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!
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?