Hell Girl Episode 3: The Tarnished Mound Review

Hell Girl Episode 3

Plot: Iwashida and Moroi are best friends and part of a high school baseball team with a fast-rising baseball star named Hanagasa. One day, Hanagasa violently smacks Moroi in the stomach with a baseball bat. He tells Moroi and Iwashida to keep their mouths shut about it. Moroi is happy to oblige in order to prevent the baseball team from getting in trouble. Iwashida is far more reluctant, but also agrees to not say anything. It merely seems like a bad situation that they’ll have to deal with for the sake of the team until everything falls apart.

Breakdown: If you weren’t angry enough with the bitches from episode one or creeped out enough by the stalker in episode two, prepare yourself because we finally have someone who’s fully ‘go to hell’ worthy with Hanagasa.

He is a smug conniving asshole who only cares for himself and has absolutely no remorse for anything he does.

Hanagasa, for some reason, suddenly slammed his baseball bat into Moroi’s stomach in the middle of the woods. Iwashida witnesses this, but Moroi tells him to back down. Hanagasa tells them to lie to anyone who asks about the incident and say that Moroi fell off of the pitcher’s mound. Moroi happily agrees since he doesn’t want to create any complications with the team seeing as how Hanagasa is the star player.

Iwashida reluctantly agrees to this, but tells Moroi’s mother that they were horsing around too roughly as the excuse as to how he got the wounds. This doesn’t seem like a big deal until they later reveal that, after three days of pain and suffering, Moroi died from his internal injuries.

As if being responsible for the death of his friend wasn’t enough, Hanagasa plays it completely innocently and even hams it up at Moroi’s memorial service, stating that he’ll work hard and become a pro baseball player in his memory. Yeah, do something you were planning on doing anyway but preface it with ‘in his memory.’ That’s noble as hell.

Iwashida is enraged by how Hanagasa is acting, but he’s in trouble of his own. Since Iwashida told Moroi’s mother that he got hurt from them playing around, he’s the main suspect when the detectives reveal that they know he died from blunt force trauma, probably due to a baseball bat. Everyone immediately suspects him even though they only have a piece of a story and Iwashida has no reason whatsoever for smacking his best friend in the stomach with a baseball bat.

Even his own parents immediately believe their son is responsible. Without knowing the story, even with no evidence or motive whatsoever, they just instantly believe Iwashida’s the killer. His father punches him in the face as he’s trying to give his side of the story, and his mother openly gets down on her knees and begs Moroi’s parents for forgiveness. What the hell?

You’d think this was just horrible luck and everyone’s tempers are high due to the circumstances, but no. Apparently, Hanagasa, by his own admission, somehow planned this whole thing.

And his reasons are insanely ridiculous.

He somehow knew Moroi would die three days after receiving his injuries, I guess, knew the two of them would never tell the truth about it, knew that Iwashida would get blamed for it, even though the story he told them to tell other people didn’t involve Iwashida and would turn it into a complete accident that was Moroi’s fault, then he knew the team would get banned from the upcoming tournament for shared responsibility of Moroi’s death, even though no proper investigation has been carried out outside of the autopsy confirming that he died of blunt force trauma.

He wanted the team to be barred from the tournament, which is why he set this whole thing in motion.

Why did Hanagasa, their star player, need to resort to this incredibly complicated and contrived scheme to get the team out of the tournament?

Because participating in the tournament would put undue stress on his shoulders and he didn’t want them to be in any way negatively affected for his bright professional baseball career. A high school tournament isn’t worth the incredibly minor risk in his eyes.

….He committed murder and framed another boy for the crime, subsequently ruining his life…..TO RELAX HIS ARMS.

…………I don’t know what to say.

Why he couldn’t just remove himself from the tournament is beyond me. He was a shoe-in for college or pro deals with the scouts who were basically humping the fence for him. Why not just say you felt the need to rest your body for your future career and skip the tournament? Or make up an excuse? Or something….anything! There are hundreds of thousands of things you could’ve done to get out of the tournament that are far more understandable and acceptable than first degree murder.

Hanagasa gives zero shits that either Moroi’s dead or that Iwashida’s life is completely ruined. He got what he wanted, and that shit-eating grin never leaves his face. I hate that Justin Cook is so good at playing assholes. I want to love you so much, yet you keep taking these roles.

In the end, you know how it goes, but even the absolute end isn’t as hopeful as the previous episodes.

Whereas in those episodes where it seems the victim’s troubles all get washed away when the string is pulled, Iwashida isn’t as lucky. Hanagasa was properly accused of the crime, and his hellish torture was definitely scarier this time around with some pretty good visuals and creepy moments. but apparently there was still so much heat on Iwashida at school that he had to move away to his aunt’s house, and no one, not even his parents, are seen apologizing to him for treating him like shit. He’s just left to wait everything out with that black mark emblazoned on his chest. His best friend’s still dead, he’s still somewhat vilified for a crime he didn’t commit, and he’s now damned to hell.

This episode also gave us a little bit more about Ai. Her ‘grandmother’ states that she has no choice but to do what she does, even though it seems like Ai doesn’t like it. It is her duty.

Next Episode…

….Previous Episode


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Episode One-Derland – One Outs

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Plot: Kojima is an all-star professional cleanup batter who has won many awards for his achievements in baseball. However, one achievement still alludes him – a championship victory.

In an effort to make this year the year that they finally win a championship, Kojima has brought his team to an off-season baseball camp in order to pinpoint their problem areas and address them. When his pitcher, Nakane, injures his finger in practice, he and another member of the team go out to find a replacement pitcher to help Kojima and the team practice.

They find no luck on the streets, but a woman leads them away to a batting cage where a bunch of guys are playing a game called One Outs. In this game, bystanders bet on either the pitcher or the batter. The pitcher wins if he manages to strike out the batter or if their hits land within the infield. The batter wins if they manage to hit one ball in the outfield or further.

Nakane makes a few minor bets for a few rounds, resulting in what he believes to be 4000 yen, slightly less than $40 USD. However, he fails to realize that the bets are in American dollars, meaning that he owes $4000.

Believing that he can beat the pitcher, Toua, that has been up for the entirety of their betting string, Nakane bets that his debts be erased if he can beat him. However, Toua wishes to up the stakes of their bet from $4000 to $40,000. Nakane accepts, but under the pressure of such a high financial gamble and realizing that there’s more to Toua’s skills that meets the eye, fails. They give them everything they have in their pockets, including credit cards, and are forced to leave with the remaining debt over their heads.

The next night, Kojima arrives at the One Outs game to call Toua out in order to erase the remaining debt. However, Toua again wishes to make the bet more interesting since Kojima’s such a professional player. This time the bet is $400,000. Kojima accepts and the game begins.

Breakdown: I hate baseball. And this isn’t just the typical moanings of someone who doesn’t like sports entirely. I really like hockey, and I’m pretty okay with watching football and basketball, I can also watch some UFC/Boxing/Mixed Martial Arts or soccer if I’m in a very specific mood, but baseball is just bleh to me. It’s boring on top of boring slathered in boring and goes on for so long you have to think some of the players believe they’re stuck in baseball purgatory. You could not pay me to sit through a game of baseball unless I’m allowed to sleep through the whole thing.

With that out of the way, the baseball aspect of this first episode really is the most trying for me. Especially considering that I didn’t get half of the terms. Luckily, fansubbers are awesome and add notes for that crap. ~~kisses2fansubbers~~

Other than that, though, it’s an interesting enough sports anime. Our main character is incredibly passionate about baseball to the point where he even states that it’s sacred to him. You can definitely tell that even those who don’t outwardly appear as passionate about the game as Kojima are still immersed in it fully……I can’t relate, but I still understand.

It’s so weird how I can relate to and understand a show where the main focus is a game based on poetry that I’ve never heard of or played better than one based on America’s past time…

Toua is interesting. He’s a bit too good to the point that it worries me. By all means, the characters point out how weak his pitches are, yet no one can get a hit off of him. Plus, he’s one of those quiet yet obviously cocky types that irk you the wrong way.

Nakane’s a moron. He means well in trying to find a replacement pitcher, but putting all those bets down on the batter because ‘he has to win eventually’ and not clarifying if the bets were in yen or dollars when a lot of the players at the game are seemingly American? Come on.

Also, he’s not really dumb for taking on Toua despite seeing him win all those times since he states that he was a cleanup batter on his high school team, but he’s still a pitcher, meaning his batting game has to be rusty, and he’s seen how good Toua is.

One thing that bothered me a bit was the narrator. He’s one of those busybody narrators who cuts into the story to tell us stuff like backstory, primary goals of the plot, what’s going on in a montage, recapping stuff we just saw etc. Guys, it’s show don’t tell. Even if it’s not one of the characters doing this, it’s really annoying. He pops up all the time and won’t shut up. It really breaks up the flow of the episode.

The story is not all that great so far. Big time star is training to win a championship and needs a replacement player with an incredible one found just around the corner mixed with a plot where characters are swindled out of money and need the main character to clean up their mess (well, I guess he is the cleanup batter.) The only seriously interesting part is wondering whether Kojima can beat Toua, but since the episode ends before the game even starts, the rug gets pulled out from under you there.

The art and animation, done by Madhouse, are….okay. Most of the character art is good, if not somewhat ugly. Toua’s hair is cool, but his eyes are freaky and his body is almost grotesquely detailed and skinny. That part in the OP where you see him nearly naked is more worrying than attractive. Why he’s nearly naked in the opening, I do not know. I’m almost certain you usually wear clothes in baseball.

The animation is alright, but I don’t believe it’s some of Madhouse’s better works.

The music is fantastic, with particular notes to the awesome OP done by Pay Money to my Pain.

Verdict:

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This was nearly an ‘undecided’ but I think the characters could be strong enough to support this show even in spite of the baseball snoozefest. Despite not liking baseball, I do have a soft spot for sports anime.


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