Animating Halloween – Hell Girl: Three Vessels Episode 1 – The Girl Who Was Taken

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Plot: Yuzuki Mikage is dragged into Hell Girl’s world when Ai suddenly reappears and establishes a link with the girl. Why is Ai back in the land of the living? Why is she Hell Girl again? And why does she have a strange interest in this girl?

Breakdown: Welcome one and all back to Animating Halloween! Like I mentioned in my update post last week, we don’t have any Yami Shibai to cover this year, but we do have good ol’ Hell Girl….Three Vessels...Because we needed a season three….for some reason.

When I talked about season two, I mentioned that I was so disappointed with them messing up the finale to the series by even making a season three that I didn’t even really bother watching too much of Three Vessels back when it first aired, but I’m certainly over it enough now to watch this series with a fresh pair of eyes.

This season is all about finding and training Ai’s replacement several years after she passed on. Why does she need to find and train a replacement? Why doesn’t the master of hell do it himself? Why did it take several years for this to happen? DUNNO! Shut up and watch the show.

All of the hell team has been off living human lives. Hone Onna, who has become a bartender, is called back by Ai herself, Wanyuudou, who seems to be a construction worker now, is called back by Kikuri, and Ren, who has become a janitor, is called back by a new member of the hell team named Yamawaro, whose very first appearance is showing up butt-ass naked to Ren in a bath. They even make it a point to show the one little plastic fish thing he’s using to cover his junk floating away…..He takes the form of a young boy, by the way.

Just to get him out the way entirely because, from all I’ve read, he doesn’t seem to impact the plot much. He is…a living pile of mushrooms?…..Uhm…Okay. His straw doll form is yellow. He does have a backstory that we’ll explore when we get there, but other than including a new character for the sake of mixing things up a little, Yamawaro seems to have no purpose – like Kikuri – which makes sense because his role is being Kikuri’s assistant. What does she need assisting with? Damned if I know, but if he helps keep her out of my sight, it’s all the better.

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Speaking of Kikuri, she somehow lost her human body, so she has taken up residence in a wind-up doll that looks exactly like her old body anyway so what the fuck is the point of this? Yamawaro has to wind her via a key on her back sometimes in order to ensure she can move, which is stupid because she’s a spirit possessing a doll. If she has the spiritual power to make a toy look identical to her old body, she should have the power to self-wind the key or move the doll without winding…

Onto the story at hand, our main character of the series will be a girl named Yuzuki. She has two friends, Akie and Itsuko. Itsuko wants to get their teacher, Mr. Tange, fired because he’s so strict and uptight. Supposedly, three people have already dropped out of high school because of him, but he doesn’t seem nearly strict enough to warrant that. (She even says she wants to sue him. What the hell is this kid smoking?)

Akie’s dad knows the principal, so Itsuko wants her to talk to him about getting Tange fired. Yuzuki is very unsure about this plan, though. As she’s taking a bath, we get a very overly erotic scene with Ai in her bathtub. A naked Ai hugs a naked Yuzuki, she leans down to her crotch level and then she drags her into the water and kisses her. I guess the kiss was meant to be like a transfer of power or energy because, after this, she’s allowed to be possessed by Ai….but why did all of that need to happen? Both of these characters are, physically, like 13 or 14 years old. This coupled with the Yamawaro stuff earlier…what is going on?

Yuzuki believes she was dreaming, but after she stands up we see a bright blue butterfly symbol on her back.

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Now….I don’t know why Yuzuki was chosen to be the new Hell Girl. She’s a very kind girl who hasn’t done anything bad, like Ai did – at least as far as I know. She’s not even onboard with this ‘get the teacher fired’ plan. If anything, shouldn’t Itsuko be the one chosen? This is her plan. She’s the one who’s vengeful. I mean, honestly, none of these girls seem like suitable replacements for Ai, but you do, anime.

I will admit that they give her rather striking blue eyes, which is a feature of Ai (though hers are red) and Kikuri (purple) but they’re not THAT striking. Maybe when she actually takes up the mantle, the color will get stronger.

Akie delivers the bad news that her father’s also not onboard with this plan. They don’t have any evidence, and he’s not going to help get a seemingly innocent man fired just because he’s strict. Akie runs off, but Itsuko ropes Yuzuki into helping her fabricate evidence to get him fired.

That night, they send a message to Tange telling him to meet them at a skeevy hotel. They plan on getting photo evidence of her embracing Tange at the hotel and showing it to the principal, though Yuzuki is still extremely uncomfortable with this.

As Itsuko’s approached by a man, she embraces him, but is shocked to find that it’s her father. Her mother also emerges. They’re shocked and appalled to find her in a shady part of town late at night. Tange told them about where she was and what she was doing.

Enraged, she later goes on Hell Link to get revenge on Tange…..Wait, if it’s been years since Ai passed on (Tsugumi is supposedly an adult in this season) and there has been no replacement Hell Girl this whole time….why is she trying Hell Link?

Anyway, we all know the song and dance at this point. Here’s your doll, untie the string to send the target to hell, but if you do, you’ll be marked for hell when you naturally die too.

Itsuko doesn’t like the arrangement and throws Wamawaro (doll form) on the floor. Meanwhile, Yuzuki sees this meeting in her dreams and Ai shows up to tell her she’s inside of her……

The next day, Itsuko acts like a total bitch in class. She ignores the teacher and listens to her MP3 player during a lesson. He yanks out her earbuds, which accidentally causes her MP3 player to fall on the floor. She tells him to pick it up, and if it’s damaged she’ll force him to pay for it. He does indeed pick it up, but immediately puts it in his pocket without a word, instead jotting down another note about her behavior in his notepad.

Itsuko leaves the classroom in a huff. When the school day is let out, Yuzuki spots Itsuko searching frantically for her MP3 player. Tange reveals that he threw it away.

He continues to jot down more stuff in his notepad, and Itsuko is now shaking with rage. She accuses him of bullying her and brings up that he caused three students to become unemployed…which…I think is probably a mistranslation, but maybe she means he forced them to drop out and high school dropouts can’t get employed very easily?

Unwilling to deal with him or the threat of becoming ‘unemployed’ anymore, she pulls the string.

Upon the string pull, Yuzuki is stopped in her tracks and transported to a strange world where the blue butterfly marks on her back grow into a cocoon which births Ai….Yeah okay. Ai has a brand new kimono with cool fans and paper balloons floating through it. Neat.

The hell torture this time around is……Mind-blowingly stupid. I used to think the hell torture with the frosting people and the cake-man was their biggest moment of idiocy, but….what the hell is even this? Tange is in a room and everything’s number-themed. He’s wrapped up by Ren, who is taking the form of a number 2 merged with an elephant. Hone Onna has a flipped 3 on her boobs….

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What? Was 80085 not available?

But…Then Ai comes in.

She’s dressed as a green bee and stings Ren to ‘pop’ him, sending Tange flying off…..

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I don’t even understand this in context. What the hell is going on?

Ai finally brings Tange to the ferry, and she then asks him to recite Pi to…I dunno, I guess infinite places.

Back in the real world, Yuzuki wakes up back in school and finally finds Itsuko. Akie shows up. She returns Itsuko’s MP3 player to her and tells her Tange asked her to give it back – warning that he’ll throw it away if he sees it in class again. The wind blows the notebook open and reveals that he was just doodling in it this whole time – no students names or notes about them at all. He only pretended to be a hardass for the sake of trying to keep his students serious in class.

Narration from Yuzuki explains that Itsuko transferred schools the very next day.

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This was not a very good starting point for the third season. They don’t even actually explain why Ai returned in this episode. I only knew because I read the synopsis for the season.

And what of what we get of our Hell Girl in training? Don’t understand at all why she’s been chosen for this yet. If the case at hand was meant to create a good framework for it, they sure did a shitty job because, wow, that case was one of the worst I’ve seen.

Itsuko is just a whiny bitch. She acts up in class, her teacher jots down notes about her and her friends – they don’t get actual punishment, he just jots down notes that may or may not go in her permanent record – and that’s enough to want to get him fired or SUED. Then she tries to trap him in a scandal that could not only get him fired but could also ruin his career as a teacher and maybe even get him in legal trouble, but when he does the smallest thing of just alerting her parents to what she’s doing, she blames HIM for it. She listens to her MP3 player in class, ignores him by turning it up, gets pissy about it when he takes it from her, then threatens to force him to pay for it if it breaks. Admittedly, saying it got trashed was going a bit far, but he didn’t actually do it.

And for that, just for that, she sends him to hell and damns herself to hell.

Even without the ‘he was a good guy all along’ revelation in the end, which is predictable after a point, Itsuko comes off looking way worse than Tange. She’s a complete spoiled bitch. She goes on about not wanting to be unemployed, but how’s this brat going to handle it when she gets some slight hardass boss? If she just kept her head down and didn’t cause trouble all the time, she wouldn’t have anything to worry about in regards to anything going in her permanent record.

No one else was complaining about Tange, and I have no clue where she heard the rumors of three people dropping out because of Tange. She’s a complete idiot. Not even her friends supported her during this crusade. The only reason they got involved at all is because Itsuko was pushy.

And don’t even get me started on that stupid hell torture. I mean, I’m glad it wasn’t worse because the guy was innocent, but still. What were they thinking?

If this is what I have to gauge the rest of the season on, I’m not looking forward to the next 25 episodes, but I’ll give it a fair shot. Let’s see where the story goes from here.

Rating: 2/10

Next episode….


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