Plot: Tensions come to a head in the Shibata household. Hajime wants to forget all about Hell Girl and just move on, but Tsugumi continues to have visions. She states that, in order to figure out what Hell Girl really wants and end these visions once and for all, they have to go to the location of Tsugumi’s vision from the end of the last episode. It’s time to explore Ai Enma’s past.
Breakdown: Today’s episode starts with Tsugumi’s classmates wanting to call Hell Girl over a boy who broke a cheap frog keychain and laughed about it.
Initially, I wanted to facepalm at this, but I…am at least mostly certain these girls are kidding. Besides, lots of kids had fake Death Notes for shits and giggles, and I’m pretty sure they’d eventually feel like complete dumbasses if they damned their soul to hell for a 50 cent keychain that could’ve been fixed with superglue.
I would love to see a hell torture based on that crime, though.
Nonetheless, Tsugumi freaks out over it. Surprisingly, she doesn’t flash back to Kanako, and instead remembers the dead body of the nameless jackass who sent Kanako to hell. In a panic triggered by their words, she runs out into the street and gets clipped by a truck, wounding her leg.
This is all meant to highlight that Tsugumi’s crisis of morality from the previous episode is worse than ever. Now she essentially has PTSD after the last case.
The truck driver who clipped her was extremely nice and apologetic over what he did, even if it was her fault that she got hurt. She wonders if Hajime would hate the nice truck driver if she had died back there, even though it was her fault. Would he seek vengeance? Would he break and call Hell Girl? Would he really cause harm to such a kind man when it would’ve been an accident?
Those are really valid concerns, and Tsugumi’s reaction to all of this is a very realistic take on her situation.
Wow, it’s almost like the writing is infinitely better when we’re focusing on Tsugumi. Who has a flailing fit on the keyboard when Hajime’s the focus?
Case and point, Hajime tells Tsugumi that they’re done with Hell Girl from now on and she can just put her out of her mind…..Yeah….the girl who has uncontrollable visions on a regular basis of Ai, her targets and her clients, visions that are getting increasingly long and detailed, can easily just put Hell Girl out of her mind. Sure.
At least Hajime’s making an effort at being a better dad, though.
He even scores a gig to write a story in Hawaii, one that barely takes up any work, so it’s basically a vacation for him and Tsugumi. Just as things are starting to look up for the two of them, Tsugumi suddenly passes out from a Hell Girl vision where she keeps asking if Tsugumi knows Sentarou.
Hajime begs for Ai to just leave them alone. Tsugumi points out the obvious that they can’t just ignore Hell Girl, and reveals that Ai seems like she might want something from them. She believes Ai could be reaching out for help, but doesn’t know exactly what she’s asking for. The best clue she has to go on is the location in which she saw the vision of Ai and Sentarou – Batsumi Village.
There’s a mountain resort up there now, but the area with the cherry blossom tree from the vision still appears to be standing. The resort owner points them to a temple close to the cherry blossom tree for information on local legends.
Meanwhile, Ai’s cracking shell is getting to the point where even her mysterious grandmother can tell that something’s wrong, but Ai continues to deny it, particularly when the spider is watching. She is sometimes seen following Tsugumi and Hajime around as they get closer to the area from her vision.
Tsugumi and Hajime reach the temple, but the only story that the priest is able to offer is the tale of Seven Sending. Hundreds of years ago, villages on the mountain believed the spirit of the mountain influenced the prosperity of the area. In order to please the mountain spirit, every seven years a seven year old girl would be sacrificed as an offering.
Hajime and Tsugumi are both surprised to hear this since Tsugumi is seven years old. As Ai hears the conversation, she has a flashback in which we’re shown that Ai herself was a Seven Sending offering. The priest explains that the temple they’re in was built to help give peace to the spirits of the children, hence the name Seven Child Temple.
The man who built the temple hundreds of years ago left for unknown reasons and started up a candy shop where he made trademark black candies. The shop, despite not being owned by the same family anymore, still sends the temple bowls of those candies every year as an offering.
The priest is intrigued when he learns that their last name is Shibata, because the candy shop just happens to be named Shibataya. As Hajime and Tsugumi leave the temple to check out the cherry blossom tree, they ask the priest if they know the original temple owner’s name – it’s Sentarou.
They arrive at the location from Tsugumi’s vision and are shocked to find the cherry blossom tree back into full bloom, despite it being the dead of winter. Suddenly, they’re in the middle of the familiar vision of Ai and Sentarou playing together as children. Oddly, even Hajime can see it this time.
Ai furiously confronts Hajime and Tsugumi, her memory finally returning to her. She realizes the reason behind Tsugumi’s visions is that she and Hajime are the last of Sentarou’s blood line.
Tsugumi has a vision through Ai’s eyes of her being buried alive as she screams for Sentarou. Her childhood friend that she seemed to adore had helped kill her.
Ai’s hatred boils to the surface, and she unleashes her powers upon Hajime and Tsugumi. Wanyuudou, Hone Onna and Ren rush to save Hajime and Tsugumi. They try to convince Ai to stop since, should she be consumed by her emotions and kill them, she will be damned to hell forever.
They use themselves to shield Hajime and Tsugumi as they try to escape, but Ai fiercely bursts beyond them and hits them with a dark blast of energy, sending them flying into a nearby stream.
Ai’s power reaches a peak. She prepares to finish them both off once and for all, locking herself into her own contract to hell.
As you can tell by my lack of notes, I really loved this episode. The development between Hajime and Tsugumi was better, the pacing of uncovering Ai’s past as well as her being there to put the pieces together with them was great, and Ai becoming an awesome powerhouse at the end was a fantastic way to end the episode.
While we don’t yet know the circumstances surrounding how or why Ai became Hell Girl, the secrets of her past are quickly becoming unlocked, and I think we learned just enough in this episode to make the next episode a must-see.
They didn’t get much to do in this episode, but the role of Wanyuudou, Ren and Hone Onna was also a breath of fresh air. They have appeared very annoyed by the Shibatas in the past, but they are quick to defend them, even putting themselves in harm’s way. It could be interpreted as them wanting to protect Hajime and Tsugumi because doing so protects Ai, but still.
Speaking of which, this also greatly highlights how much they care about Ai. They’ve been scheming behind her back in the past, despite coming clean with her without issue very quickly, but it’s obvious that they greatly care about her and will do anything to stop her from damning her own soul to hell.
Even the animation is more polished and fluid than it has been recently, and thank god for that.
We’re coming down to the wire, so what do the final two episodes have in store?