Hell Girl Episode 18: Bound Girl Review

Hell Girl Ep 18

Plot: A girl is tormented by a horrible woman because her dogs bit her.

Breakdown: Warning – High levels of rant and anger. Reader discretion is advised.

I’m going to be completely candid here – I didn’t rewatch this episode. I won’t. I refuse. I’m sorry. I didn’t even rewatch only the hell torture. This episode pisses me off way too much for even that to be any consolation.

Remember the episode Silent Cries where I was wary of rewatching it because I despise animal abuse? But I was relieved that the episode didn’t have a huge amount of it?

I remember this episode extremely well from my first watching of the series because it’s 1000x worse than Silent Cries. Whereas in Silent Cries the animals are suffering because of a neglectful asshole vet, Bound Girl has one of the worst, most horrid cunts in all of anime – Meiko Shimono.

The main issue with her is that, holy shit, she, as a character, makes this episode so emotionally manipulative. I can not emphasize enough how ridiculously over the top evil Meiko is. She is by far the most hateable target this show has ever had. It’s, no pun intended, major overkill.

Writers: “Don’t hate her for her hatred of dogs? Here, hate her for being an emotionally and mentally abusing dickwhistle to a little girl.

Still not enough? Hm, well, those are some cute corgis that girl has. Here, she killed one of them.

Still? Okay, here. Now the second one’s been brutally murdered too.

Wow, really? Still not enough? Hmmm….Got it! She murdered her parents for the inheritance and buried them in the backyard!

Hatred yet?….No? Hoo boy. Alright, she murdered her infant child and buried it in the backyard so she’d never have to share her riches with it!

Need more? Ah, got it! Hey, the second dog just had an adorable litter of puppies before it died! Now they’re floating in the bathtub! Is that—oh wait. The hatred meter was stuck. Seems you hated her before we even got to the second dog. Oh dear…..Pbbbbt….That’s a lot of bodies….Uhhh….just go with it, I guess.”

She originally told the client, Miki Kamikawa, that her dogs supposedly bit her, so she essentially enslaves her to make up for it. Then she kills the dogs one after another to punish her even more. The real reason she blackmailed Miki was because she thought the dogs had dug up the remains of her child or her parents in the garden and that Miki had seen them. So, even though she never mentioned it, she kept a tight hold on Miki to keep her from talking about something she didn’t even know about to begin with.

Meiko gets plenty of comeuppance as, not only does she get arrested, but Miki pulls the string, sending that bitch to a level of hell I can only hope is filled with hell hounds and an endless loop of Kujo, but I still won’t bring myself to rewatch it….or even call it a good episode outside of all of these atrocities, to be honest.

Like I said, I didn’t even skip through everything to watch the hell torture because I don’t think anything they’re usually up for showing would be worth the horrible journey that is this episode.

Not to mention, it still has to be weighed with this poor girl being marked for Hell too. I might be petty with the rating. Like I said in Silent Cries, some people might not sympathize with this level of hatred towards animal abuse, but I don’t care. Objectively, it’s just not a good episode by any stretch. This episode is a return to form, literally, because it’s the same Hell Girl schtick from start to finish, which isn’t bad, just a disappointing step back from the progress we’ve been making. There’s no intrigue, no mystery, nothing new to uncover, just a bunch of emotional manipulation and a horrible feeling deep in your gut.

Fuck this episode.

Rating: 1/10


Hell Girl Episode 17: Glass Scenery Review

Hell Girl Ep 17

Plot: A new vision has lead the Shibatas a sanitarium that seems eerily empty outside of a cute little girl named Nina. They know she was the one who contact Hell Correspondence, but in an odd twist, Ai rejects her request.

Breakdown: Remember how I said a couple of episodes back that the formula was changing? This one complete shatters it….for now.

The next episode preview for this entry was even a changeup. Usually, the next episode preview has Wanyuudou asking the client their name, the client responds, then Wanyuudou asks who has wronged them. The client gives a short explanation and then Wanyuudou asks what their request is, which is always to send them to hell.

For this episode, they had Hajime, Tsugumi and Ai narrating, with Ai warning them to turn away.

Today’s episode plays off like a horror movie. Hajime and Tsugumi are heading towards a sanitarium, which is the location of Tsugumi’s latest vision. There, they meet Nina, a strange but beautiful, almost doll-like, little girl who seems to be the one who contacted Hell Correspondence with her father being the target. Her father abandoned her at the hospital, and she sought revenge.

However, Ai, oddly, rejects her request.

This angers Nina, but she moves on rather quickly, attempting to trap Hajime and Tsugumi at the sanitarium forever so they’ll be her father and sister respectively until the end of time.

Nina is revealed to have supernatural control over the sanitarium and tries to keep them from leaving. Ren, Hone Onna and Wanyuudou thwart her attempts time and again under Ai’s orders.

In an effort to get this to end, Ai appears and tells Nina the truth.

This is a little complicated. At this point, you believe the reason Ai can’t complete Nina’s request is because she’s obviously a ghost. I imagine you can’t claim a soul that has already departed, thus it can’t be a bargaining chip for Hell Girl’s service.

This girl is actually not Nina. She is a doll. The real Nina died many years ago from sickness after being abandoned by her father, which is another explanation of why Ai rejected this request since the target must be dead by now. Nina had a doll that looked very similar to her and was her only friend. The doll, having a soul of its own I suppose, took on Nina’s feelings after she died and started haunting the building even after its closure. She became obsessed with revenge and getting a family of her own, not realizing that she wasn’t the real Nina. It’s only when Ai reveals all of this to her does ‘Nina’ finally leave.

A haunted sanitarium is a great concept as it is, but I think they did an outstanding job at working it for this series. Though, there are some problems, such as, has ‘Nina’ been contacting Ai since she died? If so, why is Ai only now rejecting her? How would Hell Girl be new information to her? She doesn’t even have Internet access or computers – How did she contact her at all?

This episode also revealed that Wanyuudou, Ren and Hone Onna are somewhat whispering behind Ai’s back about what’s really going on with her and the Shibatas. Wanyuudou believes Ai is subconsciously leading them to where her clients are, but admittedly doesn’t understand why she’s going to the trouble of protecting Hajime and Tsugumi from this spirit.

It was really nice seeing these guys be active in other ways for a change. Getting to see them combat another spirit was fun.

We’re breaking entirely from the norm here because, outside of the vision leading them somewhere, this story has no other bits of the Hell Girl formula. No one gets a doll, there’s no string pull and no hell torture. Oddly, if the doll Nina had some semblance of a soul, you might say Ai was briefly Heaven Girl since she helped her move on from this world.

That’s not to say this episode didn’t have some horror elements because ‘Nina’ does several things that mess with your mind.

This was a really good episode that was a welcome break from the norm and a nice look into a different side of Ai and her comrades.

Too bad it’s followed by Bound Girl….

Rating: 9/10

Hell Girl Episode 16: A Night Among Traveling Entertainers Review

Hell Girl Ep 16

Plot: Yumi is a performer in the circus, Happy Circus, but she is being viciously beaten regularly by the ringmaster. Yumi manages to contact Hell Girl, wishing for vengeance. Hajime, following a tip from Tsugumi’s vision, goes to the circus and tries to save them. Will he finally save someone from Hell?

Breakdown: A brief moment to go over some more questions as to how Hell Girl works.

Is there a time limit to using the doll? Can someone just sit on their hands for months or even years deciding if they want to use the doll? I believe the longest I’ve seen someone go is around a week.

I only ask because Hone Onna and Ren are, again, masquerading as workers in the place where the client works for the sake of keeping an eye on them, which is just something they keep deciding to do for no reason. In the beginning, they didn’t really appear until the ending torture. Now they’re jammed into the episode all the time, watching from the shadows. I’m not complaining about them being here, I just don’t understand why they are.

I don’t know if Ai started instructing them to do this even when there’s nothing to investigate (and, even then, it’s not necessary) when Hajime started coming on the scene, but, what, do they just keep their jobs until whenever the client decides to pull the string?

Is there a one or three client at a time rule? I know Hone Onna and Ren can also turn into dolls, but surely there are a lot of vengeful people in the world, or at least Japan, who would use Hell Girl. Do the other clients have to wait until a case is done to free up a space? I believe either in this season or Two Mirrors we have two dolls out at once, but that’s all I remember about it.

What about people without Internet access? Surely there are many tormented people out there who desperately wish vengeance, but don’t have access to a computer or Internet. I know Ai has changed her messaging system to keep up with the times, but still. The client in this episode looks like she is kept in a mostly empty room. If her boss didn’t have a laptop, she’d be screwed.

Back to business at hand, today’s episode centers on the client, Yumi – a performer in the circus who is frequently abused and locked up. Tsugumi gets a vision about it, but the only useful information she gets from it is that the client was in a room with a circus poster on the wall. Hajime and Tsugumi head to the circus and enjoy the show, wondering who the client is. They see a female performer do a disappearing act, she stumbles a bit and…I guess that’s a good enough reason for Hajime to believe that she’s the client. *shrug*

He also somehow figures out that she’s being abused from the knife thrower throwing a knife at a moth when they talk about a feuding couple with the wife cheating on her husband with another circus performer? *bigger shrug* The knife thrower isn’t even the one doing the abuse, by the way.

The only useful information Tsugumi saw in that vision was the poster, so how he’s connecting dots that aren’t even in the same time zone is beyond me.

Ren, in disguise, leads him to where the female performer is and….*sigh* He bluntly tells this young girl, no older than 13, I’d say, to come with him, vehement in the belief that she’s the client. She fights him off, not understanding what he’s talking about, so he decides to tell her that he’ll take her somewhere safe and tries to grab her. And by that I mean he does grab her by the shoulders and won’t release her even though she’s screaming for him to stop and let her go.

It’s only when Ren walks in on them that he finally lets her go. If Ren wasn’t aware of what Hajime was doing, anyone walking in on this, especially from the back, would think he’s trying to rape her. Hajime would have a hard time trying to save Hell Girl clients while he’s in prison.

Seriously, what the hell was Hajime thinking? He’s being unreasonably stupid today. He’s making huge leaps in logic from little hints he’s seeing and now he’s just man-handling anyone he thinks might have used the service, no matter if they’re little girls. Hajime was being way too pushy with the last client too, but at least he had tons of evidence that pointed to Mina being the client and knew the reason why she called Hell Girl. He may have yelled a lecture in her face, but at least he didn’t grab Mina and try to kidnap her.

Not like he’s being intelligent in any manner lately. He leaves Tsugumi, his seven year old daughter, alone without any supervision on a regular basis, which is bad enough, but today he decides to leave her alone by the car for hours near a damn circus. I cannot see anything dangerous about that.

Is Hajime going insane from all of the failings he’s had in trying to save Hell Girl clients? That’s the only way I can justify this behavior.

Later, Tsugumi has another vision – this time of the girl being whipped by the ringmaster. I don’t know why, but Tsugumi is blushing while having the vision. Hajime realizes that he was both right and wrong before. He was right to believe the performer was the client and that the ringmaster was the target, but there were actually two performers. Yuki, the girl he met before who seems to be pampered, and Yumi, who is kept locked up and savagely beaten regularly, particularly when she messes up during a show.

As you can tell, Yuki and Yumi are twin sisters, which is how they pull off the disappear then reappear act. Yumi was the one who reappeared and stumbled, causing her to get beaten again.

Hajime finds Yumi, but he’s too late. Yumi has already pulled the string. Hajime tries to get the ringmaster to flee….not sure why he thinks that would help. I’d think it would be obvious that you can’t hide from her, but far be it from me to let him try. He does the same thing to the ringmaster as he did to Yuki, grabbing him by the shoulders and demanding he come with him. You’re being a little obnoxious today, Hajime.

Also, the deed has been done. This guy is human garbage. You can’t save Yumi’s soul now. Just let him go.

In a surprising and very sad scene, we get a flashback of Yumi and Yuki as kids. They used to be very close, doing nearly everything together. They joined the circus (or were adopted into it? It’s not very clear) and Yuki was always a little better than Yumi, earning the constant praise of the ringmaster while Yumi would get punished for every mistake. Eventually, it got to the point where Yuki would take delight in her sister’s anguish, and she would sabotage her equipment so she would keep screwing up and get beat. As time went on, Yumi was relegated to staying in what was essentially a cage. She would get worse and worse beatings every time she messed up.

Yumi sings a song to herself while curled up on the floor. Ai, in a rare show of emotion and sympathy, appears before Yumi and brushes away her tears before leaving to do her job.

In a surprising twist, as the ringmaster and Hajime fight, Yuki gets sucked through the mirror, revealing that it was actually her and not the ringmaster that she had targeted.

During the torture, Yumi reveals that she hated her sister because she is always treated like half a person with her around, and she never gets the glory all to herself, so she believed she deserved everything she got…..Wow….bitch. I don’t even get it. Yeah, given the order of their trick, Yumi got to take the final bow, but if it was bothering her that much, why not change it to have Yumi be the first part of the trick? Yuki was getting all the attention from nearly the instant they joined the circus. This girl is a crazy selfish bitch.

Ai, can we get a two for one deal here? Because despite the harpy queen here needing a ride in your boat, that ringbastard needs to go too.

After Yuki gets sent to hell, we get an early episode-esque wipe because now it’s like Yuki never existed and Yumi is being spoiled by the ringmaster.

All in all, this episode was surprisingly a lot better and much sadder than I ever anticipated. Truthfully, this just looked like filler from the preview, but I was nearly crying at Yumi’s situation.

While the target definitely deserved to hell, it’s been a while since I’ve felt so bad for the client. This might be the worst I’ve felt for a client, to be honest. Yumi is clearly very emotionally damaged by all of this abuse. She spends a lot of time in a daze, singing to herself, and doesn’t even take notice of Ai when she enters the room and touches her cheek. The fact that she’s now also damned to hell is just heartbreaking.

While I’m more than happy Yuki got her just desserts, I’m a bit mad that the ringleader didn’t get any comeuppance for what he did. Yuki’s petty sabotage wouldn’t have meant much if the ringmaster didn’t respond to all of the failings with neglect and abuse.

The twist this time actually got me. While I pretty much figured out the twin thing before they revealed it, the fact that the target was her sister threw me for a loop. During one of the flashback shots, we see that Yumi had watched Yuki sabotage her unicycle once. She was well aware that her sister was screwing her over and enjoying her pain, but realized that no one would believe her if she told anyone because Yuki was the perfect golden child.

It’s not just the ringmaster either. It’s obvious several other people in the circus, maybe even the entire troupe, knew about the treatment Yumi was getting, yet they turned a blind eye to it. It’s infuriating.

The first part of the episode is what hurts it the most. Hajime’s actions are ridiculous, and it just seems like a clump of bad writing.

Rating: 8.5/10

Hell Girl Episode 15: Island Woman Review

Hell Girl ep 15

Plot: Mina Minato is under the firm thumb of her aunt in a little island town. Mina has fallen for a diver named Yuji, but her aunt, Fujie, is strongly against the relationship. After an incident, Mina calls upon Hell Girl and targets her aunt.

Breakdown: This episode, quality wise, is like the antithesis of the previous episode. Let’s go over what I praised in episode 14.

The story was intricate, interesting and had a touch of mystery.

This episode, outside of one big twist you’ll figure out early on, is about as clear-cut as the early episodes, and the story itself is rushed and fairly poorly written.

Hajime, despite ultimately failing, seemed like he was drastically impacting the plot for a change.

Being fair to Hajime, he did nearly succeed here, but the execution is ridiculous. He’s borderline obnoxious.

The situation with the target was complex and left you thinking about the entire situation long after the episode ends.

Here, the target is clear, extremely hateable, and you’re not even thinking about it after the credits start rolling.

To explore more of where this episode went wrong, let’s delve into the full story. Tsugumi and Hajime head to an island called Rogetsu, which is the location in Tsugumi’s latest vision. Hajime tries to interview the townsfolk about the situation between Mina and Fujie, but everyone’s incredibly secretive and distrusting when it comes to this topic.

It’s never explained why this topic is so sensitive to the other townsfolk, either. I get that some small towns, particularly isolated areas like islands, commonly have citizens who play it close to the vest, but, in media, this is usually because the people know of something very horrible that, should the information leak, something terrible would happen. Here, there’s no reason given as to why they’re so closed off about it. Unless they know about ‘the twist’, and there’s no reason they should. If they do, why the unholy hell have they not contacted the authorities?

They eventually find some people willing to talk, and they learn that Mina’s mother committed suicide when she was very young, but her body was never found. Remember that. It’s important.

Her mother left the island, fell in love with a man, got pregnant with Mina, and returned to the island after she broke up with her boyfriend. Supposedly, she simply never got over the breakup and killed herself, leaving her daughter in the care of her sister, Fujie.

Mina, now an adult, has been controlled by her aunt her whole life. She even pulled her out of school before she reached high school when she wanted to pursue studies that weren’t conducive to being an inn owner like herself.

She eventually fell in love with a diver named Yuji, but Fujie always fought against the relationship, despising and distrusting anyone who wasn’t from the island. Mina called Hell Girl when she found out that Fujie had spontaneously attacked Yuji with a knife while he was diving.

In and out, Fujie will spontaneously be heard talking to someone that the audience can’t see, and she even slips up in dialogue once or twice that she believes her sister is still alive. Remember that. It’s important.

Mina presents the doll to Yuji, but he believes it to be evil and wants to throw it off the cliff and into the ocean. Judging from Ai’s dialogue, this scene does answer the question of what happens if you lose or discard the doll – it really does just go away. Ai might change up the rules sometimes, but it’s meant to be the end of the potential contract.

Hajime, having been notified through ‘I’m just a plot device at this point’ Tsugumi’s vision of Mina and Yuji’s whereabouts, tries to stop them. And by ‘tries to stop them’, I mean he gives them a sudden loud and manic lecture about how it’s not worth it and they have their whole lives ahead of them etc.

Despite the cliche-ness of the speech, it actually works like a charm. A little too well, actually, because they suddenly decide to leave the island and elope. Hajime decides to try and stop them from eloping too because it’s such a rash decision. Dude, stop. They’re fixing their problem in a way that doesn’t involve eternal damnation. Just take your win and go home.

As Mina is about to pack up and leave for good, she hears Fujie talking to someone in the cellar. She investigates further when it starts to sound like Fujie is talking with Mina’s mother somehow. Mina is horrified to discover – Dun dun DUNNNNNNNNNNNNN – Fujie is nuckin’ futs and is having a discussion with the decayed corpse of Mina’s mother like she were still alive, just sick and unable to care for Mina.

Yeah, this is played out to be a huge twist, but anyone paying attention to the hints they peppered throughout figured this out before the first commercial. Remember, her body was never found and Fujie’s been acting like she’s alive? It was either this or she really was keeping Mina’s mother alive in her cellar, which wouldn’t make sense but would be less predictable.

Also, see what I mean about this not making sense in regards to the townsfolk? Either they, for some reason, really want to keep a tragic suicide a secret or they know of this insane bullshit and just decided to leave Fujie be for some reason. In which case, wow.

Turns out, Mina’s mother wanted to leave the island again after Mina was born. They don’t explain why outside of she just hates the island, but she was intent on it. Fujie wasn’t having any of that since she believed it was dangerous and terrible outside of the island, so she tied her up in the cellar and murdered her with a hatchet so they’d be together forever. She took a bloody shoe from her and threw it into the ocean so it would be assumed that she committed suicide.

Since Mina has discovered what Fujie did, Fujie realizes that Mina must die too and suffer the same creepy fate as her mother. She tries to fight back with the doll, but gets injured. Yuji discovers the situation and tries to defend her. As she and Yuji are about to be chopped up like firewood, she manages to pull the string and send Fujie to hell. Hajime somehow arrives a moment later, despite being pushed to a cliffside that looked difficult to climb…..oh yeah, Ren pushed him down there…He and Hone Onna have been screwing with him all episode in order to stop him from interfering—it doesn’t matter. He’s disappointed that he’s too late to stop her.

I get that he’s tired of losing these cases, but what did he expect to do? He could’ve strong-armed Fujie I suppose, but it’s more like he’s disappointed that Mina used the doll to save themselves….In which case, wow.

Tsugumi is back to feeling bad after a case ends, which is better but still confuses me given the way she acted in the previous episode. Hajime believes he was naive to think that he had actually saved them. He did, though. It’s not like they changed their minds or lied to him about not using the doll – they were going to take his advice and leave, but she was forced into using the doll to save her and Yuji’s life. He wasn’t naive – it was just really bad luck that Mina happened to hear her aunt talking.

This episode was not good. There are several aspects of it that don’t make sense. The writing, even in dialogue, was poorly done. I was almost embarrassed by how terrible that scene at the cliff was written. The case was a little interesting with a crazy, but incredibly predictable, given lazy hints, twist. The characters weren’t compelling, the townsfolk were irritating and made no sense in their motivations, and Hajime, despite nearly getting a win, was obnoxious and whiny. Even Ren and Hone Onna were irritating since their role was literally just to screw with Hajime to get him to stop getting information. And that push at the cliff was after Hajime had convinced them not to pull the string. They did that purely out of spite.

We don’t even get a torture this time around, which is ridiculous since this is one of the more hateable and insane targets so far.

Rating: 3/10

Hell Girl Episode 14: Beyond the Dead End Review

Hell Girl ep 14

Plot: Saki’s father mysteriously commits suicide after seemingly trying to blackmail the mayor, Ryouzo Kosunoki. Saki calls upon Hell Girl to exact revenge against him, and Hajime does everything he can to get to the bottom of this and hopefully prevent Ai from claiming another soul.

Breakdown: Oh my god, guys! Hajime is finally impacting the plot!


He was so close to actually doing something meaningful, but it was all for naught. One of the things that annoys me about Hajime’s character is that, for much of his stay on the series, his actions amount to nothing. Without him, some plot elements wouldn’t be revealed to the audience, but his actions never have any impact on the story itself. He is doing his damnedest, no pun intended, to stop Ai from taking people to hell, but he keeps failing. You can tell that his failures are visibly getting to him by this point, especially given the circumstances of the case we have today, but so far he has amounted to a character who is just there.

Speaking of today’s case, it’s quite the complicated one – and it might be our first case of someone truly undeserving of going to hell being the target.

Saki Kirino’s father was a simple man and a single father who was upset because he didn’t have enough savings to send his daughter to a university in Tokyo. Saki discovered that he had a stack of photos implicating that the mayor, Kosunoki, was in dealings with organized crime. He left one night to blackmail Kosunoki into paying him off so he could give more money to Saki. The next morning, he was found hanging in the park and the official cause of death was suicide.

Saki didn’t believe the finding and vehemently accused Kosunoki of murdering her father. She loudly vocalized her accusations, but only drew dire from the citizens who loved Kosunoki, especially the residents of a local elderly home. She even starts getting threatening letters taped to her door. Saki has no evidence to present to the police to get an investigation opened. The envelope containing the photos was not on Mr. Kirino’s body, which is the only strong piece of evidence that Saki has in believing Kosunoki has something to do with it. Since she and her father were the only two who saw the photos, it’s all hearsay.

Meanwhile, Tsugumi has a vision that sends Hajime off to investigate and possibly prevent another use of the trademark black doll. He hears Saki’s story and asks her to wait on pulling the string until he gets to the truth of the matter.

While Kosunoki and his son, Yoshiyuki, firmly deny any wrongdoing, they eventually tell their side of the story to Hajime. Kosunoki was an orphan who was raised by his grandmother. When she passed away, he felt driven to fight for the rights and caring of the elderly as a way to repay his grandmother, which prompted him to build a retirement home. However, after some time, the director of the home passed away and the deed to the building was somehow left in the hands of Japanese crime lords. In order to keep the building and prevent the residents from becoming homeless, Kosunoki had to trade the deed for some vague political concessions – the dealings of which were caught in photos by Saki’s father.

Mr. Kirino was hard up for money since he desperately wanted to send Saki to a nice university in Tokyo, so he decided to blackmail him. Kosunoki and Yoshiyuki refused to give into his threat and turned him away. Yoshiyuki believed that Mr. Kirino was in debt with some shady people and probably committed suicide when he realized he’d never get the money to pay them back.

Kosunoki, however, refutes this claim and accepts responsibility for Mr. Kirino’s death, but not in the way Hajime thought. He states that Mr. Kirino told him of his money problems and why he needed the cash so badly. He completely denies killing him or having someone else do the deed, but believes that someone might have done so on his behalf. He tells Hajime that he can publish the story, but warns that, should anything happen to him as a result, it might cause the retirement home to shut down.

I might be slow on the uptake today, but it took me until I started writing this review and rewatching some of the scenes to understand what really happened. Shaken by Saki going so far as to hire a journalist to investigate them, Yoshiyuki meets with Saki and hands her an envelope, which I initially believed was hush money. He claims he wants this whole thing put behind them and calls her selfish for what she’s trying to do. He claims that damaging his father’s reputation or getting him throw in jail will do a lot of damage to the town while no one but her cares about what happened to her father.

Saki tearfully rejects the offer, but I didn’t realize that the packet was actually the missing envelope of photos. This doesn’t exactly prove that they killed Mr. Kirino, but this combined with Kosunoki stating that someone on his behalf likely killed him definitely points to Yoshiyuki being the one who killed Mr. Kirino for the sake of protecting his father.

This raises the question of why Yoshiyuki can’t turn himself in and end this whole thing, but the scandal might be so close to Kosunoki either way that it would ruin him and possibly put him in jail too.

Hajime gets Kosunoki to agree to beg for Saki’s forgiveness, but there’s a problem. Saki had a meeting with the bank and learned that her father had little in savings – definitely not enough to send her to college.

Saki is done with everything. She realizes that nothing will ever bring back her father and nothing will fix what happened, but sending Kosunoki to hell is the only thing she can do for her father after everything he’s done and tried to do for her. She pulls the string while she’s on the phone with Hajime, and Kosunoki disappears. While he’s in the boat with Ai, he regrets that he is unable to apologize to Saki.

This case was very intriguing and another episode that is just tragic on all sides. Did Kosunoki deserve to go to hell?….That’s a hard question to answer. Yes, he did deal with crime lords, which is bad, but he did it to help save some elderly people from being homeless, which is good.

He turned Mr. Kirino away at his blackmail threat while knowing and understanding why he was doing it, which is…..one of the biggest moral mixed bags we’ve had so far. Giving into the blackmail isn’t necessarily good, even if you know what the money’s for, but he rejected it for good reason. Afterall, if someone realizes they have you under their thumb, no matter their good intentions, they can have you in a perceived debt for however long they want you there. Then again, rejecting it kinda doesn’t make sense.

While Kosunoki obviously has a moral compass, as shown when he told Hajime his story and that he was free to publish it, rejecting the blackmail leaves him open to selling the photos, which would ruin his reputation, possibly get him arrested and have the retirement home shut down anyway. Why do dealings with crime lords to protect the elderly but not give into blackmail for that same reason?

Kosunoki’s biggest sin would be protecting his son if he knew he killed Mr. Kirino, but despite a small implication that he suspected Yoshiyuki had something to do with this, we don’t know for certain if he knew. Even if he did, is protecting your son from a murder charge and life in prison, even if he deserves it, really a major sin? Even if the right thing to do is turning him in, I’m sure most parents would sympathize with a deep desire to protect their children – particularly when the reason they’re in trouble in the first place is because they were trying to protect their parent. It’s a heartwrenching decision to say the least.

Probably the most upsetting thing about this episode is that the one person who deserved punishment, Yoshiyuki, didn’t get any. He was a complete asshole from start to finish in this episode. If everything hinted at in this episode is true, he killed Mr. Kirino in cold blood, treated Saki like complete garbage for trying to get justice for her father even though he knew what she was saying was, more or less, true, said to her face that no one gave a crap about her father but her and lied through his teeth through the whole ordeal, even letting his father field the accusations instead of turning himself in.

Nearly every line that came out of his mouth was yelling at someone or slinging accusations around. He was a bastard, and his father paid for his crimes. Even Saki had to pay dearly for what she did, but he gets away scot-free.

You could argue that he paid for it with the death of his father, and I’ll concede to that, but I haven’t seen a tinge of sympathetic emotion from Yoshiyuki, so, for all I know, outside of losing his power, influence and possibly money, he might not give a rat’s ass that he’s dead.

At the very end of the episode, Tsugumi expresses happiness that Kosunoki is dead and that Saki got her revenge, which is odd. Hajime usually shares all of the information on his cases with Tsugumi and she’s typically saddened by the outcomes, even if the person deserved it. I don’t know if these cases are also changing Tsugumi’s attitude or if she just had a different view on this case in particular for some reason, but Hajime tells her that the outcome wasn’t good at all, and I’d certainly agree with him.

This was a great episode with an interesting mystery, intriguing story and a much more complex resolution than we’re used to. The outcome may not have been great or even good, but it adds another layer to this show in regards to freshening up the formula. However, it has yet to overcome the firmest mainstay of the series – not sending someone to hell for a change.

At a point in this series, you start to believe that one of the main reasons people watch this show is for the cathartic release of seeing assholes get sent to hell and seeing the creative tortures that Ai and the others come up with before the ride on the river Styx. However, we’ve now had a few episodes where we aren’t loudly rooting for Ai to say ‘Perhaps…it is time to die.’ and a few where we haven’t even been able to see the torture. The formula is changing. Slowly, but it is.

Rating: 9/10

Hell Girl Episode 13: Purgatory Girl Review

Hell Girl Ep 13

Plot: How long has Hell Girl been around, and what’s it like when one of her previous clients finally passes on of natural causes and has to uphold their end of the bargain? A man named Fukumoto sheds some light on this as his candle starts to burn out.

Breakdown: The most interesting episodes of Hell Girl are usually ones that break the formulaic structure, and this story is no exception. It is the best episode of Hell Girl so far, even if there is no target or punishment today.

Instead we get a fifty year old case of a man named Fukumoto.

Hajime is actually doing stuff today as Tsugumi’s visions lead him to a book store which carries a story called Purgatory Girl. The story is incredibly similar to how Hell Girl currently works.

A man had a beautiful wife, but one day another man named O raped her. His wife was distraught and in constant agony, and she eventually decided to take her own life. Filled with anger, the man calls upon Puragtory Girl, who avenges grievances. O mysteriously disappears soon after.

This story reflects the real tale of a man named Fukumoto, an esteemed artist and writer. He was close friends with another writer named Okochi. Fukumoto came home one day and found that Okochi was taking advantage of his wife. Soon after, his wife committed suicide.

Some time before this happened, Okochi told Fukumoto about the Hell Correspondence, which, at that time, was an ad in the classifieds. The ad was blank to those who held no grievance, so Fukumoto could never see it, but when this happened, he was suddenly able to see the writing. He called upon Hell Girl and Okochi got his punishment. Meanwhile, Fukumoto has been living with the burden of his curse mark for several decades, and his candle is nearing its end point.

He suggests maybe Hell Girl wanted Hajime to find him and learn of this before his passing, which explains why Tsugumi got the vision.

One of the hanging questions left at the end of most Hell Girl episodes is ‘what happens now?’ in regards to the clients. You usually get a small glimpse of their current path after the string has been pulled at the end of the episodes, but most of these clients are very young and viewpoints can change drastically over the course of a lifetime.

Fukumoto shows this much when he explains that he took many paths after he gained his curse mark. He threw himself into work, he tried to devote himself to religion and even became heavily invested in volunteering, but none of it alleviated the weight on his chest from the curse mark.

He eventually resigns himself to holing up in his apartment drawing and painting many pictures of Ai, culminating in his masterwork, which is a mural of several images of Ai. The only thing he has to look forward to at this point in his life is seeing her again.

Another very interesting aspect of this episode is Ai’s role. We’ve seen Ai display some very minor signs of emotion throughout some episodes, but this is the first where she may actively be trying to convey emotions however way she can.

While Ai isn’t in much of this episode, it is implied that she actively wanted Hajime to know of Fukumoto’s story and purposefully lead him to his location through Tsugumi. She also seems like she wants to have a heart to heart with Fukumoto in the boat, but pulls herself back. The biggest display of her emotion is through Fukumoto’s mural, which starts crying when he finally finishes it. Ai is somehow crying for Fukumoto through this painting, which is the last thing he sees before his candle burns out.

While we don’t actually get to see Ai herself crying, this scene is very powerful because it confirms that she does have a great deal of sympathy for some of her clients. She even chooses to sit down in the boat and face him as he gets ferried to Hell instead of looking ahead and rowing the boat like she normally does. She obviously wants to offer as much comfort as she’s allowed to before he gets to Hell.

Rating: 9.5/10 – The first half’s a little slow, but this is a fantastic episode. It answers a lot of questions, broke the mold a little and had a great story that wove Hajime and Tsugumi into the mix without seeming incredibly forced or unnecessary.

Hell Girl Episode 12: Spilled Bits Review

Hell Girl ep 12

Plot: A girl named Sawai has been struggling with emotional issues. She refuses to go to school no matter how many times her teacher, Fukasawa, goes to her house to beg her to return or at least talk to him. Sawai only finds some sense of solace in her online friend known only as Cheppo. Likewise, Fukasawa is struggling day after day being a teacher, despite him having a strong passion for school and teaching. As both of them struggle to stay afloat, there’s one burning question – can hell be a paradise.

Breakdown: This episode starts off in an interesting manner. We see that Sawai already has the curse mark before we get a flashback to what lead her to that point. Sawai is berated day after day to go back to school by her teacher, Fukasawa, but she stays holed up in her room. It’s unclear if there was a particular event that triggered this behavior or if she just succumbed to long-standing depression. Either way, Sawai is adamant in staying home and only finds some form of comfort in her daily messages to a mysterious person named Cheppo, who sympathizes and sends her pictures of unique and beautiful locations.

Most episodes start off with the main character being incredibly angry or betrayed by another, which eventually leads to the familiar contact with Hell Girl. This doesn’t seem like the most unique setup, but when it’s eventually shown that Sawai really was just fed up with everything, it allows us to explore the concept of people using Hell Girl when they don’t actually have a deep vendetta, which leads me to why this episode is very confusing in my eyes.

While it’s obvious that Sawai doesn’t particularly like Fukasawa, it’s very unclear as to why she dislikes him enough to enter his name into Hell Correspondence. Most we get is that, despite his daily pleas to come to school or at least talk, she doesn’t believe he really cares or would ever understand her problems. Even if she did hate him for that, hate doesn’t equal having a wanton need for vengeance on someone because he didn’t do anything to her or anyone she cares about.

She never seems that tempted to pull the string once she gets the doll, and it’s later revealed that Cheppo was Fukasawa. He didn’t have any idea that the person he was talking to was Sawai, and she eventually believes him. Connecting after a while, the two become close friends, but she soon realizes that Fukasawa is miserable as a teacher. He always loved school and loves teaching, but he’s met with nothing but problems when he does teach. His students never listen to him, disrespect and insult him behind his back, and his boss berates him constantly.

Hearing that Sawai called Hell Girl on him, he actually asks her to pull the string to end his misery. Sawai continues to see more and more evidence that Fukasawa is indeed miserable and suffering on a daily basis, so she decides to grant his wish and pull the string.

Fukasawa is happy to be in hell, but is saddened when he realizes that Sawai had to damn herself to hell in order to send him there. He watches as she solemnly yet happily proclaims that they’ll reunite in hell some day.

I’m definitely not one to say ‘oh his problems weren’t that bad. Definitely not bad enough to be suicidal over.’ I know all too well that depression is a mighty bitchy OP demon to fight. No matter how a situation might look to an outsider or how ‘good’ someone seemingly has it, they can still be experiencing their own personal hell every single day.

I also don’t have anything to say on Sawai’s situation in that regard.

I will, however, ask why these two find more solace in hell than taking their chances and committing suicide? Again, I’m not aiming to judge the perceptions of these two – but it’s a question even Ai brings up. Can hell be a paradise to some people? Can some people really find comfort in such a horrible place?

The reason I’m asking this question is because, while I’m well aware that suicide is taboo in many religions and cultures, why would you secure a one-way ticket to hell instead of taking your chances and maybe reaching some form of actual paradise on the other side by committing suicide? Even if it’s just nothingness, surely it’s better to take your chances than reserving a spot on that boat.

Maybe they just wanted a clean and simple method. I don’t know. Rational choices aren’t exactly a cornerstone of depression either.

Finally, you can argue that Fukasawa is ridden with guilt for not knowing Sawai would need to send herself to hell too in order to send him there, but you can’t say he didn’t know the weight of what he was asking. He was asking this teenage girl to murder him. No ifs, ands or buts. You can’t get around that. He saw her with a metaphoric gun and asked her to put it to his head and pull the proverbial trigger.

Just the act of doing such a thing, no matter if they believe it’s for the best or not, is a titanic weight on anyone’s shoulders. Walking around with that guilt day after day will only grow and make her situation worse.

Unlike other episodes, there’s no need to argue if the target in this situation ‘deserved’ to be sent to hell. No one deserves depression, and these two didn’t deserve such a fate. It’s a sad situation all around. While I think it could’ve been handled better, it’s a rather sadly beautiful story.

Rating: 8/10

Hell Girl Episode 11: Broken Threads Review

Hell Girl ep 11

Plot: Hajime’s old colleague, Inagaki, tries to give him some investigative journalism work, but refuses when he realizes that he wants him to lie in order to make the article work. Along the way, he discovers a man named Kakaoka has a beef with Inagaki and comes to the conclusion that he’s called Hell Girl for help. Can Hajime finally stop someone from pulling the thread?

Breakdown: This one kinda lost my attention because it just wasn’t a very interesting client or plot for the ‘main’ story. It’s more of Hajime snooping around Hell Girl cases and, spoiler, failing to stop her from fulfilling her duties. Hajime has a slight connection to the target, but it’s not like it impacts him. He realizes Inagaki’s a scumbag before he even learns that he’s a Hell Girl target.

The client today, Masaya Kakaoka, is also forgettable. I had to rewind three times just to commit his backstory to memory. His father, a prominent political figure, had some scandal written about him and even wrote some things about his son, Masaya, doing drugs. The article was filled with lies, and it ruined his father’s reputation, his career, got his father arrested, left their family broke and destroyed their lives.

I will admit Inagaki is a scumbag who deserves to go to hell, but I don’t connect nearly enough with Kakaoka or his situation to really root that much for him to pull the string. Not to mention that Kakaoka’s logic makes no sense. He’s scared to death of going to hell, which makes him uncomfortable about pulling the string. So he decides to try several times to murder him instead. Uh, dude, murder is a quick way of getting to hell. Just saying, you’d be better off just pulling the string if you want him dead that badly. No witnesses, no evidence, no muss, no fuss.

The hell torture this time around is just lame. They trap him in a magazine…….that’s it. Once he’s in the boat, he gets grabbed by a bunch of hands, but we’ve seen that before and it’s not scary at all.

All in all, one of the more disappointing episodes from all sides.

Rating: 5/10

Coicent Review

Rating: 8.5/10

Plot: A boy named Shinichi is heading to a local festival where he runs into a weird white deer who steals his backpack and leads him jumping all over town. In the process, they save the life of a girl who fell from a building and has never been outside. They have a wonderful day together at the festival as the girl, nicknamed ‘Toto’ experiences many new things. However, Toto is not what she appears to be, and that is about to cause a lot of trouble.

Breakdown: Coicent was the other feature coupled with Five Numbers! This one is a bit of a romantic sci-fi/fantasy one episode OVA. Unlike Five Numbers!, though, I really believe this was just long enough to tell its story properly without feeling a little disappointed. Granted, that’s not to say I don’t wish they had built on it. I really do, especially her origins, but it’s fine in a short story format.

Shinichi is a really kind and genuine person. While at first it seems like he just wants a cute girlfriend, you can tell he really grew to care deeply for Toto even in the short amount of time they spent together.

Toto is also a very likable and sweet girl. Her situation is sad, but she has a lot of hope and dreams. She can also be kickass when the occasion calls for it. I don’t know exactly what she is, though. I believe I can go through this without spoiling everything since it was shown in the beginning, but Toto is really an….android? That’s my best guess, though she controls her appearance through holograms or something. Which just begs the question of how this short can really end up happily. I mean, even if it does, she’s still an android which means she’d never age and thus could never legitimately be with Shinichi.

But since I don’t know the specifics of her existence, I can’t be certain.

In the end, this is a really nice short romantic sci-fi comedy. Toto and Shinichi have great chemistry, the OVA has great pacing, writing, music, scenery, art and animation. The animation is all done in CGI like Five Numbers, but it seems more polished with better human animation. Though I’m fine with a short OVA, I’d love to see a longer version of a story like this.

Recommended Audience: There’s some violence, but nothing graphic, no sex, nudity, swearing etc. 5+

Hell Girl Episode 10: Friends Review

Hell Girl ep 10

Plot: Minami used to be best friends with a girl named Shiori, but Shiori has seemingly abandoned her. Left with no friends and ignored by everyone else, Minami wants revenge on Shiori by sending her to hell.

Breakdown: This episode was interesting, but also kinda dumb.

It slightly explored a question I had previously about the ages of clients. Middle school is reaching tween age, but does Hell Girl have an age restriction for who she takes on as clients? At this age, children are extremely emotional and their brains are still not fully developed. They have not yet reached a maturity level necessary for major life decisions, and I’m pretty sure sending yourself or another person to hell counts as a major life decision.

Is the only age requirement being old enough to type? Because you could have little five-year-olds damning another kid to hell for stealing his fire truck in the sand box.

Nonetheless, Ai still offers a doll to Minami, which leads us to the ‘why’ of this situation. Does Shiori really deserve to go to hell? Her age already leans her greatly to ‘no’ but the reasons are also not very strong at all.

Shiori was a new transfer student to the middle school. She was approached by Shiori and they quickly became best friends. However, she was soon ditched as a friend when Shiori became friends with two other girls. Why she couldn’t also be friends with them, I have no idea. This episode makes it seem like friends come in packs of three. Also, as we’ll see later, the girls in question get no comeuppance despite them being the friend-swapping asswipes.

Minami still tried to contact Shiori in person and through texts. Her friends convinced her that Minami was a straight-up stalker when they discover that she’s been sending her a text once every half hour. Shiori’s new friends also tell her to tell their teacher to get her to back off, which she does. Minami tries to speak with Shiori in person to convince her that she’s not a stalker, but accidentally causes her to fall over, making everyone in the class vilify Minami even though it was an accident. Also, I don’t understand why all of her classmates know her as a stalker and are so quick to viciously defend Shiori. If she was that popular, the ending never would’ve happened.

Minami grows to hate Shiori so much that she calls upon Hell Girl. This is another instance where we get a very slight window into some emotion for Ai. She lays down the regular ground rules for the Hell Correspondence, and Minami doesn’t seem that deterred at all of the prospect of going to hell for the sake of sending Shiori to hell. In fact, despite wanting to do it as soon as possible, with Ai still in the room, she proclaims that she wants to pull the string right in front of her face.

At that declaration, though slight, Ai does change facial expressions to seeming notably uncomfortable. I don’t know if this level of hatred in such a young girl is putting her off, or if she feels uncomfortable having such young clients, or perhaps Minami reminds her a bit of herself, but the shift is there.

Minami constantly creepily stares at Shiori throughout every day of classes, and Shiori catches a glimpse of the straw doll one day and steals it, believing it to be some weird voodoo doll that Minami is using to try and curse her. This part also slightly addresses another question I had which was, ‘what happens if the doll is lost or stolen?’ the answer is, maybe not much.

Shiori nails the doll to a pole, believing it will, somehow, curse Minami back (she doesn’t seem to know a damn thing about how curses work in the slightest). When Ai, Hone Onna and Ren arrive, they plan on taking Wanyuudou down and just leaving the situation be, which I guess means if the doll is stolen or lost, it reverts ownership back to Ai and the others, maybe? However, Ai decides to leave Wanyuudou there for the time being (nice) and let the situation play out some more.

The next day, Minami is missing from school and Shiori believes her curse worked. She flips flops from believing she deserved it to worrying if the curse killed her to not caring if the curse killed her. This was basically the one moment where I kinda thought she maybe deserved to go to hell now, but 1) I doubt she truly believes the curse is real and 2) this train of thought is not very unbelievable for any kid her age, as scary as that is. If Minami really did suddenly die, I’m sure her thoughts would change.

When the students get grouped up for a project, Shiori’s new friends leave her out, revealing they’ve found a new friend. Since friends travel in packs of three, Shiori is without friends just like Minami, I guess.

She immediately texts Minami to make amends, and Minami is surprisingly quick to nab up this opportunity, even chastising herself for even thinking of calling on Hell Girl. When she meets with Shiori, she explains the situation with her now ex-friends, apologizes and makes up with Minami. This is another show of either this kid having an emotional disorder or her being too emotionally immature to make these types of decisions.

Just when you think this might be one case where the client resolves things with the target without fire and brimstone, even to the point where Ai is seen walking away from the scene, Shiori pulls a fast one and says they should curse their classmates with the doll.

Minami explains that the doll doesn’t work as a voodoo doll or anything, and states that the red string needs to be pulled in order for it to work. When it does, it sends its target to hell. Shiori is so uncharacteristically stupid here, because she instantly wants to pull the thread, even though she should be intelligent enough to put the pieces together and come to the conclusion that she’s still the doll’s target and she has done nothing to the doll, if possible, to switch the target.

Minami has a bit more sense and stops her from pulling the string, stating that she has to be the one to do it. Shiori forces the string pulling on her physically, but Minami resists when she tells her that the user also gets sent to hell. I don’t know why Minami doesn’t stop her by saying pulling the string will send her to hell, but with an evil smirk and a yank of Minami’s arm, the string is pulled and Shiori is whisked to hell.

As Minami collapses and tries to claim that she didn’t want this, Ai suddenly shows up stating that she did want this. She allowed herself to get so consumed with hatred that she welcomed this and even got her wish of pulling the string in front of Shiori’s face.

In an interesting turn of events, we get no hell torture scene this time around. Instead, we only get Shiori’s pleas for help and crying out for Minami, which Minami seems to be able to hear.

As she shows her curse mark to Hajime (oh yeah, he’s here still) she believes she’ll meet Shiori again someday in hell where she hopes they’ll be friends again. Because if there’s one thing they have plenty of in hell, it’s friendship.

I honestly don’t know if I classify this absolute end as sad or stupid. I’m inclined to believe it’s a bit of both. She is at an age where she should know friendship in hell is a little bit stupid to believe, but the only reason she wants to believe it is because now she’s back to having no friends. She sent her only ‘friend’ to hell and now she’s destined for hell when she dies. That silly thought is really all she has to look forward to now.

Rating: 7/10