Plot: On the anniversary of his wife’s death, we learn what really happened to Hajime to make him so adamant against revenge.
Breakdown: Did someone say ‘backstory’? Hooray!
After the emotional explosion between Hajime and Tsugumi in the previous episode, it seems more important now than ever to find out why Hajime is so vehemently against Hell Girl and the promises of revenge that she offers.
And we…kinda get it?
It’s obvious that tensions are high between Tsugumi and Hajime. She’s barely speaking to him and he is basically avoiding her.
On the anniversary of his wife’s death, Tsugumi gets dressed up and prepares her offerings for her mother’s grave, but Hajime appears to forget or just flatout doesn’t want to go. She heads to her grandparents house to spend the day with them in mourning while Hajime hangs out around town.
We learn that his wife, Ayumi, was Hajime’s college sweetheart. They were very much opposites. She was shy and soft-spoken while he was intense and driven as a startup journalist. Nevertheless, the two eventually got married, but things quickly went sour.
Hajime was so invested in his career that he barely spent any time with Ayumi anymore and frequently ran out on her when they actually did find the time. He even, no joke, runs out in the middle of their wedding reception because of a breaking news story.
Ayumi gets pregnant (guess he found at least a minute and half for her. Heyooooooooooooooooooo!) and believes things will get better once the baby is born, but he only gets more invested in his work since babies cost money.
A few years go by and nothing changes.
As Hajime is investigating the extramarital affair a politician is having, he finds out that the man he’s investigating is having an affair with none other than Ayumi. She even left a three-year-old Tsugumi at home alone in order to see him.
Hajime was enraged and started beating the crap out of the guy. Later, Ayumi tried to talk it out with Hajime, but he wouldn’t have it. He stated that he never wanted to see her again and that he’d never allow her to see Tsugumi.
Ayumi drives off. and shortly afterward Hajime finds out that Ayumi died in a car accident. It’s unclear whether this was suicide or an accident, but the event stuck with him.
I had trouble understanding exactly why this prompted such a strong anti-revenge feeling in Hajime. Best I can figure, he blames himself for Ayumi’s death because, if he had just been open to talking with her, she might still be alive.
His hatred and anger only caused more suffering.
Problem is, it’s iffy to instantly correlate this to vengeance. I honestly didn’t remember a thing about Hajime’s backstory besides the fact that his wife died. I figured he may have inadvertently caused someone’s death in vengeance for his wife and always felt incredibly guilty over it. Or someone did something against him in revenge so he knew all too well how much suffering the other end of the stick gets. I didn’t remember a thing about a cheating wife dying in a freak car accident. I can maybe stretch that he saw taking Tsugumi away, even if he hadn’t formally done it yet, as the revenge?
This backstory in mind, Hajime seems to be projecting. Unless she really did kill herself, accidents are accidents. Despite everything he did, he had every right to be pissed that his wife was cheating on him. Neglect does not justify cheating. I’d be insanely pissed just at the fact that she left three-year-old Tsugumi alone at home. If you’re going to boink some sleazy politician, at least call for a babysitter.
Even if it does logically create this vendetta against revenge (….wait, what?) it’s a disappointing explanation to say the least. Hajime is increasingly vocal about revenge not solving anything and hatred only leading to more suffering. He hates hatred, is what I’m saying.
Either way, despite Tsugumi being close enough to her father to call him by his first name all the time, Hajime still doesn’t seem to have learned anything from this.
At the start of their appearances in the series, he still seems to be extremely busy with his work, frequently leaving Tsugumi home alone, even overnight. He does it at the start of this very episode. If he’s not throwing himself too much into journalism, he’s investing too much time and focus into Hell Girl now.
Sure, he pals around with Tsugumi during these cases, but much of the time she’s left alone, and you can’t really count trying to stop a supernatural 13 year old from sending people to hell as father/daughter bonding time.
Also, Inagaki and Murai are in this episode for about 30 cumulative seconds. Blink and you’ll miss them. Not that you’d care.
On the case side, and yes there’s still a case going on, convenience of convenience, today’s client is a guy whose girlfriend is cheating on him, and the target is the aforementioned whore.
We spend all of two minutes on this case, and nearly all of it is the hell torture. I am baffled by how long of a hell torture we got for a woman who we know fuck all about and have seen for about 15 seconds before the thread is pulled.
I get that this is meant to be a parallel of Hajime’s situation with Ayumi, considering the subtle flashbacks he has while he’s yelling at the client, but I already explained how this really doesn’t work – at least not as well as it should have.
Speaking of Ai’s side of the story, Ai is noticeably moody (as moody as Ai can be) and still having visions of the boy, whom we now know is named Sentarou. I smell more backstory!
All in all this is a good episode, but it falls far short of being as great as it could’ve been. We’re supposed to be deeply sympathizing with Hajime’s point of view now, but I only moderately understand his stance more. I don’t feel any different about the situation with Hell Girl as I did before. They just didn’t go far enough with it.
Not to mention how annoying it is to hear a guy who is constantly preaching anti-hate and anti-vengeance obviously having an escalating hatred and vendetta against what Hell Girl is doing. He’s even been getting increasingly violent when investigating these cases.
If he’s not nearly kidnapping children, yelling in people’s faces or yanking dolls out of young girls hands and throwing them in the garbage, he’s slapping his young daughter in the face for voicing an understandable opinion. He could easily explain his stance by sharing this same story, but he just keeps parroting the same ‘vengeance solves nothing’ mantra to her and expecting it to stick.
I have to wonder if, given the chance, he would send Ai to hell if it meant stopping her. It would be a complete hypocrite move, but I really wouldn’t be too surprised if he did.