Animating Halloween | Hell Girl: Three Vessels Episode 10 – The Goldfish in the Mirror Review

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Plot: Kazuya’s parents are constantly at odds with each other. His mother is obsessed with being viewed as beautiful and is addicted to buying new elegant kimonos. His father is pretty much done with her. He detests that she’s constantly spending their money for clothing and usually ignores her or berates her whenever he’s home. Kazuya’s mother really only gets the adoration she desires from a kimono salesman named Saito who is taking advantage of her for profit.

Breakdown: I feel like this story shouldn’t have been a Hell Girl episode, but, on the other hand, if Hell Girl really existed, I could totally see something like this happening.

Kazuya’s family life is rather sad. He’s taken up a part-time job as a paper boy (apparently those still exist in Japan?) which is how Yuzuki, girl of a thousand nothings, knows him. He didn’t take this job to make extra money for himself, in fact his family is rather wealthy and he gets quite a lot whenever his father gives him money. The reason he’s taken the job is to help cover his mother’s kimono buying habit.

His parents have very obvious problems. His mother doesn’t tend to do much housework or mothering, choosing instead to spend her days fretting over her appearance and being buttered up by the kimono salesman, Saito. She still obviously loves her son and husband, but she’s off in her own little delusional world where everything is centered on her beauty and she seems painfully unaware that her husband doesn’t give a crap about her.

His father also seems to genuinely loves Kazuya, but he’s clearly fed up with his wife. Even though he definitely comes off like a bit of a prick, it’s hard not to sympathize with him. His wife acts like a doting housewife, but she neglects doing household chores because she’s too busy preening herself, and she won’t stop spending inordinate amounts of money on kimonos.

Kazuya believes all of the problems in his parents’ relationship stem from the kimono salesman, Saito, who is admittedly a prick but also obviously not the main problem here. Kazuya clearly doesn’t understand the complex issues involved with such severe marriage problems. Makes sense given he’s barely a teenager, but still. He’s a bit too naive, especially considering that he seems pretty mature for his age. He fully understands the weight of the decision resting on the string pull and spends quite a lot of time debating whether or not he should do it, yet he can’t see that sending his target to hell will likely do nothing.

He not only believes that Saito is the main problem in his parents’ relationship, but he also gives every bit of money he gets from his job and from his father to his mother by sneaking it into her pocketbook. She believes the money is from his father and that he’s discreetly trying to tell her to buy more kimonos…..

This being Hell Girl, of course he pulls the string, and, sadly but predictably enough, it fixes approximately nothing. No one even seems to notice the dude is gone, and another equally slimy kimono salesman starts buttering up Kazuya’s mother soon enough. The whole situation is very depressing because Kazuya just accepts his fate even though his actions didn’t help a damn thing. He even shows Hone Onna a book on hell and flippantly states that he’s going there someday.

I just don’t understand the point of this episode. All it is is sad and a little stupid. Nothing really happens….Nothing changes. Kazuya’s now set to hell and he didn’t even get anything out of the ordeal. Hell Girl simply couldn’t have helped in his situation. Saito wasn’t the problem, nor was sending him to hell cathartic, and sending either of his parents to hell would’ve probably just been damaging to his life, so…..why is this a Hell Girl episode?

Not even the hell torture is that interesting. It’s just the hell team parroting back Saito’s own skeevy manipulative words to him and assaulting him with goldfish. The only cool thing that happened was Ai riding a golden dragon….I realize I probably made that sound much more entertaining than it was – it wasn’t.

In another series, this setup would actually be pretty good. Maybe it would show the kid dealing with misplaced anger, trying to help them see their problems and try to fix them, and either helping them reach a healthier place together or accepting that it simply can’t work but also knowing that it’s not the end of the world.

But this isn’t another series, it’s Hell Girl.

Rating: 3/10


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