Animating Halloween | Hell Girl: Three Vessels Episode 7 – Liar Review

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Plot: The new kid in town, Atsushi, seems like a great guy. He’s good at sports, the girls love him and he’s even spending his free time taking care of his ailing mother. However, his friend Washizu discovers that he’s living in a world of lies constructed by his mother.

Breakdown: This episode is a bit tricky, and the ending might make it seem like it’s stupid, but I really think it’s the best episode of the season so far.

Atsushi is in a scarily realistic abuse scenario. He tells people that his father is very successful and is working a lot out in the city, so he’s never really home much. His mother is very sick, and he has to immediately leave his friends after school to shop for dinner and care for her.

However, the reality is that he was told to say those things by his mother. The true story is that his father abandoned them (???? It’s not entirely clear what happened to him, but the strongest implication is that he left them.) and his mother is a terribly abusive lazy bitch. All she does the entire day is watch TV and munch on junk food. His mother told him to lie about their situation to avoid people gossiping about them or thinking she’s a terrible mother. She demands that Atsushi immediately come home after school and do everything around the house for her. She doesn’t work, she doesn’t try to make money or clean or anything, she can’t even pay rent. She just tells Atsushi to weasel rent money from their grandfather.

If he doesn’t follow her orders to a tee, she beats him and guilt trips him by claiming he’s betraying her just like his father. Then she cries and whines and tells him he’s all she has left, which is some crazy accurate abuse. Yell at the victim for doing no wrong, beat them then make THEM feel bad about the situation by playing the victim and crying and then trap them into staying by making them think you need them. It is really scary how accurately they portrayed that.

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Washizu becomes quick friends with Atsushi, but becomes worried about him when he starts suspecting that he’s lying about his situation. His suspicions are confirmed when Atsushi tells him the truth, but when Washizu starts suggesting they tell their teacher and friends about it, he reneges and tells him to forget everything he said.

Here’s where things start getting tricky. Despite Washizu claiming he hasn’t told a soul about Atsushi’s situation, rumors start spreading around school and the neighborhood, which makes Atsushi’s mom upset. She eventually starts going out on the town, to put it lightly, while acting like she’s allow to, even under the lie, because sick people can’t be expected to sit at home all day. Her night time activities make the rumors even worse, obviously.

Washizu tries again to convince Atsushi to tell their teacher and friends the truth. Look, I get his motives, I do, but what is telling the truth going to do? What is his teacher supposed to do? All it’s going to do is get him beaten, people whispering incessantly and he’ll be pitied. I doubt they’d be able to get him removed from the home or anything. He’s nearly an adult, and his mother never seems to leave visible marks on him.

During the conversation, Washizu discovers that Atsushi has a straw doll. Knowing the rumors about Hell Girl, he tries to convince him to not use the doll and to just tell the truth. It’s not so much about not killing his mother, oddly, but moreso because he knows of the price of using Hell Girl’s services and he doesn’t want Atsushi to damn his soul for someone like his mother.

Atsushi demands he leave the house and stay out of his business, so Washizu decides to get further proof that Atsushi’s mother is such a horrible person that she’s not worth going to hell for.

I kinda get his view, but it’s also totally backwards from what Hell Girl is all about. Typically, if you find out your target is a worse person than you initially thought, it just makes you more determined to pull the string. Most people don’t want to pull the string on targets who are good people.

One night, Washizu brings Atsushi out to a seedy part of town where his mother has supposedly been sleeping around. They spot her walking out of a bar with a random guy and putting her mouth all over his mouth. He’s apprehensive, however, because he’s heard rumors that she has a kid. Atsushi’s mother brushes it off and says she has no child and they continue about their barhopping.

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Content that he’s finally convinced Atsushi of what a terrible person his mother is and how he should just stop lying for her, Washizu is shocked to see him pull out the doll and pull the string in a fit of rage.

Stopping myself right there, let me back up. Again, remember Washizu is the only one who could’ve started those rumors. Weird, right? What does he gain out of starting the rumors? Nothing, really, besides sewing the seeds for Atsushi to be honest since, why bother continuing to lie when everyone is already starting to believe the rumor?

That’s not all that’s weird. He’s seemingly kinda manipulative. In the first conversation he had with Atsushi about his home life, Washizu put all of the blame on his mother. In the second conversation, after he discovered the straw doll, he started also blaming Atsushi seemingly to make him…feel better? He legitimately said “I mean, you have some fault too. Since you listened to her and lied. If I were you, I wouldn’t have.” I nearly had to pause, because I hate these types of people who say shit like this. Hypothetical bullshit based on nothing.

If you’ve never been in someone’s situation before, don’t act like you’re better than them and would never do the supposedly shameful or bad thing they’re doing. All it does is make you look like a self-righteous jerk who can’t actually sympathize.

Finally, when Washizu showed Atsushi the scene at the bar, he had a weird smirk on his face. Why? I don’t know. He even laughed when he told Atsushi “Got it? She’s that kind of person.” Atsushi literally just heard his mother verbally disown him in order to have a better chance at getting laid, and he’s laughing like it’s some victorious moment.
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So, anyway, Washizu was the target.

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Yeah, I was surprised too, but not as much as you’d think I was. Throughout the first half of the episode, I was pretty convinced it was the mother. However, when they were having the second conversation, I actually gasped because the way Washizu was talking and the fact that they weren’t discussing how the rumors got started made me realize that Washizu was likely to be the target. I wasn’t too sure about it, but I was convinced enough to not really be all that surprised when he showed up in the hell torture.

The hell torture this time around actually isn’t goofy for a change. Washizu is hanging over a bottomless pit, hanging on by a branch. The hell team are all collected above. Washizu yells at them to help him, but despite saying they’ll get him help they just stand there telling him to hang on. After a bit, they lecture him on staying out of other people’s business, claiming he just wanted praise and wasn’t actually taking Atsushi’s feelings into consideration and just caused more and more problems for him.

It’s implied that he’s a hypocrite because he yells to them that they’re acting all nice when they’re just enjoying his pain even though he might have been doing the same thing to Atsushi (See: The weird shadowy smirk) Also, like the hell team are doing here, pretending like he’s trying to help but is actually not doing anything to help.

When you view the situation from this angle, the suggestion of telling the teacher and the other students makes more sense. Like I said, realistically, doing that wouldn’t really help him at all – it would just piss his mother off and make him a pity case for everyone else. Case and point, just the rumor going around of the truth made his life miserable and pissed his mother off.

One can definitely argue that his mother deserved that familiar ferry ride way more than Washizu, in fact Atsushi visited the website before Washizu did anything, but the way I figure it his life was manageably miserable before Washizu butted his nose in. After that, everything just got worse and worse. No one was harassing him or anything, but people were gossiping all around him and people were avoiding him.

I feel like a part of Washizu did have Atsushi’s best interests in mind, but he either went about it horribly or really was just in it for his own pleasure, ultimately. It’s honestly hard to tell. There was one moment where he was alone and thinking to himself that he had to help Atsushi, so I think he was at least partially genuine, but it’s unclear.

You ever hear of that philosophy that no one ever does anything completely selflessly? Like, even if you’re donating to charity anonymously, you’re still doing it because it makes you feel good? I kinda feel like that was in play with him. Like he got pleasure from watching Atsushi suffer, but he still told himself it was for Atsushi’s sake and may not have even really registered his own motives while he was doing these things. It’s something to think about.

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As for Atsushi’s life after the string pull….well, it’s actually really sad and kinda scary.

Atsushi basically has a complete psychological breakdown after this. He starts living in a complete delusion of the lie. He acts as if his made-up successful father is finally spending more time at home, so he’s making a nice fancy meal for the whole family, which his bitch of a mother obviously doesn’t appreciate. When she complains about the meal he’s cooking, he throws the hot skillet of meat at the wall, and with one of the craziest expressions I’ve ever seen in Hell Girl, he suggests that all three of them go out to eat. He’s acting so nuts and so broken that even his mother is stunned and afraid. I honestly believed the episode would end with him killing his mother, but I guess his story just ends with him being trapped in a delusion to avoid the pain of his real life.

The end.

Goddamn, that was a heavily layered depressing episode. It’s also frustrating because the one person who deserved punishment didn’t get any.

Did you see what I meant about how you can easily interpret this episode as being stupid, but when you get down to it, it’s really not? I can still totally see why people would think it’s stupid, given that the mother is still alive and well, a seemingly nice kid ended up in hell and our main character ended up going bananas and was marked for hell, but I actually think this is the best episode of season three so far.

It has a realistic and sad conflict, a likable main character, a hateable would-be target who didn’t go overboard with how terrible she was, and a red herring /w plot twisty target swap at the end. Not to mention how terrible the episode as a whole makes you feel, and not in that cheap ‘all humans are scum’ way. This was just sad because it was bad circumstances. If Washizu really was genuine, then he just chose a horrible way to try to help Atsushi. And Atsushi was just a victim the entire time. Hell, you could even dig up some sympathy for Atsushi’s mom if her husband really did leave her……Not a whole lot of sympathy, she’s still a shitty person, but still. Even the hell torture was a lot better this time.

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All in all, I really like this episode, even if it does bum me out that nothing happened to the mother. She was literally the cause of all of this. Something, anything, should have happened to her in the end. I guess now she has to live with a psychotic son who may be so disturbed that he could one day kill her….that’s something.

……Oh yeah, Yuzuki was in this episode. Like always, she just watched all of this happen from afar. The only time she did anything was when she offered to take Atsushi to a vegetable market for more affordable vegetables and we get confirmation that she does indeed live alone since her parents both work a lot of hours. I don’t quite understand why that automatically means she lives alone…Just because they’re not home often doesn’t mean they don’t live there. Or do they just live somewhere else because of their work?

Anyway, I’m already so sick of the transformation sequence that I’ve decided to just fast forward through it whenever it pops up. It’s not like a magical girl transformation sequence or anything. Those are fun. I can sit through those recycled scenes all the time. The Hell Girl transformation is just a lot of Yuzuki yelling in pain and boring shit happening.

Rating: 8.5/10


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