Plot: The mysterious girl in green, Michiru Sagae, finally remembers her past when she follows a young boy and his parents as they experience a very similar situation to her own demise. As history seems to repeat itself, Ai reveals the truth about Michiru’s past and her future.
Fuck Three Vessels.
Why does Three Vessels get away with being rated more highly over Fourth Twilight when it has, and I’m being sincere here, the best Hell Girl replacement/parallel story in the entire franchise?
Yes, better than Takuma.
Yes, WAY better than……………Yuzuki. Sorry, I forgot her name again.
And, yeah, let’s go here.
Better than Tsugumi.
Is everyone really so salty about episode seven onward that they discount all of the good that the series is prior to that?
I’m getting ahead of myself.
This is Michiru’s backstory episode. It has a huge challenge to overcome. See, Michiru is set to be Ai’s next replacement. How and why is she getting a new replacement when the last season said she’d be in that role forever now?
Shut up. It doesn’t matter. As far as I’m concerned, season three didn’t happen and this is Ai’s actual chance to rest in peace.
But, as Yuzuki taught us, you can’t just replace Hell Girl. You need to have a compelling story. You need to have a sympathetic character who deserves to be in the role because Hell Girl is a punishment. It is a form of repentance for a massive sin you committed. It’s meant to teach the person in the role a lesson about revenge and forgiveness, even if it’s not the most effective method of doing that, if you ask me. Three Vessels forgot this and basically said “Oh something something revenge. Whatever. Got it.”
Today’s target is a young boy named Satoshi. A while ago, he and his parents took three other boys with them on a trip since they wouldn’t fit in the cars that the other parents owned. The three little shit stains in the shapes of children silently punch and bully Satoshi while they drive. However, they’re pretty much just keeping their shitty nature hidden from their parents because they act like insane assholes when they start driving away. They’re quite rude to Satoshi’s parents, refuse to wear seat belts, throw their juice cans at Satoshi’s dad and even climb out the window while they’re driving so they can sit on the doors.
The fallen juice can gets stuck under the brake pedal, and they wind up crashing the car on a sharp turn when a big truck comes around the corner.
Something that’s kinda been bugging me about Hell Girl for quite a while is that they keep shying away from anything gory or showing anything above like a black eye or a bump on the head or a small cut. I kinda figured they’d just cut away to black after the car crashed because there’s no way there wouldn’t be any carnage with three boys who were sitting on the outside of the doors of a car as it crashed alongside a cliff.
While it wasn’t the goriest scene I’ve witnessed, it was still quite a bit of carnage for this show, especially when the victims are children. Gotta say, I was quite surprised.
Satoshi and his parents lived through the crash because they were wearing their seat belts. This was an awful tragedy. The boys, despite being little assholes, didn’t deserve to die in such an awful manner.
One of the mothers of the boys who died blames Satoshi specifically. Her logic seems to be that it’s very unfair that he survived when her son died, and getting rid of him also hurts his parents, whom she deems as being directly responsible, so it’s basically three revenges for the price of one.
As Michiru witnesses Satoshi’s story unfold before her, her memories start to return. In, I’m gonna say, given that this village just got electric lights, and considering the clothes they’re wearing……..the 1890s?……???, Michiru’s father had just convinced the landlord of the neighborhood to finally spring for electricity throughout the village. While the villagers are extremely happy, the landlord and his family are not. They hate that Michiru’s father seemingly pressured them into spending the money and that he’s taking all the glory for it while they still look bad for taking so long to make the upgrade.
The landlord’s son and his friends decide to get revenge on him and his family by forcing Michiru into a nearby pond. It’s not exactly clear if they intended on killing her or just tormenting her in the water, but they were pushing her pretty forcefully. She manages to escape from their clutches and run away, but the ground collapses into the water. All four kids are submerged, and Michiru manages to save herself by grabbing onto a tree root. The son of the landlord also manages to grab a tree root, but the other two boys frantically grab at his legs under the water, accidentally dragging him back in.
Michiru falls unconscious, but when she wakes up she finds the corpses of the three boys floating in the pond, which was another kinda graphic image I didn’t think they’d show.
At the funeral, the entire town is vilifying them, which surprised me. The town was singing Michiru’s father’s praises a while ago, and now a freak accident turns them all against them? They target Michiru specifically because they believe she straight up murdered them by rigging the ground to collapse, which, uh huh, sure okay. That makes a world of sense. No matter how they think it happened, they all blame Michiru, and her entire family is hated by the village as a result.
Later, one of the villagers kidnaps Michiru and locks her in a storehouse on the landlord’s property at the landlord’s wife’s request. She spends ten days suffering without food or water (even though she wouldn’t live without water for that long) and eventually decides to try and hang a wind chime from the window. I think anyway. I don’t think she could have escaped from that window since there was nothing to climb down onto, and it was like two stories up. Michiru was noted earlier as loving wind chimes, and they act as a bit of a parallel to Ai’s motif of bells. (It’s also possible her insect motif is fireflies while Ai’s was butterflies.) However, she falls from the window before she’s able to hang it.
At home, her parents are worried sick. The police can’t find Michiru, and the villagers don’t care to look for her. Her mother in particular is literally worried sick as she stays in bed believing there’s no hope that Michiru is still alive. Until, that is, the wind chime at their house falls and breaks. When they go to investigate, they hear the sounds of a wind chime in the distance. The sounds lead them to the storehouse where they see the wind chime up in the window. I have no idea how that got up there. Michiru clearly fell before she had a chance to hang that thing. Unless she climbed back up, but I’d imagine she’d be pretty wounded after a fall like that. It’s even tied around a beam that’s on the exterior of the building. I can’t imagine she put that there.
Upon seeing the wind chime in the window, Michiru’s parents immediately believe she’s in there so they break the lock and retrieve her. However, before they’re able to leave and get her medical attention, the landlord and other villagers stop them at the door with cans of oil. They believe Michiru’s parents will call the police about what they did to Michiru, so they douse the place in oil with the intent of setting the place on fire and burning them all alive.
Michiru’s father tried to confront them only to be met with such a massive blow to the head with a wooden stick that he immediately died. Again, this was more gruesome than the show has been for quite a while. Not majorly graphic, but still showed more than I thought they would.
The landlord lights the place on fire and they wrap metal wire about the door latch to ensure that they can’t break the door open. Michiru and her mother are forced to accept their fate and wait to go to heaven together as the flames engulf them.
Back in present time, Michiru says that she still doesn’t understand the situation with this boy and Hell Correspondence even with her memories intact. The boy has done nothing wrong, the other parents are evil in her eyes, and she views Hell Correspondence as nothing but a means of perpetuating misery.
Ai shows her that it’s not quite as black and white as that. She shows her the client crying at her son’s coffin with the straw doll in her hands. Ai explains that it’s not their job to determine what’s right, wrong, good or evil – it’s also not their job to interfere in what the clients decide – it’s entirely up to the people involved. Michiru starts to panic because she doesn’t want Satoshi to go to hell, but at the last minute the client throws the doll away, it disappears, and the client collapses in grief. She’s made the decision to not send Satoshi to hell.
After witnessing this, Ai returns Michiru to the flashback, showing her that her memories didn’t fully return quite yet. She didn’t remember what happened after the fire started. Ai shows her that, in their final moments, Michiru’s mother laid on top of her to protect her from the flames as much as possible, even if their deaths were certain. In what I really think is the most graphic scene there’s even been in Hell Girl, we actually see Michiru and her mother slowly burn up while still alive. As Michiru dies and is consumed by the flames, her vengeful spirit emerges from the storehouse as a massive wave of flames that burns up all of the villagers and the entire village with it.
As the fire burns behind them, Ai tells Michiru that she’s committed a terrible sin, and she must atone for it by becoming Hell Girl.
Despite some aspects of this story being a bit hard to believe and confusing, like I still don’t understand how these little girls are getting demonic fire powers as they die in terrible circumstances, nor do I understand why Mr. Sagae was so hated by the landlord just for negotiating the installation of electric wiring to the point where his son felt it suitable to try and murder his daughter, nor do I understand why Michiru has such a green motif to her without anyone pointing out how weird that is (and, unlike Ai, whose eyes changed to red after she died, Michiru’s green hair and eyes were present before she died.) it’s definitely very captivating, and it does all come together to make Michiru a prime candidate to become Hell Girl.
Takuma’s story was good, probably the second best out of the four, but it was a bit too drawn out and ridiculously harsh to Takuma, who did nothing wrong. He was never a Hell Girl replacement candidate, but the parallels to Ai’s life were clearly made in order to give Ai’s story a conclusion that wound up being screwed over by the third season.
It blows Yuzuki’s story out of the water. I don’t even want to talk about that mess again, but they made Michiru likable, sympathetic, interesting and a viable replacement for Hell Girl in five episodes when they couldn’t do a damn thing with Yuzuki in 26 episodes.
Tsugumi’s story was quite interesting, and it’s definitely closer to Takuma’s in quality level than Yuzuki’s, I liked how she was a descendant of Sentarou (and a distant relative of Ai) got Hell Girl visions and was sympathetic to what Ai did as Hell Girl. She even kinda had reasons for becoming vengeful. However, I can’t help but take major points off for what Tsugumi’s story became over time. She was wasted more or less in season two. She was ultra wasted in season three before just bouncing when she figured she had failed, and she popped in during season four to do one thing to help people, and we never even get confirmation if it worked. And lest we forget how Hajime was treated.
Also, Ai had to lie to her about Hajime in order to make her vengeful enough to consider using Hell Correspondence on him, so that kinda makes her story a bit less engaging, in hindsight.
Michiru’s story, despite being short, was a stronger parallel to Ai’s. It was effective in making her sympathetic, it was heartbreaking on its own merits without basically beating you over the head with a “FEEL BAD” stick, and it provided a good reason as to why she needs to become Hell Girl.
The ending in particular hits you with the tragedy of the situation and Michiru’s desire for vengeance. Her mother was literally burning alive on top of her in a last-ditch effort to protect Michiru even a little. Michiru had to watch her mother die in her own final moments, after watching her father be murdered, while knowing the people responsible were right outside the door not giving a single fuck, if not taking glee in what they were doing, which is pretty akin to Ai’s feelings of betrayal being fueled by seeing Sentarou put dirt on top of her and her parents as they were being buried alive, even if he was being forced into it.
What’s more is that the case of the week is a strong parallel in itself. While we did focus more on Michiru, Satoshi’s situation is absolutely heartbreaking. He not only has to deal with those parents and possibly others treating him and his family like monsters, but he also clearly has a ton of survivor’s guilt that is only being compounded by statements from the other parents that he should have died instead of them and that he’s probably happy he survived. I was very relieved that the client didn’t pull the string, but, as we see, it’s still an awful situation all around. Those parents lost their sons, Satoshi’s family is forever fractured, and Satoshi himself will likely have to deal with terrible trauma for the rest of his life. Not pulling the string didn’t make the situation better or worse, even if it did spare Satoshi’s life and future.
As Ai puts it, in many circumstances, what’s right or wrong depends on a person’s feelings. You can definitely make the argument that, no matter what, sending Satoshi to hell would be wrong and wouldn’t solve anything, and you’d be right, but the way the client is feeling right now makes her believe that’s not the truth. She views it as having some sort of semblance of justice, and I believe the only thing that stops her is the realization that it won’t bring her son back and won’t make her feel better. It would be a largely pointless gesture that would just cause more suffering.
However, after watching nearly the entire Hell Girl anime franchise, yes, emotion has a huge stake in this. While many cases are clear cut and dry ‘one is evil and the other is a victim’ all cases are fueled by emotion. They have to be by necessity. That’s literally how Hell Girl works. You need to have a strong feeling of vengeance against a specific person to even use the services. Many cases are just driven by what the client believes is right and wrong, even if these cases can, and frequently are, objectively slanted one way or another.
Hell Girl has too wide of a spectrum of cases to make any concrete claim about whether Hell Correspondence is good or bad. It stops evil people in their tracks before they do more bad things, saving lives. It rids certain horrible people from the world without ever letting them do another horrible thing, which protects the lives and happiness of others. But this is all based on how people choose to use the service.
‘Evil’ people can use it. The service can be abused. And, at the end of the day, everyone, clients and targets alike, are heading for hell. It’s just that the clients have more time to enjoy their lives before their trip down the river Styx. So even if you did save your life by the pull of a string, it’s basically wasted either way. It just saves you some suffering which will be paid back with interest in hell.
I suppose those third parties with no attachment to the contract would still be happy, but not all cases have innocent third parties being saved, and more often than not there are innocent third parties being hurt by the string pulls as well. It’s an incredibly gray area that’s filled with tons of questions of morality and philosophy.
The fact of the matter is that Michiru has to accept the way this system works, whether she likes it or not, and atone for her own sins in vengeance.
Being fair, I still don’t know how that particular aspect of Michiru’s story goes down, so I might still take points off from her story or character, but I’m feeling hopeful. I really just want Ai’s story to end peacefully and in a satisfactory manner while also sending off a fitting replacement, even if her time in the role is woefully short.
As in one episode.
As in next episode.
The series ends in the next episode.
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