing but objects for sexual desire. Besides the few times that randomness pops up, there’s no humor to it. I was going to actually watch the rest since the episodes are just six minutes long, counting the OP, and there’s only 16 episodes, but there’s no plot. I wasn’t saying ‘none’ in the plot section to be funny. Two episodes in and no plot whatsoever. Just lots of guys being pervs.

The art is very bad. Sometimes they’ll have a fairly nice shot, but you can tell that if they did have a budget, all of it was spent to make the women look as attractive as possible. The animation for the OP has cut outs flying across the screen and everything looks poorly drawn and mostly poorly animated.

The music in the BG is…okay, but the OP is like a chipmunk with rabies gnawing on your brain. The lyrics are asinine (They repeat something like “my temperature is (something) come rise it with me”) and the melody is catchy, but it’s coupled with a singer SCREECHING the lyrics to the song. It’s a god-awful song but also the kind of song that would easily get stuck in your head.

Bottomline: Pass on this, unless you’re really pervy. Even then, go watch a better ecchi or harem or even hentai if you want your fanservice fill. This is just low-grade.

Additional Information and Notes:

Colorful the Series was directed by….Ryutaro Nakamura…Wait….The guy who directed Serial Experiments Lain?!….I…uh….

It was…uh…produced by Triangle Staff, who also produced–What the hell? Boogiepop Phantom, A Chinese Ghost Story and Junkers Come Here?!…AND Serial Experiments Lain?!

*sigh* I don’t even…*cough* It is currently licensed in the US by AEsir Holdings who also have the licenses to–Oh let me guess. A bunch of good things? Neon Genesis Evangelion, Princess Tutu and Saiyuki….

NO. NO. You don’t get to have all of these insanely great connections, Colorful. You just don’t. When these people signed up for this project, they must’ve thought they’d be working on Colorful the movie. Either that or they all desperately needed a paycheck.

Episodes: 16

Year: 1999

Recommended Audience: Obviously lots of fanservice, but I don’t think they ever got to full-on nudity from what I saw. Close, though. 13+

Hell Girl Episode 20: Hell Girl vs. Hell Boy Review

Hell girl ep 20 title

Plot: Gilles de L’enfer is a mysterious young man with powerful psychic abilities linked to hell. He claims he has been to hell and used his power to return to the land of the living. As such, he has dubbed himself Hell Boy. He wishes to challenge Hell Girl on national television. When he springs a trap on her, who will be the one damned to go to hell and never return?

Breakdown: Hell Girl needs more comic relief….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Said no one ever.

Anyone who has watched or read about the episodes up until this point might wish to argue. Afterall, Hell Girl is a very depressing series when you get down to it. No matter how many instances of cathartic release we get, in the end, no one truly gets a happy ending. The client may be freed of their tormentor, and the tormentor may be paying penance in hell, but the client’s life may still be ruined because of them.

Even if the client does get the added bonus of ‘magically everything’s good now’ they’re still destined for eternal damnation when they naturally die.

Hajime beats himself up worse and worse as each case goes by without being able to save any clients. Tsugumi is still tormented by images of Hell Girl’s cases, and also feels the impact of losing a client.

Even Ai and the others don’t get true happiness. Ai can’t even show emotions.

With all of the horrible things we see on Hell Girl, why not include an episode that is littered with comic relief?

Because it doesn’t fit.

Many action/fantasy etc. anime already have a gentle mix with comedy to break it up. Those shows can get away with mostly comic relief episodes because it fits in their universe. Shows like Hell Girl are too dark or serious to include a comic relief episode without it feeling forced or stupid.

A good example of this done right is in Attack on Titan. Their subject matter is extremely serious and dark, and there’s hardly a time where there are jokes. However, they wanted to do something comedic, so they decided to make some chibi shorts that were separate from the series.

Another example would be…*sigh* The 11Eyes OVA. While I would be hardpressed to say this is an example of this done right, this is another instance where the writers thought it best to relegate a goofy ridiculous comedy storyline to an OVA instead of including it in the series where it would seem weird.

The thing is, this episode isn’t entirely a comic relief episode. It tries to play both sides simultaneously, and that kinda makes it worse.

If you had a goofy one-off comic relief episode, you could just chalk it up to one of those times where you can skip it because it’s comic relief filler that impacts nothing and contributes nothing. In short, it could be like one of those .5 episodes some series have, which do nothing but recap the plot so far.

Most of the time, when you try to have the best of both worlds, you end up with the meh of some sort of weird baby resulting from those worlds having drunken sex. You combine an episode that is mostly stupid comic relief with some serious aspects you feel you’re supposed to pay attention to and even include some things that are new for viewers to learn and move the overarching plot forward. That’s awkward to say the least.

Let’s go through this episode beat by beat.

——————————-

Wanyuudou, Hone Onna and Ren are walking through town behind Ai’s back. They’re spying on Hajime and Tsugumi trying to figure out what’s up with them. They overhear that Tsugumi is getting visions from Ai, and she and Hajime consider the possibility that Ai can see through Tsugumi’s eyes.

Meanwhile, in plot A, a fake TV esper named Watanabe is ousted on live TV by a boy named Gilles de L’efner, whom I’m just going to call Espa Roba from now on because I am nowhere near French enough to even internally pronounce his name correctly. (Crap, I’m like 1/8 French. Sorry, ancestors.)

While Espa is literally just a teenage boy in a ten dollar vampire cape, he seemingly possesses actual supernatural powers. In an ESP-off with Watanabe, he forces him to see ‘previews of hell’ which are really just purple lasers with rocks flying around. Also a trap door. Either Espa is full of it, or he has his own version of hell, because we know it doesn’t look like an anime depiction of Atari’s Asteroids.

Hell girl ep 20 screen1

Espa is now set to be the station’s number one supernatural star, and he is already offering a slick idea – a face-off with Hell Girl meant to expose her as a fake, just like Watanabe….another thing that is pointless because we, as an audience, know she’s legit.

But who can resist such zingers like “Hell Girl, by the time I’m done with you, you’ll be nothing but a Wikipedia footnote.” Hah?

They plan on using Watanabe to lure her out because now he has a vendetta against Espa.

Hone Onna and the others confront Ai about what they learned about Tsugumi, but she says she’s not aware of how or why Tsugumi is getting these visions, but she certainly cannot see through Tsugumi’s eyes. They’re about to discuss it more, but they stop when they notice the looming spider.

Hajime uses his journalism-fu to get some information out of Espa. We learn that he, supposedly, went to hell when he was a child.

Hajime tells Espa to give Ai a message – she has to stop doing what she’s doing. Revenge is meaningless and doesn’t solve anything.

Look, Hajime, pal, buddy, your heart is definitely in the right place, but I don’t see how you can’t understand that, despite there being better options available in some cases, and revenge truly not being an end-all solution, some of these people were in situations that they couldn’t escape without Hell Girl.

There are several instances of there being a moral gray area in the usage of Hell Girl’s services, but applying this mindset to every case basically implies that he’d rather have these clients live a life of misery and torment, maybe even die or have their loved ones die, than send the tormentor to hell.

…..Also, Ai’s been doing this for hundreds of years. Do you honestly believe she’s never heard someone say those cliché words?

Espa laughs at Hajime’s message, saying that revenge is a normal part of the human heart and there’s nothing wrong with giving into anger. As he says this, he gives Hajime a vision of being at his wife’s grave and her headstone lifting up and flying towards him.

Hell girl ep 20 screen2

Later, Watanabe is purposely being set up by the producer and Espa to get increasingly pissed off at the station and Espa in particular. They claim he wants a rematch and state that Watanabe was wonderful in his performance earlier, instead of it being the career-ruining embarrassment he thought it was.

Also, he nearly hangs himself while jutting around the room in a comedic breakdown. Because suicide is funny. Right, Spongebob?

They keep him waiting in a room, claim Espa is reconsidering embarrassing him a second time and, for some reason, purposely burn his mouth with a scalding hot daikon radish so he’ll spend a handful of lines talking like he just got home from having dental work done. Also, now his lips are pink and puffy.

Watanabe sees a computer nearby and contacts Hell Girl. As Wanyuudou, Ren and Hone Onna discuss the situation with Tsugumi some more near the river, Ai says they have to go because they have a request.

As they leave, we get some more weirdness. They shove in still black and white shots of Ai, Hone Onna, Wanyuudou and Ren, the same ones from the prologue, in flashes as they leave in Wanyuudou’s cart form. Why? I have no clue. It serves no purpose.

Also, Hone Onna and Ren are seen in their doll forms, which is something we’ve yet to see at this point. Why they’re in their doll forms, I don’t know. In the first series, Wanyuudou is always the one to go with the client. There’s plenty of room in the cart for their human forms.

Ai appears before Watanabe, right on cue and right on camera. Blah blah doll, blah blah covenant.

They reveal that they’re really in a small studio set and that many people are watching them. Espa makes a big production out of confronting Ai and throws another scalding hot daikon radish into Watanabe’s mouth so he’ll writhe on the floor in a goofy fashion.

Hell girl ep 20 screen3

He challenges Ai to a showdown and she…uses the Hone Onna and Ren dolls as props in a flashy combat move, complete with ‘whoosh’ sounds, to summon them to her side….so….that’s why they were in doll form? That’s pointless.

Also, I make the combat move sound super weird, but like many episodes like this that only go halfway, she’s really barely doing anything. She holds the dolls like throwing stars, moves her arms around a bit and drops them, instantly summoning Hone Onna and Ren.

How did they even fall into this trap? With all the unnecessary investigation they’ve been doing on their clients lately, you’d think they’d notice that they were heading for a TV studio and had cameras all over them.

It’s revealed that, despite Espa and Watanabe being able to see and hear Ai and the others, the cameras can’t and neither can anyone else.

Hone Onna and Ren decide to make some chaos and screw with the crew by putting scary images of Hone Onna’s face and Ren’s eye on the screens and using the cords on the equipment to whip people around.

Producer: “This isn’t happening. Please no. How in the world am I ever going to explain this to the network?” Hah. Hah.

You wanted to see some hardcore supernatural action and you’re getting it, even if you can’t see Ai and the others. I don’t think you need to explain anything to the network.

Hell girl ep 20 screen4

After some shenanigans, Espa pushes Hone Onna and Ren away psychically and restrains them to wall. They can’t free themselves, but if they can transform into doll form at will, why can’t they just transform, fall from the shackles and transform back?

Now we get the villain mono—err, Espa’s backstory. Espa was a boy born with powerful psychic abilities. His powers were so great that his parents thought he was a demon child and murdered him, which…sent him to hell? What? How did they do that?

He somehow used his powers to crawl up from the depths of hell and then, in revenge and indulging in his fierce anger, murdered his entire family. Now, whenever someone makes him angry, he sends them to hell.

Espa is increasingly angry that Ai refuses to talk to him, so he uses his powers to slam her across the room over and over. He magically dresses her up in a red frilly dress, complete with bonnet, and then tries to burn her to death.

Hell girl ep 20 screen5

Watanabe, Ren and Hone Onna watch in despair, but Ai lowers herself, back in her regular attire, revealing her to be perfectly fine.

Ren: “Why did you just sit there and take it?”

Ai: “I was thinking about something.”

Pbbbtt. That is one of the only real funny moments of the episode. Ai was being monologued to, beaten like a ragdoll and set on fire, but she barely noticed simply because she was thinking about something else.

Hone Onna and Ren ask if she’ll give him a dose of his own medicine, but she states that how she feels doesn’t matter. She can’t do anything as long as the thread is still tied.

They’re about to leave, but Watanabe suddenly picks the doll back up and threatens to pull the string. Espa says he doesn’t have the balls to deal with the horrors of hell, but Watanabe knows that, hearing everything Espa just said, it’s only a matter of time before Espa sends him to hell anyway, either in revenge or just to keep him quiet.

He pulls the string and Espa gets nommed on by the demonic representations of those he murdered before Ai plops him on the boat and brings him to hell again. However, he states that this isn’t over. Even if it takes him a thousand years, he’ll come back from hell and continue their fight.

Spoiler Alert: He doesn’t.

Ai returns to the Realm of Eternal Twilight and gets another request. As she’s about to leave, she sees a vision of a young boy around her age by the tree and, in shock, drops her flute.

—————————-

This episode is a mess built on something very interesting. I can’t say this episode is a complete wash because Espa’s story and the idea of a Hell Boy (kinda) is interesting. With his stupid character design and showmanship, you’d think he was using tricks, but he’s legit. He’s a boy so powerful that he brought himself back to life. Yanked himself out of hell, no less.

Not to mention that this episode is riddled with new things that are either important to touch upon, further the plot or are interesting in themselves. Seeing Ren and Hone Onna in doll form was interesting, just mentioning Hajime’s wife is important to touch upon, the spider getting more focus is important, learning that Ai’s connection with Tsugumi is not a two-way street is interesting, and this episode is the first where we see Ai having memories, which is a major factor of the overarching plot. It proves that she really was a human once and that something traumatic happened when she was alive, likely involving a boy.

As Espa is monologuing, she keeps getting flashes of herself near a cherry blossom tree and falling down. She has a similar flash near the end of the episode, then she suddenly sees a quick image of a boy in feudal era clothing in the Realm of Eternal Twilight. This is just a slight glimpse into her past, but it’s essential to the plot.

It just leaves you wondering why all of this stuff is being put in an episode that has such a silly structure. Being fair, most of the comedy is contained in Watanabe as a character. He’s very animated, cartoonish and energetic. A lot of what he does, like flailing about on the floor and jutting across the room in quick cuts as he babbles to himself, and a lot of his cartoony art and animation style doesn’t mesh with this series, and it obviously stands out in this episode. If you’re going to include a character like this, why would you leave the rest of the episode mostly straight-faced?

Outside of a few lines, the rest of the episode is as serious as any other episode. Maybe a bit less so because ousting a TV psychic and burning his mouth with a radish is much less harsh than most of the torment we see on this show, but then we learn that Espa has slaughtered tons of people without recourse just because he can and it’s back to dark again.

Other things point to this episode trying to be more comedic than normal, like the silly title and Espa’s dumbass vampire cape, but the episode itself doesn’t deliver. It’s like a mediocre comedy episode is strangling a good serious episode.

Let’s discuss Hajime’s role or lack thereof. Outside of needing to be present for the sake of learning a bit more about Tsugumi’s power and getting a quick glimpse at the wife (her grave anyway) we pretty much figured was dead from the get-go, he did nothing…again.

Like the episode, Bride Doll, you’d think they’d at least tack him on near the end to do…something. But nope. He shows up, tells Espa to tell Ai that revenge doesn’t help anything, then leaves and never shows up again. Espa does relay the message, not that it matters other than to give Espa something else to monologue about.

Being fair, no one, at this point, contacted Hell Girl. He was just investigating Espa because….Uhhh….I have no clue, actually. He saw Espa tormenting Watanabe on TV, but he thought it was all BS. They didn’t mention Hell Girl or anything. They could’ve at least had Espa call out Hell Girl on TV or something. Lazy writing.

Even the art and animation seemed like it was down a peg from normal. It wasn’t bad, even if the faces were odd and poorly animated sometimes, but it was noticeably not as good as it normally is.

As a final note, this episode is a little creepy in a bad way. Watanabe obviously finds Ai to be very beautiful, though, honestly, I only find his admiration of her beauty creepy upon first meeting. Afterward, he’s very genuinely concerned for her welfare while fighting Espa

The creepy one here is Espa himself. When he first starts talking to Ai, he caresses her chin, rubs her face, stands very close to her and even brings his face extremely close to hers. It’s all very uncomfortable, especially considering she, on a physical level, is around 13 years old.

Let’s not forget him dressing her up in a red goth lolita dress out of nowhere.

I’m more angry about that dress than I should be, because it shows that he has the ability to magically conjure intricate clothing, yet he’s still walking around in a piece of a Halloween costume.

Hell girl ep 20 screen6

I’m sorry, I won’t let this go. Why the hell does this dumbass wear a vampire cape? Watanabe had a much more complex esper outfit and he doesn’t even have powers. Why did the design team think this character, who is arguably the most interesting one-off character so far and the only one who has ever challenged Ai, should be an idiot teenager wearing a vampire cape?

I can maybe justify the, what seems like a school uniform missing the jacket outfit, underneath the cape, because Ai wears a black sailor outfit that is similar to a high school uniform, but the cape….THE. CAPE.

It’s hard for me to get a lock on how I feel about this episode because it’s so sloppy. On one hand, the comedy could’ve been a lot worse, and Watanabe wasn’t a bad character. He was actually a little entertaining. The problem mostly lies in his character being such a stark contrast to the rest of the episode and the show as a whole.

On the serious side, Espa is an interesting character, and it was kinda cool to see someone try to battle Ai, even if we all knew this was for naught. Ai was never going to be beaten by dollar store Dracula.

His backstory was also intriguing. How he got his powers isn’t even important – he was murdered by his parents, rose out of hell and slaughtered them all in vengeance. That sounds like the plot to a decent movie.

Problem with him in hindsight is, we never see him again. Yup. One of the few people with the balls and power to face off with Ai and we just chuck him into hell and never bring him up again. Lovely.

Though, he dug his own grave in that regard. I know he wanted to summon Hell Girl, but wouldn’t it be easier to recruit or track down someone who has plans on contacting her or something instead of signing your own death warrant by having someone target you? He was banking on Watanabe not having the guts to do it, fearful of being in hell, but anyone with even a small amount of intelligence would never put themselves in that position – especially if being in hell was so traumatic for him.

Rating: 5.5/10

Next Episode….

…Previous Episode

Episode One-Derland (Cartoons) Looped

Plot: Luc and Theo, caught in a time loop to keep living the same Monday over and over, take advantage of their knowledge of the day to avoid dodgeballs in gym class. The consequences are disastrous somehow.

Breakdown: This series confused me before I even got around to actually watching it. This is the description –

“The series revolves around the life and adventures of Luc and Theo, two 12-year-old best friends who get stuck in a time loop where every day is Monday, and as the Monday is always the same, they know everything that will happen before it happens. They use it as an opportunity to do whatever they want to, most primarily at school, what usually gets them in trouble. Theo has a crush on Gwyn, a recurring character on the series, what is shown in various episodes. They first got stuck in the loop because Luc hopped his skateboard and crashed into Theo’s garage-lab in the first episode, and Theo’s scientific experiments got mashed.”

That sounds far more hellish than it does funny. While you can make some comedy out of that for the first handful of days, like nearly any version of this plot, eventually it gets to the point where reliving the exact same day every single becomes more of a nightmare than something to have fun with. Even in the Stuck on Christmas segment of Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmas they realized this.

Not to mention, as an audience, wouldn’t this be horrible to sit through the exact same dialogue every single episode? Even repeating itself over and over in a single episode is bound to be annoying.

I just realized that this show probably saves oodles of money on animation by reusing footage….

As a series, this could work, theoretically, because it sounds like they get into a bunch of ‘wacky shenanigans’, but considering the day just resets after everything’s said and done, there are really no consequences for their actions….except….ya know….being caught in a hellish time loop, which I doubt they’ll recognize as hellish or explore any of the deeper and personal resonances this could have on them as people, like they do in Groundhog Day.

But enough presumptions. Let’s actually watch the show.

*one episode later*

Hm. I failed to realize another problem of this show. Time travel.

Looping is, essentially, time travel. While the day continuously resets, making the space/time continuum’s structure stay solid, time travel still negatively affects the plots of these stories.

Today’s episode is about Luc and Theo using their future knowledge of their bully’s dodgeball throws to dodge aforementioned balls. After a few days of looping and calculating, they become Matrix-level dodgeball dodgers. However, this already doesn’t make much sense. If they’re dodging the balls now, they’re changing what happens after even the first one is thrown. Thus their calculations should now be void because the bully, named Jesse, will be throwing balls differently than he did when they were being hit, either through aim, trajectory, velocity etc. they will be different because they changed the timeline.

This is especially apparent after they dodge the first wave of dodgeballs and they talk to Jesse about it. Jesse gets so angry that he furiously chucks another dodgeball at them and Luc easily avoids it, even though there’s no way he could’ve known where that one was going since they never encountered that one in the past before.

…..Oh and also, their coach gives a young boy who just got hit in the face with a dodgeball mouth to mouth when he obviously didn’t need it…..His name is Kyle and he’s known as being this perfect attractive Adonis kid…..Also the coach is devastated when Kyle is hit in the face with the ball, presumably because it marred his beautiful features…..Someone call the cops is what I’m trying to say.

Oh and also, as punishment for hitting Kyle with the dodgeball, some popular girls (two of whom might be his sisters?) tell Jesse to go to….the fart box….It’s a wooden box where they trap him and some fat kid lets out a huge fart into it (through a butt-shaped opening). It’s a kid version of a gas chamber. Lovely.

Later that same Monday day (that’s what they call it), Luc and Theo find that Jesse is so devastated at ‘ripping the wings off an angel’ that he won’t eat, bully people or anything. They then meet with an alternate dimension form of Jesse who is a knight, demanding retribution of his sullen reputation after the dodgeball game. According to Theo, who, by the way, is the science guy, this Jesse is a glitch in the loop, created to fill in the void of a bully left behind from the original Jesse no longer being one.

That makes so much no sense I can’t even nonsense. Filling the void of something lost in a timeline by creating a new substitute for that role sounds logical, but I think being without a certain something in a timeline makes much less damage to a timeline than creating two of the same person and having them coexist in the same timeline.

There’s not even anything to suggest that Jesse gave up bullying for good. I’m sure after Kyle’s face healed he’d be at it again.

They get their asses handed to them by Sir Jesse (why he’s a knight is never explained) who defeats them in a joust and wedgies them on the goalpost of the football field.

The next Monday day, they prep for another confrontation with Sir Jesse…Wait, what? Why wouldn’t you just save Kyle from the dodgeball so his perfect work of art face won’t get hurt, they still won’t get hit with dodgeballs and Jesse won’t give up bullying? They’d also be saving an innocent kid from getting his face bashed in with a rubber ball. Oh right, he totally deserves that hit because he’s attractive and everyone loves him and when they got hit with dodgeballs he sincerely said it looked ‘ouchies’ and they were jealous that he never gets hit with dodgeballs. Right right.

They don’t stop the completely inappropriate mouth to mouth either.

They come into school wearing knight armor, but are shocked to find a different Jesse taking the role of new bully now – he’s a greaser I think. The next Tomorrow Monday (it’s what they say) he’s a caveman, then a pirate, then a robot – What the hell is even happening? Why are they getting a different new glitch Jesse every day? And why is he always some time period stereotype?

At gym, Theo is freaking out about what new glitch Jesse they’ll face today, and he wants to stop the glitch entirely by just letting themselves get hit with the dodgeballs. Again, you could stop the glitch and Jesse’s downfall by just saving Kyle from getting hit. Coax him to move a foot in literally any direction. Catch the ball. It’s not difficult. I thought Theo was supposed to be a genius.

Luc refuses because apparently being zapped by a robot, slashed at with a pirate sword, bashed with a caveman club and jousted are so much better than just being hit with a few dodgeballs.

Moron.

Today’s Jesse is a supervillain, and Luc finally realizes that they need to set things right and let themselves get hit, but not before Supervillain Jesse uses his psychic powers to make Luc and Theo make out.

Ya know what? Forget calling the cops on the coach. Call the cops on the writers. First we have child molestation now sexual assault? What the hell?

Also, Supervillain Jesse flies with farts. Lovely.

The next Tomorrow Monday, Luc and Theo let themselves get hit and the status quo is restored. And nothing mattered ever.

Oh and the coach gives Luc mouth to mouth for some reason even though he never did in any of the other normal timelines.

Well, kids, we learned a valuable lesson today. Some kids are just meant to be bullies. If you try to stop them from being bullies, they’ll turn into supervillains and make you make out with your best friend until you accept your role as bully victim.

This was awful and unbelievably asinine. The premise is difficult to work with as is, but they don’t even start with an origin story. The theme song doesn’t explain the origins either, it just repeats that they’re in a time loop….Oh, haha, I get it. The song is kinda looped. Haha.

None of what they do in this episode makes any sense. The ‘moral’ if there even is one is terrible. Not to mention just returning everything back to normal at the end without learning anything worthwhile for the only two characters in this show who actually can learn and progress is infuriating. They could’ve easily just gotten better at dodgeball by playing it over and over and over and saved Kyle from getting hit. The end result would be a different day, they’d stop getting hit, they’d learn a new skill and they’d save an innocent person from getting hurt. But nope, it’s just ‘gotta let the bully be a bully’

In nearly every incarnation of the time loop plot, the characters who are cognizant of what’s happening usually learn something from their actions, but here everything’s pointless. And if you’re going to have a pointless episodic show where nothing matters, at least be funny about it. This show is nowhere near funny.

The fact that the alternate dimension Jesses come with such a flimsy explanation is also irritating. Their existence makes that version of reality worse when it’s meant to supposedly fix something that was screwed up because of it. Why don’t they just build on the Butterfly Effect logic like nearly any other show that uses this plot? Have something logical but bad happen because they changed something minor in the past. Don’t just make something up because pbbtt time and space things.

In the end, going in, you know none of this matters anyway, They’re in a time loop with no intentions of leaving it for some reason. By the end of the episode, nothing will have lasting consequences so it’s all moot. I just don’t think you build a lasting series on the time loop plot. A movie? Sure. An episode of a series? Yeah. A series? No.

You’d need a team of seriously good writers to pull that off, and this show just doesn’t have them. They have writers who make 80% of the jokes in their episode be filled with snot, slobber, farts, sexual assault or child molestation.

For those thinking that I’m reading too much into the child molestation thing, let me point out that even the animators knew this joke was wrong. They do this joke three times, and they never animate it. It’s never on screen. We just get a bunch of gross slobber noises and reaction shots.

As for the characters, barring Theo, who only gets tolerance points for being the only one with knowledge or sense, everyone else is terrible. Luc is an asshole idiot, Jesse is a bully idiot, Sarah and her popular cronies are jackasses and the coach is a child molester who roots for the bully to be a bully.

Final Verdict:

750spsl

Technically, I only reviewed the first half of episode one since this is one of those shows where two stories take up one episode, but I think I’ve seen enough.

Hell Girl Episode 19: Bride Doll Review

Hell Girl Ep 19

Plot: Inori was an orphan who was promised to marry the benefactor of the orphanage’s son, Yukio. At first, she was enthralled at the prospect of her future, but she quickly realized that her soon-to-be mother-in-law, Kyogetsu, was fiercely strict and controlling, beating Inori when she stepped even slightly out of line. She must be perfect – just like a doll.

Breakdown: Bleh, this episode. The best part about this episode is the hell torture, and even that’s not all that good.

That’s not to say this episode is really ‘bad,’ but, again, after straying so far from the norm, it’s difficult to keep returning to the same old song.

Kyogetsu is ridiculously cruel again. Not nearly as bad as Meiko, but still. She’s obsessed with dolls, and wishes for her son’s bride-to-be to be as obedient and perfect as a doll. This basically means never doing anything, never leaving without permission and basically having her every move controlled by Kyogetsu. If she so much as breathes in the improper way, she gets beaten, verbally harassed and locked in small rooms. Inori, however, wants to do chores and actually contribute to the home and marriage.

Inori would just run away, but Kyogetsu is the owner of the orphanage, and if she doesn’t comply, she’ll have the orphanage shut down. She feels she cannot do that to her friends and the nuns running the place, so she calls Hell Girl instead.

This is one of those episodes where I’m left scratching my head as to how Hell Girl works. Numerous times, it’s like the string pull alters reality to make the client’s life better, supposedly so they can live a happy life before they go to hell. However, just as many other clients don’t experience this.

This, sadly, is one of those times. Kyogetsu’s abuse gets worse and worse, to the point where she implies she might paralyze Inori or break her legs so she will be unable to walk – just like a doll. Inori pulls the string, sends Kyogetsu to hell and she’s set to live a perfect life with her future husband.

Until, that is, you realize that he has the same views as his mother and will not allow Inori to work at anything, even being a housewife. All she needs to do is sit there doing nothing – just like a doll.

While I’m not sure Yukio is or will be abusive or psycho like Kyogetsu, this basically means she sent Kyogetsu to hell for no reason. I guess she could divorce Yukio or never marry him in the first place, but, again, who knows if he wouldn’t be petty like his mother and shut down the orphanage because of it?

Like Ren stated, she’s essentially going to be in a living hell until she gets to hell, and that’s just depressing….as hell.

Not only that, but you can see this ‘twist’ from a mile away. Not only does Yukio share the same dead ‘doll’ eyes as his mother, something brought up several times in the episode, but it’s obvious from the start that he doesn’t care about Inori’s problems with his mother and wants the same things she wants.

He doesn’t do shit to help her. Even when he concedes a little and says she can make him breakfast in the morning, he not only eats a servant-prepared breakfast without telling her, but he also doesn’t tell Inori that he’s doing this, basically tricking her so she’ll be chastised by Kyogetsu when she presents her breakfast to him.

Not to mention, this is probably the most shoe-horned in appearance of Hajime and Tsugumi in a while. It’s nearly halfway into the episode before they even show up, like they forgot they had to include them. And it’s the exact shtick they always do, just really fast.

Tsugumi has a vision, they meet with the client, try to convince her not to pull the string and fail. After she’s escorted away by her servants during their first and only meeting, we never see them again. Hajime’s not losing his passion for this, but he just disappears with no follow-up – Not even a tag at the very end.

I will say that their appearance prompted a hilarious metaphor. Inori says emergency exits are something anyone can use, but only when the situation is grave. Hell Girl is her emergency exit.

Pbbbbttthahahahah. What? I get what they were trying to say, but that is just such a silly metaphor. You can compare Hell Girl to a lot of things, but an emergency exit? There has to be a better way to put that. Not to mention, people can technically use emergency exits whenever they please, it’s just best to use them when there’s a serious situation.

Does that mean Hajime is the guy standing in front of the fire exit that security guards tell to move because he’s blocking it?

Mitch Hedberg: “’You’re going to have to move, you’re blocking the fire exit.’ As if, if there was a fire, I wasn’t gonna run. If you are flammable and have legs, you are never blocking a fire exit.”

This episode isn’t even that good on an animation standpoint. For some reason, the art and animation got knocked down a peg for this episode. I imagine it’s because it’s filler, but it’s still a negative mark.

I will note that this is the first time in a long time Ai has taken a client to the Realm of Eternal Twilight to discuss the conditions of the agreement. That was kinda nice, I guess.

All in all, this episode is just filler and it shows. I feel like they should’ve rearranged some of these episodes so that stuff like this is earlier, maybe before Hajime and Tsugumi show up, and more intricate plots were reserved for later. Hajime’s presence would’ve been very beneficial in The Tarnished Mound, for example. He could’ve written an article or done something to help Iwashida, even if he still pulled the string.

Rating: 4/10

Next Episode….

…..Previous Episode

Pixar’s Lamp: Toy Story 2

Rating: 8/10

Plot: It’s a terrible day for toys when Andy’s mom announces a yard sale. In an effort to save a beloved old squeaky penguin named Wheezy from being sold, Woody finds himself getting stolen in the yard sale instead.

The thief is the owner of Al’s Toy Barn, an avid toy collector, and he finds himself among a collection of toys based on the show Woody’s Roundup. He’s treated like a hero to the other toys; Jessie the cowgirl, Bullseye the horse and the prospector, but he’s still desperate to get back to Andy. Buzz and the other toys from Andy’s room travel to find Woody and bring him home, but the other Woody’s Roundup toys are convincing him that it’s better to stay in a toy museum instead of going back home where Andy will eventually grow up and forget about him.

Breakdown: Pixar’s first sequel and Pixar’s first relative ‘meh’ movie supposedly. I’ve never heard anyone say this is a downright bad movie, but most people agree that it’s not really fantastic either. I think people just fell under the impression that Pixar could do no wrong and finding that a movie wasn’t up to their high standards left it with a bigger dent.

Does it really deserve any flak though?

In my opinion? No. I really like this movie. It’s the weakest of the trilogy in my opinion, but that doesn’t make it a bad, meh or even weak film.

The storyline isn’t a rehash of the first film like a lot of sequels, and it touches upon the topic of the toys’ owners growing up and leaving them behind. They won’t really take this plot line and shove your heart into a paper shredder like the third movie, but still. And it also reminded me that, not only does that suck, but toys can be immortal to a degree. They can definitely live throughout a few generations at least if they’re taken care of, so it’s not only sad to think that the toys might be thrown out or spend their time rotting somewhere, but they could also see owner after owner ‘outgrow’ their use and be abandoned.

There are new characters added, and the background of Woody is explored, though I don’t quite get stuff like this. I don’t really understand why Woody doesn’t realize that he’s this famous. If he is an original, that must mean he’s over 50 years old, yet he doesn’t seem to act like he’s had previous owners and has completely forgotten his origins. I have to wonder why some toys realize what they are immediately yet toys like Buzz, Woody and the Aliens are under some delusion about it once they awaken.

Jessie’s pretty grating when you first meet her, but she grows on you and she is the poster child for the topic of the movie as she had an owner who grew up and ended up abandoning her. I’m still left wondering why she remembers that considering, from all I can tell from this girl’s room, this happened around the 60s or 70s, yet Woody can’t seem to remember anything pre-Andy days.

Bullseye’s a cute little character that can be a good addition to the group, but it seems weird that a toy like that is introduced when it’s been established that Woody and the others get along fine with Buster.

The storyline with Buzz, Delusional Buzz and Zurg felt forced. The opener is enough to attest for that because it felt like it was too long. Some of the interactions with Delusional Buzz were funny, especially the first scene, but after that it just felt like it was shoehorned in and a bit annoying. It’s almost like they weren’t quite sure what to do with Buzz to give him enough screentime. Plus, there’s the irritating nagging in my head that there was a Buzz Lightyear cartoon including Zurg and maybe this could’ve just been a big plug for that.

They also rehashed a few too many jokes from the original movie, but it’s not constant.

I think that this movie is actually better now that I’ve seen Toy Story 3. It’s acts as a great mediator between 1 and 3.

The first movie is about being there for Andy, no matter who he may seem to give more attention to and knowing that Andy loves to play with all of his toys.

The second is about dealing with the fact that, despite this, there will be a time when Andy becomes too old to play with his toys, but until that time comes they’ll be there to play with him no matter what.

And the third is finally dealing with what happens when Andy grows up and stops playing with his toys as well as addressing the various futures of toys when their owners grow up.

While it is a bit OOC for Woody to ditch Andy to be in a museum, it’s understandable that he’d feel that way. After hearing Jessie’s story and being shelved, as well as seeing what could’ve been the fate of Wheezy, it’s perfectly reasonable that he’d be scared and, in a way, its a story of mortality. You either live a true and happy life that eventually ends or throw it away to chase immortality.

Also, it reminds me that in Toy Story 3 Jessie’s situation and feelings should be much worse considering she was already dumped once before.

I think Woody singing “You’ve Got a Friend in Me” on Woody’s Roundup was probably one of the best ways to handle Woody’s revelation that he needed to go back to Andy. It really was an incredibly touching scene…..Though I think the little boy on the show was a little on the creepy side.

The reprise at the end I could’ve done without, though, even if it is performed by Robert Goulet. Especially given that Wheezy skips some lines during it.

Bottomline: It’s a thoroughly enjoyable movie. Not as good as the original, no, and there are some annoying and seemingly pointless things in there, but most of the jokes are really funny, the plot’s interesting and like I said it’s a great bridge between movie 1 and 3. I can see how some people may be disappointed with it, but I’d still gladly rewatch it several times.

Recommended Audience: There is very very slight innuendo that I doubt any kid would get, but otherwise nothing objectionable. E for everyone!

Hell Girl Episode 18: Bound Girl Review

Hell Girl Ep 18

Plot: A girl is tormented by a horrible woman because her dogs bit her.

Breakdown: Warning – High levels of rant and anger. Reader discretion is advised.

I’m going to be completely candid here – I didn’t rewatch this episode. I won’t. I refuse. I’m sorry. I didn’t even rewatch only the hell torture. This episode pisses me off way too much for even that to be any consolation.

Remember the episode Silent Cries where I was wary of rewatching it because I despise animal abuse? But I was relieved that the episode didn’t have a huge amount of it?

I remember this episode extremely well from my first watching of the series because it’s 1000x worse than Silent Cries. Whereas in Silent Cries the animals are suffering because of a neglectful asshole vet, Bound Girl has one of the worst, most horrid cunts in all of anime – Meiko Shimono.

The main issue with her is that, holy shit, she, as a character, makes this episode so emotionally manipulative. I can not emphasize enough how ridiculously over the top evil Meiko is. She is, by far, the most hateable target this show has ever had. It’s, no pun intended, major overkill.

Writers: “Don’t hate her for her hatred of dogs? Here, hate her for being an emotionally and mentally abusing dickwhistle to a little girl.

Still not enough? Hm, well, those are some cute corgis that girl has. Here, she killed one of them.

Still? Okay, here. Now the second one’s been brutally murdered too.

Wow, really? Still not enough? Hmmm….Got it! She murdered her parents for the inheritance and buried them in the backyard!

Hatred yet?….No? Hoo boy. Alright, she murdered her infant child and buried it in the backyard so she’d never have to share her riches with it!

Need more? Ah, got it! Hey, the second dog just had an adorable litter of puppies before it died! Now they’re floating in the bathtub! Is that—oh wait. The hatred meter was stuck. Seems you hated her before we even got to the second dog. Oh dear…..Pbbbbt….That’s a lot of bodies….Uhhh….just go with it, I guess.”

She originally told the client, Miki Kamikawa, that her dogs supposedly bit her, so she essentially enslaves her to make up for it. Then she kills the dogs one after another to punish her even more. The real reason she blackmailed Miki was because she thought the dogs had dug up the remains of her child or her parents in the garden and that Miki had seen them. So, even though she never mentioned it, she kept a tight hold on Miki to keep her from talking about something she didn’t even know about to begin with.

Meiko gets plenty of comeuppance as, not only does she get arrested, but Miki pulls the string, sending that bitch to a level of hell I can only hope is filled with hell hounds and an endless loop of Kujo, but I still won’t bring myself to rewatch it….or even call it a good episode outside of all of these atrocities, to be honest.

Like I said, I didn’t even skip through everything to watch the hell torture because I don’t think anything they’re usually up for showing would be worth the horrible journey that is this episode.

Not to mention, it still has to be weighed with this poor girl being marked for hell too. I might be petty with the rating. Like I said in Silent Cries, some people might not sympathize with this level of hatred towards animal abuse, but I don’t care.

Objectively, it’s just not a good episode by any stretch. This episode is a return to form, literally, because it’s the same Hell Girl shtick from start to finish, which isn’t bad, just a disappointing step back from the progress we’ve been making. There’s no intrigue, no mystery, nothing new to uncover, just a bunch of emotional manipulation and a horrible feeling deep in your gut.

Fuck this episode.

Rating: 1/10

Next Episode….

….Previous Episode

One Piece (4Kids) Episode 2 Sub/Dub Comparison

OPEP2TITLE

Plot: Luffy and Coby are on their way to see the deadly pirate hunter, Zoro, so that Luffy can recruit him for his crew and bring Coby to the marines’ base at the same time. However, Zoro is currently being held prisoner by Captain Morgan and is set for death. Can Luffy and Coby save Zoro before it’s too late?

—————————————

Pretty minor, but 4Kids cuts out a quick shot of a silhouette falling down after Zoro slashes as Cobys making his explanation before the title card.

Title Change: OPEP2TITLE2

Since the marines are changed to the navy in the dub, the big sign on the side of the marine base that says Marine is changed to Navy.

Subbed:

Dubbed: SUBDUBCOMPAREOPEP2SCREEN2

The same Marines logo on the gate is changed to Navy. For the sake of simplicity, just assume that any and all instances of visible and audible mentions of the Marines are changed to the Navy.

After Luffy climbs on the wall to see Zoro, he spots him and then jumps off of the wall to a different spot to get a better look. Then we see a closeup of Zoro. 4Kids edited this out and jumped straight from him climbing on the wall to begin with to Coby joining him. I guess….jumping off walls is bad?

Here’s something interesting, yet expected. Zoro was originally tied to a cross. Not a religious cross, mind you, just two poles connected together. In the dub, the top is hacked off so it loses its cross shape.

Subbed:

Dubbed: SUBDUBCOMPAREOPEP2SCREEN4

4Kids adds a closeup shot of Zoro’s upper body when Coby says he recognizes his black bandana. Because we just wouldn’t have known what they were talking about by seeing it from slightly further away.

In the original, there’s this kickass guitar lick when Zoro finally speaks. Sounds a little like the commercial break sound bite from Trigun. This is missing from the dub. 😦

In the original, the little girl brings Zoro some onigiri (riceballs) that she made for him. In the dub, this is changed to cookies both dialogue-wise and visually. The digital paint here, like many of their paint edits, is awful. The cookies jump when they’re first uncovered and they obviously don’t belong in this scene. It’s not nearly as bad as that Pokemon episode where the sub sandwich bounced down the hill, but still.

Subbed:

Dubbed: SUBDUBCOMPAREOPEP2SCREEN6

In the original, the problem with the onigiri was that the little girl used sugar instead of salt when making them. In the dub, no explanation as to why the cookies tasted bad, if they truly did, is given. He asks her if he put rotten fish heads in the cookies and she says she added some sugar and trails off. This could’ve actually worked by simply reversing the original dialogue. Say she put a lot of salt in the cookies instead of sugar. Problem solved.

Also, 4Kids got pretty lazy. They simply colored the mushed up riceball into a brown color instead of putting in some broken cookie pieces. Makes the cookies look like they were made of mush.

Subbed:

Dubbed: SUBDUBCOMPAREOPEP2SCREEN8

Helmeppo (Captain Morgan’s Son) (Dub): “(At the mushy brown mess) There! Now it looks like it tastes!” 4Kids….did….you just make a poop joke?….Seriously?…..Go to the corner. Now.

They edit out a shot of the proclamation that anyone who helps Zoro gets executed because I guess they were too lazy to erase all of the (EVIL) Japanese text and leave a blank page like they I know they would because they make no sense. Also, in the original, helping Zoro gets you executed. In the dub, they just say that it’s a criminal offense.

Dub Mari—Navy….Sailor dude: (As he’s about to throw the girl over the fence) “I’m real sorry about this. Cover your head with your arms.” Right, that’ll save her neck from getting broken as she’s flung over 30 feet through the air. Moron.

In the original, the first conversation between Luffy and Zoro is relatively kept the same, but they omit Luffy saying that he’s not sure Zoro is strong because he’d have escaped in less than three days. They also omit Zoro saying that he’s staying there to basically prove to them that he can survive.

4KIDS IS MAGIC! They changed the smushed pile of slop into a cookie again. Amazing!…..Really, was it easier to draw the cookie and animate it than just color the damn slop like you did before?

Subbed:

Dubbed: SUBDUBCOMPAREOPEP2SCREEN11.png

Slight nitpick, but Zoro sounds….like a psychopath….in this episode anyway. In the original, he seems intimidating and imposing, in a sane way. In the dub, he’s all “IMMA EAT IT! WANNA KNOW WHY!? CUZ IMMA SURVIVOR!! OMNOMNOMNOM!!”

They edit out a shot of Zoro punching Helmeppo.

In the original, Zoro’s sword is a lot closer to Helmeppo’s face than it is in the dub. I guess they sprinkled some digital paint on it to make it….less threatening? …..What? How is that less threatening? Oh forget it…

Subbed:

Dubbed:

SUBDUBCOMPAREOPEP2SCREEN14
They cleaned up his face, too. How nice.

The last part of the flashback is sped up or something. In the original, his decision to go to prison in place of the little girl and her mother is much slower than it is in the dub. In the dub, Helmetto (he hasn’t been named in the dub yet for some reason) basically says “I won’t make them go to prison if you go there for a month!” and Zolo’s “Onemonth?Pieceofcake! *drops sword*” He’s a pro wrestler. What is wrong with him?

In the original, Helmeppo asks for alcohol. In the dub, this is changed dialogue-wise and visually to juice…because villains are bad-ass muthas who drink JUICE! FULL OF VITAMIN A FOR AWESOME, B FOR BITCHIN’ AND C FOR CUT THE CRAP AND BRING ME MORE JUICE!

That edited juice looks almost radioactive it’s so bright. The glass is also changed slightly to be wider….

Subbed:

Dubbed: SUBDUBCOMPAREOPEP2SCREEN16

The impact shot of Luffy punching Helmeppo is edited….I can’t make heads or tails of it. You have a look.

Subbed:

Dubbed: SUBDUBCOMPAREOPEP2SCREEN18

Hmm….I guess this is ‘important’. A little while ago, the Marines logo on the back of the sailors’ shirts was simply erased instead of changed to Navy like it has been. However, now it’s actually changed instead.

In the original, Captain Morgan is always smoking a cigar. Das a no-no. Edited out.

Subbed:

Dubbed: SUBDUBCOMPAREOPEP2SCREEN20

I should also mention that in frontal shots in the dub he looks like he’s always got his mouth open slightly because that’s where the cigar is supposed to be. Makes him look like he has lockjaw…

As Zoro has a flashback, 4Kids edits out a scanning shot of Zoro’s childhood friend and the flower petals flowing past her.

They edit out a shot of Luffy’s shadow before Zoro notices him.

They edit out a shot of Helmeppo yelling that he’ll tell Luffy what he wants to know as long as he stops dragging him on the floor. Even dragging a guy on the floor is too violent to show.…

The guns in this shot, even though it’s a little hard to tell, are edited into what look like maroon super soakers. What’s odd is that they still say “Stop or we’ll shoot ya!” 1) Shooting’s a no-no 4Kids. Couldn’t have changed that to “hurt ya!”? 2) Shoot him with what? Water? Cranberry juice? A gentle red wine? Oh wait, alcohol’s no good. Guess it’s juice.

Subbed:

Dubbed: SUBDUBCOMPAREOPEP2SCREEN22

They edit out the zoom in on Zoro’s swords…However, they don’t edit out the “My Room” text on the flower wreath on Helmeppo’s door.

I really don’t get this. They can say ‘execute’ ‘shoot you’ and ‘firing squad’ but they can’t just show the damn guns?

In the original, Morgan accuses Zoro of siding with the pirates and starting a revolution. Zoro denies this and says he works alone but Morgan is a coward who always hides behind his sailors.

In the dub, Morgan says that they’ve always fought on the same side to rid the world of pirate scum and thus he’ll grant Zoro one wish. Zoro says he’s never fought on his side, but if he gets one wish, he wishes that he’d use that oversized ass on the end of his arm to—what?…..He said ass. I heard it…..Axe? I guess that makes more sense, but I know I heard ‘ass’….oh whatever. Oversized axe to cut off that giant barnacle growing out of his neck. (His head. Haha)

I’m still not getting it. We can hear gunshots, see the bullets, see the firing, see the smoke coming from the barrels, see Luffy getting hit by bullets, but NO THEY’RE NOT GUNS! HONEST!

——————————————–

This episode was pretty damn good. It was an awesome intro to Zoro, and Helmeppo and Captain Morgan are way better enemies than Alvida. Dub-wise, it’s a bit laughable given the changes, but I guess it could be a lot worse…..yeah, it can definitely be worse, right, episode three?

Next episode, it’s a race to stop Zoro from getting executed. Can Luffy get his swords back and get to Zoro in time?

…Previous Episode

Hell Girl Episode 17: Glass Scenery Review

Hell Girl Ep 17

Plot: A new vision has lead the Shibatas to a sanitarium that seems eerily empty outside of a cute little girl named Nina. They know she was the one who contacted Hell Correspondence, but in an odd twist, Ai rejects her request.

Breakdown: Remember how I said a couple of episodes back that the formula was changing? This one completely shatters it….for now.

The next episode preview for this entry was even a change up. Usually, the next episode preview has Wanyuudou asking the client their name, the client responds, then Wanyuudou asks who has wronged them. The client gives a short explanation, and then Wanyuudou asks what their request is, which is always to send them to hell.

For this episode, they had Hajime, Tsugumi and Ai narrating, with Ai warning them to turn away.

Today’s episode plays off like a horror movie. Hajime and Tsugumi are heading towards a sanitarium, which is the location of Tsugumi’s latest vision. There, they meet Nina, a strange but beautiful, almost doll-like, little girl who seems to be the one who contacted Hell Correspondence with her father being the target. Her father abandoned her at the hospital, and she sought revenge.

However, Ai, oddly, rejects her request.

This angers Nina, but she moves on rather quickly, attempting to trap Hajime and Tsugumi at the sanitarium forever so they’ll be her father and sister respectively until the end of time.

Nina is revealed to have supernatural control over the sanitarium and tries to keep them from leaving. Ren, Hone Onna and Wanyuudou thwart her attempts time and again under Ai’s orders.

In an effort to get this to end, Ai appears and tells Nina the truth.

This is a little complicated. At this point, you believe the reason Ai can’t complete Nina’s request is because she’s obviously a ghost. I imagine you can’t claim a soul that has already departed, thus it can’t be a bargaining chip for Hell Girl’s service.

However, that’s not the situation here.

This girl is actually not Nina. She is a doll. The real Nina died many years ago from sickness after being abandoned by her father, which is another explanation of why Ai rejected this request since the target must be dead by now. Nina had a doll that looked very similar to her and was her only friend.

The doll, having a soul of its own I suppose, took on Nina’s feelings after she died and started haunting the building even after its closure. She became obsessed with revenge and getting a family of her own, not realizing that she wasn’t the real Nina. It’s only when Ai reveals all of this to her does ‘Nina’ finally leave.

A haunted sanitarium is a great concept as it is, but I think they did an outstanding job at working it for this series. Though, there are some problems, such as, has ‘Nina’ been contacting Ai since she died? If so, why is Ai only now rejecting her? How would Hell Girl be new information to her? She doesn’t even have Internet access or computers – How did she contact her at all?

This episode also revealed that Wanyuudou, Ren and Hone Onna are somewhat whispering behind Ai’s back about what’s really going on with her and the Shibatas. Wanyuudou believes Ai is subconsciously leading them to where her clients are, but admittedly doesn’t understand why she’s going to the trouble of protecting Hajime and Tsugumi from this spirit.

It was really nice seeing these guys be active in other ways for a change. Getting to see them combat another spirit was fun.

We’re breaking entirely from the norm here because, outside of the vision leading them somewhere, this story has no other bits of the Hell Girl formula. No one gets a doll, there’s no string pull and no hell torture. Oddly, if the doll-Nina had some semblance of a soul, you might say Ai was briefly Heaven Girl since she helped her move on from this world.

That’s not to say this episode didn’t have some horror elements because ‘Nina’ does several things that mess with your mind.

This was a really good episode that was a welcome break from the norm and a nice look into a different side of Ai and her comrades.

Too bad it’s followed by Bound Girl….

Rating: 9/10

Next Episode….

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