Amnesia Review

Rating: 3/10

Plot: A girl loses her memory after bumping into a fairy named Orion. She tries to get through her regular activities without alerting anyone, but soon finds out that she has a boyfriend, and hiding the secret from him proves difficult. She spends about a month with him before suffering from an accident which suddenly causes her to appear at the beginning of the same month, in a different world with a different boyfriend. The pattern keeps repeating over and over, reliving the same month with different boyfriends in slightly different worlds suffering from a terrible accident before repeating the pattern again. Will she regain her memory and find her real world?

Breakdown: I was going to review this show, but I FORGOT what I was gonna say! 😀

Oh fine.

Amnesia is simultaneously terrible and perfect.

Not a perfect show – oh god no, I mean a perfect adaptation of an otome game….to a degree.

Amnesia is indeed based on an otome or reverse harem dating sim game of the same name with a very similar plot. Like most dating sims, the player chooses who they end up dating by a series of choices. The story is tailored to your selections. When you do this, you choose a specific ‘route’ in the game and, after a certain point, this route can’t really be changed much.

There’s a severe problem in adapting dating sims to anime. Because the player can freely choose which guy or girl they go after, there’s usually no one you’re ‘supposed’ to be choosing – no specific route you’re ‘meant’ to take. That’s kinda the point. The player chooses who they want based on their own preferences.

Because of this, most dating sim adaptations go down one of two routes; Have the main character, IE The Player, go after all of them equally and turn out to be a cheating douchenozzle because of it (EX: White Album and School Days) or you can force a main relationship, pre-select a mixed ‘route’ if you will, and have the main character get into all sorts of wacky accidental-romantic situations that you won’t care about because you know the person will go with the guy or girl that was obviously selected from the get-go.

This show is ‘perfect’ in a way as an adaptation because they allow the main character to date all of the eligible bachelors without cheating or seeming like a whore. This is achieved through the magic of alternate realities.

The main character – and I know I’m avoiding saying her name, trust me, I’ll get to that in a minute – is bumped into by a fairy named Orion. The contact ends up giving her amnesia of her entire life. She deals with this for a bit and finds out that she’s dating a guy, but after a month goes by she nearly dies and ends up waking up in an entirely new reality, back at the start of the same month, where she’s dating a different guy. Lather, rinse, repeat.

So, it’s not cheating, because she’s living an entirely new life in an alternate reality! Yay space/time continuum!

That being said, this show really is just consecutive ‘routes’ played out and all of them are purely about the guy with a little peppering of how the main character affected their lives. At least until we get to Toma and Ukyo anyway.

On that note, we really have to address the characters and the various ‘routes’, but before we do I need to address the art because I’ll be including pictures.

The art is fairly unique, beautifully detailed and very pretty, but when it comes to the character designs, it’s almost too pretty. The eyes all have this weird thing going on where the colors are glaringly bright, and many characters have gradients in their eyes that make them two completely different (insanely bright) colors. It, in no way, looks natural and it’s incredibly distracting.

Then there’s the little light gradients of colors like pink and purple that usually go into the hair and clothes. I feel like most of these people are made of leaking highlighters.

One thing anime has taught me is tolerance for insanely stupid and illogical clothing choices. While the clothing isn’t too bad a lot of the time, there are some characters here and there that look more suited to be in an MMORPG than a mystery/reverse harem anime. A lot of black, bright neon colors like yellow, lime green and orange, lots of horizontal and vertical black stripes (on top of the neon colors, of course) and checker patterns for whatever reason. One character is quite literally covered in belts from head to toe.

LOOK AT HIM! How long does it take him to get dressed in the morning!? I counted, he has 25 BELTS ON HIS CLOTHES! And that’s not counting the latches on his boots which may or may not be belts as well. And there’s 10 belts merely on his left arm. I think there actually may be more hidden on his back! And this is the character most known for being incredibly logical!

Shin also wears two belts on his neck while one of the female characters wears at least six on her clothes as well.

At least Orion is supernatural, so he has an excuse for looking like a court jester’s LSD chugging nephew, but wow. Did the Joker open a Hot Topic or did the Shuffle Alliance lose their minds?

*cough* On that note, let’s get to the characters.

This is our main character. She starts out–…..Oh sorry hang on.

Uhm, I’m getting word that I put up a picture of a cardboard box instead of the main character. I’m almost certain that’s her….No?….Seriously? You’re right, the box is far more interesting. Sorry.

THIS is our main character. And she…..is the biggest….most obvious Mary Sue….I have ever seen in my entire life. You wanna know how I know that?

She has.…

 

 

 

No.…

 

 

 

 

 

Name.

You heard me. She is never given a name ever in the series. She also doesn’t have any in the game. She’s known only as ‘the heroine’ or ‘Heroine’ to make it more personal. She has a couple of fan names, but not an official one, and over the series she’s either called ‘Senpai’ or a pronoun.

She has quite literally no personality. She’s incredibly quiet and when she does speak she never raises her voice or puts any personality into her words. I get it, she has amnesia. Thus she wouldn’t be able to project as much of her original personality, but that doesn’t mean she should have zero personality whatsoever, and it doesn’t make her anymore enjoyable to watch. It gets unbelievably old really fast.

Watching paint dry on an unsalted cracker narrated by Ben Stein would be far more interesting than watching this chick for more than five minutes. I never thought lack of character would be so irritating, but Heroine pulls it off without a hitch. Bravo.

She has varying personalities and backstories in the different realities. However, the one we see has the same annoying as crap non-personality of barely ever speaking a complete sentence or speaking at all, never changing her tone, never getting angry or emotional, always speaking in such a soft and barely audible voice while hardly ever changing expression.

That very situation is why she gets an out in regards to the question of ‘Why do all of these guys like this completely boring and generic girl?’ It’s simply because they know her as someone who’s supposedly interesting.

I get annoyed by bitchy characters and jerks. I get annoyed by characters who act like idiots and think they’re funny, but I can usually ignore characters who have no personality. The main problem here is that the personality-less person is not usually the main friggin’ character. How can you even give a shit about what’s happening to her or who she really is or what her true memories really are when she doesn’t even seem to really care? How do you care about someone who, by all means, is just nothing? How do you care about her relationships with these guys if she shows no actual interest in any of them? If she just instantly ignores her previous reality’s boyfriend for the next? If she even thinks of anything at all. It is by far the biggest issue in this series.

For a rantier rant on Heroine, see my entry on her for The Salty Anime Challenge.

The guys in the series are based on card suits. In fact, their specific routes are labeled as such; diamond, hearts, spade, clubs/clovers and joker. Why?

The first boyfriend is arguably the most boring with Shin, the heart route. Shin’s somewhat abrasive and a bit closed off, but he’s still a kind person who is childhood friends with Heroine. The Heroine in the hearts reality is apparently a nice girl who joined a band and liked to sing, though apparently she wasn’t good at it and only recently got somewhat decent.

I’d like to point out that the Wiki notes that as her only skill. Something she’s only passable at and only exists in one reality is her character’s only notable skill. Geez, her blandness might be affecting her alter personalities.

Shin’s big backstory is that his dad killed a man when Shin was a kid. Because of that, he was bullied and most kids kept away from him either on their own or because of their parents. Only Heroine and his other childhood friend, Toma, stuck by him. Eventually Heroine and Shin started dating a few months prior to the start of the hearts route.

That’s pretty much it. I honestly don’t know why he’s seen as the most canon choice outside of Ukyo.

The second boyfriend is a little more interesting with Ikki, the spade route. Ikki is the resident bishie god that every girl adores. In fact, one of the few plot lines that runs through most of the stories is Ikki’s batshit insane ‘fan club’ who bully Heroine quite often either because she’s friends with Ikki or because she’s dating him, depending on the route. They do all sorts of awful things to her and she just takes it instead of confronting them or trying to retaliate or telling anyone because that would require her actually doing something.

Ikki’s story is that he wished on a star as a child that girls would love him and he soon found that his wish came true. He could instantly gain the heart of any woman that he wanted if they looked into his eyes. In fact, he wears sunglasses in his route sometimes to combat this ‘condition.’

Because of this ‘power’ he found he couldn’t get close to people either due to his popularity and rabid fangirls or because he figured anyone who did love him would just be under the power of his charms. He eventually just decided to screw it and dated a bunch of different girls, gaining the reputation of a playboy.

The Heroine in this route didn’t fall for his charms, which peaked Ikki’s interest as he’d never been rejected by a girl. He decided he’d do his damnedest to get her to love him. In the visual novel, this is apparently because she had a playboy father and didn’t like that attitude, but this is never stated in the anime.

Ikki’s personality is pretty bland. He’s a nice guy, polite and really calm, but that’s about it.

The third boyfriend is more interesting in terms of their actual relationship, which was a surprise, with Kent, the clubs. Kent is a very intelligent mathematics major who is pretty damn robotic, yet he still has eons more personality than Heroine. That is just amazing.

In my opinion, he’s actually the most interesting and entertaining characters in the show.

He’s very logical, blunt and cold, yet is still fairly kind and caring when he wants to be. His relationship with Heroine almost seems to be like a training session for Kent to be more human as he’s slowly learning how to act more normally and warmly to people the longer he’s with her.

He is completely clueless when it comes to their relationship, and he frequently does awkward things like constantly text her ‘good night’ and ‘good morning’ by her wishes without ever including any other messages, or sitting in complete silence in his office with Heroine for hours at a time while he studiously works because he noted she wanted to spend more time together. It’s not that he’s an asshole, he just legitimately doesn’t know what to do.

Sometimes this awkwardness is cute and funny, but other times it’s just awkward.

Heroine, in this reality, isn’t really well-explored. What a shock. She’s apparently not very upfront with her wishes in their relationship, and they frequently argued mostly in regards to his awkward and cold nature. Oddly enough, the amnesiac Heroine’s kindness or lack of yelling gives Kent hope that he can have a good relationship with the other Heroine as well when she jumps to another reality.

 

*exasperated sigh*…..Ahhhh…Tomaaaa….

Toma is the fourth ‘boyfriend’ and the prompt of the diamond route. Toma’s a pretty cool character in the few other times you see him in other realities, mostly the heart route, as he’s a pretty easy going and fun loving character. In fact, I was really looking forward to his reality, and he was in the front running for my favorite character. In this route, he’s still basically like that…for a bit.

In this route, Ikki’s fan club is out in full force because they don’t like how nice he is to Heroine. It’s hinted throughout the route that this reality’s Heroine is cheating on Toma with Ikki in secret and his fan club is getting agitated with her. They start pulling a bunch of awful pranks on her like filling her mailbox with garbage everyday and giving out her personal information online to shady people who seem to think she’s an escort or something. Toma has been protecting her from these pranks, but there’s a few issues here.

First of all, he is not really her boyfriend in this reality. Neither is Ikki. She just assumed Toma was her boyfriend here because she’s gotten used to the shtick and Toma rolled with it because he was in love with her, subsequently taking advantage of her amnesia. The Heroine in this reality is again childhood friends with Shin and Toma but liked Toma more because of how much he cared for her. In fact, she’d cry on purpose to get Toma to pay attention to her. However, she didn’t like the fact that he always seemed to like her as a friend or sister and never saw her as a woman, so she was asking Ikki in secret for advice on the matter.

Second, Toma becomes completely obsessed with ‘protecting’ her and keeping her away from Ikki.

How obsessed? Well, let’s see – he steals her cell phone and makes her believe that she broke it, takes advantage of her amnesia to pretend that they’re boyfriend and girlfriend, practically needs to be where she is at all times, makes several comments in a rapey vein about how, since he’s a man, he can’t control himself around her, practically demands that they be together 24/7, drugs her regularly to make her sleep so she’ll stay with him, oh and there’s that little thing about KEEPING HER IN A DAMN CAGE AGAINST HER WILL FOR DAYS! An actual cage! Look!

EMOTE, YOU REACTIONLESS SACK OF BRAN FLAKES!

This just….what the hell?! Oh and if that’s not bad enough, in addition to Heroine being so stupid that she hears Orion warning her about Toma drugging her and not to eat or drink anything he gives her and just decides to do it anyway without a thought, because she’s a massive dumbass, her response to all of this is just ‘aw, but he just wants to protect me. I’ll forgive him for everything even though he probably would’ve imprisoned me forever and maybe raped me if he never found the diary.’

He actually says lines like this:

“If I take all of you by force, will you see nothing but me? Or will you break?

If I can’t protect you, should I break you?”

But of course little miss ‘dumb as a brick with about as much personality’ doesn’t get angry at this at all. She doesn’t even seem scared. She has the same reaction that she does to everyfuckingthing. ‘Well, this is happening now.’

And you wanna know something else? Something really creepy? Toma is a fan favorite character….BECAUSE OF THIS. I thought it was in spite of this, but no, you can find all sorts of ‘Toma: The Obsessed’ fan stuff out there. What is wrong with you people!? I liked Toma a lot too, but that was before all of this stuff. Seek help!

I just realized that hat makes him look like a taxi driver.

WARNING: We’re touching upon stuff that actually matters to the plot now. While everything else is completely inconsequential to the overall story, this one actually does tie into everything. Spoilers, is what I’m getting at.

Ukyo is the final boyfriend and supposedly her original and ‘real’ world lover. He’s also the Joker of the suits. Ukyo is another string in all of the realities because he approaches the Heroine in all of them seemingly knowing that she’s jumping between realities. The final route takes place in his reality where he is dating her, but there’s a catch.

The reason for the reality jumping was that she was Ukyo’s lover but she died in Ukyo’s world. He wished to see her live past her death on August 26th, and his wish was granted by a passing god named Neil.

It’s really not entirely clear, but apparently she hops from world to world and lives out the month of August in another reality. Ukyo is allowed to jump as well with Neil’s help to watch her for that month, which grants his wish.

The problem here is that she still ‘dies’ in every reality…as does he? I honestly don’t get it. The point it is that they can’t coincide in the same reality. If they’re in a reality where Ukyo doesn’t belong, the world kills him and if they’re in Ukyo’s world, where Heroine doesn’t belong, the world tries to kill her….I think.

He spends the entire month warning her of the various dangers in his reality because he’s seen her die in those ways. He wants to keep her alive past midnight on August 26th because she’ll stop being killed by the world, but since she doesn’t belong there, Ukyo has to die and…he does, but he also lives past midnight and he dies and turns into light and that stops the jumping and–

Ukyo has another problem. Because of the jumping between realities and being killed so many times as well as seeing Heroine get killed over and over, he’s developed two personalities; the good or normal one and a murderous psychopath.

Ukyo’s pretty likable but it’s disappointing that the guy who is supposed to be Heroine’s actual lover in her original reality doesn’t get explored much. Ukyo’s a very kind and gentle person, who has a bit of Heroine fever in that he frequently frowns and apologizes a lot.

Because the Heroine does jack squat in terms of everything, our main plot doesn’t move in the least until episode 11, and we don’t get much information on what’s really going on until the huge exposition dump that is episode 12. And let me remind you of how useless she is by pointing out that she spends at least a month with each guy in each reality. Meaning a good four months go by and she still does absolutely nothing to regain her memories, figure out what’s causing the jumps or anything at all. She is the most benign, stagnant main character, or character period, I’ve ever seen.

That’s partially why I’m still so confused. Episode 12 slams you with all sorts of exposition, backstory and trying to tie up as many ends as possible that it’s overwhelming. It’s like they compressed what would’ve been the linear storyline and jammed it into one episode.

If there’s one final character we need to address, it’s Orion.

Orion is a fairy or spirit who bumped into Heroine, causing her to lose her memories. While he does his best to help her out in terms of regaining her memories and dealing with the various worlds that she visits, he spends much of the show being absent because he keeps being forced out of the worlds for reasons never revealed.

Orion’s a pretty likable kid, and he has to practically babysit Heroine in the various worlds because, again, she’s useless….and stupid. And as stupid as the outfits in this show are, I really like Orion’s for some reason. It’s just fun.

Art and animation: While the colors are bizarre to say the least and the clothes are just baffling, they are extremely well detailed and stylized. The backgrounds and various set pieces are also very well detailed. Practically everything is a pleasure to look at. The animation is good, but given that there’s little movement needed, it’s hard to see it really tested.

Music: The music was pretty good. While not horribly memorable, it was still nice to listen to and there are some BG tracks that are memorable.

Voice Acting: Japanese – Heroine’s VA got on my nerves because of how light and breathy she was probably directed to sound like the entire time. It’s not an awful voice, it’s how it’s presented. Everyone else was pretty good, especially Ukyo’s VA who bounces quite well between his two personalities.

Bottomline: Have no question, this is just pure indulgence for anyone who likes anime guy eye candy and wants an experience of a dating sim without that pesky game to get in the way. The plot itself is interesting but they do nothing with it until the very end. The majority of the show is just getting to know the stories of the various guys and sometimes it will touch upon the Heroine’s personality in that reality.

However, it’s not like that even really matters. It’s established that the characters are somewhat or drastically different between the realities so even if we know the various Heroines, they’re still not her in her reality and neither are the other guys. I guess, in a way, that’s good because that means Toma might not be a rapey dungeon lord, but that means that most of the episodes are completely pointless besides pasting your picture on Mary Sue McPaperpersonality and imagining you’re the one all these guys are pining after.

In the end, the story still doesn’t make much sense to me either way because of the horrific pacing with the actual plot.

Heroine makes this show a massive chore to watch. She is downright infuriating with how zero dimensional she is. And I swear if I see that dumb expression that she wears 99% of the time again, the only memory she’ll need to worry about is remembering the number for emergency services when I beat her in the face with a rock…..A rock that probably also has more personality and is much more interesting than her.

Guilty as charged, if it wasn’t for the eye candy I would’ve dropped it purely because of her.

Additional Information and Notes: Amnesia was directed by Yoshimitsu Ohashi, who barely does any directorial work, but directed some episodes of Code Geass R2, Trigun and the entirety of Witchblade.

It was written by Touko Machida, who also wrote Allison and Lillia, Boku wa Imouto—wha, really?! I can’t escape that damn show. Boku wa Imouto ni Koi wo Suru, and Lucky Star.

Animation was produced by Brain’s Base, and it is currently licensed in the US by Sentai Filmworks.

Year: 2013

Episodes: 12

Recommended Audience: There’s some self-harm and one instance of suicide, some kinda dark moments, but no nudity, no sex though there are allusions to it, no real swearing, some minor violence. 10+

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TO: A Space Fantasy Review

Rating: 8.5/10

Plot: Based off of the sci-fi manga 2001 Nights, TO adapts chapter 14, Elliptical Orbit and chapter 15, Symbiotic Planet in two episodes.

Breakdown: Yet another ‘anime’ adaptation of the wonderful 2001 Nights manga, this OVA brings us two more stories from the anthology. However, unlike the previous OVA, this one is done entirely in CGI.

And, really, that is the only difference between the two as this is an incredibly loyal adaptation to the manga’s stories – so close, I’d be tempted to believe they made the storyboard directly out of the manga pages. Since they’re so close together, I’ll give my individual opinions on each story.

The first episode, Elliptical Orbit, centers around the return of a ‘ghost ship’ called the Flying Dutchman returning from years of being gone off to Alpha Centauri to mine liquid hydrogen. The cargo transport station, the Midnight Bazooka, accepts their shipment as the Dutchmen docks with them.

The captain of the Bazooka, Dan, has an existing relationship with one of the crew members of the Dutchman, Maria, and she’s been gone for over 15 years. While she happily reports on the success of their trip, the tone turns to somber when Dan updates her on how his life has been going, including the death of someone dear to both of them.

A group of pirates then hijack the ship demanding that some of the liquid hydrogen be shot towards the moon base, which would result in the death of over 300,000 people. The pirates reveal that they’re from a continent that lost in the African war and that they experience 300,000 deaths every day due to starvation when those in space have more than enough food and other supplies. Hearing this over the intercom, Maria and Dan decide to fight back to save the people on the moon base as well the rest of the liquid hydrogen from being stolen by the pirates.

This story was confusing to me when I first read it in the manga due to the ambiguity on the relationship between Dan and Maria, and I will admit that it’s really not one of my top favorite stories in the manga. However, it’s still a pretty solid story with good characters and a decent twist at the end.

The second episode, Symbiotic Planet, centers around a romance between a man from a European/American colony, Ion, and a woman from the nation of Eurasia, Alena, both of which are at odds with each other and may be on the verge of war. Figureheads on both sides know of the relationship and try to end it, but neither half of the couple are willing to abandon the other for petty politics. The two nations are trying to coincide on a newly colonized planet that is covered in weird balloon-like creatures called picards and clouds of unidentified spores.

Ion, a biologist working to determine if the environment is safe enough to traverse without helmets and suits, later gets contaminated by the spores in his lab and tries to quarantine himself.

In a meeting addressing water needs for each nation, tensions come to a head when the Eurasian government suggests the creation of a river, which the European/American colonizers take as a border, indicating territories and land claims. As the meeting takes a break, Alena is lead to Ion’s laboratory where he updates her on the situation, which might not be as dire as they believe. While he and the laboratory rats were in pain earlier, they are no longer as such. He’s experiments to see if the spores really have any adverse affect on the human body before releasing himself from the quarantine.

In an odd strafe from the manga, the anime has Alena walk away reluctantly from the laboratory while the manga has her opening the door in desperation to see Ion, despite the danger of infecting herself with the potentially dangerous spores. This change is odd because it forces the removal of a pretty dramatic scene in the manga – Ion carrying a seemingly lifeless Alena into a room full of people and solemnly announcing that the entire colony is now infected.

Instead, they don’t reveal who opened the doors, though it’s heavily implied that some random person from Eurasia did for whatever reason as he was listening the entire time. In an effort to have the best outcome in this, some of the Eurasians take a ship and leave the colony while alerting people at their military base that the colony had become infected with a deadly spore and lethal action has to be taken in order to keep it from spreading. Ion has to take it upon himself to save the colony, even if they may all be doomed either way.

I really like this story, even if one particular side effect of the spores seems a little deus ex machina at the end in regards to the political tensions.

I would really like to know why that one scene was changed. There are some things added to the movie, perhaps for the sake of time, such as Alena meeting her mother about her relationship with Ion, but there was no real reason to change the part at the lab door other than to make Eurasia look bad and maybe make it seem like they had planned this all along. In the manga, neither side is clearly the villain. It’s a largely gray area. I have no idea why they would actively try to create one.

Since the stories are almost entirely loyal to the manga, you really have to judge this adaptation on how well it portrays the characters and emotions through the medium they have chosen, and sadly I just don’t think the CGI works well.

Don’t get me wrong, they did a great job recreating almost all of the character designs and environments, even if Maria got a completely different hairstyle for whatever reason, her mother was made to look older yet somehow much more beautiful than her manga counterpart, and the bearded crew member from the Dutchman looks like his beard was bought from a dollar store. However, I don’t think the faces are expressive enough in this format to properly convey the feelings behind the reactions and dialogue like they do in the manga. In other words, the characters sometimes seem like they’re plastic doll versions of the manga characters. They move just fine, but their faces only seem to match well about half the time.

Plus, while they also did a pretty decent job on the ship designs, they still can’t match the beautifully detailed art of the manga that made you really feel like you were on the ship, planet or even floating in the vast emptiness of space.

The voice acting, Japanese version, was very well done. While some voices were a little on the shaky side, others were simply fantastic.

The music was also incredibly well done and fitting for the stories, and the ED is simply beautiful.

Bottomline: This is a very well made and loyal adaptation of two stories from 2001 Nights, but one could argue that since they’re so loyal, with their only changes being ultimately unnecessary and somewhat damaging to the overall plot, that this could be one of those times when ‘just go read the manga’ would be appropriate.

This adaptation, while being good, also doesn’t bring anything new to the table for people who have read the manga. As much as people complain about changes between original sources and adaptations, one of the points of adaptations is to bring somewhat of a new view or spin to the story to make it worth retelling. This one basically just copy-pasted the manga chapters while putting a CGI veil over it. That’s not really bad, per se, it just doesn’t give me any reason to really fall in love with it or revisit it.

Considering that the CGI is one of the few significant problems with this OVA, that makes it even worse. Space Fantasia: 2001 Nights may not have been a visual spectacle either, but at least I felt like they were trying to use what they had to work with to their advantage instead of trying to be a complete carbon copy of the source material in regards to visuals.

In the end, this is still a great watch for both fans of the manga and people who haven’t read it. However, fans of the manga won’t find any reason to rewatch it and those who haven’t read the manga should read the manga version before or after watching this for more detailed and emotive visuals. I usually don’t like suggesting that, but I feel this is one situation where it may be beneficial.

Recommended Audience: The only real note here is that several people die of laser blasts in the first episode, and the resulting wounds are slightly graphic, but not really considering they basically cauterize the wound immediately and the wounds are kept in shadow due to the lighting. There’s also one instance of non-sexual nudity. 10+

Hell Girl/Jigoku Shoujo Review

Rating: 8/10

Plot: No matter how much we may want to believe otherwise, our world is not just. Good people suffer from the hands of the wicked and the wicked hardly ever seem to get punished. Luckily, this is a world where the phrase ‘go to hell’ can be a legit threat.

There’s a mysterious website out there that is only visible under two conditions – it has to be exactly midnight and the person accessing the website has to have a strong desire for vengeance against a specific person. When accessed, the person need only to enter the name of their tormentor into the website and a girl named Ai will appear before them. She gives them a straw doll with a red string tied around its neck and tells them that they only need to pull the string from the doll to send their tormentor straight into the depths of hell.

However, there is a catch.

With the pull of that string, the client will also be damned to hell for all eternity. The only difference is that they won’t be sent there instantly like the target. They get to live out whatever lifespan they had left before they go to hell. Jigoku Shoujo showcases an anthology of the various clients for the Hell Correspondence.

Breakdown: I love anthologies, especially horror anthologies. I really enjoy short little stories that you can always quickly relay to a friend and get a good scare in. Jigoku Shoujo or Hell Girl isn’t….quite a horror anthology, but I love it either way.

The only ‘horror’ aspects of this show are when Ai and her associates, Wanyuudou, Ren and Hone Onna are summoned to drag their target to hell and spend some time screwing with the heads of the targets before finally ferrying them to hell.

In a certain regard, there can also be horrors seen in the stories leading up to the summoning of Ai and her colleagues. The people who are usually Ai’s clients are obviously being tormented by someone or other for some reason and desperately want them to pay for their crimes against them. These can range from petty crimes to downright evil acts.

Many of the stories do a pretty good job at making you hate or extremely dislike the target in question, which is really necessary here because you don’t really want to see good people damned to hell.

However, there is the lingering thought in your head that you actually are seeing good people being sent to hell in every episode, only not right now.

That is the tragic part of this series. You root for the bad guy to go down to the fiery pit, indulging yourself in a bit of poetic justice, but in the end the client, who is usually a good person in a horrible situation, is branded with a mark that means that they will go to hell when they die, which adds a bittersweet tinge to almost every ending.

Sure, they get to live out whatever life span they were meant to have, but they still know they’re headed for hell when the day comes. I don’t see how anyone can live their lives knowing the fate that will befall them when they die, but then again if you knew that this time you have in life was the only time you’d get to ever experience happiness, I guess I’d try my best to make the most out of it too.

That’s not to say that every client is good and every target is bad. While most of the series focuses on this arrangement, they do make a point near the end to show that even people who are seemingly innocent and kind can be targeted and people who are dicks can be clients.

We’ll have to wait until season two to get more gray area cases, but even cases that seem cut and dry can be questionable.

As far as the stories go, most of them are well written and serve their purposes toward the plot very well. However, as with most anthologies, not all of the stories are gems and a couple of them border on horrible.

In addition, this also has a negative against it that most other anthologies don’t – there’s an air of predictability in every episode. Client is being tormented in one way or another by someone, they get pissed, hear the rumor of the website for Hell Correspondence and they decide to try it. By the commercial break, they’ll have met Ai and gotten the doll and they’ll spend a good chunk of the second act relegating on whether or not they should pull the string, which is fully understandable because it is a huge decision.

They’ll change some things every now and then to add some spice to the formula, particularly when we’re introduced to Tsugumi and Hajime Shibata, who try to foil Hell Girl, but for the most part every episode follows that structure. That’s not necessarily bad considering that you’re really watching for that sweet sweet justice courtesy of hell, which has some really cool and creepy visuals usually, but some people may get tired of it.

We do eventually delve into Ai’s story of how she became Hell Girl near the end of the series. It’s an interesting and tragic story that weaves itself quite well with the stories of Hajime and Tsugumi.

Don’t worry, it has nothing to do with websites or the Internet. She just decided to upgrade with the times.

Art: The art is very stylized and works very well with the tone. The visuals during the revenge parts can be very creepy and creative. I especially like Ai’s character design. It is crisp and creepy without trying to go into the area of grotesque, which I applaud them for. Studio Deen has several terribly animated episodes with some really odd art sometimes, but I actually think this is one of their better series. While they do get away with several instances of recycled shots, mostly in the preparation of Ai to ferry a soul to hell, there aren’t too many episodes that I would call bad in the area of animation.

Music: The music is great. The BG music sets the mood really well, though some tracks do grate on the nerves as we reach the final episodes. I love the OP and ED. The ED in particular is haunting and beautifully melancholy.

Voice Acting: English Dub – The dub, done by Animax, but currently licensed by Funimation, is really well done. Everyone was extremely fitting in their roles, particularly Brina Palencia as Ai and John Burgmeier as Hajime. Some one-off characters might have been iffy, but I can’t recall any that stand out as being especially bad.

Bottomline: If you like anthologies, horror visuals and seeing a good dose of poetic justice against assholes, this is a great series to check out. There are three other series in the Jigoku Shoujo collection in addition to this that I will be reviewing in the future as well. The premise may put some people off as it sounds silly that you can damn people to hell through a website, but it is more complicated than that, and the website is really just a channel to contact them. The actual website itself is not involved in any horror shenanigans.

While much of the series stays in a black and white phase of morality, the last handful of episodes tackle morality as the much more complex topic that it is.

Additional Information and Notes: Hell Girl/Jigoku Shoujo was directed by Takahiro Omori, who also directed Koi Kaze, Baccano! and Durarara!! It was written by Hiroshi Watanabe, who also did directorial, storyboard and animation work for the sequels, Hell Girl: Two Mirrors and Three Vessels as well as many Slayer entries and Video Girl Ai. It was produced by Studio Deen and is currently licensed in the US by Funimation.

Year: 2005 – 2006

Episodes: 26

Recommended Audience: Some of the stories can get into some really messed up territories including but not limited to horrible animal abuse, especially in one episode called Bound Girl, child abuse and murder. There’s no actual nudity, but there are slight shots of nude bodies that are shot in ways that you can’t see anything.

The subject matter in and within itself can make anyone uneasy to begin with considering this is the ability to send a person to hell based simply on whether or not they’re pissed off enough at you. While this mostly adheres to extremely bad people, it’s still possible for dolls to end up in the wrong hands. She’s not a champion of justice, she just offers this favor to anyone with enough vengeance in their hearts. Plus, the revenge scenes can sometimes get pretty unnerving. There are some allusions to sex and mild swearing. 15+

Hell Girl Episode 26 (FINALE): The Ephemeral Review

Hell Girl ep 26 FINALE 1

Plot: Ai’s escaped her ride to hell, and she won’t let Hajime and Tsugumi off so easily. She whisks Hajime to the realm of eternal twilight, trapping him until she can complete her plans. She traps Tsugumi in her apartment and hands her the straw doll, trying to convince her that her dad is worthy of her hatred and deserves to go to hell. If she succeeds, she’ll managed to lock both of their souls to hell.

The decision rests with you, Tsugumi.

Breakdown: Is it series season finale time already?

The Spider, and I’m just going to call him that because it’s easier to type than The Master of Hell and that’s what every official source calls him, is angry that Ai broke his cardinal rule of never unleashing her hatred. Hell has hungered for Ai’s vengeful soul for hundreds of years, and now it looks like they’ll get it. However, Ai realizes that she’s not done. Hajime and Tsugumi have survived her onslaught and she must finish her final mission. The Spider tries to restrict her and stop her from leaving, but she bamfs off of the boat and back to the land of the living.

She essentially kidnaps Wanyuudou, Ren and Hone Onna and goes to Tsugumi and Hajime’s location. As Hajime and Tsugumi are talking about why Sentarou didn’t try to save Ai, Hajime mysteriously vanishes.

Ai shows Tsugumi a vision of Hajime’s final conversation with Ayumi before her car accident. At the scene of said crash, we get a bit more of the story that we weren’t shown prior. Hajime repeats to himself, like a mantra, that it wasn’t his fault.

Ai ends the vision and chastises Hajime for being such a cruel person, focusing only on absolving himself of the blame instead of admitting that he essentially sent his wife off to die. I’m still not sure if they’re saying Ayumi committed suicide or she just wouldn’t have crashed if she hadn’t been emotionally driving in the rain.

Her reasons for all this are to make Tsugumi mad enough at her father to wish he be sent to hell. That way, Ai will kill two birds with one stone by instantly damning Hajime and eventually damning Tsugumi. She gives her a doll, which I guess means there really is no age limit for this stuff as Tsugumi’s a mere seven years old. Either that or Ai told that rule, should it exist, to fuck off.

Hell Girl ep 26 FINALE 2

She keeps tormenting Tsugumi into making the decision, claiming that she didn’t do much to change her opinion of him. Deep down, she’s truly hated Hajime since the day her mother died. Tsugumi vehemently denies this, but Ai won’t let up.

Meanwhile, Hajime is hanging out in the realm of eternal twilight with Hone Onna and Ren, who are conveying Ai’s story to him. She became Hell Girl not of her own volition but as punishment sent down from hell itself for unleashing her rage upon the village 400 years ago. She is forced to watch the suffering caused by exacting revenge over and over without allowing her own feelings of vengeance, or really any emotions, to spill over. She even went to the trouble of locking her own memories away so she’d have even less of a chance of rekindling the rage.

Ren points out that, over the years, she had been making some progress in washing away her sins and letting go of her hate, but when Hajime and Tsugumi came around and not only reminded her of her tragic past but also revealed that Sentarou’s bloodline was alive and well, she snapped.

Ai’s grandmother, who has never spoken to anyone but Ai, suddenly speaks to Hajime claiming that she’ll release him from the realm of eternal twilight if he agrees to do her a favor.

Back in Ai’s house of fun, Tsugumi is unable to leave her house because Hell Girl won’t let up on torturing her until she pulls the thread. She even shows her a vision of her mother begging for Tsugumi’s help as blood pours down her face. Tsugumi, struggling with her decision and seeing no way out, is about to grab the thread when Hajime shows up.

Ren and Hone Onna also appear, trying to convince Ai to stop, but she just slams them into a wall and continues about her mission. Hajime tries to take Tsugumi away, but she refuses. She asks what really happened to her mother and Ai shows them all the vision of the car crash. Tsugumi walks toward Hajime with the doll, wondering if he’ll act the same way he did in Ai’s previous vision, but instead he collapses to the ground stating that it should’ve been him who died that day.

Truthfully, Hajime loved Ayumi with all his heart and that never changed from day one. He loved her so much that he felt he had to work as hard as he did in order to give her a good life, but most of what he gave her was loneliness since he was never around. When Ayumi cheated on him, he was so angry that it consumed him and he even wished her dead, but he never believed it would actually happen. When it did, he was wracked with guilt, even if it wasn’t technically his fault.

Still not clarifying the suicide thing.

He apologizes to Tsugumi for making her feel alone all that time and going through such heartache because of him.

Hell Girl ep 26 FINALE 3

Ai says it’s too late for frivolous apologies and keeps telling Tsugumi to pull the string. Accepting his punishment, Hajime tells her to do it too….uhhh, it’s fine if Hajime believes he deserves to rot in hell for his guilt over what happened to his wife, it’s even okay for Tsugumi to be considering this, but he is telling his seven year old daughter to damn her soul to hell in order to send him to hell. Not to mention the lifetime of guilt and mental trauma she’ll surely go through should she actually do it.

Tsugumi slaps him and says she might miss her mother, but she’s adored the times she’s had with Hajime. He’s her favorite person and she’d never trade him for anything. Hajime feels the same, telling her that each day with her is a blessing. They embrace in the rain of the vision, and I’m left to wonder what Ai hoped to achieve with this.

If she altered the events of the actual accident to make it seem like Hajime was being a selfish dickhead back then, surely she’d have to believe he’d act differently (or the same? We never see what really happened) when she showed it to both of them. And surely Tsugumi would lose any hatred in her heart the instant she saw her father collapse in grief and beg for forgiveness.

Tsugumi had never shown any actual hatred up until this point – she was just at a dead end in finding a way out of the trap Ai put her in, was emotionally exhausted by her visions, and had no way of getting Hajime back. That’s really the only reason that she even considered pulling the string.

I never felt like she’d actually do it once Hajime showed back up, even if she demanded to know what really happened with her mother.

Maybe Ai was so blinded by a lack of faith in humanity that she believed Hajime would indeed act like the asstard she made up or if Tsugumi’s supposed inner hatred would be on the same level as hers, but it’s never that convincing.

Kudos on both Hajime and Tsugumi’s scene here as it is horribly tragic and beautiful at the same time. While I didn’t cry, I was definitely feeling the urge to do so, which I typically don’t do in happy endings.

Ai is shocked at the show of forgiveness and love and transports them back to the cherry blossom tree, which is temporarily restored back to its former glory after having been destroyed in the previous episode. Tsugumi returns the doll and tells Ai that Sentarou truly loved her as much as she loved him. He just couldn’t face the same fate she and her parents were damned to.

Tsugumi doesn’t mention this, but either way Ai was going to die. Sentarou had absolutely no chance to save her at that point. His only other option besides helping bury her was to die with her, and he couldn’t do it. His cowardice filled him with guilt for many years and drove him to build the Seven Child Temple as an apology to her.

Ai tearfully transports them to the temple and burns it to the ground, even killing the poor priest inside. Not cool, Ai. At least teleport him out.

Hell Girl ep 26 FINALE 4

Hajime is about to theorize why Ai burned the temple down, but stops himself—Uh guys, seriously. Person in the burning building. Call the fire department and wax poetic later.

Just to show how terribly inconsistent the Wiki is sometimes, Sentarou’s biography explains that Ai burned the temple down as a rejection of his apology while the entry for this episode explains that she did it in order to finally forgive Sentarou, since the temple was built as a symbol of his guilt. I’m more inclined to believe the latter because the former just makes it seem like she finally learned of true forgiveness just to say ‘fuck your apology, Sentarou.’

You still killed a man, though, Ai. I wouldn’t even bring it up outside of maybe a joke if they didn’t show him getting engulfed in fire, but they did so, Ai, you killed a guy as an ‘I forgive you’ card.

Tsugumi: “Promise me you’ll never leave me again, Hajime.”

Hajime: “I won’t. Cross my heart.”

And he was never seen again.

Not making a joke. Even though Tsugumi is seen throughout the next three seasons, Hajime never appears again. According to his Wiki page, he writes a book about Hell Girl, presumably as part of his deal with Ai’s grandmother that we never learn the details of, and he mysteriously vanishes after that. You’d wager he might’ve been sent to hell, but even Ai and her assistants don’t know where he went.

I assume that, since this series didn’t seem to be designed to last more than a season, they had no clue what to do with Hajime and just wrote him out.

In season three, Tsugumi even states that Hajime is dead from off-screen the-writer-said-so-they-were-extremely-lazy-with-this-itis.

The end.

Oh wait, there’s a Marvel end credits scene.

Hell Girl ep 26 FINALE 5

We see a bloodied dead cat, because why not end the series on something I’ve been actively trying to avoid? A girl kneels in the rain in an alley with the black doll and Ai appears before her stating that the decision rests with her.

Ai’s back to her old tricks again because she is still required to do so, and as Ren, Hone Onna and Wanyuudou explain over a montage of every client from the series, as long as there is hatred and a need for vengeance, their work will never be done.

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I’ll be wrapping up my final thoughts on the series as a whole in a full revamped review I’ll be releasing shortly, but I love this finale.

Even though Ai’s efforts to get Tsugumi to pull the string are a little questionable in their true effectiveness, it was a great parallel to her own story and a very fitting way to close it out. Ai had been so wrapped up in her own hatred that she never stopped to try and forgive Sentarou or even attempt to empathize with what he was probably feeling back then. It took seeing Tsugumi forgive her father to finally open her heart enough to wipe his guilt away.

The fact that these two stories work in conjunction with each other so well means they can both be closed out simultaneously with little issue, creating as clean of an ending as we can get with Ai still being Hell Girl. I am a little annoyed that we never learn what Hajime promised to Ai’s grandmother since it seemed important enough to allow him to leave the realm of eternal twilight, but I guess we can just chalk that up to a little more laziness.

The art and animation were improved a little more for the finale, which is good. But I really could’ve gone without ending the series with a dead cat emblazoned on my brain.

Rating: 9.5/10

Hell Girl Episode 25: Hell Girl Review

Hell Girl Episode 25

Plot: What did Sentarou do to Ai to make her hate him so much that she even attempts to damn his ancestors to hell? A tragic circumstance 400 years in the making.

Breakdown: Ai is pissed! Everybody haul ass!

Actually, immediately after Ai proclaims that she’ll finally end this and as the cherry blossom tree goes up in flames, Ai mysteriously disappears, leaving only the spider behind. Meanwhile, Hajime and Tsugumi have loads of fun swimming in the river in the middle of winter.

Just kidding. They do the Time Warp again and are transported to Edo period (sorta) so we can learn the true details of Ai’s backstory.

Sentarou is actually Ai’s cousin and her only friend in the world. The village believes that Ai has strange powers and is a demon girl, so she’s always being picked on by the local kids and told to disappear. Sentarou is quick to defend her and even beat up the other kids when they make her cry, no matter if he’s outnumbered or not.

Ai gets chosen for the Seven Sending sacrifice and they don’t even give her parents more than a few hours to say goodbye. Wow.

Despite telling Ai’s parents that it’s a great honor to be the maiden of Seven Sending, Sentarou fiercely argues against this. He believes Ai was only chosen because the village believes she’s an evil spirit and want her gone…Uh, wouldn’t that be a bad idea to give an evil spirit to a pseudo-god as a sacrifice? Aren’t sacrifices supposed to be pure? Hence why sacrifices are always little girls or virgins?

By the by, it’s never exactly explained why the villagers believe Ai is a demon or evil spirit. The bully kids mentioned that she brought a butterfly back to life, but this is the only example beyond just saying that she’s different, and Ai explained the butterfly thing away by saying the butterfly wasn’t even dead to begin with. Though it does connect her backstory with the trademark butterflies that are common throughout the series, a little more exploration into this would be nice.

Ai’s parents conspire with Sentarou before the ritual begins. The ceremony starts with a cleansing to ensure she’s pure….Uh, then wouldn’t that be enough to rid her of her alleged demonness?

Sentarou is tasked by Ai’s parents to save her from the sacrifice. They realize that this is horribly dangerous because, should the villagers find out, they’ll surely be violently targeted until they get her. Even worse, the mountain spirit may unleash its wrath upon the village for failing to get a sacrifice.

The actual sacrifice of the ritual starts, but we don’t see what Sentarou did to free Ai.

Some time passes and the villagers’ crops are all failing. Sentarou is sent off in the middle of the night to bring food and a change of clothes for Ai, who is taking refuge in a small shrine.

Back in present day, we see Ai lying in a fetal position on her boat as she takes a ride down the river Styx, presumably because she exacted revenge against her targets and pulled the string on her internal doll. Wait, if that’s right, then Ai has always had the ability to send more than one target to hell? I’m a bit angry about that considering the jackass ringmaster is still alive.

Back in the Edo period, six years pass, and the village is suffering greatly. The crops continue to be garbage and people are starving. Ai is, surprisingly, suffering few ill effects from spending her days sitting alone in a shrine in the mountains 24/7. She’s not even dirty or disheveled and her hair is just as neatly trimmed as it always is. Sentarou visits her every night so she’ll have some company for at least a little while.

Little buds of romance start blooming between the two, and he even suggests that they run away together. Yes, they’re still cousins. Spoiler alert, though – it goes nowhere and obviously ends badly.

They get discovered one night by the same band of bullies who used to torment Ai. They angrily chastise Sentarou for incurring the wrath of the mountain spirit and making everyone starve….Uh, guys. If you wanted me to feel even a little for this supposedly starving village, maybe not have one of the bullies be a fat guy.

Sentarou tells Ai to run off while he tries to stop the bullies, but he’s pinned to the ground by his father. The bullies catch Ai and start tormenting her in the river. She begs for Sentarou’s help, but he’s powerless.

Meanwhile, back in the present, we get a throwaway backstory line about how Hone Onna, Ren and Wanyuudou owe their souls to Ai since she saved them all from eternal damnation somehow. Thanks for that. It’s important to explore their backstories too, but maybe not smack in the middle of Ai’s backstory and maybe not in a two line exchange.

In the Edo period, Sentarou is forced to watch as another ceremony is performed to beg the mountain spirit for forgiveness. This time, not only is Ai being sacrificed, but also her parents. They blindfold them, bash them all over the head with shovels and chuck them into a pit. Ai’s still barely alive when she feels a teardrop from Sentarou on her cheek.

Sentarou tries to comfort her, but is stopped by his father who hands him a shovel. The priest tells him that Ai’s parents are atoning for their deception through death, and now Sentarou must pay for his through being the one to kill Ai by burying her alive. He doesn’t want to, but is being pressured by the villagers around him. He breaks and shovels some dirt into the hole. Ai, heartbroken at his betrayal, starts crying blood and her eyes turn red.

Sentarou only shovels a bit and stops when he hears Ai’s voice. The villagers nab the shovel from him and finish the job. Sentarou cannot bear what he has done and runs off into the woods while crying. Ai, still seething with betrayal and anger, curses them all before finally passing away.

Some time passes, and Sentarou, plagued by nightmares about Ai, decides to leave the village for good one night. As he leaves, he notices that there’s a large fire at the village and returns. He sees a ghostly Ai singing the song “Children of Seven”, a song she used to sing all the time with Sentarou. She has engulfed the village in flames, massacring the villagers in vengeance.

Sentarou runs away, laughing, and gets several cuts by…something whooshing by him in the woods. I’m gonna need someone to walk me through this one because A) Why would he be laughing that the villagers all died? One of the reasons he caved was because people were dying supposedly due to the lack of sacrifice. He might be laughing that Ai is back and getting her just desserts against the villagers, but that’s not something to rejoice given that she’s now a vengeful spirit who is laying waste to those who have wronged her….and one of those people she’s murdering is Sentarou’s father.

B) What the hell is cutting him? Who is cutting him? Why? I guessed it was Ai, but I believe she assumed Sentarou died in the fires in the village. Even if she knew he was where he actually was, why would she opt to just giving him a few cuts instead of setting him ablaze? He’s her main source of hatred and her central power is fire. I also theorized that it’s the spider cutting him with spider webs, but why? They focus on it so much that I feel like it must have a meaning, but if there is they don’t give it in this episode and I doubt they’ll explain it in the next one.

Hajime and Tsugumi snap out of their vision while on dry land in front of a shrine. I assume the spider, who by the way is the Master or God of Hell, did it since he’s closeby, but again, why? And was he the one who gave them that vision? Why? Only reason I can figure is that he saved them so he could still keep Ai around, but that still doesn’t explain why they got that vision besides plot convenience.

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All in all, I do like this episode, and Ai’s backstory is great, but there are various problems.

First, I would’ve liked to have spent a little longer with Sentarou and Ai to allow their relationship to grow a bit more so we could feel more betrayed when Sentarou finally started burying Ai.

Second, we never learn why Ai seemed to have supernatural powers or why she was ‘different’ before this ever happened. She never showed any powers besides that butterfly thing she already explained away, so why was she considered so evil or demonic? She seemed like a normal little girl. Then, before she even dies, she gains blood red eyes seemingly through pure hatred.

I guess you could ask the same question of Tsugumi, especially considering she appears to be the only one in the Shibata bloodline to have gotten these visions.

Third, the art and animation are back to crappy again, which is just disappointing because of how vital this episode is. It’s not as crappy as it has gotten recently, but it’s still just on a medium level with several cut corners like snapshot animation. Studio Deen, you save your budget for important episodes. That’s the rule. That’s always the rule. And as an additional rule of thumb, the last three episodes of damn near any anime are always the most important.

Rating: 8/10

Hell Girl Episode 24: Home in the Twilight Review

Hell girl ep 24

Plot: Tensions come to a head in the Shibata household. Hajime wants to forget all about Hell Girl and just move on, but Tsugumi continues to have visions. She states that, in order to figure out what Hell Girl really wants and end these visions once and for all, they have to go to the location of Tsugumi’s vision from the end of the last episode. It’s time to explore Ai Enma’s past.

Breakdown: Today’s episode starts with Tsugumi’s classmates wanting to call Hell Girl over a boy who broke a cheap frog keychain and laughed about it.

Initially, I wanted to facepalm at this, but I…am at least mostly certain these girls are kidding. Besides, lots of kids had fake Death Notes for shits and giggles, and I’m pretty sure they’d eventually feel like complete dumbasses if they damned their soul to hell for a 50 cent keychain that could’ve been fixed with superglue.

I would love to see a hell torture based on that crime, though.

Nonetheless, Tsugumi freaks out over it. Surprisingly, she doesn’t flash back to Kanako, and instead remembers the dead body of the nameless jackass who sent Kanako to hell. In a panic triggered by their words, she runs out into the street and gets clipped by a truck, wounding her leg.

This is all meant to highlight that Tsugumi’s crisis of morality from the previous episode is even worse than ever. Now she essentially has PTSD after the last case.

The truck driver who clipped her was extremely nice and apologetic over what he did, even if it was her fault that she got hurt. She wonders if Hajime would hate the nice truck driver if she had died back there, even though it was her fault. Would he seek vengeance? Would he break and call Hell Girl? Would he really cause harm to such a kind man when it would’ve been an accident?

Those are really valid concerns, and Tsugumi’s reaction to all of this is a very realistic take on her situation.

Wow, it’s almost like the writing is infinitely better when we’re focusing on Tsugumi. Who has a flailing fit on the keyboard when Hajime’s the focus?

Case and point, Hajime tells Tsugumi that they’re done with Hell Girl from now on and she can just put her out of her mind…..Yeah….the girl who has uncontrollable visions on a regular basis of Ai, her targets and her clients, visions that are getting increasingly long and detailed, can easily just put Hell Girl out of her mind. Sure.

At least Hajime’s making an effort at being a better dad, though.

He even scores a gig to write a story in Hawaii, one that barely takes up any work, so it’s basically a vacation for him and Tsugumi. Just as things are starting to look up for the two of them, Tsugumi suddenly passes out from a Hell Girl vision where she keeps asking if Tsugumi knows Sentarou.

Hajime begs for Ai to just leave them alone. Tsugumi points out the obvious that they can’t just ignore Hell Girl, and reveals that Ai seems like she might want something from them. She believes Ai could be reaching out for help, but doesn’t know exactly what she’s asking for. The best clue she has to go on is the location in which she saw the vision of Ai and Sentarou – Batsumi Village.

There’s a mountain resort up there now, but the area with the cherry blossom tree from the vision still seems to be standing. The resort owner points them to a temple close to the cherry blossom tree for information on local legends.

Meanwhile, Ai’s cracking shell is getting to the point where even her mysterious grandmother can tell that something’s wrong, but Ai continues to deny it, particularly when the spider is watching. She is sometimes seen following Tsugumi and Hajime around as they get closer to the area from her vision.

Tsugumi and Hajime reach the temple, but the only story that the priest is able to offer is the tale of Seven Sending. Hundreds of years ago, villages on the mountain believed the spirit of the mountain influenced the prosperity of the area. In order to please the mountain spirit, every seven years a seven year old girl would be sacrificed as an offering.

Hajime and Tsugumi are both surprised to hear this since Tsugumi is seven years old. As Ai hears the conversation, she has a flashback in which we’re shown that Ai herself was a Seven Sending offering. The priest explains that the temple they’re in was built to help give peace to the spirits of the children, hence the name Seven Child Temple.

The man who built the temple hundreds of years ago left for unknown reasons and started up a candy shop where he made trademark black candies. The shop, despite not being owned by the same family anymore, still sends the temple bowls of those candies every year as an offering.

The priest is intrigued when he learns that their last name is Shibata, because the candy shop just happens to be named Shibataya. As Hajime and Tsugumi leave the temple to check out the cherry blossom tree, they ask the priest if they know the original temple owner’s name – it’s Sentarou.

They arrive at the location from Tsugumi’s vision and are shocked to find the cherry blossom tree back into full bloom, despite it being the dead of winter. Suddenly, they’re in the middle of the familiar vision of Ai and Sentarou playing together as children. Oddly, even Hajime can see it this time.

Ai furiously confronts Hajime and Tsugumi, her memory finally returning to her. She realizes the reason behind Tsugumi’s visions is that she and Hajime are the last of Sentarou’s blood line.

Tsugumi has a vision through Ai’s eyes of her being buried alive as she screams for Sentarou. Her childhood friend that she seemed to adore had buried her alive.

Ai’s hatred boils to the surface and she unleashes her powers upon Hajime and Tsugumi. Wanyuudou, Hone Onna and Ren rush to save Hajime and Tsugumi. They try to convince Ai to stop since, should she be consumed by her emotions and kill them, she will be damned to hell forever.

They use themselves to shield Hajime and Tsugumi as they try to escape, but Ai fiercely bursts beyond them and hits them with a dark blast of energy, sending them flying into a nearby stream.

Ai’s power reaches a peak. She prepares to finish them both off once and for all, locking herself into her own contract to hell.

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As you can tell by my lack of notes, I really loved this episode. The development between Hajime and Tsugumi was better, the pacing of uncovering Ai’s past as well as her being there to put the pieces together with them was great and Ai becoming an awesome powerhouse at the end was a fantastic way to end the episode. While we don’t yet know the circumstances surrounding how or why Ai became Hell Girl, the secrets of her past are quickly becoming unlocked, and I think we learned just enough in this episode to make the next episode a must-see.

While they didn’t get much to do in this episode, the role of Wanyuudou, Ren and Hone Onna was also a breath of fresh air. They have appeared very annoyed by the Shibatas in the past, but they are quick to defend them, even putting themselves in harm’s way. It could be interpreted as them wanting to protect Hajime and Tsugumi because doing so protects Ai, but still.

Speaking of which, this also greatly highlights how much they care about Ai. They’ve been scheming behind her back in the past, despite coming clean with her without issue very quickly, but it’s obvious that they greatly care about her and will do anything to stop her from damning her own soul to hell.

Even the animation is more polished and fluid than it has been recently, and thank god for that.

We’re coming down to the wire, so what do the final two episodes have in store?

Rating: 9.5/10

Hell Girl Episode 23: The Light of the Hospital Ward Review

Hell Girl Ep 23 title

Plot: Tsugumi’s latest vision is an oddity. For the first time, she has a clear view of the target, a very kind nurse named Kanako, but only a very vague silhouette of the client. Finding the client proves to be a big challenge since no one appears to have a negative thing to say about Kanako. Is this the first time Ai ferries a completely innocent person to hell?

Breakdown:

Hajime: “A beautiful young nurse. Must be my lucky day.”

Tsugumi: “Don’t forget that she’s a beautiful young nurse that someone wants to send to hell.”

Hajime: “Give me a break, Tsugumi. I’d want to save her from hell no matter what she looked like.”

Uhhhh what? I’m pretty sure she meant that you should be wary of being attracted to her because, if she’s a Hell Girl target, she’s probably someone very bad.

Tsugumi: “Hajime, we shouldn’t butt in! I mean, if someone’s mad enough to summon Hell Girl, they’re going to get real angry when we try to stop them.”

Why are you acting like this is the first time you’ve done this? Also, if you didn’t want to interfere, why did you tell Hajime about your vision in the first place?

Hajime: “So, what then? We just let it happen?”

Tsugumi: “Maybe…”

Hajime: “Not a chance, kiddo. Revenge is bad. That’s that.”

What is with this whole horribly written conversation? And, again, Hajime, if you really want to convince Tsugumi that your view is the right one, maybe not brush off every conversation like this with the same ‘Revenge is bad, mmkay?’ mantra you keep spewing out.

Also, insanely obvious recycled footage in the stairway is fun.

Nurse: “Good afternoon, sir.”

Hajime: “Haha, yeah, thanks.”

the room 1

What is this dialogue? It’s like a drunken first draft.

Hajime: *sees Kanako’s stomach when she stretches* *fans himself with paper* “Well, hellooo nurse.”

Did he just make an Animaniacs reference? Am I in Bizzaro World?

Neighbor: “Aw, how precious. You’re sweet on her.” Disheveled guy you’ve never met before randomly pulls you aside asking if the sweet innocent nurse next door has anyone with a possible vendetta against her, then asks if she has a boyfriend and your first reaction is ‘Aw, you’re sweet on her.’ not ‘Oh my god, this guy is a total creeper. Should I call the cops?’? I just made it to the five minute mark and nearly every line gives me pause.

Let’s recap the rest or we’ll be here all day.

Tsugumi’s latest vision is about a nurse named Kanako, and the client this time is cloaked in mystery. However, the circumstances surrounding this case are very odd. Despite Hajime’s efforts, he keeps coming up empty when trying to figure out who might have a grudge against her. Every single person he speaks to has nothing but nice things to say about her. She’s beautiful, smart, kind and everyone she meets loves her. Even investigating within the hospital as a patient yields no results.

They finally think they’ve hit pay dirt when they meet the elderly Mr. Higuchi. He is vehement in his belief that Kanako made a mistake while caring for his wife, which ended up killing her. Kanako and the staff deny this, and even the police have told him that there’s nothing to suggest a mistake or foul play was a part of it. He takes every person who denies him help or claims that Kanako didn’t do anything as being paid off.

Hell Girl Ep 23 Screen1

They watch him yelling at the nurses one night about his wife, even wishing Kanako to go to hell, so they believe he’s their man. Hajime tries to talk some sense into Mr. Higuchi and convince him to not use the doll, but he’s shocked to find out that Mr. Higuchi has no idea what he’s talking about. He’s clueless about computers and never heard of Hell Correspondence.

Meanwhile, Tsugumi is on an acid trip of a Hell Girl vision, which is more nightmarish than anything. The main points of it are a plane landing, Tsugumi watching the sunset and Kanako slowly sinking into the hospital roof.

She’s so out of it that Kanako finds her in a daze and brings her into the hospital for treatment and rest.

Tsugumi, who had initially detested Kanako because she believed she must’ve been a bad person, changes her mind about her as she talks to her after waking up. Kanako doesn’t even hold a grudge against Mr. Higuchi for yelling at her since she believes it was just a terrible circumstance. He was probably very lonely and sad, and part of her job might be taking the brunt of such tangents for the sake of alleviating some of their pain.

Tsugumi offers her an apple as a gift and Kanako leaves the room. Tsugumi rushes after her only to find the apple on the floor and Kanako gone. She has been taken to hell.

As Kanako takes that familiar boat ride, she starts panicking and asks who could’ve sent her to hell. Ai shows her a shadowy vision of a man in a baseball cap and Kanako says she’s never seen or met that man before in her life. She starts crying and pleading to be let free, but Ai cannot meet her request. She just ferries her off like everyone else.

Hell Girl Ep 23 Screen2

Wanyuudou, Hone Onna and Ren watch from the riverside, claiming they feel bad about this case, but Ren states that this is just one of several instances of this happening over the centuries in which they’ve been doing this. It’s just a part of the job. Wanyuudou, however, states that he can tell that Ai’s heart is starting to break after all these years.

Meanwhile, Tsugumi and Hajime run out into the lobby where they see the shadowy hat man with a creepy toothy grin and a red string hanging from his finger. Tsugumi knows this man is the client since he showed up in her vision.

They give chase, but only find his corpse. He has killed himself by ingesting a bottle of pills. They’ll never know who he was or why he did it.

Hajime: “Maybe he sent her to hell because he didn’t like her face.”

That’s not how this works!

People are only supposed to be able to access Hell Correspondence if they have a grudge against someone. If he didn’t like her face, that wouldn’t be vengeance in his heart – it would be petty anger. Also, the guy killed himself immediately after so this doesn’t fit.

My best theory is that this guy is off his rocker. He tried to ask Kanako out, she rejected him and he snapped. He called Hell Girl in an ‘if I can’t have you, no one can’ way and killed himself after because that’s just the way a lot of these cases pan out. This is iffy because Kanako said she’s never seen him before, but it’s the best I can figure.

Hell Girl Ep 23 Screen3

Hajime: “Maybe he just wanted to hurt someone.”

Again, not how this works. Also, there are many ways you can hurt someone without selling your soul to the devil.

Hajime: “Well, Tsugumi, still think we should mind our own business and let it happen?”

Pftapbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbtttttttttttttttt

flipping off

Fuck you, you self-righteous prick!

Your seven year old daughter is crying her eyes out behind you, realizing someone supposedly innocent and very kind went to hell while standing in front of a corpse of a supposed psycho who killed her for an unknown reason and your first reaction is basically “Told ya sooooooooooo!”? Get off your high horse and fall into the pile of shit it left behind.

Not only is this a terrible thing to say to a little kid, but give her a damn break. She’s seven years old and you’re asking her to understand the complexities regarding morality in revenge and the untold gray areas this creates.

At least Tsugumi is understandable in how slightly bratty she’s been acting. She does understand Hell Girl’s side a lot of time. She is literally able to see through her eyes. She’s also been on nearly every case Hajime has investigated and seen and heard a lot of terrible atrocities either in person or through her visions. It’s difficult to grasp ‘Revenge is bad. That’s that.’ when you’re involved in cases where people murder, rape, blackmail, assault or otherwise torment innocent people.

Hajime has no excuse for his crappy attitude. Like he mentioned the episode before last, he’s the adult here. I’m not asking him to be perfect either as a person or a parent, but don’t stoop to a childish level of ‘Welp, you wanna take your precious Hell Girl’s side now, Tsugumi?’

Tsugumi has many more points in her favor than Hajime, she has even made better arguments for her side, yet the episode before last is, so far, the only time she’s ever slightly rubbed it in Hajime’s face. Even then, she really just flatout blamed him for Yuko’s suffering instead of going ‘Hmph, I was right. Nananananaaaa.’

Hell Girl Ep 23 Screen4

Let’s go through some math here. Only taking into account the cases we’ve seen over the series, we can accept 23 people into our sample. So far, only one fully confirmed innocent person, to the best of our knowledge, has been the target. That means Hell Girl has around a 4% ‘failure’ rate. Is that really a strong enough foundation to build your entire argument on?

 

This episode confuses me, though. I get that, eventually, we needed to have a case where a seemingly innocent person is the target in order to drive home the message that Hell Girl’s service isn’t right. However, as we’ve seen over the course of the series, there are supposed to be failsafes to stop people from abusing the system.

First and foremost, you’re supposed to have a legitimate grudge to even access Hell Girl’s website. This has been fully established since many people have been shown trying to access the website but failing because they don’t have a grudge. One of the best examples of this was in the episode Purgatory Girl, where Fukumoto was unable to see Hell Girl’s ad until he had a vendetta against Okochi.

Can you fabricate vendettas in order to abuse the system? That seems like a stupid workaround.

Second, you’re not supposed to use the service for petty reasons. A good example of this is in the episode The Woman in the Tall Tower. While we’re unsure if Riho was unable to access Hell Correspondence herself, Ai refused Misato’s requests time and again because she was trying to put in petty requests for Riho.

It’s unclear if these requests didn’t go through because Misato wasn’t inputting the actual target of her hatred or if the targets in question were being put on the line for reasons as petty as just shooing away corporate competition. I’ve recently become uncertain of the former because, if Ai and the others know who the target of the client is, why would they need the client to input their name into the website? Just like a legal binding contract thing?

Third, how many people would be stupid enough to go through the trouble of working around those rules to sell their soul to send someone innocent to hell for really no reason?

If these really are just psychos who want to hurt people, why not go the easier route and just, ya know, hurt them?

It’s not even like the clients get to see anything happen to these people. As we’ve seen before, the targets usually just vanish or get quickly whisked away by something. The clients don’t get to see the hell torture, which I believe is what a psycho would want.

Hell Girl Ep 23 Screen5

People like that almost always want to at least see the suffering they’re causing and most of them want to actually be inflicting it in person. Taking all of the theatrics out of the equation, imagine seeing that firsthand. Someone with a big creepy grin on his face pulls a red string off a doll………then nothing because Kanako wasn’t even in the same room as him when he did that. Then he just walks away. Hoo. Was it good for you?

Also, doesn’t this case kinda mar what Hajime’s trying to say? If revenge really wasn’t a factor here, and he was just a psycho who wanted to hurt someone, this doesn’t support Hajime’s ‘revenge is bad, we have to stop it’ argument. His mission, if this case is meant to be supportive, should be to stop people from abusing the system so innocent people won’t get sent to hell.

I almost want to condemn them for not revealing the client’s reasoning as much as I want to applaud them for it. On one hand, keeping it a secret is meant to add to the idea that some Hell Girl clients don’t have a good justification for their actions – They’re just assholes. On the other hand, that can easily be interpreted as insanely lazy writing.

Tsugumi runs off crying because Hajime’s an asswipe and she’s suddenly thrust into another vision where she sees a young Ai and Sentarou playing around. The present day Ai shows up, surprised that Tsugumi not only knows about Sentarou, but is able to see this memory.

Hell Girl Ep 23 Screen6

Because we’re never supposed to learn this guy’s name and the fact that he’s already dead (thus has no reason to have a symbolic candle of remaining life) we don’t get the typical lighting of the candle with Ai saying ‘Your grievance shall be avenged.’

We’re also spared Kanako’s hell torture, though.

This episode was terrible. The dialogue is horribly written a bulk of the time and it just seemed like this episode was cherry picked for the sake of making Tsugumi have a moral crisis. All it amounted to was Hajime basically jerking himself off on ‘Hah, I was right!’ even though, technically, this case didn’t support his side very much, at least not from what we’ve seen.

And I have to emphasize how ridiculously goody goody Kanako is. From all I’ve seen, she has zero faults. Everyone single person loves her. Not even her fellow nurses are jealous of how much attention she gets. She has every guy fawning over her, she’s smart, skilled, incredibly kind, caring, understanding, empathetic, forgiving etc. She’s damn near unrealistic in how perfect she is.

It’s like the writers purposely designed this second coming of Jesus female edition for the sake of making us feel as bad as possible when she gets sent to hell. That’s also one of the reasons why I’m not completely bought on the idea that there wasn’t an actual grievance here. If I’m to believe she has no faults or skeletons in her closet, I’m forced to lose sympathy because people this perfect don’t exist.

It’s so weird that this series is built on the audience enjoying the cathartic release of watching horrible people get sent to hell for many episodes and then at the tail end of the series they do everything in their power to jam ‘revenge is wrong’ down our throats. That’s like an ice cream parlor employee watching you eat a sundae he served you and then coming over to your table to call you a porker.

Even the animation today was just terrible. In addition to recycled animation from the same damn episode, within a minute of each other no less, the faces are all over the place and there are many instances of paper cutout animation, especially during Tsugumi’s vision. I was nearly laughing at how terrible that airplane behind her looked.

I keep getting told Studio Deen is a lot better now, but I have a hard time believing that since this moderate to terrible animation has been going on for over half the series now. And let’s not even talk about Shining TearsXWind. That’s a beast for another day.

Rating: 3/10

Hell Girl Episode 22: Rain of Remorse Review

Hell Girl Ep 22

Plot: On the anniversary of his wife’s death, we learn what really happened to Hajime to make him so adamant against revenge.

Breakdown: Did someone say ‘backstory’? Hooray!

After the emotional explosion between Hajime and Tsugumi in the previous episode, it seems more important now than ever to find out why Hajime is so vehemently against Hell Girl and the promises of revenge that she offers.

And we…kinda get it?

It’s obvious that tensions are high between Tsugumi and Hajime. She’s barely speaking to him and he is basically avoiding her.

On the anniversary of his wife’s death, Tsugumi gets dressed up and prepares her offerings for her mother’s grave, but Hajime appears to forget or just flatout doesn’t want to go. She heads to her grandparents house to spend the day with them in mourning while Hajime hangs out around town.

We learn that his wife, Ayumi, was Hajime’s college sweetheart. They were very much opposites. She was shy and soft-spoken while he was intense and driven as a startup journalist. Nevertheless, the two eventually got married, but things quickly went sour.

Hajime was so invested in his career that he barely spent any time with Ayumi anymore and frequently ran out on her when they actually did find the time. He even, no joke, runs out in the middle of their wedding reception because of a breaking news story.

Ayumi gets pregnant (guess he found at least a minute and half for her. Heyooooooooooooooooooo!) and believes things will get better once the baby is born, but he only gets more invested in his work since babies cost money.

A few years go by and nothing changes.

As Hajime is investigating the extramarital affair a politician is having, he finds out that the man he’s investigating is having an affair with none other than Ayumi. She even left a three-year-old Tsugumi at home alone in order to see him.

Hajime was enraged and started beating the crap out of the guy. Later, Ayumi tried to talk it out with Hajime, but he wouldn’t have it. He stated that he never wanted to see her again and that he’d never allow her to see Tsugumi.

Ayumi drives off and shortly afterward Hajime finds out that Ayumi died in a car accident. It’s unclear whether this was suicide or an accident, but the event stuck with him.

I had trouble understanding exactly why this prompted such a strong anti-revenge feeling in Hajime. Best I can figure, he blames himself for Ayumi’s death because, if he had just been open to talking with her, she might still be alive.

His hatred and anger only caused more suffering.

Problem is, it’s iffy to instantly correlate this to vengeance. I honestly didn’t remember a thing about Hajime’s backstory besides the fact that his wife died. I figured he may have inadvertently caused someone’s death in vengeance for his wife and always felt incredibly guilty over it. Or someone did something against him in revenge so he knew all too well how much suffering the other end of the stick gets. I didn’t remember a thing about a cheating wife dying in a freak car accident. I can maybe stretch that he saw taking Tsugumi away, even if he hadn’t formally done it yet, as the revenge?

This backstory in mind, Hajime seems to be projecting. Unless she really did kill herself, accidents are accidents. Despite everything he did, he had every right to be pissed that his wife was cheating on him. Neglect does not justify cheating. I’d be insanely pissed just at the fact that she left three-year-old Tsugumi alone at home. If you’re going to boink some sleazy politician, at least call for a babysitter.

Even if it does logically create this vendetta against revenge (….wait, what?) it’s a disappointing explanation to say the least. Hajime is increasingly vocal about revenge not solving anything and hatred only leading to more suffering. He hates hatred, is what I’m saying.

Either way, despite Tsugumi being close enough to her father to call him by his first name all the time, Hajime still doesn’t seem to have learned anything from this. At the start of their appearances in the series, he still seems to be extremely busy with his work, frequently leaving Tsugumi home alone, even overnight. He does it at the start of this very episode. If he’s not throwing himself too much into journalism, he’s investing too much time and focus into Hell Girl now. Sure, he pals around with Tsugumi during these cases, but much of the time she’s left alone, and you can’t really count trying to stop a supernatural 13 year old from sending people to hell as father/daughter bonding time.

Also, Inagaki and Murai are in this episode for about 30 cumulative seconds. Blink and you’ll miss them. Not that you’d care.

On the case side, and yes there’s still a case going on, convenience of convenience, today’s client is a guy whose girlfriend is cheating on him, and the target is the aforementioned whore.

We spend all of two minutes on this case, and nearly all of it is the hell torture. I am baffled by how long of a hell torture we got for a woman who we know fuck all about and have seen for about 15 seconds before the thread is pulled.

I get that this is meant to be a parallel of Hajime’s situation with Ayumi, considering the subtle flashbacks he has while he’s yelling at the client, but I already explained how this really doesn’t work – at least not as well as it should have.

Speaking of Ai’s side of the story, Ai is noticeably moody (as moody as Ai can be) and still having visions of the boy, whom we now know is named Sentarou. I smell more backstory!

All in all this is a good episode, but it falls far short of being as great as it could’ve been. We’re supposed to be deeply sympathizing with Hajime’s point of view now, but I only moderately understand his stance more. I don’t feel any different about the situation with Hell Girl as I did before. They just didn’t go far enough with it.

Not to mention how annoying it is to hear a guy who is constantly preaching anti-hate and anti-vengeance obviously having an escalating hatred and vendetta against what Hell Girl is doing. He’s even been getting increasingly violent when investigating these cases. If he’s not nearly kidnapping children, yelling in people’s faces or yanking dolls out of young girls hands and throwing them in the garbage, he’s slapping his young daughter in the face for voicing an understandable opinion. He could easily explain his stance by sharing this same story, but he just keeps parroting the same ‘vengeance solves nothing’ mantra to her and expecting it to stick.

I have to wonder if, given the chance, he would send Ai to hell if it meant stopping her. It would be a complete hypocrite move, but I really wouldn’t be too surprised if he did.

Rating: 7.5/10

Hell Girl Episode 21: Kind Neighbor Review

Hell Girl Ep 21

Plot: Tsugumi’s latest vision is of a girl named Yuko Murai receiving a doll from Ai. Tsugumi knows Yuko as they have been friends for years through their fathers. They drive out to their farm and discover that Mr. Murai is dead and Yuko is now all alone. She blames his death on their neighbor, Sekine, after he tricked him and ruined their farm. All she has left is revenge. Will she get it?

Breakdown: Oh my god, guys. He did it. Hajime finally convinced someone to not pull the string! He saved someone from hell!

MAYBE!

This episode was very interesting because we’re getting concrete character development for both Hajime and the human plot device of Tsugumi. She’s been a bit off and on with her feelings of Hell Girl’s services, but now she seems to definitely be adamant towards Hell Girl doing a good thing for people. Hajime, however, is as firm in his belief than ever that revenge doesn’t solve anything and that Hell Girl needs to be stopped.

They even get into a fight over their stances, to the point where Hajime slaps her for saying the target today, Sekine, is a bastard who deserves to go to hell for what he did.

To delve a bit further into this, let’s briefly go over the episode. Tsugumi and Hajime investigate her latest vision, which is of her friend, Yuko, getting a doll from Hell Girl. Yuko is the daughter of an old friend of Hajime’s, so they’re more determined than ever to help her.

Yuko’s father bought a farm a couple of years prior since he wanted to spend more time with Yuko and live happily and peacefully with her. Their neighbors didn’t offer them a warm welcome, but one of them did – Ryousuke Sekine. He was even kind enough to offer many tips and tricks to make their farm flourish in the first harvest. Murai was so impressed by the harvest and appreciative of Sekine’s help that Sekine convinced him to expand the farm, even though he thought it was too much of a risk.

The next year, the farm was plagued by bad weather and a slue of insects, destroying the crop. Sekine offered a batch of his own insecticide to Murai since buying it was way outside of his budget at that point.

The pesticide failed, the crops failed and Murai fell back into alcoholism. In a drunken stupor, he fell down the stairs and died. Almost simultaneously, Yuko found out that the insecticide was fruit juice and water mixed together – meaning that it was actually attracting bugs.

She later found out that Sekine had a vendetta against them. Apparently, Murai’s late uncle and Sekine had been arguing over the land for years. I assume he inherited it from his uncle and Sekine plotted this whole thing in revenge.

Yuko wants to pull the string and send Sekine to hell, but Hajime says it’s wrong and even grabs the doll from her and throws it in the garbage.

After the aforementioned fight, Tsugumi runs away. Ai gives Yuko the doll back and tells her the decision is up to her. She’s about to pull the string after seeing Sekine smiling nearby in the rain, but is interrupted by Hajime, who is searching for Tsugumi. When he finds her, he chastises her for making him worry. Even though she’s still angry at him, they hug it out.

Seeing this reminds Yuko of her father and her hugging in a similar fashion after the farm started to falter.

She decides to not use the doll. She’ll continue living in her father’s farm and try to figure things out from there. Afterall, it’s the only place where she can feel like he’s still around.

Just when you’re about to grab the chalk to put a tally in Hajime’s win column, Sekine shows back up.

He’s got news – Yuko has only a few days to pack up and haul out. Seems Murai borrowed a large sum of money from Sekine after he was convinced to expand the farm. He put up the farm as collateral. Since the crop failed and Yuko has no money, he has the right to take her farmland and her house. Hajime is about to deck the guy, but Yuko stops him stating that none of this has a point. It won’t bring her father back.

Sekine doucheily taunts Yuko over how much money he’ll make selling the farm, especially considering the improvements Murai did to the house.

Hajime and Tsugumi bring Yuko to a group home, and Tsugumi tells Hajime that she really should’ve pulled the string afterall. At least then she’d have the farm as a home and as a memory of her father. Now she has nothing and Sekine wins. She bluntly puts the blame entirely on Hajime.

As Yuko is given a tour of the place, she notices a computer and her eyes go dark. Hell Girl appears behind her and says ‘The decision rests solely with you.’ before the end credits roll.

It’s vague, so we’re not sure if Hajime succeeded here. Also, it can easily be argued that, even if he did save her and Sekine from hell, Yuko’s outlook is still terrible. This is the most morally conflicting episode to date.

Sekine does deserve to go to hell, even if he wasn’t directly responsible for Murai’s death. He still, basically, indirectly caused it, was a complete conniving asshole, made Yuko a homeless, penniless orphan and still walks away with a smile on his face and a fat wallet.

Hajime does have a point that Murai wouldn’t have wanted his daughter sending another person to hell or damning herself to the same fate, but both options seem terrible. ‘Just dust yourself off and move on’ is really tough advice. I get that he’s probably feeding this from his situation with his late wife, but he seems incapable of seeing the other side of the coin.

He also brings up the very important fact that Yuko is a child. She’s only a few years older than Tsugumi. She might not have the maturity or understanding to make such a choice. Does that mean he was right to just take her doll and throw it away? I don’t know.

Speaking of which, how have Ren and Hone Onna done this job for years and never seen anyone take the doll and discard it? Especially considering they have seen someone take the doll away in this very series.

This time, Ai just returns it to Yuko. Must be a case by case basis decision.

This episode was frustrating because, unlike a lot of episodes where we get our cathartic release in seeing a deplorable bastard get sent to hell, here we’re just left feeling awful in what was supposed to be a win for the ‘good guys’. That’s not to say the episode is by any means bad. It explored territory we really needed to discuss and further expounded the debate on whether or not using Hell Girl’s services is the right thing to do or at least justifiable.

Not to mention, we get a touch more of Ai seeing the visions of that boy from the last episode.

Hajime really needed a win, and, despite it being depressing and awful, I think this was the win he needed, if any. It hit close to home both being a similar situation to him and his daughter and being a close friend. And, in the end, no matter what Yuko really ended up doing, the win was really partially a loss.

Can you dust yourself off and move on now, Hajime?

Rating: 9/10

Colorful (The Series) Review

Rating: 0/10

Plot: None.

Breakdow: This is a series of 6 minute shorts about……guys being perverts and women being treated as sex objects.

I am in no way exaggerating or kidding. If there were a show called ‘Fanservice: The Anime’ it’d be Colorful. I watched two episodes of this and both episodes were about the same thing – pervy guys saying nothing but constantly perving on what women were doing. They were mostly getting insanely entranced by the panty shots or looking at their cleavage, but episode one did showcase two students getting all drooly over their hot teacher constantly repeating the differences between L and R (Watching her mouth and tongue and whatnot.)

It’s sexist to both men and women, really. It shows men as nothing but perverted braindead idiots who are always trying to get a look at women’s panties, bras and cleavage. It shows women as being nothing but objects for sexual desire. Besides the few times that randomness pops up, there’s no humor to it. I was going to actually watch the rest since the episodes are just six minutes long, counting the OP, and there’s only 16 episodes, but there’s no plot. I wasn’t saying ‘none’ in the plot section to be funny. Two episodes in and no plot whatsoever. Just lots of guys being pervs.

The art is very bad. Sometimes they’ll have a fairly nice shot, but you can tell that if they did have a budget, all of it was spent to make the women look as attractive as possible. The animation for the OP has cut outs flying across the screen and everything looks poorly drawn and mostly poorly animated.

The music in the BG is…okay, but the OP is like a chipmunk with rabies gnawing on your brain. The lyrics are asinine (They repeat something like “my temperature is (something) come rise it with me”) and the melody is catchy, but it’s coupled with a singer SCREECHING the lyrics to the song. It’s a god-awful song but also the kind of song that would easily get stuck in your head.

Bottomline: Pass on this, unless you’re really pervy. Even then, go watch a better ecchi or harem or even hentai if you want your fanservice fill. This is just low-grade.

Additional Information and Notes:

Colorful the Series was directed by….Ryutaro Nakamura…Wait….The guy who directed Serial Experiments Lain?!….I…uh….

It was…uh…produced by Triangle Staff, who also produced–What the hell? Boogiepop Phantom, A Chinese Ghost Story and Junkers Come Here?!…AND Serial Experiments Lain?!

*sigh* I don’t even…*cough* It is currently licensed in the US by AEsir Holdings who also have the licenses to–Oh let me guess. A bunch of good things? Neon Genesis Evangelion, Princess Tutu and Saiyuki….

NO. NO. You don’t get to have all of these insanely great connections, Colorful. You just don’t. When these people signed up for this project, they must’ve thought they’d be working on Colorful the movie. Either that or they all desperately needed a paycheck.

Year: 1999

Episodes: 16

Recommended Audience: Obviously lots of fanservice, but I don’t think they ever got to full-on nudity from what I saw. Close, though. 13+