Hell Girl: Two Mirrors – Episode 9: Elder Brother, Younger Sister

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Plot: Maho wants to send her brother, Mikio, to hell for ruining all of her relationships before they even start. Though that’s just the tip of the iceberg….

Breakdown: So……incest!

Ya know, I never realized when I started this anime reviewing gig that I’d spend so much of my life talking about incest. And yet, here I am.

Let me backpedal a bit. Mikio is in love with Maho, but Maho’s either deeply in denial or she fully believes her given story, which is that Mikio forces all of her boyfriends to leave her because he feels she’s not pretty enough to have a boyfriend. Mikio is this super hot literal model and Maho, despite the cavalcade of suitors she appears to attract, seems rather ordinary.

Maho detests this behavior enough, and/or believes her brother secretly hates her anyway, that she calls Hell Girl.

She does learn the truth before she pulls the string, and, being fair, no actual incest is had here. He tries to sexually assault her, but she fights him off before he’s even able to kiss her. Later, it’s…kinda….vague, but there are hints that she might have romantically loved him back and she sent him to hell because they could never be in the same house knowing that about each other?….I dunno.

All things said, this seems like a boring episode, right? Let’s up the game, shall we?

Mikio is actually a crossdresser. At night, he masquerades as a beautiful woman named Miki. He’d dress up like a beautiful woman, which he could easily pull off, and he’d hunt down Maho’s new or potential boyfriends, hit on them and then spend the night with them on the condition that they break up with Maho.

How he pulled this off….I don’t know. Either he wasn’t going ‘all the way’ with these guys, not allowing them to discover he’s actually a guy, or….Maho has a habit of finding suitors who are bisexual…..or Mikio is so hot they didn’t care.

Ultimately, I honestly didn’t want this guy to go to hell. I doubt any sibling relationship can go back to normal after something like that, and attempted sexual assault is pretty bad, but I don’t feel like that’s instant one-way trip to hell worthy. It’s especially worrisome when you consider an odd detail near the end.

Maho’s mark is noticeably lighter than most of the curse marks you see and she claims she’ll be seeing him soon. Even though there are no other indications of suicide, and the candle at the end wasn’t nearly extinguished or anything, it seems to hint that she’s going to take her life either out of guilt or because she wants to be with him.

The idea that she felt the same way about him confuses me a little. If she did, then I don’t see what truly stands in their way. Their parents seem to be dead, and they can easily move far away so no one knows their connection.

If taboo is the issue then…..uhh…why not go for it? Calling Hell Girl (and then committing suicide?) seems like a much worse fate. At least if you gave each other a chance, you’d have some happiness before you, theoretically, went to hell.

I don’t really think she loved her brother romantically, but the question does hang in the air.

Rating: 6.5/10 (Mostly just because it wasn’t that interesting and it was kinda confusing.)

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Animating Halloween: Hell Girl – Two Mirrors: Episode 8 – The Fake Hell Link

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Plot: The students of a junior high school are constantly scolded by a strict teacher named Shoko Baba, though they’ve nicknamed her Make-Up Hag. As the grudges of the students grow, more of them receive emails by a mysterious person claiming to be Hell Girl with a fake Hell Link website. None of them can properly enter a grievance against her, however, since every attempt results in an error claiming they’re not filled with enough anger and vengeance.

Who is behind this fake Hell Link and why does it seem to be specifically targeting Shoko Baba?

Breakdown: One of the best episodes so far.

The premise, at first, didn’t intrigue me much at all. When I watched the next episode preview, I thought it’d be boring. A spam email claiming it’s Hell Link? Unless things are actually happening to the people being entered into the system, how could this possibly be interesting?

Surprisingly, quite a bit. The entire first half leaves you wondering who’s really behind this website, and even after it becomes quite clear who it is, you still wonder why they’re doing this and what beef they have with Shoko Baba.

In a previous episode, we saw the first time someone has outright refused Hell Girl’s services after hearing what the price is. This is the second time such a thing has happened.

When the, let’s call her a culprit, called Hell Girl, she refused to pull the string because she didn’t want to go to hell. She even got on her knees and begged Hell Girl to just take Baba without cursing her. This obviously didn’t work, so she decided she’d go on an insanely long mission to destroy her life, to the point where Baba’s husband divorced her and she became estranged to her son.

She became enraged when it seemed like that didn’t destroy her enough, so she concocted a plan to trick one of the students into using Hell Girl for her so she could send her to hell without damning her own soul.

This actually isn’t the first time we’ve seen someone try to send another person to hell by proxy, but this is the first time it nearly worked. Before, the proxy client didn’t take a level of vengeance into consideration. This time, the proxy client has used the website before and knows how Hell Girl works so she could game the system better.

Too bad Ai doesn’t put up with that shit. Laid down a trap for her like a boss.

It’s also amazing how they flipped the script on us. I won’t give away the final twist, but it was very bittersweet and somewhat touching.

What is wrong with the proxy client, though? I will admit, Baba’s a bit of a bitch, but what did she do besides give her somewhat poor marks in middle school that made her so hateful? She even blamed this woman on her own parents getting a divorce. Like, what? Get help, lady.

Rating: 9/10

Animating Halloween: Hell Girl – Two Mirrors: Episode 7 – Bonds

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Plot: Emi’s brother, Tatsuya, died in a tragic motorcycle accident, and now her mother is obsessed with avenging his death by going after the city for a dangerous roadway. Her family is falling apart before her eyes. Despite her best efforts at keeping the family together, Emi is living in a house with no love or attention. Before his death, Tatsuya contacted Hell Girl and got the signature straw doll. Strangely, even though Tatsuya has died, the doll is seemingly passed down to Emi. Who is the doll’s target, and will Emi pull the string to restore happiness back to her family?

Breakdown: This episode certainly was interesting and incredibly tragic.

They depicted the impact of a death of a child in a family very realistically, almost to the point where you want to cry for nearly everyone involved. The dad is drinking all the time and ignoring the problems his wife is currently having, pretty much just letting her grieve in her own way.

Emi is doing everything in her power to keep it together. She’s taking care of her mother, doing all of the household chores and is keeping up activities at school.

Meanwhile, the mother has gone off the rails. She spends her days consumed with thoughts of Tatsuya. She’s gone on a warpath to attack the city for a road that she deems was so unsafe that it caused her son’s accident. It’s also created a massive media storm that…I find unrealistic to be honest. Some media attention, sure, but they are being attacked by mobs of journalists for this issue that’s not really all that news-worthy.

I know a lot of local roads that have issues and end up having a lot of accidents, fatalities included. It’s quite possible to lock the city into a lawsuit over safety issues resulting in a fatality, but it would hardly garner this level of media attention.

Plus, honestly, that road doesn’t look all that unsafe. It’s a sharp turn…with plenty of signs. It was extremely rainy out and he looked like he was speeding. It was an accident. Even Emi and her father agree it was just an accident.

Throughout the episode, Emi’s mother keeps slipping further and further from sanity. She pays Emi absolutely no mind and focuses her all into Tatsuya and getting vengeance for his death.

It’s made a mystery throughout most of the episode as to who Tatsuya was targeting when he called Hell Girl, but about halfway through the episode, considering no one else is really showing up, you come to realize it’s the mother.

Before his death, their mother was still focused entirely on Tatsuya. She never cared at all about Emi. She never paid her any attention or noticed her achievements. No matter how hard she tried, she could never get her mother’s attention because Tatsuya consumed it all.

Tatsuya hated the attention because their mother was always on his ass about every little thing. She was suffocating him and driving him insane. He believed that their family would be perfect if she weren’t around. However, he died before he was able to use the doll.

This is the first time I’ve ever seen a client die before using the doll. I always assumed the doll went back to normal if the client died before the contract could be made, but not only does it stick around, the power gets transferred to someone else without them accessing Hell Girl.

I had no idea you could do that. I could swear that accessing the website was necessary for any deal to start. The only reason I can think of for this happening is maybe, since Emi also had it out for their mother deep down, the feeling of vengeance and the pending contract already in play was enough to transfer it to her? I dunno. Sometimes, I feel like Hell Girl plays it fast and loose with the rules to get a plot going.

The third act is rather heart-breaking. Absolutely everything is falling apart in Emi’s family.

Her dad is becoming more of a drunk, who even seems like he quit his job near the end or got fired.

Her mother is completely insane now, spending her time cuddling a broken Buddha statue head that broke in the accident, acting like it’s somehow Tatsuya or a link to him, borrowing a ton of money for who knows where to get a book deal for Tatsuya’s story and, despite the city deciding to fix the road, they won’t admit responsibility for Tatsuya’s death, which makes her even more infuriated.

Emi is left with complete responsibility in the house and no one’s paying a lick of attention to her. Unable to take it any longer, Emi takes his earlier statement to heart. Maybe their family really would be better off without their mom. She pulls the string and her mother is sent to hell.

We get no hell torture this time around, but we do see her in the boat with Ai and Ren. They tell her she’s going to hell, and she asks if Tatsuya’s there. Even though Ren tells her it’s extremely unlikely, she gleefully yells out over and over that she’s going to see Tatsuya. I know she’s not right in the head, but why would she want to believe Tatsuya’s in hell, even if she’s going there too?

And it doesn’t stop there. Obviously, this doesn’t really fix the issue. Emi’s father believes her mother is merely missing and seemingly spends his days going out to look for her. Emi spends all her days alone and lives in a delusion of a happy family by setting up photos of everyone around the dinner table and pretending they’re the real thing.

God. Damn.

I can’t even really bring myself to say the mother deserved to go to hell. I have no idea how much of a bitch she was before Tatsuya died. From what Emi and Tatsuya said, her entire world was Tatsuya, and she was very neglectful of Emi, but I never got to see to what levels they’re talking about. A flashback or two in that regard would’ve been nice.

Even if she was that way, it’s hard to say that’s enough to warrant being damned to hell.

After the fact, it’s even harder to say she deserves it because she’s obviously spiraling in grief to the point of extremely mental illness. She won’t eat, she won’t pay attention to anything that doesn’t involve Tatsuya and she eventually gets so bad that she just sits on the floor clutching that Buddha head chanting ‘Tatsuya’ over and over.

I know Emi’s in a lot of pain and is frustrated at how her parents, particularly her mother, is acting, but while she may have meant to ignore her before Tatsuya died, I don’t think she’s meaning to do it now. It’s just how some people grieve. This is an extreme case, but it still counts.

Now Emi’s damned to hell too. It’s just a terrible situation on all sides.

Rating: 9/10

Yami Shibai 6 Review

Plot: The sixth installment of the horror anthology series, Yami Shibai.

Breakdown: This certainly was an interesting, but somewhat tame, season of Yami Shibai. There was definitely more of a focus on happier endings and sadder, tragic stories than there were actual horror, but that doesn’t mean they slipped too much in the horror department.

Like I’ve mentioned before, part of horror is creating a connection with the main characters and caring for them to the point where you worry for their safety, heightening the sense of horror that you get from the danger at hand. Problem is, some of these stories didn’t amount as much to horror as they did tragedy. I’m not sure how much of a problem that is because Yami Shibai is a theater of darkness, and tragedy and sadness are indeed dark feelings. I would say I come here for the horror, but I moreso come for the stories as a whole.

The good news is that, even when the stories were more sad or tragic than usual, and even if they had happy endings, the twists and horror elements were usually well-done, and I can’t think of any story this season that was notably bad.

Episode 1: Thunderous Visitor8/10: Starting off a little sad, but definitely creepy with some great pacing, Thunderous Visitor has a great twist and a lot of suspense.

Episode 2: Tomonashi Cave6.5/10: While the story is alright, the episode as a whole is very cliché, and you only really care about one of the characters. Some of the visuals were creepy, but it’s nothing to write home about.

Episode 3: The Wind’s Warning 8.5/10: The story manages to be creepy while having both a happy ending and a sad but sweet twist.

Episode 4: Swamp Offering7/10: Confusing ending, and I still don’t quite understand it even with several theories surrounding it. However, it’s a decent enough horror story with a cathartic ending.

Episode 5: The Dripping9/10: A really chilling and legitimately frightening tale that is only hindered by the setup that I can’t make heads or tails of.

Episode 6: Sakura 9/10: I really love this story, and it does have several creepy and eerie elements, but it could be dinged off for being more tragic and sad with a happy ending than providing full horror. That doesn’t really bother me, though. Also, how and why the tree was suddenly cut down is a bit too convenient and confusing.

Episode 7: Frog Eggs 8.5/10: The more I think about this episode, the creepier it gets. The story doesn’t make much sense to me no matter how I look at it, but I can’t deny that those damn dot eyes and the very ending make for very effective scares.

Episode 8: Sea Fortunes3/10: Weakest episode of the season by far. It’s not necessarily all that bad, it’s just boring and not scary to me. Not to mention that the story doesn’t even make much sense.

Episode 9: Mud Games10/10: Second of two 10/10 rating’s I’ve given a Yami Shibai episode. I would dock it off for being so ridiculously sad, but I can’t, in all good conscience, do that because it did emit a fairly strong emotional response in me. Plus, it does have a very good horror element to it amidst the sadness, so it’s not faltering in that area for the sake of tragedy.

Episode 10: Tree of Innocence9/10: I mentioned that this episode was sadder than Mud Games due to the current circumstances of one of the boys, but Mud Games still created a stronger emotional response in me as a whole, and the true sadness of his situation doesn’t sink until you’ve either watched the episode a couple of times or you’ve sat and ruminated over it, and the horror element in this one is pretty lackluster.

Episode 11: Frozen Memories7.5/10: Still going strong with the sadness, like the happy ending, but very very light on the horror and creepiness. I kinda liked that the…whatever that was outside the door was an unseen threat, but it just didn’t work very well.

Episode 12: Waterfall Drop9/10: One of the creepiest Yami Shibai entries, marred only by a slightly predictable setup and some craggy artwork.

Episode 13: Echoes 8/10: Definitely a creepy and legitimately disorienting episode with a decent enough twist at the end, but nothing that horrifying and slightly disappointing because this is the season finale so I expected more spice.

Rating: 8/10 (Averaged and Rounded up) – Here’s the thing, this is definitely the most consistent season of Yami Shibai yet in terms of quality in writing. There was only one ‘bad’ episode, and it wasn’t even really all that bad so much as uninteresting and confusing. I really enjoyed season six, but it did skimp on the horror several times.

I’m not against them going a different route when it comes to the ‘darkness’ aspect of the ‘Theater of Darkness’ Afterall, sadness and tragedy are two dark things, but after five seasons and a distinct theme of horror, you come to expect more in the actual horror department from Yami Shibai. Over half of the entries are aimed more towards sadness than scares. They can sometimes meld the two quite well, but it’s so strange that they decided to go down this route.

I can’t really mark them down for this, though, because I still think the quality of the stories was enough, and they always made an effort to include horror so it’s not like it was an afterthought.

Recommended Audience: There is some gore, most notably in Frog Eggs, and even then you can’t see too much. While the season is slanted more towards sadness and tragedy, there are still plenty of scares and creepiness here. 12+

Animating Halloween: Hell Girl – Two Mirrors: Episode 6 – Where the Sun Shines

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Plot: Souta is a lonely, bullied boy who spends his free time following and taking pictures of the only girl who’s ever shown him kindness, Kiwako. He has no ill intentions – he merely wants to watch her since he knows any advancement on his part would result in rejection. Besides, she’s dating a skeevy boy named Sugita. He knows he’s a bad person who is bound to somehow hurt Kiwako, but he can’t bring himself to fully contact Hell Girl. When she appears anyway, she rejects his request, stating she’s not a figure of justice. It’s up Souta to save her when things get really bad, but what can he do? What will he do?

Breakdown: I’m not sure how I feel about this episode. It’s kinda boring while leaning on depressing. This is the first time we’ve seen Hell Girl appear to someone and offer her services without the person in question pressing ‘enter’ on the website. I have no idea why she chose this client to do this for, but okay.

I also don’t understand her reasoning for rejecting him. No, she’s not a figure of justice, but this situation is very similar to Beloved Kei where the client did have motives for protecting someone in mind more than revenge and Ai was perfectly willing to help her. What’s the difference?

Most of the episode is just following around Kiwako and her skeevy boyfriend knowing that he’ll do something awful to her. And, of course, he does. He sets it up so his friend can rape her. I have no clue why he’d do that considering he gets nothing out of it.

Souta does nothing to warn her because he has such a lack of confidence that he believes she’d never believe him anyway and his actions wouldn’t stop it.

The ending is interesting because the script is flipped. The target deserved to go to hell, but the client switched to Kiwako, who wished revenge on Sugita. Souta, more enveloped in depression than ever, decides to murder the friend who did the raping, condemning his own soul to hell without Ai’s help, even though she’s perfectly willing to accept his request now. She even shows up at his house right before he’s about to do it, like an offering of taking the full burden off his shoulders.

It’s a bad situation, but the episode as a whole didn’t make me feel a whole lot of emotion. I didn’t even get a lot of catharsis because they skipped the hell torture today. We got to see him be a little tortured by some hands, but that’s old hat by now.

One cool thing I’ll note is that they were playing the theme song from Hell Girl’s first season in the bowling alley scene. That was pretty neat.

Rating: 6/10

Animating Halloween: Yami Shibai 6 Episodes 11, 12 & 13 (FINALE)

Episode 11: Frozen Memories

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Plot: A man is caught in a snowstorm on a mountain, mourning the death of his only child. He promised that, when he was well, he and his son would climb a mountain together, and now he’s doing so on his own in his son’s memory. He seeks shelter in a mountainside cabin meant for travelers and meets a man who won’t communicate with him, only shiver. When he finally does talk, the only thing he’ll say is that something has returned and begs him not to open the door no matter what until the blizzard passes. What lies beyond the door in the frigid mountain snow?

Breakdown: Sticking pretty fiercely to the tragic story theme, this one actually has a happy ending. While I liked the story, it truly wasn’t anything horrifying. We never learn what happened to the other people that strange man was with nor do we see what’s out there.

Truthfully, I think the latter is for the best because sometimes the best horror comes from the mystery of what’s in the darkness, and the tension of wondering whether or not he’ll open the door is decent enough, but it still wasn’t anything really scary at all.

I’m glad at the end, but also a bit confused. I have nothing against Yami Shibai trying new things, but they’ve been skimping on the horror for a while now. Also, the art in this episode is fairly subpar.

Episode 12: Waterfall Drop

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Plot: A group of teenagers head to a waterfall for some fun. They tease each other about how the spot is supposedly haunted by people who have committed suicide on the cliff before tricking one of the girls into following a path to the top of the waterfall.

Breakdown: Slow start but definitely one of the creepiest Yami Shibai entries. The kids were creepy, the way they kinda fake you out with the scare is well-done and when the shit finally goes down it is fantastic. The lighting, the reveal, it was all great.

It was a teeny, tiny bit predictable because you know her friends are trying to warn her of something, and the actual design of the creatures could be better, but it’s still very creepy and impacting.

Also, the art could be a little better for this one. The lines are really craggy, even for this show.

Episode 13: Echoes

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Plot: Two girls enjoy a hiking trip in the mountains when one of them decides to have some fun with the echoes. They hear a man’s voice responding to them, but get creeped out when he asks where they are. They decide to leave, but a sudden onset of fog traps them. It’s so bad that they can’t see each other despite being a few feet away. One of the girls is unable to hear her friend too and all she hears are the echoes getting closer and closer.

Breakdown: Strangely, despite being the season finale, there’s nothing that special about this episode. The narrator whispers in the start of this episode, for some reason, but that’s about it. Someone said that the figure in the fog at the end was the narrator, considering the intros for this season have been in a foggy area, but I’m not sure how much I buy that. If that’s what they were going for, they didn’t do a good job of conveying it.

As for the episode itself, I found it to be frightening in a disorienting way. There’s a strange, unseen figure in the fog, and it suddenly becomes numerous people, and they’re warning her about something else unseen. It’s a nice change of pace from the typical ‘Ahhh there are things in the dark!’ shtick.

This all culminates in a jump scare that seemingly leads into a happy ending, but then there’s a twist that legitimately took me off guard, and the voice acting for that one line made it very creepy.

A bit of an odd story to leave off on as it’s not terribly notable nor does it try to bookend the series as a whole, but it’s a good episode.

And that’s it for Yami Shibai 6! The full review of the entire season will be coming up soon!

Animating Halloween: Hell Girl – Two Mirrors: Episode 5 – Barreling Towards Hell

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Plot: A teenager is constantly being tortured by a local loudmouth jerk named Leon. He keeps attempting to input his name into Hell Correspondence, but he can’t get up the guts to hit ‘Send.’ Leon himself has someone pissing him off – his gang leader. In a hive of scum and villainy, it’s a race to see who gets sent to Hell first.

Breakdown: This episode is very obviously designed to make you feel like all humanity is trash, and you have absolutely no sympathy for either the target or the client, barring the initial teenager client.

This is one of the more unpleasant episodes to watch, and it’s downright over the top with how they write these characters.

Hey, here’s Leon. He is about as big of an asshole as they come. He’s loud, obnoxious, a massive idiot, he beats people up, he robs people, and just to put some frosting on his awful cake, he tricked a starving stray dog into thinking he’d give him food and then BLEW FIRE IN HIS FACE WITH A LIGHTER. Boy, I sure hope he doesn’t end up pulling that string. What a treasure we’d lose.

The initial client, the aforementioned teenager, does successfully call Hell Girl, but he, surprisingly, is one of the few who outright refuses to use her services once he’s been told of the price. It’s just strange because we’ve seen people damn themselves to hell for much less than what this guy goes through on a daily basis, but I respect his resolve.

The target of Leon’s anger is his gang leader. He wants out of the gang if he can land the heart of a local girl who doesn’t even know he exists. In typical gang leader fashion, he doesn’t like this attitude. He not only beats Leon to a pulp for daring to say such a thing, but he decides to forcibly make this girl his to further torment him. Not only that, but he decides to rape her, film it and show it off.

It’s not just these two who are shown to be evil. They make a point to show practically everyone outside of them are terrible too. Wanyuudou basically goes on a ‘The world is already hell’ tangent right before finding Kikuri about to be kidnapped and molested/raped by some perverts.

He claims the only reason people are so terrible now is because they’ve forgotten that heaven and hell exist…..

Yeah, I’m getting pretty sick of this ‘back in my day’ malarkey people throw about. Is the world a little rotten? Sure. But look back through any period of history and you’ll see we as a species maintain a pretty good level of rottenness and evil throughout time and space, no matter if religion or simply believing in an afterlife is a factor or not.

Anyhoo, is it any surprise that Leon pulls the string? No. He was probably going to go to hell anyway, which, again, raises the question of ‘Why allow people destined for hell anyway to use Hell Girl’s services?’ Is it just because, as long as people are alive, they always have a chance for redemption, but when they use Hell Girl they don’t?

He also doesn’t seem like he cares. Despite being magically transported to the Realm of Eternal Twilight, having a conversation with a creepy girl with red eyes and seeing a man turn into a straw doll before his eyes, he still questions whether a hell even exists. He also thinks his curse mark looks cool.

The hell torture this time around is pretty tame for a guy who seems so comfortable with filming rape that you’re certain he’s done it before. Being a gang leader, he’s probably also killed people. It was a little cool with him sinking in the concrete and Ai about to run him over with his own car. The car, btw, is also obnoxious in its own right. Look at this damn thing.

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I couldn’t get it in the shot, but it also has a pipe organ of massive exhaust pipes.

But it could’ve been better. I did really like Ai’s line to him when he was in the boat, though.

The big surprise comes at the end of the episode where we get two things.

The first is Leon dying. Yup. He dies. Not by Hell Girl’s hands – he dies because he was destined to die. It just so happens his time came a day after he got his revenge.

And how it happens is so cosmically sweet.

He’s riding his moped down the street when he sees the dog he burned walk into the road. He swerves to avoid him and then plows into a truck. The guys he tormented, including the previous client, saw it all happen and went to him, but they decided to walk away instead of help him. Kikuri even gives him a bit of shade before he bleeds to death.

This is the first time that we’ve seen a client die immediately after getting revenge. Technically, we have seen a client die before, but that was of old age decades after he pulled the string. It’s even more ironic because one of the reasons Leon didn’t care to pull the string was because he figured he would live a long time.

The second gives hope for humanity….in a way. The girl from before, Izumi, throws her empty cup into someone’s bicycle basket. Wanyuudou chastises her for it, reminding her that heaven and hell are watching and judging her, so she apologizes and picks up her trash.

This is….kinda nice, but 1) Littering? Really? That’s your crime of the century?

2) People really shouldn’t be forked into being good people by reminding them that they’ll either go to heaven or hell after they die….And this is coming from a Christian. You should be a good person because you want to be a good person – not because a higher power is judging you for your actions.

3) Is it really that impacting to see someone refrain from littering because of what you said? That gives you hope for humanity? Most people in her situation would just be embarrassed at being caught doing something bad. I don’t mean to be cynical, but you’re the ones who just jammed 20 minutes of ‘humanity is shit’ down our throats. Just because she gave a hoot and didn’t pollute doesn’t reverse really any of that.

Technically, she didn’t even really litter – she put her trash in a bicycle basket. Still a crappy thing to do, but still.

All in all, this episode was just alright. Its messages are not conveyed well, and the whole situation makes you root for nearly everyone to die. At the very least, I’m happy nothing happened to Izumi and the teenager client decided against using Hell Girl, but the whole story’s a mess when you can’t sympathize with anyone.

We’re not meant to sympathize with the target, that’s kinda the point, but I was rooting for Leon to die too. It’s not like Leon’s in love with Izumi either. He doesn’t even know her. He has a big crush on her and claims her as a possession. Even if he was in love with her, who cares? He’s a massive douchecanoe who burns dogs and beats people.

It’s an obnoxious episode to watch and, despite the glimmer of hope and the sweet ironic karma at the end, it made you feel like crap just for being human.

Rating: 6/10

Animating Halloween: Yami Shibai 6 Episodes 9 and 10

Episode 9: Mud Games

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Plot: A mother picks up her daughter from daycare in a rain storm when she starts telling her a strange story of what happened when she was playing in the sand box.

Breakdown: Well, we’re back to incredibly sad again.

I didn’t see the twist of this one coming, and it did have one or two very unsettling moments, but the whole story is a bomb of sadness. I won’t spoil it for you, but it’s like they came up with the bare-bones plot and asked themselves ‘Hm, what’s the most depressing route we could take this story?’

It’s not a bad story by any means, in fact it’s very good, it’s just incredibly sad.

Episode 10: Tree of Innocence

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Plot: Twin boys, Satoshi and Takeshi, decide to climb a big tree. When Takeshi steps on a rickety tree branch and begs his brother for help, their mother arrives and pleads for them to come down….Well…one of them anyway.

Breakdown: This is so similar to episode 9 it’s weird. Starts off normally, leads into creepy, revelation that one of the characters is dead, leads to the death of the loved one of the initial person who died.

The only major differences are the situation and the absolute ending, and it somehow makes the entire situation even more tragic than episode 9.

When Satoshi tries to save Takeshi, his mother begs Satoshi to get out of the tree because Takeshi recently died from falling out of that same tree. Satoshi was lured into the tree by Takeshi’s restless spirit. He caused Satoshi to fall, and when he did, Takeshi took over his body and walked home with their mother.

Dying is one thing, but having your dead brother take your body and leave you as a spirit in a tree with no one mourning you because they believe you’re still alive is heartbreaking.

I have no clue why the comments were so lenient on this one when they weren’t on episode 9. Tons of people were saying ‘finally a good episode!’ when every other episode has been either mixed or littered with ‘this isn’t scary.’ This one’s even sadder, and, in my opinion, it’s less frightening. Ghost Takeshi is a little unsettling, but he’s a lot easier to watch than that scene with the toddler in the previous episode.

Animating Halloween: Hell Girl – Two Mirrors: Episode 4 – Secret

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Plot: Yagisawa is doing everything in his power to get enough money to pay for his ailing wife’s medical treatments. He’s working hard, borrowing money from friends and even resorting to…less than legal means of acquiring funds. When these deeds lead to tragedy, Yagisawa is held under the thumb of one of his partners in crime.

Breakdown: Back to basics here, pretty much. The situation in this episode is very sad, but the target obviously deserves to go to hell. He forced Yagisawa into murdering a guy for him, blackmailing him with his share of the money they stole, then, even after he does the deed, he refuses to pay him. He knows he won’t go to the cops because that’d mean his wife would be without income and without him.

When Yagisawa threatens him by claiming he’ll go to the cops if he doesn’t get his money, already under Hell Girl’s contract, the target decides to go behind Yagisawa’s back, tell his wife what he did and then hold her life hostage in exchange for never approaching him again.

Plus, this time, you don’t feel entirely all that bad for the client because he did kill a man, but you still have quite a bit of leeway for that because he was forced into it and was doing it for his loved one.

Everything he’s done has been for his wife, Chinami, no matter the cost to him. He’s fully prepared to enter into the covenant with Hell Girl because he knows his deeds are going to send him to hell anyway. He’s fine with that, as long as Chinami is cared for as much as possible and this happens after he’s set to naturally die so she’s not without him.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

…..So….

Have I mentioned I hate Kikuri?

I haven’t mentioned Kikuri lately because, while she has been in each episode, her presence has moreso been a looming shadow over the story. This is the first episode where she takes an active role in the plot. It’s not much, but she is affecting the plot….in the worst of ways.

First of all, she’s an annoying little brat. Her voice can slice ear drums in half, she does annoying little brat stuff like dump her drink into a vase and beg to go to the potty (Which she doesn’t need to use because she’s not human), and, worse, Ai makes her a special marble bag, stitched by hand, and Kikuri spends zero seconds ripping it to shreds for absolutely no reason. No thank you, no nothing, just ‘it got torn up.’

Second of all, Kikuri somehow manipulated Chinami into believing she was her daughter…for whatever reason. Chinami has never had a daughter, just as a note. This in itself isn’t bad, it’s what happens at the very end that pisses me off.

While this could be the work of Chinami’s brain tumor or whatever that is, they never explicitly state, the ending has Chinami completely forgetting Yagisawa and only asking where her daughter is. Meaning Yagisawa has gone through all this pain and suffering and now his wife, by all means, is lost to him, searching for a daughter who doesn’t exist.

I fully believe Kikuri did this to her. It’s the only explanation that makes full sense to me. There’s no reason Kikuri approached this woman to begin with nor to make her believe she was her daughter. There’s also no reason she selectively forgot Yagisawa in his entirety and only remembered this non-existent daughter. Kikuri had to have done this somehow, which means she caused this guy and woman undue pain for no reason.

She also prevented Hone Onna from interfering in the target telling Chinami the truth about Yagisawa. Again, for no reason. It’s been a very long time since I first watched Two Mirrors, and, again, I know Kikuri is sorta, kinda possessed by the Master of Hell, but why is he/she interfering like this? Why is he/she causing more pain than is already bound to happen, other than to be a dick?

This episode could’ve had a mostly sweet, at worst bittersweet, ending, but she made it into a massively tragic ending. I hate that little bug-eyed shit.

Last thing to note is the hell torture, which was pretty cool. It has very creative imagery and I love what they did with Ai right before she took him.

Rating: 7/10

Animating Halloween: Yami Shibai 6 Episodes 7 and 8

Episode 7: Frog Eggs

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What’s wrong with your face!?

Plot: A boy was terrified of having too many eyes on him back in the city, so his parents moved them to the country. He finds himself still having trouble adjusting and being terrified of the eyes of the townsfolk. When he finds a pile of frog eggs in the nearby stream, will his troubles be over?

Breakdown:…..What the hell is up with the art in this episode? It’s both bad, but also a million times creepier because it’s bad. The scratchiness of the line art and those small dead eyes are just haunting. Look at this wall of paintings and tell me this isn’t horrifying.

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This is a very good and unsettling episode, certainly creepy, but the story doesn’t make much sense to me.

A boy is so frightened by being around too many people or ‘having too many eyes on him’ that his parents are forced to relocate to the country where there are less people, instead of, ya know, getting him therapy or something.

The boy finds a weird pile of frog eggs in the stream and suffers from another panic attack after seeing the eyes of the townsfolk. In the middle of the night, he once again panics, this time believing the eyes of the paintings on the walls are staring at him.

He, for some reason, runs out to the stream to see the eggs and is happy they’re safe. He decides to move them so some rude kids from earlier won’t hurt them, and when he goes to do so one of them moves like an eyeball.

Cut to later where the boy is seemingly back to normal. He’s no longer scared of eyes on him, he’s willing to go out and do things, and he is happily watching something in a fish tank. When we see him from the front, he has the pile of eyeballs or eggs or whatever in the tank and we see that he has either gouged his own eyes out or the egg/eyeball thing has taken them from him.

This story is so weird and nonsensical. Does this mean this…thing has been tormenting the kid from afar all this time or was it the worst coincidence ever that he came to a village with a weird eyeball/egg monster thing when he has a paralyzing fear of eyes? What is this thing? Is it taking eyeballs? Why?

I almost feel like this story is a horrific narrative on mental illness and none of this is paranormal. The kid is so terrified of eyes that he believes the frog eggs are eyes then he gouged out his eyes in fright.

It’s also kinda strange that you can’t get a lock on if the ending is a bad one. Yes, it’s horrible that the kid lost his eyes, but he’s also oddly happy and is no longer living in fear of eyes on him.

Seriously, I truly believe this whole situation would’ve been avoided had his parents taken him to a counselor or something.

Episode 8: Sea Fortunes

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Plot: A woman and her husband visit a small island for a vacation when she mysteriously disappears. She winds up on the beach in terrible shock, but all she did was a pull a fortune on the beach. Good luck can only be granted if something is sacrificed in return….

Breakdown: This story’s just lame. It’s very cut and dry (opposite pun?) while also being confusing. These fortunes grant good luck for fishermen but only if the person pulling the fortune is sacrificed? What? We’ve seen sacrifice plotlines before, but what’s the point of getting good luck if you have to die to get it?

Strangely, the woman didn’t die. Why, I don’t know. She tries to run after she’s chosen to be a sacrifice. Then she’s teleported onto a boat in the middle of the ocean, some weird monster baby attacks her then…nothing and she somehow arrives on shore. Then she passes on the sacrifice duty to someone else by carving the mark of the good luck fortune onto her arm and having some random guy grab her arm as she falls over.

Usually stories this milquetoast can be saved with creepy imagery, but outside of the slightly creepy baby, which is just a regular baby malformed a tiny bit, there was none.