Hell Girl (Manga) Volume 2 Review

Chapter 6: Ice Shadows

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This chapter was not one mirrored in the anime, but it is very well-written and quite intriguing. Saeki is a great ice skater and top of her team. Despite this, she screws up in a big competition and has been skipping practices, so she’s overlooked for the spot in the national competition for a girl named Eri, with her substitute being Marie.

Saeki is infuriated at this, but can’t figure out what to do to get her spot from them. Her friends tell her about Hell Girl, but that’s not an option for her because she has two targets and Hell Girl only allows one entry. However, that doesn’t mean Hell Girl is completely useless to her.

She concocts a plan to have Eri and Marie send each other to hell. She tricks Eri into thinking Marie sicced a bunch of bullies on her, and she tricked Marie into thinking Eri tried to kill her by locking her in a room with a gas leak.

Her plan seemingly works – the two send each other to hell and she is chosen to skate in the nationals.

However, all is not as it seems.

Saeki is actually the one going to hell. Eri and Marie figured out easily that she was behind everything. They also had great trust in each other to not do such terrible things since they had been best friends for over ten years. Saeki was the one who planted those ideas into their heads, and she was the one who just so happened to save Eri from the bullies and Marie from the room of gas.

They both entered Saeki’s name into Hell Correspondence, and now they’re both marked for hell, but they’ve still got each other and their bright futures as ice skaters ahead of them. Eri even wins first place in the nationals, much to the delight of Marie who was cheering her on the whole time.

But….this is really confusing.

Why are they BOTH damned to hell? This has never happened in any other Hell Girl story I’ve watched or read. Even if they both contacted Ai at the same time, she wouldn’t give the offer to both of them. It’s always just a one-way street – a soul for a soul.

In fact, in one episode of the anime, a client tries to use the doll on someone, but Ai tells her she can’t because someone else is about to pull the string on her target.

It is a beautiful gesture that they basically agreed to go to hell together (even though I’ve explained before why that’s also pretty dumb) but I just don’t think this would fly with how Hell Girl operates.

Another curious thing in this episode is Ai at the very end. She’s watching the girls skate and is very happy and content. I really don’t think Eto gets it that Ai is supposed to be emotionless.

Oh well, at least they didn’t have Ai wait until the girls were about to commit suicide to give them the offer this time.

Chapter 7: Family

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So, this chapter starts with a flashback to the death of the main character, Chiaki’s, mother on her death bed telling her and her sister, Chisa, that they need to live good lives because she’ll be waiting to reunite with them in heaven.

Well…..Wonder where this could possibly be going.

Chiaki is in college, I think, but she’s coming home for a weekend visit. Their mother has been dead for over a year, so their father has hired a local woman named Yurie to care for the house and Chisa while he’s working.

Despite having a nice reunion with her little sister, Chiaki is troubled when she realizes Chisa is very visibly afraid of her new babysitter. Yurie claims Chisa is just having a hard time accepting her into the house, so she’s lying and making up stories when everything she’s claiming she’s doing is explained through other means. For example, Chiaki found the framed picture of her mother that she kept by her bed in Chisa’s room, with the glass of the frame cracked, and Chisa claimed she was protecting it from Yurie since she threw it in the garbage. Yurie, on the other hand, says the frame broke when she was cleaning Chiaki’s room and she set it aside for when she’d get a new frame for it…..but why would she keep the broken glass hanging around? That’s a hazard in a house with a little kid.

Chisa tells Chiaki that Yurie is very mean to her, yelling at her all the time and hitting her. Chiaki doesn’t believe her for quite a while until she discovers all of the bruises on Chisa’s chest. She calls Hell Girl before Yurie can react to the accusations about the bruises. When she talks to her dad and Yurie about it, they claim she kept falling off of her tricycle, causing the bruises, and that maybe, at worst, Yurie overreacted when she told her to be more careful.

Chiaki decides to accept that story, because apparently she’d rather believe the word of this woman she literally met that same day instead of her own flesh and blood. (Her father only corroborates Yurie’s claim because that’s the story she told him.)

She leaves to go back to school, but suddenly gets a panicked phone call from her sister. Chiaki rushes home and finds Yurie slicing off Chisa’s hair. She decides to stop playing nice and just tell Chiaki that, yeah, she’s an abusive bitch who hates kids. The only reason she took this job to begin with was because their father has a good salary and a nice house, so she can eventually marry him and get his money.

Chiaki threatens to go to the cops, but Yurie says it wouldn’t matter anyway because they’d never believe them over her….Uhm…why? The kid is covered in bruises and has her hair lopped off. She’s clearly very scared and jumpy when touched, which are clear signs of abuse. And now she has an adult witness to back her up, one who just got sliced by the accused, but yet Yurie believes the cops would never believe them?

Because this is Hell Girl, where everyone’s over the top evil, Yurie lunges for Chiaki to stab her to death with the scissors which is, uh….yeah, how would you ever explain that away, darlin’? “Oh Chisa and Chiaki’s dad! Chiaki just came home for a surprise visit less than a day after she went back to school – and in the middle of the school day no less – and suddenly decided to run around with scissors. She tripped, fell and stabbed herself 18 times with the scissors! What a tragic accident!”

Chisa jumps in front of Chiaki as Yurie attacks, but Chiaki pulls the string and immediately sends Yurie to hell. The hell torture this time around is pretty creepy. She’s surrounded by a bunch of children seemingly soaked in blood and grabbing for her. Yurie doesn’t show a drop of regret, and Ai ferries her away to hell.

Meanwhile, Chiaki laments on failing to uphold her promise to her mother. She’ll never reunite with her in heaven now, but she doesn’t have any regrets because she saved Chisa’s life. Their dad reveals that, per Hell Girl magic, I guess, they found out that Yurie was accused of committing marriage fraud several times and abusing the husbands and children in those families, too. The cops are looking for her, but they can’t find her.

I have to believe this revelation is Hell Girl magic, because otherwise this is twice as depressing. They could have known the truth about her almost immediately and Chiaki wouldn’t have had to sacrifice herself.

Truth be told, this is one of those situations that seemed largely avoidable. She should have called the cops before she called Hell Girl. And I doubt she had enough vengeance in her heart to even contact her if she didn’t even really believe Chisa very much. Technically, it’s a good thing she did call Hell Girl then because otherwise she or Chisa may have died, but it also could have been avoided entirely if she called the cops.

Granted, yeah, the cops are very spotty when it comes to situations like this. I’m not even really certain which side their dad would be on, which in itself is kinda stupid. They’re not even dating or anything, and she’s been their housekeeper/babysitter all of a month, but it’s implied that their dad is willing to believe Yurie over Chisa and Chiaki on everything. Still, calling the police should at least have been a step. Hell Girl is typically a last resort type of deal.

Not saying this situation isn’t believable at its core, however. There many real circumstances similar to theirs, sadly.

Still, this was a good but fairly sad story. Like I said, you pretty much know what will happen the instant they throw in that flashback to the mom dying, but it still really sucks that Chiaki will never see her mom again in heaven.

Also, small note, this is finally the first time we fully see the client receiving the doll and pulling the string in the manga, so that’s pretty cool.

Chapter 8: Distorted Love

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Another chapter that was never reflected in the anime, this story is about a girl named Mei and her close friend, Tsukasa. For the past three years, Tsukasa has been hospitalized with a severe illness, but he still holds firm to his dreams of someday becoming a detective. Mei visits him every day and brings flowers to him sometimes, but she has recently started getting stalker-esque obsessive text messages.

She doesn’t tell Tsukasa about it in fear of making his condition worse, but the stalker’s behaviors are escalating. He’s broken into her room to steal her school albums, and someone in a rabbit costume (she loves rabbits) grabbed her and said threatening things to her.

Mei believes she hears someone call the guy in the costume Yuki, who was an old classmate that she spotted a little while ago. Thinking he must be the culprit and realizing the cops nor her mother will help her, she calls Hell Girl. Stopping myself for a minute there, it’s pretty unreasonable that her mother simply doesn’t believe her on any of this. She even said she was wrong about the intruder in her room when Mei specifically said stuff was stolen from her room. Why is her mother so flippant about this? Is it Terrible Parent day in Hell Girl world?

She’s kidnapped by the man in the bunny costume and knocked out. When she awakes, she’s in a beautiful dress. The stalker explains that he read in her album that she wanted to get married, so they’re going to do so today. Mei pulls the string on the doll, but, shockingly, nothing happens. When the stalker reveals his identity, it turns out it was actually the florist who was selling her flowers to give to Tsukasa for several months. His name is, coincidentally, Yukee.

So….did Yuki get sent to hell? She did pull the string, but they never reveal if she has a curse mark. Why did Ai allow this to happen? Isn’t she unable to provide a doll if the target isn’t ‘correct’?

Mei is terrified, but Yukee soon vanishes before her eyes. He has been sent to hell by none other than Tsukasa.

He had found out about the break-in from her mother, and he found out everything else on his own. Tsukasa did some investigating into Yukee, whom he found to be suspicious. She was always getting the stalker texts on Wednesday, and her room was broken into on a Wednesday, which is the Yukee’s day off. He had done this investigating the night before, working on the computer all night when he was told not to, which lead to him developing a bad fever.

When he called to talk to Yukee, he said he was doing a wedding ceremony. I assume Tsukasa knew Mei was missing somehow, so he called Hell Girl and pulled the string in the nick of time.

Believing his time left in the world of the living is very short, he was content with accepting his fate in hell soon. He had been able to save Mei’s life, and that’s all that mattered to him. Mei is, of course, devastated and proclaims tearfully that he’ll get better and be a detective like he always wanted. Either way, they’ll spend as much time as they can together before fate pulls them apart once more.

Even though there were a bunch of conveniences in the story to make the mystery and resolution work, I absolutely loved this story. The mystery was intriguing, and the scene where the string pull doesn’t work really throws you for a loop. You’re left seriously worried about Mei after that happens because string pulls always work in Hell Girl. The service is designed to not really be able to target the wrong person, so having the string pull not work and the reason being that Mei wrote the wrong name into the website was really shocking.

I’m still wondering whether Yuki was sent to hell or not. I’d think not, but I can’t be certain. Like I said, nothing like this has ever happened before and they never reveal if Mei has a curse mark. The only other circumstance I can think of that was kinda like this was in one of the first chapters where the client sends her tormentor to hell, but it’s revealed that the target wasn’t the only one doing the abuse, but that’s really not the same because Yuki was entirely innocent.

The relationship between Mei and Tsukasa was also beautifully sweet and tragic. They’re so great together, and it makes me so sad that their relationship will almost certainly end soon and badly. And they’ll never be reunited in the afterlife….

Chapter 9: Lost Cat

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Oh boy, an animal in a Hell Girl story? I can only imagine happy things happening.

This story focuses on a girl named Maki befriending a rather quiet and somewhat unfriendly girl named Juli after they bond over caring for a lost cat named Mikey. They become very good friends, but things all spiral downward when their substitute teacher, Takamine, enters their lives.

Takamine is one of the most ridiculously over-evil antagonists I’ve seen since the episode Bound Girl (And that one also included animal abuse….) The instant she sets foot in the classroom, the first thing she does is take a collection of paper cranes the class had made (and Maki had started) for their actual teacher who is on maternity leave and crumple them up. She claims that anything that isn’t schoolwork is a waste and will be destroyed.

Juli is enraged by this and grabs Takamine, which earns her a stint in the English room, which is apparently full of garbage. Takamine insults her hair before taking her there, and then drags her by the hair to the room. But that’s not all. Takamine also gives her heaps of work based on things their class hasn’t even covered yet and tells her she can’t go home until she’s done.

Maki helps her out with her work, but Takamine just keeps piling on Juli. She completely removes Juli from the class list, refuses to include her in roll call, and she has decided that she no longer gets a desk and will have to work in the closet from now on.

Meanwhile, the rest of the class isn’t getting away scot-free. They’re being given incredibly hard tests day after day and exhausting all of them.

Believe or not, we’re still not done. Maki spots Takamine trying to force feed Juli tuna eyeballs for lunch, and when she tries to tell the principal about it, he doesn’t believe her. Her friends also don’t want to get involved for fear of Takamine’s wrath. They tell Maki to do the same, but she refuses to abandon her friend.

Instead, she contacts Hell Girl and gets her doll, but she hesitates because of the price she’ll have to pay.

Things come to a head when Maki hears some girls talking about hearing meowing coming from a garbage bag Takamine was carrying to the river. They were worried, but too afraid of Takamine to do anything about it. Maki rushes to get Juli and they head to the river, seeing the garbage bag floating downstream – and indeed there are meowing sounds coming from it.

Juli jumps into the river to get Mikey, but they both vanish underwater. Juli ends up in critical condition as a result, and Mikey seems lost forever. Takamine has the balls to come to the hospital and mock Juli to Maki’s face, calling her an idiot for trying to save the cat and saying the cat was a piece of trash who needed to be thrown out because it was something that had nothing to do with schoolwork. She finishes off by saying if Juli dies because of it, it will be perfect because she was toxic trash too.

You see what I mean? This bitch is too ridiculously over-evil. I mean, good job in the realm of making me hate her guts, but she’s almost comically malicious.

Hearing those final words from Takamine, Maki angrily pulls the string. Takamine’s hell torture is pretty good. All of her personal items are destroyed by the hell team, their heads all turn into weird mutated tuna eyeballs and to top it all off they tie her up into a trash bag and throw her into the river Styx where she’s finally ferried…or floated…down to hell.

After that’s all said and done, Juli recovers and she and Maki enjoy class with a new substitute teacher who is much nicer, promising to always be friends forever.

But wait.

Could it be!?

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YAY MIKEY’S ALIVE!

I was really surprised that they chose to do this. They very rarely ever let the animal live in these stories, and I’m not even sure how he survived. It’s implied that Ai may have saved him because she was holding him while delivering the hell torture to Takamine, in which case you’re aces in my book, Ai.

All in all, I really loved the friendship development between Juli and Maki, and I truly appreciate that they let the cat live, but Takamine is just super-villain levels of evil. She doesn’t even try to hide that she’s doing all of this absolutely terrible shit, but the principal refuses to believe Maki when she tells him about the bullying just because grades are up? Come on. Can’t any authority figure be competent in this universe?

Chapter 10: Friends

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We’re back with another story that was somewhat mirrored in the anime in the episode of the same name. The names of the characters aren’t the same: Minami is Azusa here, and Shiori is Hitomi.

The circumstances of their friendship is also different. In the anime, they had only recently become best friends since Minami was a transfer student and Shiori had befriended her. In the manga, Hitomi and Azusa had been best friends since they were little. She used to protect her from boys who would pick on her, and as a result she became very clingy to Hitomi, though Hitomi didn’t seem to mind.

In the anime, Shiori just ditches Minami as a friend once she becomes friends with two other bitches, and for some reason they can’t allow her to also be their friend. In the manga, they go to a group date with a bunch of guys for karaoke. Azusa is very nervous around guys because they picked on her so much when she was little, but with Hitomi by her side she decides to go for it. She takes a liking to a particular boy, but decides to not pursue anything because Hitomi clearly liked him.

The next night, she gets a text from the guy that was seemingly asking them all out on a group date again, so Azusa accepts, but she finds out the next day that he was only asking Azusa out, which devastates Hitomi. She and her friends instantly vilify Azusa for what she did, not even trying to hear her out. Hitomi also blocks her number, so she can’t call or text. When she visits her house to talk about it, Hitomi flips and even accuses her of being a stalker.

The same thing happened in the anime, for the most part. Shiori’s new friends were telling her how stalker-y Minami was because she was texting Shiori once every half hour, and they even told the teacher so she’d get her to leave her alone.

When Minami approaches her in person, at school, Shiori accidentally falls over. Even though it was clearly an accident everyone blames Minami and acts as if she did it on purpose.

In the manga, things get even more heated. Using the photos they took earlier, Hitomi makes cards with Azusa’s number on them that basically amount to ‘for a good time, call…’ kind of cards. She sends them out to guys all over town, and Azusa starts getting messages and calls from weird guys. Some of the guys even approach her and try to get her to come with them.

Azusa recognizes the handwriting as Hitomi’s but calls the police to help find the perp and keep the creepers away from her house.

Unable to take any more, Azusa calls Hell Girl and gets the straw doll. The only difference between the anime and manga here is that Azusa is much less malicious than Minami. In the anime, Minami is so set on giving Shiori her just desserts that she expresses a desire to pull the string right in front of Shiori’s face. Azusa does no such thing.

She keeps the doll in her desk and leaves it one day. Hitomi starts having random wrist pains, so she heads to the nurse’s office. On her way back, she sees the doll in Azusa’s desk and believes it’s a voodoo doll with which Azusa used to give her wrist pain.

This is way more justifiable than in the anime, where Shiori just thinks it’s a voodoo doll for really no other reason than it’s a funny looking straw doll.

In both versions, Hitomi/Shiori takes the straw doll and nails it to a shrine post to curse Azusa/Minami, but obviously that doesn’t work.

Later, Azusa stays home from school due to a fever. I forget why, but the same happens in the anime.

While at school, in the anime, Shiori’s friends just randomly ditch her for a new third member. And, since it’s established that groups of four friends are forbidden by god or whatever the writing is doing to justify this, she now has no friends.

In the manga, her friends start turning on her when they hear of her sending out the cards. They also get concerned about being involved with her since they know Azusa called the cops for what Hitomi did. This is also much more justified of a turnaround for Hitomi/Shiori than the anime.

In both versions, they contact Azusa/Minami and try to make up, which Azusa/Minami eagerly accepts. However, Hitomi/Shiori pulls out the doll and suggests they curse their classmates with it, even explaining that she has needles with her to do the deed. Azusa/Minami explains that the doll doesn’t work like a voodoo doll and that she’s the only one who can use it. Hitomi/Shiori keeps pushing her to use it, even after Azusa/Minami explains that the doll sends both the target and the user to hell, not realizing that she’s the target and not caring about what happens to Azusa/Minami. She forces Azusa/Minami to pull the string and Hitomi/Shiori is sent to hell.

Azusa/Minami falls to the ground in despair in both versions, but what Ai says to her is drastically different. In the anime, as Minami says she didn’t want this, Ai says she indeed did want this, as evidenced when she said straight to Ai’s face that she wanted to pull the string in front of Shiori. She allowed herself to be consumed with hatred, and now she has to pay for it.

In the manga, Ai tells Azusa that her own weakness caused all of this. If she had just been stronger and not relied on Hitomi so much, none of this would have happened. Ai tells her to become stronger and make better friends, which she vows to do, even if she’s marked for hell.

In the end, the manga is SO much better than the anime’s story. The anime had a stupid reason for breaking the friends apart. Suddenly deciding that you want to be friends with two other girls and not including your other friend just ‘because’ didn’t make any sense to me then and it doesn’t now. Thinking your friend stole a guy you were clearly interested in…..is still kinda stupid just based on the fact that they only knew the guy for one night, but these are teenage girls, so shit happens.

It’s implied that Hitomi even purposely set all of this up to get Azusa to leave her alone because she was too clingy, and it that’s true then there are way better ways to do it than making everyone think she’s a creepy whore.

In the anime, they weren’t even friends that long anyway. She was her first and best friend at her new school, but they didn’t have the same history or dynamic as Azusa and Hitomi.

What Hitomi did to Azusa was also worse than what Shiori did to Minami. In both scenarios, she made many people at school not want to associate themselves with Azusa/Minami, but Hitomi went the extra mile to make people think Azusa was basically a call girl – even floating her photo and phone number around to skeevy guys. Azusa could have really gotten hurt if one of those guys got aggressive with her.

Finally, Azusa is objectively better than Minami. Azusa’s character flaw is in her weakness and codependency whereas Minami’s is that she suddenly let herself be consumed with an almost ridiculous level of hatred for someone who didn’t even do that much to her. I’ve had friends treat me way worse than that and I never felt a desire to not only send them to hell but basically mock them as I do it.

I don’t believe Azusa’s weakness is really the core cause of the blame here, but it’s a part of it. Many Hell Girl cases are created as a result of personal weakness. They want a relatively easy method of taking care of a problem in their life – one that can’t be traced back to them from a legal standpoint and doesn’t actually get blood on their hands. There’s still a hefty price, but, siding with Hajime for a bit, numerous instances of Hell Girl usage is fairly petty and could have been fixed without Hell Girl if the effort was put in.

If Azusa had just accepted that Hitomi was an unreasonable bitch that wasn’t worth being friends with, she could have just laid low for a while, stopped contacting Hitomi, let Hitomi move on, especially if her goal was just to get Azusa to go away, and then eventually go make friends with other people. The others won’t be hungup on the betrayal crap forever, especially since it was a dude she liked for all of a few hours. Azusa didn’t even do anything with the guy. She just accepted his offer. Teenagers get past this shit real quick.

Likewise, if she hadn’t been chewing at the bit to accept Hitomi’s apology despite the shitty things she did to her, then Hitomi wouldn’t have been able to force her to use the doll. Hitomi probably would have just tried to use the doll herself, nothing would have happened and that would have been the end of it.

It makes a little more sense for her to do this in the anime because Shiori didn’t do something like herd a bunch of perverts to Minami’s location acting as if she was a slut.

The absolute ending was also much more hopeful than the anime’s. In the anime, the only ‘bright’ spot is Minami looking forward to seeing Shiori again in hell. In the manga, she decides that she wants to be stronger and seek out better friends than people like Hitomi. She may still be destined for hell, but at least she’s more determined to live a better life as a stronger person who surrounds herself with good people for as long as she can.

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And that was volume two! Definitely heaping loads of improvement from volume one, and they’re certainly getting better at communication between the anime showrunners and the manga author for important elements of the Hell Girl universe, like the straw doll and a bit more implementation of the hell team as actual characters. Not everything is meshing between versions in that regard, but it’s gotten a lot better. At least we’re finally past her phase of needing the person to be on the verge of committing suicide or murder before she finally shows up to help the client.

The start of the next volume notes that it was released right when season two of the anime was debuting, so that’s pretty cool. She also mentions she’ll be putting more of the hell team in the stories, which is great. Not sure if the author intends on including Hajime and Tsugumi or Ai’s backstory, but time will tell I suppose.


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