Plot: Usagi is known by many people as a ‘tortoise’ because she’s mentally slow. In contrast, her brother seems to be quite successful as a DJ. What could possibly lead either of these two to contacting Hell Girl?
Breakdown: I’m gonna need you to bear with me because, dear god, this episode requires so much unpacking.
It is, for the most part, certainly one of the best and most thought-provoking episodes we’ve had in Three Vessels so far. However, with that comes a lot of horribleness and questions I never thought to ask about this series before.
First of all, I never thought this series would touch upon anyone with special needs. I am actually quite baffled they went there. They never outright say Usagi has special needs, but there’s no dancing around it – she does. She can’t make a decision on what to get out of a drink vending machine without a line of 20 people forming behind her, when she always gets the same drink every time. She can’t figure out how to open her drink, which is basically a juice box, or cut a pizza. She takes a very long time to organize her thoughts and schoolwork, it even takes her a very long time to pack her school bag. She doesn’t react verbally immediately when approached. I’m not going to diagnose her with anything specific, I’m definitely not the person to do that, but it’s obvious that she has some form of special needs.
Everyone acknowledges this, it seems, but she doesn’t receive any actual help from anyone. It’s one of those situations where people acknowledge it and they make adjustments but no one’s trying to actually provide her with true care of any kind. Again, I can’t diagnose her with anything so, for all I know, she doesn’t absolutely need any sort of professional care, but I feel like someone should be doing something for her.
Second of all, the kinda obvious play on words. Usagi’s called a ‘tortoise’ implying she’s slow, but her name is ‘Usagi’ which means ‘rabbit’, implying she may actually be faster, so to speak, than people might think. Which kinda makes sense considering the ending, but we’ll get there when we get there.
Third, back on the special needs thing……I am extremely, extremely, extremely uncomfortable at the confirmation that people with special needs can not only be clients of Hell Girl, but they can also be targets. Usagi’s not terribly impaired. She makes her way through school relatively fine, I think, and her parents apparently think she’s capable of becoming a nurse because they come to her with a plan for making that her career path. But there’s no getting around the fact that she is impaired in some fashion.
The fact that people with mental disabilities can be clients and targets of Hell Girl is horrifying and horrible. I guess if kids can be clients and targets too then Hell Correspondence really has no limits. That’s rather frightening and upsetting.
Then there’s point four, which is how badly Usagi is treated by others. In general, people tend to treat Usagi poorly because she’s viewed as annoying and hopeless, but she gets the worst of it from the people who are closest to her.
There are her three friends, who constantly express how annoyed they are that they have to take care of Usagi. They talk about her like she isn’t literally inches away from them, and they directly tell her that she should show more gratefulness for them being so caring when she’s such a bother to them.
When Usagi gets a boyfriend, meaning she won’t be relying on her friends quite so much, they get mocked by some bitches who point out that someone like Usagi got a boyfriend before them – IE the tortoise managed to pass them all, which makes them all very upset so they start making fun of her even worse behind her back, calling her a perverted tortoise grabbing at men.
Then you have Usagi’s parents, who do seem to care about her and love her, but not enough to actually get her any real help or even properly acknowledge her struggles. They ask her to make a decision about a career path, and while she has been reading up on culinary school, she can’t bring herself to say anything about it. When she fails to bring up her decision, they say, somewhat kindly, that they figured as much, so they proposed making her a nurse since she’s so nice, which Usagi accepts even though it doesn’t seem to be something she wants to do.
Usagi later expresses that she knows her parents have given up on her and that her friends make fun of her. She works hard, but she can’t make progress because she’s ‘a tortoise.’ She smiles through everything they do either to or for her to help bear the pain, which is one of the saddest things I’ve ever heard in this show.
Finally, we have her brother, Michito, who is seen as the reliable and successful sibling. He has a seemingly good career as a DJ and was even featured in a magazine (full page article and everything) and has his own CD. Her friends even fawn over him and ask Usagi for his autograph the next time he’s in town.
Michito, however, is also an asshole to Usagi. Like her friends, Michito outwardly expresses frustration with having to deal with Usagi, even/especially when they were young kids, and also partakes in calling her a tortoise. However, there is some part of him that cares about her. When he realized that Usagi had actually chosen something to do as a career but couldn’t bring herself to say it and just accepted what her parents had chosen, he confronted her about it, seemingly upset that she wasn’t confident enough to assert her own desires over those of her parents, who didn’t even think she’d be able to choose anything.
Their relationship as a whole is rather warped, though.
Yes, people, we’re touching upon incest….again.
Usagi has an admirer named Endo who appears to legitimately have feelings for Usagi. He asks her out, and they start dating. When Michito hears the news, he is enraged. Soon after, Usagi finds photos in her mailbox of Endo dating other women. On their next date, Endo explains that Michito invited him out the other night to some music event. Without explaining exactly what happened, he apologizes to her and says he has no right to be with her.
Later, Usagi meets up with Michito and it’s revealed that they’re both the clients and they’re both the targets.
Usagi is targeting Michito because he was the reason Endo broke up with her (the Wiki says Michito forced Endo to hang out with those other girls so he could frame him and force him to break up with Usagi. I guess that can be inferred by the available information, but it’s unclear. Endo did seem to legitimately have feelings for her, and he was actually upset that he had to break up with her, so I’ll believe that.)
In turn, Michito is targeting Usagi because he is jealous of the fact that he perceived her as the fortunate one. He believes she never tries hard yet always has people doing stuff for her, making life easy for her and giving her attention. He resented the fact that he was seen as the reliable and stable one, so everyone just expected great things of him and didn’t give him as much attention as Usagi.
Yeah, I don’t much get it either. To make matters more confusing, he claims he’s quitting music because it’s not working out for him, which is directly in contradiction to everything we’ve learned of him to this point. Michito responded to that point by saying their parents misunderstood……Misunderstood what? We saw the article and the CD seems legit too. What is being misunderstood here? He is working at a convenience store, but I just thought that music still can’t pay the bills even with his success, which, considering the fickle nature of the music business, is entirely understandable. Really don’t understand his situation, but the bottom line is that he’s jealous of Usagi.
They agree to drop their dolls into the river and forget the whole thing. Michito tells her that, even as a ‘tortoise’ she can work hard and find one of many good men out there to find love with, which gives her pause because, well, he was the one who orchestrated Endo ‘cheating’ on her and their break-up in the first place.
He returns home, and SURPRISE, he’s now locked in a hell torture. Usagi went into the river after Michito left, retrieved her doll and pulled the string. Why? Flashback to a time when they were kids. Usagi declared that she wanted to someday be Michito’s bride. Michito, however, scoffed at this idea, stating no one would ever want to marry such a tortoise. We only saw that part of the flashback earlier in the episode, but now we get a continuation where Michito returns and says he’ll agree to let her be his bride IF she becomes beautiful.
Basically, Usagi was in love with her brother since they were kids, but he always manipulated her and treated her badly. I feel like he does have feelings for her too, slightly, but he’s more invested in just keeping her down than he is interested in anything romantic with her. Control over affection, basically. Usagi got sick of Michito manipulating her like that and using her love for him against her while not reciprocating it, so she decided to pull the string.
The last shot of Usagi is her laughing maniacally while still standing in the river proclaiming that she really can do her best despite being a tortoise, which I suppose is in pride of her making the decision to pull the string when she’s had such difficulty making decisions on her own.
God. Damn. That poor kid.
Of course, the sadness of this situation is cut by the hell torture. Michito is placed within a tortoise shell in a wild west setting and the hell team, dressed as cowpokes, shoots at him with a bunch of guns, so he retreats into his shell, which gets spun around. He doesn’t believe Usagi would pull the string after they decided to get along, and he’s thrust into hell by a missile explosion.
Not the goofiest hell torture we’ve seen, but more than enough to kinda wreck the tone of what was happening here.
Overall, though, this was truly a ride to say the least. A really uncomfortable and terrible ride, but a ride nonetheless. I certainly sympathized with the client and pretty much hated the target, but I don’t feel any real catharsis at him being sent to hell, and I feel worse than normal for the client in question. It’s just a terrible situation…..
Oh yeah, Yuzuki came up. She asked Usagi to not use Hell Correspondence when Usagi didn’t even know of such a thing at the time, meaning she may have very well put the idea in her mind.
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