Hell Girl Episode 14: Beyond the Dead End Review

Hell Girl ep 14

Plot: Saki’s father mysteriously commits suicide after seemingly trying to blackmail the mayor, Ryouzo Kosunoki. Saki calls upon Hell Girl to exact revenge against him. Meanwhile, Hajime does everything he can to get to the bottom of this and hopefully prevent Ai from claiming another soul.

Breakdown: Oh my god, guys! Hajime is finally impacting the plot!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

…..Almost!

He was so close to actually doing something meaningful, but it was all for naught.

One of the things that annoys me about Hajime’s character is that, for much of his stay on the series, his actions amount to nothing. Without him, some plot elements wouldn’t be revealed to the audience, but his actions never have any impact on the story itself. He is doing his damnedest, no pun intended, to stop Ai from taking people to hell, but he keeps failing. You can tell that his failures are visibly getting to him by this point, especially given the circumstances of the case we have today, but so far he has amounted to a character who is just there.

Speaking of today’s case, it’s quite the complicated one – and it might be our first case of someone truly undeserving of going to hell being the target.

Saki Kirino’s father was a simple man and a single father who was upset because he didn’t have enough savings to send his daughter to a university in Tokyo. Saki discovered that he had a stack of photos implicating that the mayor, Kosunoki, was in dealings with organized crime. He left one night to blackmail Kosunoki into paying him off so he could give more money to Saki. The next morning, he was found hanging in the park, and the official cause of death was suicide.

Saki didn’t believe the finding and vehemently accused Kosunoki of murdering her father. She loudly vocalized her accusations, but only drew dire from the citizens who loved Kosunoki, especially the residents of a local elderly home. She even starts getting threatening letters taped to her door.

Saki has no evidence to present to the police to get an investigation opened. The envelope containing the photos was not on Mr. Kirino’s body, which is the only strong piece of evidence that Saki has in believing Kosunoki has something to do with it. Since she and her father were the only two who saw the photos, it’s all hearsay.

Meanwhile, Tsugumi has a vision that sends Hajime off to investigate and possibly prevent another use of the trademark black doll. He hears Saki’s story and asks her to wait on pulling the string until he gets to the truth of the matter.

While Kosunoki and his son, Yoshiyuki, firmly deny any wrongdoing, they eventually tell their side of the story to Hajime. Kosunoki was an orphan who was raised by his grandmother. When she passed away, he felt driven to fight for the rights and caring of the elderly as a way to repay his grandmother, which prompted him to build a retirement home.

However, after some time, the director of the home passed away and the deed to the building was somehow left in the hands of Japanese crime lords. In order to keep the building and prevent the residents from becoming homeless, Kosunoki had to trade the deed for some vague political concessions – the dealings of which were caught in photos by Saki’s father.

Mr. Kirino was hard up for money since he desperately wanted to send Saki to a nice university in Tokyo, so he decided to blackmail him. Kosunoki and Yoshiyuki refused to give into his threat and turned him away. Yoshiyuki believed that Mr. Kirino was in debt with some shady people and probably committed suicide when he realized he’d never get the money to pay them back.

Kosunoki, however, refutes this claim and accepts responsibility for Mr. Kirino’s death, but not in the way Hajime thought. He states that Mr. Kirino told him of his money problems and why he needed the cash so badly. He completely denies killing him or having someone else do the deed, but believes that someone might have done so on his behalf. He tells Hajime that he can publish the story, but warns that, should anything happen to him as a result, it might cause the retirement home to shut down.

I might be slow on the uptake today, but it took me until I started writing this review and rewatching some of the scenes to understand what really happened.

Shaken by Saki going so far as to hire a journalist to investigate them, Yoshiyuki meets with Saki and hands her an envelope, which I initially believed was hush money. He claims he wants this whole thing put behind them and calls her selfish for what she’s trying to do. He claims that damaging his father’s reputation or getting him throw in jail will do a lot of damage to the town while no one but her cares about what happened to her father.

Saki tearfully rejects the offer, but I didn’t realize that the packet was actually the missing envelope of photos. This doesn’t exactly prove that they killed Mr. Kirino, but this combined with Kosunoki stating that someone on his behalf likely killed him definitely points to Yoshiyuki being the one who killed Mr. Kirino for the sake of protecting his father.

This raises the question of why Yoshiyuki can’t turn himself in and end this whole thing, but the scandal might be so close to Kosunoki either way that it would ruin him and possibly put him in jail too.

Hajime gets Kosunoki to agree to beg for Saki’s forgiveness, but there’s a problem. Saki had a meeting with the bank and learned that her father had little in savings – definitely not enough to send her to college.

Saki is done with everything. She realizes that nothing will ever bring back her father and nothing will fix what happened, but sending Kosunoki to hell is the only thing she can do for her father after everything he’s done and tried to do for her. She pulls the string while she’s on the phone with Hajime, and Kosunoki disappears. While he’s in the boat with Ai, he regrets that he is unable to apologize to Saki.

This case was very intriguing and another episode that is just tragic on all sides. Did Kosunoki deserve to go to hell?….That’s a hard question to answer. Yes, he did deal with crime lords, which is bad, but he did it to help save some elderly people from being homeless, which is good.

He turned Mr. Kirino away at his blackmail threat while knowing and understanding why he was doing it, which is…..one of the biggest moral mixed bags we’ve had so far. Giving into the blackmail isn’t necessarily good, even if you know what the money’s for, but he rejected it for good reason. Afterall, if someone realizes they have you under their thumb, no matter their good intentions, they can have you in a perceived debt for however long they want you there. Then again, rejecting it kinda doesn’t make sense.

While Kosunoki obviously has a moral compass, as shown when he told Hajime his story and that he was free to publish it, rejecting the blackmail leaves him open to selling the photos, which would ruin his reputation, possibly get him arrested and have the retirement home shut down anyway. Why do dealings with crime lords to protect the elderly but not give into blackmail for that same reason?

Kosunoki’s biggest sin would be protecting his son if he knew he killed Mr. Kirino, but despite a small implication that he suspected Yoshiyuki had something to do with this, we don’t know for certain if he knew.

Even if he did, is protecting your son from a murder charge and life in prison, even if he deserves it, really a major sin? Even if the right thing to do is turning him in, I’m sure most parents would sympathize with a deep desire to protect their children – particularly when the reason they’re in trouble in the first place is because they were trying to protect their parent. It’s a heartwrenching decision to say the least.

Probably the most upsetting thing about this episode is that the one person who deserved punishment, Yoshiyuki, didn’t get any. He was a complete asshole from start to finish in this episode.

If everything hinted at in this episode is true, he killed Mr. Kirino in cold blood, treated Saki like complete garbage for trying to get justice for her father even though he knew what she was saying was, more or less, true, said to her face that no one gave a crap about her father but her and lied through his teeth through the whole ordeal, even letting his father field the accusations instead of turning himself in.

Nearly every line that came out of his mouth was yelling at someone or slinging accusations around. He was a bastard, and his father paid for his crimes. Even Saki had to pay dearly for what she did, but he gets away scot-free.

You could argue that he paid for it with the death of his father, and I’ll concede to that, but I haven’t seen a tinge of sympathetic emotion from Yoshiyuki, so, for all I know, outside of losing his power, influence and possibly money, he might not give a rat’s ass that he’s dead.

At the very end of the episode, Tsugumi expresses happiness that Kosunoki is dead and that Saki got her revenge, which is odd. Hajime usually shares all of the information on his cases with Tsugumi and she’s typically saddened by the outcomes, even if the person deserved it. I don’t know if these cases are also changing Tsugumi’s attitude or if she just had a different view on this case in particular for some reason, but Hajime tells her that the outcome wasn’t good at all, and I’d certainly agree with him.

This was a great episode with an interesting mystery, intriguing story and a much more complex resolution than we’re used to. The outcome may not have been great or even good, but it adds another layer to this show in regards to freshening up the formula. However, it has yet to overcome the firmest mainstay of the series – not sending someone to hell for a change.

At a point in this series, you start to believe that one of the main reasons people watch this show is for the cathartic release of seeing assholes get sent to hell and seeing the creative tortures that Ai and the others come up with before the ride on the river Styx. However, we’ve now had a few episodes where we aren’t loudly rooting for Ai to say ‘Perhaps…it is time to die.’ and a few where we haven’t even been able to see the torture. The formula is changing. Slowly, but it is.

Rating: 9/10

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