Plot: A random serial killer is going around killing people with a bamboo skewer and purposely positioning their arms and fingers in a V for victory sign after they’re killed. A man named Kihachi Kusumi attempts to contact Hell Girl to kill someone he’s supposedly never met and has no connection to. Why is he targeting this man and what is the true motive of the random serial killer?
Breakdown: This is definitely one of the best Hell Girl episodes to date. Possibly the best one-off story so far unrelated to Ai’s backstory.
The story is a changeup from the norm. The client is a serial killer, stabbing people with bamboo skewers and positioning their hands and arms in a V for victory sign. The hell team are investigating him, without initially knowing he’s the culprit, because he’s been attempting to input a name into Hell Link but not going through with it. The target in question is a man he seemingly has no connection to.
Kihachi suffered from a horrible tragedy five years ago. He lost his wife and son when a truck driver crashed into their house. For the record, the truck driver died in the crash also, meaning he’s not the target.
His daughter, Tsubaki, survived the crash, but she lapsed into a coma and has yet to wake up. Her doctors have given up hope that she’ll ever wake up and so has her father, after five years of hoping and praying for her to do so.
The mystery surrounding this episode isn’t who the target is, it’s what Kihachi’s motives are and why he’s suddenly turned to using Hell Girl when he’s been killing people this whole time. It’s a nice change of pace, and the entire situation keeps you on the edge of your seat.
Turns out, Kihachi is terminally ill and reaching the very end of his life. These random killings were not random at all. At the scene of the accident five years ago, a bunch of dumbasses jumped in front of the cameras as some reporters were doing a news report on the crash. And, of course, they were all grinning like idiots and doing the V for victory pose. They were rudely trying to get their fifteen minutes of fame….in front of a burned down house in which most of a family died….while the father, the lone full survivor, stands mere feet away.
After a few years of waiting in vain for Tsubaki to wake up and getting the diagnosis of his illness, Kihachi decides to dedicate what was left of his life to killing the idiots who photobombed the news report.
However, he’s getting too weak and can’t kill the final target – hence his need to call Hell Girl. He wanted to try one more time before actually inputting his name, but he was too weak to fight him properly. He escaped, and even managed to see Kihachi’s face before leaving. As a result, he finally resorts to calling Hell Girl.
Now, you’d think this is where we’d start slowing down, but oh no. Here’s where the shit hits the fan.
Ai meets with Kihachi in the Realm of Eternal Twilight and goes through the typical Hell Girl spiel. Kihachi says the price of going to hell doesn’t bother him because he’s certain he’s destined for hell anyway given the murders he’s committed.
This situation actually answers a question I’ve had for a while now – What about clients who are going to hell anyway? Is the covenant really useful when dealing with these clients?
Well, yes and no.
True, these people are destined for hell no matter what, but Ai explains that her only job is to carry out the initial payment of the covenant. The other sins that would’ve lead the client to hell in the first place will be paid for in an additional punishment outside of her knowledge and control.
Kihachi accepts anyway as he feels like he has nothing to live for and no more options. He immediately pulls the string and the man gets sent to hell.
Kihachi is sent to the hospital while trying to navigate a flood of reporters who are trying to question him. The target had ample time to point his finger at Kihachi before he was whisked away to hell. He doesn’t really care anyway…..
Until, that is, he gets some shocking news. Tsubaki has woken up. Kihachi cries out in despair, realizing what he’s done. Not only will he spend what little time he has left alive in jail or otherwise detained, meaning he can never be by Tsubaki’s side, but he’s damned Tsubaki to being known as the daughter of a killer for the rest of her life, and it’s likely Tsubaki will be traumatized upon hearing this news in addition to the news of the rest of her family dying.
The hell team wonder if this was the additional payment Ai talked about – and it is.
Tsubaki didn’t just wake up randomly, either – Kikuri woke her up on purpose. (Through a rather gross French kiss……Kikuri’s like five…..)
This would be another ‘God, I hate Kikuri’ moment, but you have to keep something in mind. Kikuri is, supposedly, the Master of Hell or at least possessed by him. If another payment is required in this circumstance that Ai doesn’t have anything to do with, it makes perfect sense that Kikuri would be the one to carry it out.
My issue with it is that this seems more like a punishment for Tsubaki than it does Kihachi. Tsubaki already has to deal with the loss of her mother and little brother and the fact that she’s been in a coma for the past five years. Now she also has to deal with the fact that her father is a serial killer, killing people in the name of her dead mother and brother, AND that her father is on death’s door with a terminal illness, AND that he probably can never see her in the time he has left since he’ll be in police custody.
Outside of that, we do get some funny moments as well such as Ai, Ren and Kikuri working at the restaurant Kihachi owns, and Ai being so vicious eating the last hot dog in front of Kikuri, who really wanted it. It’s borderline potato-chip-from-Death Note levels of dramatic eating, and I love those brief moments when Kikuri gets some modicum of comeuppance.
All around, this was a fantastic and brutal episode. While Tsubaki waking up at the end was predictable, the way they handled it was fantastic. You really feel the insane levels of remorse and devastation dripping off of Kihachi when he’s told Tsubaki woke up. He had totally resigned himself and given up, and the weight of what he had done, both to those men and to Tsubaki, just hit him like a meteor.
The hell torture this time around was also really good. The hands on the boat were a bit over the top, though, plus we’ve seen the hands on the boat too many times.