Animating Halloween: Hell Girl – Three Vessels Episode 4: Elder Brother Review

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Plot: Yuzuki’s classmate, Yukawa, is constantly beaten and bullied by a group of three terrible boys. He resigns himself to this fate, however, because it’s been like this since he was a little boy. He finally finds self-confidence and strength when a man named Nishida protects him from the boys one day. The two become very close very quickly, but…is that enough?

Breakdown: It’s a very weird day when I realize Hell Girl has addressed an incestuous relationship before a homosexual one.

Anyway, this episode is complete shit….

It honestly was pretty good for most of it, but the ending was just horrible.

Yukawa gets bullied every day by a trio of assholes. And by ‘bullied’ I mean they take huge sums of money from him, treat him as a servant and beat the hell out of him on a regular basis. One day, they tie him up to a tree naked in the middle of winter and pelt him with snowballs. They’re about to chuck a snowball that has a rock inside of it at his head, but the snow/rockball is swatted away by a mysterious kendo fighter named Nishida. He manages to fight off the bullies and save Yukawa.

Nishida reveals that he’s an aspiring prosecutor in law school because he wants to bring justice to the world. Yukawa admires him for his strength, and they become friends. The two bond very quickly, and it’s soon apparent that they like each other romantically. One scene even heavily implies that they either kissed or made out in a field. Honestly, this would make for a decent shounen-ai/yaoi series setup. It probably already is, now that I think about it.

Anyway, because of Nishida’s influence, Yukawa becomes much more self-confident. He gets involved with kendo, he changes up his look and he confronts his bullies with no problem. Everything seems to be going just fine for him….But this is Hell Girl, so it can’t be fine.

And it’s not.

It’s also insanely stupid.

It’s like they started writing a romance story for a bit but then was like ‘Oh shit, I’m writing Hell Girl! Quick! Rush something Hell Girl-ish together for the ending!’

Nishida and Yukawa are on a bus ride together when a man accidentally angers a lunatic with a big knife because he bumped into him and started to yell at him. The man uses the knife to slice off all of the other man’s hair, but that’s not good enough. He stops the bus, and drags him off while implying that he’s going to slit his throat.

Yukawa nearly gets up to confront him during this, but sits back down, intimidated by the man. Hoping big strong Nishida will save him, he’s shocked to find Nishida obviously incredibly angry, but also restraining himself from doing anything. After the men get off and the guy supposedly dies off screen, Nishida apologizes to Yukawa for being unable to do anything and says he understands if he views him as weak now – he just didn’t want to do anything so dangerous while he was on the bus since Yukawa might’ve gotten hurt.

As they separate at the crossroads, Yukawa quietly tells Nishida goodbye with a smile on his face. Later, we see him getting his doll and he pulls the string, sending Nishida to hell. Nishida pleads for his life while being forced to constantly bang a taiko, proclaiming that all he wants to do is finish law school and help fight for justice. He’s ferried away anyway, like always, and he realizes that he’s being sent to hell for not helping the man. He yells out how unfair it is that he’s the only one being punished when everyone on the bus chose to do nothing. Yeah, he has a point. Or, more to the point, why is the psycho not being hunted down and sent to hell?

Back with Yukawa, he’s lost his self-confidence, is getting bullied on the reg, quit kendo and is back to the way he started. The school nurse, who had been concerned about him being bullied this whole time, asks him why he reverted back to allowing himself to being bullied and quitting kendo. He responds that even if he changes a little, it won’t change society…..

Yes.

That is it.

He sent Nishida to hell because he wasn’t hero enough for him.

He sent a really great guy to hell because he wouldn’t charge at a PSYCHOPATH WIELDING A LARGE KNIFE WHILE HE’S UNARMED.

He sent a guy he seemingly loved to hell because he was trying to protect him and not the other guy.

He never sent his bullies or even a bully to hell because reasons, but this damn near perfect man – handsome, kind, educated, brave, loving etc. he sent down the river Styx because even if you’re great and brave and you live a good life with good people, who cares because shitty people still exist?

You’re more content living your life as a target for assholes and being a pathetic sack of fecal matter than at least striving to do what you can for the world at Nishida’s side?

Even if Yukawa was just morbidly depressed and wanted to give up on becoming strong because ‘why bother?’ why send Nishida to hell?

Fuck you, Yukawa. Fuck. You. Fuck your stupid ‘Haha, I see the world for what it really is now’ smile in the end, too. I’ve never been so floored by an episode of Hell Girl. That was just fathoms of stupid. It was light years of stupid. It was god-tier stupid.

Oh, and Yukari’s role in the episode? She’s just there again. Even less than usual. She literally just sees Yukawa in passing a few times and once the nurse asks her about him for some reason. They’re not friends. They never even talk. Absolutely pointless for her to be here.

It’s such a shame because this episode had so much potential, but they just farted it away in a pool of stupid.

Oh and as a bonus stupid, the bus suddenly stopped (causing the psycho to bump into the dude) because Kikuri rolled out into the middle of the street and needed to be wound. Some random dude wound her key….because that’s normal right? And then Kikuri leaves….So…stupid.

Rating: .5/10

Next episode

Previously

Late Stage Edit: I just realized I referred to Yuzuki as Yukari on accident in this episode, but I’m not going to fix it because it just highlights what a forgettable and benign character she is.


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Animating Halloween: The Addams Family (2019) Review

Rating: 7.5/10

Plot: They’re creepy and they’re kooky, mysterious and spooky, they’re altogether ooky – The Addams Family! *snap snap*

Breakdown: The Addams’ Family has always been a well-respected and awesome franchise. I used to love watching the old TV show, and I am fan of the movies that came out in the 90s. They’re a very cool and creepy family who were never ashamed of who they were. They embraced their creepiness and owned it, and we loved them for it. So when I first saw the trailer for an animated movie, I was actually looking forward to it. The trailer looked fairly promising, and what better time to check out an Addams’ Family reboot than for Animating Halloween?

They definitely went into this movie having a lot of respect for the franchise. While they obviously modernize things and add some stuff, especially considering the freedom that animation provides them, they make a lot of references to the original series, even including the always beloved theme song in the trailers and the movie itself a few times, and they keep pretty much everything in line with what it has always been.

Gomez and Morticia Addams are dreadfully in love, but their family has always been hated and feared by others because of their dark and grotesque manner of living. They adore all things dreary, dirty, horrifying and gruesome, and they have supernatural friends and abilities, to a degree. They’re always playfully doing risky and harmful things in their trap-ridden haunted mansion, but underneath all of the death and destruction, there lies a family that is just as close and loving, if not moreso, than your average family.

In this movie, Gomez and Morticia are driven away again, during their wedding no less, by an angry mob. Morticia wishes for a normal life for her future children. They run over their future butler, Lurch, who is a runaway from the nearby abandoned asylum, and adopt the creepy haunted asylum as home sweet home.

Thirteen years later, Gomez and Morticia have two young children – the oldest, Wednesday, and the youngest, Pugsley. They’ve all been confined to the foggy mansion ever since they arrived because their parents were worried about their safety, so their lives are shaken when the fog lifts and reveals a nearby brightly colored, pristine perfect-person town called Assimilation, where, as you would probably guess, everyone is the same pearl-clutching bland ‘normal’ person who puts on fake smiles and goes overboard being positive and ‘accepting’ when they’re really anything but.

They go just a tiny bit too far with the depiction of these people. I get that it’s supposed to be a parody of those squeaky clean white collar neighborhoods full of stuck up snobs, but it’s a little too blatant. For instance, there’s some pep squad team thing and they sing a song that sounds like a cult that’s not even trying. “What’s so great about being yourself when you can be like everyone else? It’s easy to be happy when you have no choice.”

Enter the giant-bouncy-haired plastic-faced Margaux, who literally created the town of Assimilation. She hosts a home remodeling show, and her biggest project was fixing up an entire town and filling it with happy homeowners. When the Addams’ creepy mansion on the hill is revealed through the lifting fog, she tries to turn their house into another one of the clean, bright and sparkly houses in Assimilation because no one will want to move or stay in the town with a scary house visible in the distance. The Addams’ gladly accept her offer, but are forced to ultimately decline because they have the entire family coming over in the next two weeks and don’t have the time for her remodeling.

Margaux is not as she seems on the surface, however. She secretly installed cameras in all of the remodeled houses of Assimilation, and she frequently pretends to be other people on her neighborhood community app, Neighborhood Peeps, to spread harmful rumors about others so they’ll fall in line or the others in town will force them to leave.

Wednesday, however, is intrigued by the town and the normal people since she has never been outside of the mansion’s grounds. She soon attends the local school and befriends Parker, the daughter of Margaux. She’s a social media obsessed girl who wants her mother’s attention, but also resents that she forces her into the happy peppy pastel coated world her mother has fabricated. She finds Wednesday weird and frightening at first, but comes to respect and like her when she stands up against her bully.

Wednesday slowly starts adopting more colorful clothing styles and branches out more into the ‘normal’ world, while Parker gains the confidence to wear goth/punk styled clothing to rebel against her mother. In Wednesday’s situation, it’s kinda confusing. She expresses that she’s actually disappointed her mother was accepting of her new colorful look, but when she becomes more unaccepting of it, Wednesday runs away to live with Parker. She does treasure her freedom, so maybe she just disliked her mother controlling her more than she liked her anger.

It’s also kinda weird on Morticia’s end. She was the one concerned about her children living a safe and (ab)normal life, but when Wednesday is starting to be accepted by the outside world, she resists against it firmly. I get that a good part of it is Wednesday starting to pull away from her as well, but much of it is reacting to the stuff she’s doing.

When Wednesday goes to Parker’s house, they accidentally find Margaux’s weird lair, much to Parker’s surprise and disgust. Margaux catches them and locks them in the attic so they won’t mess up her plans to drive the Addams out of town so she can destroy their house.

Meanwhile, in plot B, Gomez is trying to prepare Pugsley for his Mazurka, which, in this case, is a very long and complicated dance with a saber that every Addams boy must complete in order to gain the respect of the family and formerly enter manhood. Above all else, though, it’s symbolic of the boy’s ability and drive to protect the family from anyone who would harm them.

Pugsley isn’t doing well with his practice. He’s more of a demolitions kid than a swordfighter, but this Mazurka is a big event. The family is gathering for the first time in thirteen years to see it, and Gomez, an avid swordfighter, put on one of the best Mazurka performances in the family. Puglsey tries his best, but he simply can’t get it down, much to Gomez’s disappointment.

You really feel bad for Pugsley because, even though he doesn’t much care about the Mazurka, he’s still trying his best and working hard to make his dad proud, and it’s just not working out.

The two plots collide when the extended Addams family finally arrives in town for the Mazurka, right as Margaux’s TV show is filming its season finale. Margaux has already planted the seeds in Assimilation to rally the townsfolk against them all, and once the family arrives, they become an all-out angry mob lead by Margaux.

And, ya know, much in same vein as how Arnold’s Halloween tends to get under my skin a little because of how believable it is for a group of idiots to nearly hurt or murder a bunch of kids because they believe they’re aliens, even if these townspeople are overly done, it’s also not outside of the realm of possibility for a town of bubbled up posers to be stirred into an angry mob, even in modern times, and actually attack a family to drive them out based on rumors and being afraid of others for being different. Especially in New Jersey.

Granted, yeah, the Addams family do cause actual harm to others sometimes, though typically not on screen, but they didn’t do anything to the townsfolk besides be weird. In fact, many of them were quite kind and polite to them.

Parker and Wednesday see what she’s about to do from the window, so Wednesday breaks them out of the room to go save her family.

Pugsley, predictably, does poorly in his Mazurka. He apologizes to Gomez for letting him down, but Gomez apologizes for not supporting him and letting him be himself. Just as the Mazurka finishes, Margaux and the townsfolk start slinging boulders through the mansion with a catapult. Gomez asks Pugsley to remember the true meaning of the Mazurka – protecting the family. Gomez hands him one of his bombs and tells Pugsley to go out and do what he does best.

Pugsley does indeed get to strut his stuff with his precious bombs, fighting off the slue of boulders being flung through the walls and protecting the family, but eventually he runs out of bombs before they run out of boulders and it seems like it’s the end of the Addams’ family. In the nick of time, however, Wednesday shows up and uses Icabod, the living tree, to save everyone from the collapsing house. Morticia and Wednesday reunite and make up.

Thing happens to have one bomb up his slee–….Uhm….Anyway, Thing throws the bomb to Pugsley, he blows up the catapult and finishes his own brand of Mazurka.

In a rather sad scene, Gomez reiterates something Morticia said earlier – people can be cruel. As the townsfolk see the Addams’ are just people like them – people that they’ve frightened, attacked and nearly murdered – the citizens realize that THEY were the real monsters all along. Dun dun dunnnn.

Margaux, however, doesn’t see it that way, even after Parker sides with the Addamses. She is completely adamant in destroying their house and making Assimilation and her season finale perfect no matter what. She tries to get the townsfolk back to what they were doing, but Wednesday reveals to them all of Margaux’s hidden cameras in the houses of Assimilation. Even after being ousted, Margaux still doesn’t care about what the townsfolk think. They’re just extras in her show to her, and she won’t let even them come against her.

Parker reveals that none of this matters anyway because she’s been streaming her mother’s tirade since the start. Millions of people have been watching the real Margaux Needler, and it’s caused such a backlash online that her show was immediately canceled. However, she still has a bunch of houses she needs to sell. In comes Fester with his pitch to sell the rest of the houses to the Addams family so they can all live nearby each other.

The townsfolk all offer to help fix up the Addams’ house, melding their ‘normal’ style with the rough gothic chic of the Addams (Although, this gets reverted back to the full dark, dank motif after the spirit haunting the place returns after fleeing from the attack.) Fester not only teams up with Margaux to make a realty company, but he also starts dating her…..which…I found to really unrealistic. I mean, I guess he does love her for the monster she is, but why she would love him back I do not know. Margaux did not have a redemption arc at all. She was horrible from start to finish…and not in the fun way. I’m not sure I like that she was given a happy-ish ending after all that.

Back at the mansion, the family honors Pugsley’s Mazurka and officially commemorates him as a true Addams.

Cousin Itt takes their family picture, and the movie ends with a pretty cool remake of the original 1964 opening theme song sequence of the TV show. I actually checked and did a side by side comparison. They did the entire sequence shot by shot exactly, they even mimicked slight body language like Morticia’s little smile on her second snap and Gomez’s deep breath and side smirk. That was really cool of them.

However….it is kinda ruined when the credits come in and it’s a colorfully animated sequence with a hip hop song behind it….I have nothing against the song itself, it’s actually pretty good if you ask me, but it doesn’t belong in an Addams Family movie…

Overall, it’s a pretty good movie on its own and a much better sendup to an old franchise than a LOT of other reboots and remakes. I found myself laughing several times and smiling through a good chunk of the movie.

There were some bothersome intrusions like I still find it kinda hard to get used to all the modern updates in reboots like this. For instance, the townsfolk were holding up their phones with an app running that showed a torch instead of them actually using torches. I also got very thrown off when they had a segment where Lurch suddenly sings ‘Everybody Hurts’ by REM in a far higher tone than his normal voice as they had a montage of Morticia, Wednesday, Gomez and Pugsley all dealing with their problems in the midway point. What the hell even was that?

There was also another hip-hop song that played when Cousin Itt arrived. He pulled up in a limo and had fancy shoes and a pimp cane and it was playing him up so much. I get it. Cousin Itt is a beloved character and he hadn’t been in most of the movie, so why not make his entrance grandiose? Still, it felt a bit weird. You know what’s also weird? Snoop Dog ‘voices’ Cousin Itt…..Yeah…I…don’t know why either.

The absolute ending was a bit rushed, in my opinion. Like I already said, Margaux’s redemption was not earned in the slightest, not to mention that she suddenly started accepting these ‘freaks’ just because she was able to sell houses to them. The reunion and make up scene between Morticia and Wednesday just kinda fizzled. And they somehow managed to not properly wrap up an ending to a particularly important character.

Anyone notice that I explained the entire ending without mentioning Parker? What the hell happened to her? I had to rewatch the ending to see if she was even shown. She was. She was filming Pugsley’s final ceremony, but she wasn’t even centered in the shot – it was focused on Wednesday giving an approving nod to her brother. Did she make up with her mom? I doubt it. They never show them interacting after Parker literally destroyed her mother’s career. Where does Parker go from here? Is she going to go live with her dad (her parents are divorced), is she going to stay with the Addamses or what? What was the conclusion to her character arc anyway?

Is The Addams Family perfect? No. But given the absolute trash that we’ve had to wade through in regards to reboots and remakes over the past couple of decades, I know for a fact that they could’ve done so, so, so much worse.

They respected the franchise very well, they kept nearly every facet of the original series, though some information was more taken from the ‘90s movies, they added their own spin on it without being too bothersome with the updates and changes, and they managed to do all of that while still being pretty clever, funny, endearing and likable. They even made me give a crap about Pugsley, and I honestly never cared about him in any incarnation.

The art and animation are very stylized, and it works quite well with the Addams Family motif. And the music, while having some questionable tracks, is still really good. The voice acting was also done well. Allison Janney owned her role as Margaux. I think this would be a really good watch, especially around Halloween, for fans of the franchise and for newcomers.

Recommended Audience: This is obviously a bit dark, being The Addams Family, but there was no point where I’d ever consider shielding a child’s eyes from it. The point where I got the most weirded out was when Morticia used the ashes of her parents as eye shadow and blush. That’s about it. 7+

Final Notes: A sequel is being released on Halloween 2021. I’m looking forward to it, and will probably review it, whether for Animating Halloween or otherwise.

Screenshots Courtesy of cap-that.com.


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