Plot: While Yuzuki continues to refuse to be the next Hell Girl, another client shows up – Fumio. He is constantly bullied by Tomohide and his cronies for seemingly no reason outside of the fact that he has nice things and his family is higher class. There are always two sides to a story, however.
Breakdown: Lets enter the new year by getting things back into action with Hell Girl: Three Vessels!
It dawns on me that I have been reviewing this season of Hell Girl for over a year. Part of that has been my erratic posting schedule as of late, but part of that has just been a complete lack of motivation to just plow through the rest of it. It says something when I’m more motivated to finish “Let’s see how many ways we can torment poor Takuma” Two Mirrors than I am “Yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaawwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn” Three Vessels.
Typically, this doesn’t have much to do with the story of the week. While this season has had plenty of bad duds, it’s more or less been fine overall in the episodic story department.
The problem, yet, again, continues to just be Yuzuki – the protagonist who is so dull and forgettable that I keep forgetting her name and have to look it up half the time. We’re at episode 23.
Like I said the past two or three episodes, you’d think things would finally start heating up with her story at this point, but nope. She spends this entire episode ghosting Ai and her associates because she’s determined to not be the next Hell Girl. And that’s it. She just ignores them and barely says a word until the ending. She even completely ignores the case of the week.
At the end, Ai allows her to hear the ringing bells of the people around her again, indicating that many of them are either current Hell Girl clients, targets or have already pulled the string. Then she lashes out at Ai, refusing to be Hell Girl, saying she just wants to be a normal girl and go to school with her friends. She doesn’t even think Hell Correspondence has a point. Her lashing out prompts Ai to claim that she now feels hatred and, thus, hell in her heart as well.
Yes, congratulations, Yuzuki. You’ve been annoyed into hatred.
At least it looks like the next episode will finally be centered on her and the main story, if you can even call it that, of this season, but I really just feel like anything they come up with won’t have been worth the frustration and boredom that comes with watching Yuzuki over this entire series.
As for the story of this episode, sorry to say, but it’s one of the weakest, most confusing and unsatisfying stories we’ve had so far. First of all, we’re back to the good ol’ reliable bullying setup, which is fine, really, but they act like Tomohide has this secret reason for hating Fumio or that Fumio did something to Tomohide or someone related to him to make him hate him to such a ridiculous degree, but they never actually give one.
Instead of focusing the majority of the episode on Fumio, much of the episode actually focuses on Tomohide. Fumio comes from a borderline rich family, though he himself isn’t a snob or anything – he’s actually rather meek and polite. Tomohide, on the other hand, is lower class. I wouldn’t say he’s technically poor, but he definitely doesn’t live in luxury. His mother is always working, and his father is “gone.” It’s implied that Tomohide sent his father to hell, given that he does have a curse mark, his father was clearly pointed out as having just up and left, and he grasps his shirt at the curse mark when talking to his little sister about their father, but they never give the specifics. Was his father abusive? Does his mother know what happened? We never find out.
When he’s not bullying Fumio, Tomohide’s a rather likable and hard working young man. He’s a baseball star at school with a dream of going to high school and playing baseball there to hopefully become a professional baseball player. However, he’s decided to give up his dream so he can immediately go into the workforce after middle school and help his family. In addition to his constantly working mother, who is never seen on screen, you have Tomohide’s little sister, Suzumi, who is extra cute because she has jammies that make her look like a cow. Not in a mean way – they’re literally cow pajamas.
Suzumi’s, like, four, but she talks like she’s an older teen or adult, fussing about the water bill and chastising Tomohide for doing the dishes incorrectly. She’s already baking bread and is rather good at it. She wants to be a baker in the future but is willing to give up her dream so she can stay at home taking care of the house while their mom works and Tomohide goes to high school to become a baseball star. Tomohide won’t let her do that because he’s vehement about working so he can give up his dream.
The first half of the episode is some of the clunkiest dialogue and exposition I’ve ever seen in this series, which is kinda ironic because they exposit so much without actually saying much of worth. Like Fumio’s rich, has a watch that was a gift from his still-alive rich father, which is why he wears it to school when his teachers tell him it might not be a good idea, he really wants to make movies and has a sweet entertainment center in his room and got a brand new video camera, but we don’t know why he wants to make movies so badly. Tomohide’s father is gone for some reason, he sent him to hell for some reason, Tomohide is playing “No, I’ll give up MY dream” hot potato with his little sister, he loves baseball, but can’t play it in high school for no real reason.
Make no mistake – Tomohide really is giving up his dream for no reason. Everyone around him, including his sister, is telling him to go to high school and become a pitcher because he can easily go pro, and becoming a pro baseball player would make his family a lot of money. But he insists on working. When he’s at a local factory getting a tour for prospective employees, he starts muttering to himself “Work…work” like he’s being forced into work, but no one is doing that.
Don’t get me wrong. His decision is logical. Getting a steady factory job immediately to help out his family isn’t nearly as risky as trying to become a professional athlete, but I really can’t see why he absolutely has to skip high school entirely and not even give it a shot before entering the workforce. His family really doesn’t seem that badly off with just their mother’s income. I’m not sure why either he or Suzumi feels the need to give up their dreams to make money for the family (or in Suzumi’s case, take care of the house) when they’re not struggling that much financially from all I see. Their apartment is pretty spacious and clean, they have plenty of food, fresh water, nice clothes, the aforementioned awesome cow pajamas, a rather large bedroom, they’re both in great health, etc. If they are really struggling that badly, they didn’t convey that well enough for me to sympathize with Tomohide at all.
Speaking of sympathizing with Tomohide, that’s quite the task considering he has the biggest hate boner for Fumio for seemingly no other reason besides he’s rich and Tomohide’s not. They were hinting that there was more to the story. Ai even asked Fumio, when he asked why he was the only one so unlucky as to be targeted like this, “Are you sure you haven’t scarred anyone?” Fumio looks up in shock, as if there is something terrible he’s done….but it never pays off. We never learn if Fumio really did do anything bad besides be rich.
Tomohide overhears that Fumio made it into a good high school on recommendation, so he gets pissed and bullies him. He sees that Fumio got a nice watch from his dad, so he gets pissed and bullies him. Fumio gets a new camera and goes off by himself to use it in the woods, so he gets pissed and bullies him. And when Fumio offers to give him the camera or the watch, Tomohide smacks them away and gets even angrier.
At one point, Tomohide, in a seeming change of heart, decides to return Fumio’s camera to him (guess he took it anyway) but decides against giving it back when he overhears Fumio say that high school is just a path to college. It’s a place where you figure out what you want to do in life, and he’s already figured out what he wants to be, so he’s not that concerned about high school.
Tomohide got so pissed at him saying this when he’s being ‘forced’ to not go to high school and immediately go to work that he grabs Fumio later and completely flips out this time. Before, the bullying was actually rather tame for this show. He took his money and pushed him around, but the main point of contention was his focus purely on bullying Fumio. They don’t bully anyone else, even if their classmates are afraid of the boys and choose to not help Fumio. Tomohide hates Fumio so much that he tells him repeatedly that it doesn’t matter if he goes to a school in another city or if he sends him to hell (he now knows that Fumio called Hell Girl) he’ll never escape, he’ll never let Fumio go and Fumio will never be happy.
All of this ire because he’s jealous that Fumio has rich parents.
You can have negative opinions on rich adults as much as you like, but rich kids can’t control who their parents are. All things considered, Fumio’s a pretty good and kind kid for a rich kid in any form of media. The worst things he does are use the nice things his parents buy for him and kinda imply that he doesn’t think all that much about high school, but that was only because he saw it as a means to figure out what you want to be as an adult, and he already has that figured out. It’s not like he went “Pfft, high school? A mere way to waste my time until I go to the most prestigious college money can buy me into. *snooty rich person laugh*” He obviously cares somewhat about high school because he was really excited when he learned he got into the one he wanted.
Even if he had said that, that’s not enough reason to hate him nearly as much as Tomohide does.
But this brings us to the big moment – the string pull. After Tomohide snaps and attacks Fumio with a metal pole, Fumio whips out the straw doll, but hesitates. Tomohide, who knows exactly what Fumio’s doing because he’s also a Hell Girl client, notices it, and then…..
……He berates him into pulling the string until he does.
The last thing we hear from Tomohide on his ferry ride is “I’m sorry, Suzumi.”
What the hell is wrong with you, dude? You knew the doll was for you. You knew what it was. You knew the power was real….and yet, you just goad Fumio into pulling the string, basically committing suicide? When you know full well that you’ll be leaving your mother and your sister all alone, basically damning your sister to taking care of her four-year-old self until the day she has to give up her dreams to help support her mother because her brother decided to be a dumbass and get himself killed for absolutely no reason when one of the reasons he was choosing to go into the workforce immediately in the first place was so she didn’t have to give up her dream of being a baker?
Is there any brain cell in your skull that is functioning?
At the end of the day, as Fumio takes a tour around the high school he chose, he sees some other boy being bullied and realizes that Tomohide was right, he’ll probably never escape from being bullied. At least, I think that’s what they were trying to say. I mean, just because some other kid is being bullied doesn’t mean he has to.
Also, Tomohide’s friends watched him get Hell Girl’d and they tell their entire class what happened in a huge panic. They even turn on the class in paranoia and claim they’re all probably Hell Girl clients sending people to hell.
Overall, this episode is very, very sloppy. I kinda like the idea of having a bullying story where the script is flipped and we are meant to sympathize more with the bully than the victim, but they did such an awful job executing that idea. You don’t sympathize with Tomohide nearly enough, and the victim is too meek and marshmallow-esque that you can’t even dislike him a little. If you dislike him, it’s probably because he’s kinda whiny, but he has a bit of a right to be. There’s not enough details given for any of the important factors of the story, despite the clunky exposition-y dialogue, and the details they do give just aren’t good enough and/or feel stupid.
I don’t even want to talk about Yuzuki’s part again.
Onto the first of the final three – let’s see if Yuzuki’s story is really up to snuff.
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