Hell Girl: Three Vessels | Episode 25 – Yuzuki Review

HGTVEP25

Plot: The truth has finally been revealed to a distraught Yuzuki – she died when she was a child and everything she’s been experiencing over the past year has been nothing but an illusion. When she learns the truth of her death, she has to decide whether or not to take up the mantle of Hell Girl.

Breakdown: As much as I’ve been ragging on Yuzuki, and as much as I didn’t care for the previous episode, I still held out hope that the reveal behind Yuzuki’s true backstory would be serviceable. I had little hope it would be so good that it would be worth all of the episodes of Yuzuki being a bland sack of drywall dust, but from all I heard about this season I did hold out hope that her story would be alright. Fully bracing for mediocrity, I watched.

And my response was….

I have been trying really, really hard to not lose my temper when writing reviews lately because it tends to make me come off as unfair and grumpy. Well, I’m not worried about that right now, so I’m letting ranty!Twix have a moment out of her cage today, because fuck this, this is brain-bleedingly stupid, fuck this, why, why, why? 25 episodes….for THIS? No, fuck you, Hell Girl: Three Vessels. I’d rather have a full 26 episode run without any main storyline than this steaming heap of garbage.

I had to pause the episode at least three times to exclaim out loud how stupid all of this was. This is next level stupid. How anyone thought Yuzuki’s story was anything but insanely poorly written and purposefully exaggerated to ridiculous levels does not compute with me. It just doesn’t.

Okay….backing up and calming down a tad. Obviously, we have to establish why Yuzuki is considered a replacement for Ai as Hell Girl. She needs to have some sort of deep vendetta or something that would make her a proper candidate, right?

What could such a young girl have gone through to have this vendetta?

Yuzuki’s family life was very normal when she was young. In fact, it was pretty much unrealistically Full House brand saccharine. So, this being Hell Girl, of course things have to go horribly wrong.

HGTVEP25SCREEN1

Yuzuki’s father was a bus driver. One day, the brakes went out, causing him to t-bone another bus. He lost his life in the crash, and at least one other person was confirmed to have died as well. We never get confirmation on how many people died or were injured in the crash, but Yuzuki’s father and some girl or woman died.

The bus company completely denied that their bus had suffered from any malfunction or that they were at fault at all. They wouldn’t place any blame on the driver either, but they didn’t say it wasn’t him, so everyone just assumed that Yuzuki’s father was to blame for the crash, which is dumb because several reporters stated that some of the survivors from the bus asserted that the driver said the brakes failed right before they crashed.

Apparently, in this ridiculous version of the world, everyone completely believes the official statement of a bus company who would obviously rather – prepare for an awesome joke – throw one of their drivers under the bus rather than accept any responsibility for a fatal crash. And not a one of them would want to believe the survivors who know firsthand what happened when they were there and witnessed it.

Why wouldn’t there be an official police investigation into this? The only investigation that was cited was the internal one the bus company ran.

Everyone also acts as if he crashed the bus on purpose or something, calling him a murderer and such, which makes absolutely no sense because no one ever presented any theory as to why he’d ever do such a thing on purpose. He wasn’t suicidal, he was a great guy as far as I saw, and I’m certain plenty of people would vouch for him, but nope. Just grr, this awful bus driver man who fucking DIED in the accident and left behind an ailing wife and young child is a monster who obviously crashed the bus with malice.

In any other situation, people would probably have a lot of sympathy for the driver’s family at least. It was a terrible accident that they had nothing to do with. There’s no reason for them to suffer for any of thi—‘Fuck you, viewer!’ says the writers.

It’s time to put the patented Hell Girl ‘people are nothing but evil stupid shitbags’ writing into….

For some reason I still cannot wrap my head around, everyone, and I do mean everyone, starts to treat Yuzuki and her mother like they’re monsters – as if they’re the ones who crashed the bus and did it completely on purpose. As if they all lost precious loved ones in the accident while Yuzuki and her mother laughed maniacally from the street corner while pissing on a pile of everyone’s family heirlooms.

It’s not just the adults either. All of the children in Yuzuki’s school avoid her or write ‘Murderer, disappear’ on the chalkboard because of the terrible things their parents told them about her, which, again, I can’t imagine what they could possibly be saying. ‘I don’t want you associating with that Yuzuki girl again. She’s somehow responsible by proxy for a terrible bus accident her now dead father caused, I think.’

Really, even if Yuzuki’s dad did cause the accident on purpose, which is a HUGE stretch with absolutely no evidence – even it being his fault at all holds little water because of the witnesses – isn’t it enough punishment that he died in the accident? Isn’t it bad enough that Yuzuki lost a father and her mother lost her husband? Why would any of these people, let alone ALL OF THEM be such malicious, horrible scumbags that they’d torment Yuzuki and her mother like this?

I haven’t even scratched the surface of how overblown this behavior is.

It’s not just whispers and people being rude, oh no. They plaster her apartment door with papers that say various horrible things like “God of death,” “Murderer,” “Leave,” “Fall to hell,” “Die,” and “Disappear.”

HGTVEP25SCREEN2

An employee/co-owner at the local grocery store not only doesn’t want to sell food to Yuzuki, but she detests that her co-owner, who was childhood friends with Yuzuki’s mother, decided to hire her since they were low on money after the death of Yuzuki’s father (It’s mentioned that Yuzuki’s mother was offered money by the bus company, probably to decrease the chances that she’d sue them, but she refused it.) She even knows that she’s ill, but that only makes her hate the decision more because she can’t do as much work while sick even though she’s trying her best.

I’m still not done. That same childhood friend decided that while Yuzuki’s mother, the one who just lost her husband in a terrible bus accident like not even a month prior, is having a terrible coughing fit (spoiler alert, she’s dying) would be a great time to hit on her, but she rejected his advances and ran off. She said she quit after that, but it’s moreso implied that the guy fired her for it because he’s super pissed the next time he sees Yuzuki and won’t even let her buy food at the store….

Yuzuki’s mom tries to solicit help from their relatives, but each one turns them down. Seemingly for the same reasons as everyone else, so apparently this condemnation is so terrible even family is turning their backs on them. Lovely.

But, hm, how can we go even further with this? How can we assure the audience that all human beings are complete and total irredeemable rotten monsters?

Ah, yes. How about when Yuzuki’s mom gets deathly ill no doctor will see her. I am not kidding. Yuzuki’s mom is turned away at every local hospital and doctor’s office all because of this moronic bus accident bullshit. I paused for several minutes and yelled at my computer screen when I saw this. NO ONE WOULD BE THIS TERRIBLE FOR SUCH RIDICULOUS REASONS, LET ALONE AN ENTIRE TOWN.

Compare this story with that of Ai or Takuma. Ai was treated as a monster because of rumors involving her having weird powers, and because she was seemingly the cause of much suffering in her village for escaping the Seven Sending ritual that was meant to bring prosperity to them. Takuma was framed for the murder of his mother and putting his father into a coma while also being blamed for every Hell Girl incident in his town and everyone accusing him of being a devil child who wrecks stuff and flippantly kills animals.

Yuzuki was the daughter of a bus driver who got into an accident that killed an only confirmed two people, one of which being some no-name no-face person that no one ever references outside of her parents when she initially died, the other of which being himself. Nothing else happened. And yet they’re being treated WORSE than Takuma was. Yes, I’m not kidding. Because at least Takuma’s father was able to get medical treatment, and Takuma was fully allowed to visit him. At least Takuma was able to go out and buy things. At least Takuma had a few people who were willing to try and clear his name. And Takuma’s case was so unreal and ridiculous that I made a running joke about how ludicrous it was becoming.

And Takuma’s town full of horrible people did have some modicum of legitimate reasoning to hate and fear Takuma, considering everyone was convinced he was both a parent murderer and a demon with the power to make anyone he wants vanish. It was only the circumstances revolving around why the evidence for these assumptions initially kept piling up that was convoluted. He was ‘coincidentally’ put in the middle of so much shit that it was insane. Once the wheels were in motion, everyone just kept abusing the ‘Takuma did it’ excuse for friggin’ everything awful, particularly Hell Girl vanishings, that realistic (for the most part) mob mentally set in rather violently.

In addition, both Takuma and Ai were directly the targets of the ire of their respective villages/towns. Yuzuki and her mother are merely related to the target of everyone’s hatred here.

Literally NO ONE will stand up for Yuzuki and her mother – not even the survivors of the crash who went on record saying it was a brake failure will come out of the woodwork. Yuzuki’s mother is dying in front of everyone, and no one will give a single shit – not even doctors in hospitals. Even mass murderers would be able to find medical treatment because doctors have a duty to treat people who are sick and injured, even if they don’t like them or are the worst scum in the world.

Yuzuki is running around town in a panic when her mother collapses after coughing up a bunch of blood, desperately trying to find her help, but no one will listen. They either turn her away or ignore her, saying, and I quote “Children’s problems are negligible.” “Making such a big fuss. She probably has a cold or something.” Granted, I have no idea why Yuzuki doesn’t just call for an ambulance, but knowing this backwards-ass episode, the operator would probably be like “Oh, you’re the kid of the evil bus driver. Yeah, your mom can go die. Call us when she croaks. We’ll have a pizza party. Without you, of course. I hope you die too.” *hangs up*

HGTVEP25SCREEN3

Yuzuki’s mom is literally hobbling down the street, supported by her like four-year-old daughter, she’s pale with dark circles under her eyes and may as well have a giant neon sign over her head that says “I’m going to take a dirt nap soon.” and everyone just stares at her with sheer hatred in their eyes.

This story might be made a bit better if Yuzuki’s father survived the crash, but wound up permanently injured or disabled because of the wreck, and he grew hateful and bitter because of both his injuries and how no one would believe that he didn’t cause the wreck. And many more people died in the accident, like practically everyone in both buses, and he was one of the few survivors. Everyone would start treating Yuzuki and her mom like crap too for their association with him. Yuzuki’s father would become so far gone that he wouldn’t care about Yuzuki or his sick wife anymore. Maybe, and this is going a bit far, admittedly, Yuzuki’s mom would die out of nowhere because she hid the severity of her illness to not worry Yuzuki or bother her husband. And then, fed up with everything, Yuzuki, who’d I’d imagine as being slightly older in this scenario, would kill her father because he was the cause of everything, and then she’d somehow get some revenge on the people in town who made the situation a million times worse.

This is coming from a place of a genuine desire to help this story be better, by the way, because there is really a good deal of potential in Hell Girl, especially for something like finding Ai’s replacement, but this is just ridiculous. This entire town would run laps around Takuma’s town in regards to being overly evil and ‘we ran an x-ray and we’re afraid there’s literally nothing in your skull’ levels of stupid. I’m not a great writer either, and this suggestion isn’t even that good to be honest, but it’s really all I could come up with while still keeping the bare bones of what they gave us. If I want to be honest, Yuzuki’s story probably needed to be scrapped and just rewritten from the ground up.

Anyway, at the very end of their ropes, and with Yuzuki’s mother clearly at death’s door, Yuzuki’s mother decides to bring Yuzuki to an old rickety shrine where she plans on mercy killing Yuzuki via strangulation before she dies herself. She’s stopped before her hand even reaches Yuzuki’s throat by the sounds of some passing teenagers who pray at the shrine briefly. Almost immediately after they leave, Yuzuki’s mother dies.

Yuzuki buries her in cherry blossoms under a cherry tree. Her eyes turn red, which lead me to believe that she was about to go kill someone or, I dunno, burn her whole town down or something. It would’ve been way too much for a little kid to do, but it’s not anymore unrealistic than anything else in this episode.

HGTVEP25SCREEN4

……Nope.

She gets the red vengeance eyes and then goes home to clutch her teddy bear and…..die. Of what, I don’t know. I assume dehydration or starvation or something. She didn’t look like she was dying or was ill when she left, but she just falls asleep on her bear and never gets up. Her corpse is seriously as Ai and the others presented to her. She is just a pile of bones on a teddy bear, which only adds to the confusion of this episode.

So no one thought to check up on Yuzuki? No one ever went back into that apartment? No one ever smelled the stench of dead child?

Back in the present, Yuzuki, whose form also confuses me because I don’t understand why she’s a teenager if she died as a small child, willingly accepts her role as Hell Girl now that she remembers her horribly written tragic backstory. No argument, no nothing, she just accepts her role with open arms.

Also, her assistant is now Akie, who I guess is seriously in hell, which I guess means that the series DID happen….somehow? But they weren’t really friends as teenagers because Yuzuki died as a child? There was a brief scene where the young Yuzuki ‘met’ young Akie, but all that happened was Akie passed by her, gave her a candy and left. She never even introduced herself. So….I don’t really get why Akie is considered so precious to her outside of being the one person who showed her a slight bit of kindness while everyone was being a freshly baked pan of frosted bastards.

Isn’t Akie really confused right now? Like, ‘Wait, who are you? Why am I serving you? I met you for 11 seconds as a little kid and gave you a candy? What?’

Yuzuki’s whole present-day situation is extremely confusing to me. So she left this world full of hatred with a desire for vengeance, if her red eyes were any indication, and she supposedly didn’t pass on to either heaven or hell because she was wandering in this realm because of those dark feelings, if Tsugumi is to be believed….So Ai and the others prepped her for being the next Hell Girl by aging her up and allowing her to live a mostly happy-ish life with good friends that she never had before in addition to having her mom and dad still be alive and speaking to her, just not physically there, while also briefly having her skim by most of the clients they had in the interim, hopelessly “trying” to stop them or maybe not it depends, with her one major moment of slipping in this illusion being witnessing Akie get sent to hell, and all of that really just made her vehement AGAINST Hell Correspondence. Did they even know ahead of time that Akie would be sent to hell? Was that part of the plan? What exactly was the goal here? I don’t get it. Wouldn’t they have been better off just teaching the little girl version of Yuzuki about how to do Ai’s job?

Ai didn’t just transfer her role to Yuzuki. She put her soul back inside of Yuzuki to make her Hell Girl, which makes even less sense. Hell Girl is a role Ai was given. She shouldn’t need to be a part of Yuzuki’s soul to pass on the baton. They act like Ai is gone, Yuzuki tells the Hell Team to leave because Akie’s her assistant now and their previous master is gone, but Ai literally went into Yuzuki’s body. She didn’t pass on or anything. I don’t get it.

HGTVEP25SCREEN5

Why is Yuzuki even being given this role? Ai was given the role as a punishment for slaughtering her entire village in vengeance after she was killed by them and betrayed by her closest friend. She needed hundreds of years of watching how vengeance causes suffering to understand her wrongdoing and eventually accept her pain and move on. Yuzuki didn’t do anything. Her eyes turned red, then she hugged a teddy bear and died. She may be a wandering spirit filled with vengeance because of how badly everyone treated her and how their actions basically caused her and her mother’s deaths, but she didn’t do anything to warrant being given this job if it’s really meant to be a punishment. If anything, they’re putting someone in a role who will surely abuse it because they’re clearly now glorifying the act of vengeance.

Case and point, the first thing Yuzuki says when she becomes Hell Girl is that she won’t send someone sinless, like Akie, to hell ever again. She’ll purify the world. Problem is, Hell Girl doesn’t have that power. She is bound by the rules of her role to never reject viable clients or target people who haven’t been marked by clients. That’s a big part of why her existence is so tragic. Even if many of her targets aren’t innocent, she has to ferry a ton of nice people, children etc. to hell all the time since they’re clients. And she also has to let some of the worst people in the world to run free. The one time she chose to attack people she had a personal vendetta against cost her more time as Hell Girl. And the one time she refused a ferry was a test to see if she could really let vengeance go.

The point is, Yuzuki is now Hell Girl, none of this feels ‘earned’ and I am much angrier than I ever thought I would be after watching this. And what’s even worse is this is only going to get…..well….worse…Because, as I mentioned before, this shift isn’t permanent. Yuzuki does not stay as Hell Girl, and Ai doesn’t get relieved of her duties quite yet. We have to go through one more episode to return to the stupid status quo, and I can only hope they don’t manage to piss me off anymore….

Next Episode, the ending. At this point, I just wanna plow through it so we can also plow through Fourth Twilight to see Ai finally pass on for good.

….Previous Episode


If you enjoy my work and would like to help support my blog, please consider donating at my Ko-Fi page. Thank you! ♥

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Hell Girl: Three Vessels | Episode 24 – Mayfly Review

Plot: Yuzuki is fed up with Hell Girl, but she has more important things to worry about, such as the results to her high school entrance exams. However, when she tries to check to see if her name is on the list of accepted students, she suddenly finds that no one recognizes her and the results for her exams don’t exist. Even her home has become dilapidated and condemned. Yuzuki struggles to find someone who recognizes her or proof of her existence when she’s approached by Tsugumi, who explains the truth about what’s happening and Yuzuki’s fate as Hell Girl.

Breakdown: I have been saying for many episodes now that Yuzuki’s story better be pretty damn good in order for it be worth putting this soggy paper towel at the forefront, even though I had no faith that they could deliver something THAT good.

And, well, at least so far, they haven’t.

Let’s cut to the chase, pretty much the entire series was just an illusion. Or it wasn’t…? It’s very confusing. The world that Yuzuki has been living in as a student, as a friend, as a daughter, as someone trying to stop Hell Girl…a few times anyway, does not exist. It was an illusion built by Ai to make her understand the true nature of the world and how everyone has hate in them, but Hell Correspondence acts as a beacon of hope to the people who don’t use it because they can rest assured that the most evil people will pay from their crimes in some way.

This just makes everything so confusing. Does this mean that any Hell Girl case that even slightly involved Yuzuki didn’t exist? Were all the hell candles fake? Were the people in hell fake? Even the people that Yuzuki knew in the illusion didn’t recognize her (In the real version of the world) and/or they didn’t exist at all because it really seems like this entire town is empty once Yuzuki learns the truth. Her group of remaining friends also seemingly vanished in the hallway.

Are we really “It was all a dream”ing the ENTIRE SERIES? Were we seeing illusions? Were the scenes that didn’t involve Yuzuki also illusions? Were they not, and that’s why she wasn’t really involved in much of anything over the course of the series?

If you’re thinking that maybe all of this is a big fakeout illusion within an illusion or something – it’s not.

See.

She’s dead.

And has been the entire time.

She is one of apparently several potential Hell Girl replacements that Tsugumi has seen come through over the years (That doesn’t make any sense given the fact that between the second season and now, Ai has supposed to have been gone even to her associates. Although maybe they were coming through without Ai and they brought in Ai to help secure a replacement?) However, the others have hung on and lived between worlds, never being able to pass on and living in torment in the living world, and she was trying to tell Yuzuki that her fate as Hell Girl was preferable to the alternative.

Tsugumi has completely given up on the hope of ever getting rid of Hell Correspondence, which, again, is weird because she should have lived in a Hell Correspondence free world up until the past year or so. Her father lived with a hope and passion for that dream for years, but eventually he grew tired and gave up (it’s continuously implied that he died, but they still never outright say it.) Tsugumi gave up after years and years of her powers in seeing Hell Girl visions. They taught her that Hell Correspondence was necessary and fate is something you can’t fight. She needs to live alongside with Hell Girl and not deny her.

Yuzuki refuses to give up and tells Tsugumi that she doesn’t think she’s given up either or else she wouldn’t have stopped her from passing through that torii during the festival. She doesn’t know what will happen if she passes through it, but Tsugumi knows, and she’s still vehemently trying to get her to not pass through.

Tsugumi agrees and says maybe a small part of her does still believe, which is when she decides to tell Yuzuki the big death secret as long as she agrees to accept the truth and not fight it.

Yuzuki, however, refuses to believe and runs to her house in a panic only to find her skeletal remains on the floor of her room clutching her teddy bear and the Hell Team confronting her.

So….are the remains also an illusion or did no one think to look in this apartment for however many years? There’s just a dead child on the floor. How did no one notice this?

So far, I am less than impressed by this being Yuzuki’s big revelation. At best, it’s uninspired, and at worst you literally just told me to my face that I wasted around 12 hours of my life on stuff that didn’t happen, maybe, I think, possibly? Being an illusion or a dream doesn’t take the full value of an story experience away, the good stories that were told are still good, but it does damage it quite a bit.

At this point, all I can hope for is that Yuzuki’s full backstory will be worth a few more points, because, so far, it’s pretty lame and not worth the price of admission. So Yuzuki’s dead. It just means she somehow managed to be even more lifeless than she has been when I thought she was alive.

I’m also a little bummed that this episode had no case in it. I pretty much knew that would happen because the last few episodes in any season of this show is usually relegated to main plot stuff, but when our main plot stuff is Yuzuki-centric, I’d rather have a case to keep my attention…


If you enjoy my work and would like to help support my blog, please consider donating at my Ko-Fi page. Thank you! ♥

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Hell Girl: Three Vessels | Episode 23 – Twilight Hills Review

Hell Girl Three Vessels - Tomohide Bullying Fumio

Plot: While Yuzuki continues to refuse to be the next Hell Girl, another client shows up – Fumio. He is constantly bullied by Tomohide and his cronies for seemingly no reason outside of the fact that he has nice things and his family is higher class. There are always two sides to a story, however.

Breakdown: Lets enter the new year by getting things back into action with Hell Girl: Three Vessels!

It dawns on me that I have been reviewing this season of Hell Girl for over a year. Part of that has been my erratic posting schedule as of late, but part of that has just been a complete lack of motivation to just plow through the rest of it. It says something when I’m more motivated to finish “Let’s see how many ways we can torment poor Takuma” Two Mirrors than I am “Yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaawwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn” Three Vessels.

Typically, this doesn’t have much to do with the story of the week. While this season hasn’t really been the strongest, it’s more or less been fine in the episodic story department.

The problem, yet, again, continues to just be Yuzuki – the protagonist who is so dull and forgettable that I keep forgetting her name and have to look it up half the time. We’re at episode 23.

Like I said the past two or three episodes, you’d think things would finally start heating up with her story at this point, but nope. She spends this entire episode ghosting Ai and her associates because she’s determined to not be the next Hell Girl. And that’s it. She just ignores them and barely says a word until the ending. She even completely ignores the case of the week.

At the end, Ai allows her to hear the ringing bells of the people around her again, indicating that many of them are either current Hell Girl clients, targets or have already pulled the string. Then she lashes out at Ai, refusing to be Hell Girl, saying she just wants to be a normal girl and go to school with her friends. She doesn’t even think Hell Correspondence has a point. Her lashing out prompts Ai to claim that she now feels hatred and, thus, hell in her heart as well.

Yes, congratulations, Yuzuki. You’ve been annoyed into hatred.

Ai Enma

At least it looks like the next episode will finally be centered on her and the main story, if you can even call it that, of this season, but I really just feel like anything they come up with won’t have been worth the frustration and boredom that comes with watching Yuzuki over this entire series.

As for the story of this episode, sorry to say, but it’s one of the weakest, most confusing and unsatisfying stories we’ve had so far. First of all, we’re back to the good ol’ reliable bullying setup, which is fine, really, but they act like Tomohide has this secret reason for hating Fumio or that Fumio did something to Tomohide or someone related to him to make him hate him to such a ridiculous degree, but they never actually give one.

Instead of focusing the majority of the episode on Fumio, much of the episode actually focuses on Tomohide. Fumio comes from a borderline rich family, though he himself isn’t a snob or anything – he’s actually rather meek and polite. Tomohide, on the other hand, is lower middle class. I wouldn’t say he’s technically poor, but he definitely doesn’t live in luxury. His mother is always working, and his father is “gone.” It’s implied that Tomohide sent his father to hell, given that he does have a curse mark, his father was clearly pointed out as having just up and left, and he grasps his shirt at the curse mark when talking to his little sister about their father, but they never give the specifics. Was his father abusive? Does his mother know what happened? We never find out.

When he’s not bullying Fumio, Tomohide’s a rather likable and hard working young man. He’s a baseball star at school with a dream of going to high school and playing baseball there to hopefully become a professional baseball player. However, he’s decided to give up his dream so he can immediately go into the workforce after middle school and help his family. In addition to his constantly working mother, who is never seen on screen, you have Tomohide’s little sister, Suzumi, who is extra cute because she has jammies that make her look like a cow. Not in a mean way – they’re literally cow pajamas.

Suzumi in cow pajamas

Suzumi’s, like, four, but she talks like she’s an older teen or adult, fussing about the water bill and chastising Tomohide for doing the dishes incorrectly. She’s already baking bread and is rather good at it. She wants to be a baker in the future but is willing to give up her dream so she can stay at home taking care of the house while their mom works and Tomohide goes to high school to become a baseball star. Tomohide won’t let her do that because he’s vehement about working so he can give up his dream.

The first half of the episode is some of the clunkiest dialogue and exposition I’ve ever seen in this series, which is kinda ironic because they exposit so much without actually saying much of worth. Like Fumio’s rich, has a watch that was a gift from his still-alive rich father, which is why he wears it to school when his teachers tell him it might not be a good idea, he really wants to make movies and has a sweet entertainment center in his room and got a brand new video camera, but we don’t know why he wants to make movies so badly. Tomohide’s father is gone for some reason, he sent him to hell for some reason, Tomohide is playing “No, I’ll give up MY dream” hot potato with his little sister, he loves baseball, but can’t play it in high school for no real reason.

Make no mistake – Tomohide really is giving up his dream for no reason. Everyone around him, including his sister, is telling him to go to high school and become a pitcher because he can easily go pro, and becoming a pro baseball player would make his family a lot of money. But he insists on working. When he’s at a local factory getting a tour for prospective employees, he starts muttering to himself “Work…work” like he’s being forced into work, but no one is doing that.

Don’t get me wrong. His decision is logical. Getting a steady factory job immediately to help out his family isn’t nearly as risky as trying to become a professional athlete, but I really can’t see why he absolutely has to skip high school entirely and not even give it a shot before entering the workforce. His family really doesn’t seem that badly off with just their mother’s income. I’m not sure why either he or Suzumi feels the need to give up their dreams to make money for the family (or in Suzumi’s case, take care of the house) when they’re not struggling that much financially from all I see. Their apartment is pretty spacious and clean, they have plenty of food, fresh water, nice clothes, the aforementioned awesome cow pajamas, a rather large bedroom, they’re both in great health, etc. If they are really struggling that badly, they didn’t convey that well enough for me to sympathize with Tomohide at all.

Tomohide claiming he absolutely needs to work.

Speaking of sympathizing with Tomohide, that’s quite the task considering he has the biggest hate boner for Fumio for seemingly no other reason besides he’s rich and Tomohide’s not. They were hinting that there was more to the story. Ai even asked Fumio, when he asked why he was the only one so unlucky as to be targeted like this, “Are you sure you haven’t scarred anyone?” Fumio looks up in shock, as if there is something terrible he’s done….but it never pays off. We never learn if Fumio really did do anything bad besides be rich.

Tomohide overhears that Fumio made it into a good high school on recommendation, so he gets pissed and bullies him. He sees that Fumio got a nice watch from his dad, so he gets pissed and bullies him. Fumio gets a new camera and goes off by himself to use it in the woods, so he gets pissed and bullies him. And when Fumio offers to give him the camera or the watch, Tomohide smacks them away and gets even angrier.

At one point, Tomohide, in a seeming change of heart, decides to return Fumio’s camera to him (guess he took it anyway) but decides against giving it back when he overhears Fumio say that high school is just a path to college. It’s a place where you figure out what you want to do in life, and he’s already figured out what he wants to be, so he’s not that concerned about high school.

Tomohide got so pissed at him saying this when he’s being ‘forced’ to not go to high school and immediately go to work that he grabs Fumio later and completely flips out this time. Before, the bullying was actually rather tame for this show. He took his money and pushed him around, but the main point of contention was his focus purely on bullying Fumio. They don’t bully anyone else, even if their classmates are afraid of the boys and choose to not help Fumio. Tomohide hates Fumio so much that he tells him repeatedly that it doesn’t matter if he goes to a school in another city or if he sends him to hell (he now knows that Fumio called Hell Girl) he’ll never escape, he’ll never let Fumio go and Fumio will never be happy.

All of this ire because he’s jealous that Fumio has rich parents.

You can have negative opinions on rich adults as much as you like, but rich kids can’t control who their parents are. All things considered, Fumio’s a pretty good and kind kid for a rich kid in any form of media. The worst things he does are use the nice things his parents buy for him and kinda imply that he doesn’t think all that much about high school, but that was only because he saw it as a means to figure out what you want to be as an adult, and he already has that figured out. It’s not like he went “Pfft, high school? A mere way to waste my time until I go to the most prestigious college money can buy me into. *snooty rich person laugh*” He obviously cares somewhat about high school because he was really excited when he learned he got into the one he wanted.

Even if he had said that, that’s not enough reason to hate him nearly as much as Tomohide does.

Tomohide attacking Fumio with a pipe.

But this brings us to the big moment – the string pull. After Tomohide snaps and attacks Fumio with a metal pole, Fumio whips out the straw doll, but hesitates. Tomohide, who knows exactly what Fumio’s doing because he’s also a Hell Girl client, notices it, and then…..

……He berates him into pulling the string until he does.

The last thing we hear from Tomohide on his ferry ride is “I’m sorry, Suzumi.”

What the hell is wrong with you, dude? You knew the doll was for you. You knew what it was. You knew the power was real….and yet, you just goad Fumio into pulling the string, basically committing suicide? When you know full well that you’ll be leaving your mother and your sister all alone, basically damning your sister to taking care of her four-year-old self until the day she has to give up her dreams to help support her mother because her brother decided to be a dumbass and get himself killed for absolutely no reason when one of the reasons he was choosing to go into the workforce immediately in the first place was so she didn’t have to give up her dream of being a baker?

Is there any brain cell in your skull that is functioning?

At the end of the day, as Fumio takes a tour around the high school he chose, he sees some other boy being bullied and realizes that Tomohide was right, he’ll probably never escape from being bullied. At least, I think that’s what they were trying to say. I mean, just because some other kid is being bullied doesn’t mean he has to.

Also, Tomohide’s friends watched him get Hell Girl’d and they tell their entire class what happened in a huge panic. They even turn on the class in paranoia and claim they’re all probably Hell Girl clients sending people to hell.

Overall, this episode is very, very sloppy. I kinda like the idea of having a bullying story where the script is flipped and we are meant to sympathize more with the bully than the victim, but they did such an awful job executing that idea. You don’t sympathize with Tomohide nearly enough, and the victim is too meek and marshmallow-esque that you can’t even dislike him a little. If you dislike him, it’s probably because he’s kinda whiny, but he has a bit of a right to be. There’s not enough details given for any of the important factors of the story, despite the clunky exposition-y dialogue, and the details they do give just aren’t good enough and/or feel stupid.

I don’t even want to talk about Yuzuki’s part again.

Onto the first of the final three – let’s see if Yuzuki’s story is really up to snuff.


If you enjoy my work and would like to help support my blog, please consider donating at my Ko-Fi page. Thank you! ♥

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Hell Girl: Three Vessels | Episode 22 – Flower and Moon Review

Plot: Yuika is an up and coming star in the world of modeling, known for her brash and pushy attitude. Her twin sister, Sumika, is a more timid and studious type. Sumika typically stays to the background being Yuika’s ‘shadow.’ She pretends to be Yuika in order to do her college work, take her exams and even stand in for her at work sometimes. Sumika is far from an innocent flower, though. They’re two sides of the same coin in the worst way.

Breakdown: I really, really thought this episode was finally going to get Yuzuki’s main plot rolling since a good chunk of the first half is dedicated to her struggling with her destiny of becoming Hell Girl. The end of high school is approaching, and her school counselor is questioning her about her plans for the future, but she doesn’t really have any.

Dreams and the future are two concepts that give Yuzuki pause lately.

And that’s it. She just can’t think of anything when she thinks about the future or anything she dreams of being. She’s such a boring character.

The most interesting thing we got from her was the slightest implication that something very bad happened when she was a kid involving her mother, but that’s about it.

I’m also starting to believe that maybe Yuzuki is….crazy? She suddenly seemed to lose contact with her mother, even though she stated that she used to call and talk to her parents every day, and I’m now realizing that we’ve still never seen either of her parents on screen – not even in pictures. I actually kinda hope it’s something like that, because at least that has the potential to be interesting.

After that, it’s a typical Hell Girl story. Although, the way they inject the story of the week is quite odd. Yuzuki is just walking down the sidewalk and she’s suddenly approached by Sumika, who apologizes profusely for the ashes from her flame-less fire seemingly getting on Yuzuki, but it’s clear that the smoke is only barely even slightly near her, so I doubt any ashes got on her. Also, if you didn’t want to bother nearby people with smoke and ashes, maybe not start a non-fire smoke signal in your two-foot wide yard right by the sidewalk?

She then invites Yuzuki to enjoy the warmth from this non-fire….When it’s not even noticeably cold out.

One of the pieces of paper making up the “fire” blows onto Yuzuki’s foot. It’s a picture of Sumika and her twin sister, Yuika, as teenagers. She clearly doesn’t want Yuzuki to see this picture…..so again…I ask…why are you doing literally any of this? Why the “fire”? Why not just tear up the pictures? Why not set the fire in a place that won’t immediately draw attention from passersby? Why invite Yuzuki over to enjoy the private picture fire? You make no sense, lady.

Anyway, absolutely nothing involving Yuzuki has any bearing on the Hell Girl story today. What a surprise.

The real story is fine, but I feel like it’s basically treading water we’ve already treaded. Most notably, I was really reminded of the season one episode, A Night Among Traveling Entertainers.

You have a pair of twins, one of which is the bitchy star, Yuika, and the other is the timid doormat, Sumika. Yuika treats her sister like garbage and acts incredibly self-centered. She’s always telling Sumika to do her college work for her and even pretend to be her so she can take her exams for her.

Sumika comes off as a nicer person, but the twist is that she really isn’t deep down, which is pretty clearly foreshadowed by her burning the pictures earlier. While Sumika isn’t as mean as Yuika, she is self-centered and conniving.

When Yuika gets herself injured because she was a drunk moron, she demands Sumika take her place in a photo shoot so she won’t ruin her career. Sumika does great at the shoot and even earns a lot of positive attention because she’s being so much kinder and gentler than Yuika.

Not only that, but Sumika clearly covets Yuika’s boyfriend, Masato. While Masato does love Yuika, he gets along great with Sumika, and Yuika is, well, not a pleasant person, so you do kinda root for him to be with Sumika…..for a minute.

This whole conflict with the boyfriend comes to a head when Sumika pretends to be Yuika and tricks Masato into having sex with her….ya know…raping him.

He realizes only after the fact that she was actually Sumika, but his actual feelings are quite iffy. He seems like he feels bad about cheating on Yuika accidentally, but he’s not getting angry with Sumika, and we cut away before we can get any further information on what went down.

Yuika has been following her and becomes enraged when she realizes what happened.

After this, Yuika’s wound heals and she and Sumika basically fight for Yuika’s life.

They’re both dressed identically, so there’s no way to tell them apart.

One of them calls Hell Girl and pulls the string, sending the other twin to hell. It’s meant to be ambiguous, and the viewer is supposed to decide which twin was the client and which was the target, but there are several hints as to the identities of each, and I think it’s pretty clear that Sumika was the target.

They do obscure the name on the candle at the end. You can only see the ‘ka’ part of their first names. The rest is covered by a wax drip. However, what you can see of the kanji that is covered doesn’t match the way Yuika writes her name.

Masato breaks up with the woman who has the doll. He had never entered into an actual relationship with Sumika, he only slept with her once, so it seems weird that he would ‘break up’ with her.

The woman in the boat acts more like Sumika than Yuika. She asks “Am I not supposed to chase my dreams? Even though I wanted to be myself….” Yuika was always herself. She was a selfish bitch in front of people, and she was a selfish bitch in private. Sumika, on the other hand, had to hide behind Yuika’s persona in order to get attention while still being herself. Sumika was a kind person, but, as I said, she had a more nefarious side to her that was more scheming and selfish.

Finally, and the most obvious piece of evidence. It was established early in the episode that the only concrete way to tell Yuika and Sumika apart was a flower-shaped birthmark on Sumika’s lower back. That’s how Masato proved it was Sumika when they slept together. They specifically zoom in on Yuika’s bare back at the end of the episode and show that it has no markings on it. I even watched it frame by frame to make sure not even partial marks were shown – they weren’t.

The only thing that doesn’t mesh with this is that Yuika is notably more pleasant in the press conference at the end. Maybe she was humbled by the experience. Or maybe Sumika was actually the client and she just covered up her birthmark with makeup for whatever reason.

I’m 98% certain it was Yuika who lived and Sumika who got sent to hell. If true….eh, I don’t really care either way. Yuika was a bigger bitch than Sumika, no doubt, but Sumika was also a slimy bitch who basically raped Masato – no matter if he chose her in the end or not.

All in all, this episode was pretty okay. I liked that they were at least trying to create a fairly wide gray area here, and I appreciate the attempts at masking who the client and target were, even if, in my opinion, it was a bit easy to figure out. I am getting very annoyed at Yuzuki, though. They better throw her story into high gear in the next episode, because it really feels like it’s a road to nowhere.


If you enjoy my work and would like to help support my blog, please consider donating at my Ko-Fi page. Thank you! ♥

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Hell Girl (Manga) Volume 4 Review | Alt. Title: Literally Everyone is Awful

Plot: The continuing stories of Hell Girl….

Chapter 14: Melody of Sorrow

Uhm….wow. This was one of the more ridiculously over done chapters we’ve ever seen on Hell Girl.

Seriously, it went down to supervillain-esque levels of muahahaha-evil.

Yui has a step-dad, Junichiro, whom she really loves. He’s a sweet guy who always supports her and she loves him just like a real dad. According to her parents, her real dad ditched her mother and her when she was three because he wracked up a lot of debt.

Yui’s class volunteers her to play piano for a singing contest at their school in a few weeks. She really liked the piano as a little kid, but stopped playing. The instant she picks it back up, her step-dad flips his shit and demands she stop learning and tell the class to find another pianist. She’s shocked at his drastic change in demeanor, but her mom encourages her to continue learning as long as she keeps it a secret from him.

Inevitably, he finds out, and holy shit sundae, he goes berserk. He slaps her across the face and locks her in her room for days, obviously not allowing her to practice piano anymore, but also not allowing her to go to school or even eat. When her friends show up to check on her, he verbally reams them for encouraging her to play piano and shoos them off. When her mother tries to sneak some food to her, he slaps her across the face for going behind his back.

After however many days, he finally has a conversation with Yui about why he’s so upset. Get ready….This guy’s a fucking lunatic.

He shows her the picture that was in her piano practice book that her mother gave her. It was a picture of her mother and her biological father, Tadase. Her father was a piano genius and was on a fast-track to big success as a pianist. Meanwhile, Junichiro was always jealous of him because he couldn’t play nearly as well. He only got more jealous when Tadase got married and had a kid.

Junipsycho pretended to be her dad’s close friend for years in college as a part of his master plan – yes, this is actually a ‘master plan’ situation – he was going to wrack up a bunch of debt in Tadase’s name, kill him and then throw his body in the river, claiming he ran off to avoid debt collectors. Meanwhile, he’d swoop in, marry Yui’s mother and become Yui’s step-father.

No, I’m not kidding, and the crazy doesn’t stop there.

I guess even the simple act of trying to learn piano was enough to get him livid about Yui possibly becoming as skilled as her father. However, even he knows he can’t keep her imprisoned forever, so he agrees to let her be free….as long as he can ensure that she never plays piano again.

The only way to do that?

SLICE OFF HER FUCKING FINGERS WITH A BUTCHER KNIFE!

As he’s about to strike, he accidentally stabs her mother in the back as she rushes in to protect her daughter. He doesn’t give a damn about anything happening right now and really seems like he’s going to kill both of them.

Luckily, Yui contacted Hell Girl earlier and decides to pull the string to save her mother’s life.

The hell torture is rather predictable, but fitting. He’s tied up and forced to play piano in hell for all eternity.

Yui’s mother’s going to pull through, and Yui decides she wants to strive to become an amazing pianist just like her father, no matter if she’s damned for hell after she dies.

Just…wow. That was so ridiculous. We’ve definitely seen supervillain-esque targets on Hell Girl before, but this guy takes the cake. He’s managed to keep his cool for about ten years to the point where Yui would never suspect him of killing a fly, but the instant she says she’s trying to learn piano for a school event he suddenly can’t keep himself from viciously violent outbursts of insane proportions. Hell, for all he knew she sucked too and he had nothing to worry about. Piano skill isn’t genetic. He’s not even a practicing pianist anymore, why would he care? Just because he doesn’t want to be reminded of Tadase?

Chapter 15: Puppy Waltz

Stop with the stories of animal abuse in this franchise! They’re not pleasant to read, even if the asshole goes to hell. And they’re all basically the same story anyway. Stop it!

I’ll spare you the story – bitch abuses, neglects and kills her dogs, nearly kills client’s dog, nearly gets client mauled by dogs, somewhat-ish happy ending for client, implied Ai helped her dog survive an attack, target can suck on battery acid through a straw made of used hypodermic needles in hell. The end.

I hope that’s the last animal abuse story I have to sit through as I finish off this franchise, because I am reaching my limit.

Chapter 16: Beautiful Friendship

This.

Chapter.

Is.

Dumb.

I wish I could just leave it at that, but considering I just screwed you out of a proper review of the last chapter, I’ll talk about this one.

Makoto and her best friend, Tsuho, are planning to go to karaoke with the other girls in their class. Tsuho decides to invite Tomita. She’s a quiet glasses girl who mostly keeps to herself, typically spending her time reading manga or being on the internet…..*looks in mirror*…..Are they spying on me?

Tomita doesn’t respond to Tsuho, not even when she yanks her book out of her hands and mocks her for liking manga, claiming she’ll never get a boyfriend if she doesn’t stop reading stuff like that.

Makoto grabs the book back from her and tells her to stop making Tomita feel bad.

This must have been translated in Tsuho’s head as the absolute most offensive thing she has ever heard in her 14-ish years of life, because she immediately runs out of the room screaming to her friends that Makoto is uninvited from karaoke. In addition to that, the next day, Makoto finds that everyone in class is ignoring her and treating her like garbage when they actually do pay her mind. All because she was nice to Tomita….

Keep in mind, Tsuho was technically or seemingly trying to be nice to Tomita when she went over there. She was inviting her out to karaoke and she didn’t appear to be kidding, but then she quickly started being a jerk. It’s not like the class hates Tomita for any real reason, either. They just mock her and made her an outcast because, by their standards, she’s weird.

Tsuho keeps calling Makoto a hypocrite, which I thought meant we’d get some reveal where Makoto used to bully Tsuho when they were really young or whatever….Nope. It’s just….something she keeps saying for some reason.

Now, in most other stories like this, Makoto would probably become good friends with Tomita and one of them would have to inevitably send Tsuho to hell because she’s being such a c-bag.

Nnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnope.

Turns out, Tomita’s a total bitch too. See, if there’s one thing you need to know about this chapter is that everyone – every, single, person – is awful. There’s not a nice person in this entire chapter except Makoto. It’s like there was a zombie virus outbreak, but instead of people turning into zombies they turn into assholes, and Makoto was born with an immunity in her blood.

Tomita believes her only friends are on the internet, who express that they have similar problems, but they’re also negative towards each other in suggesting things like committing suicide. Tomita also says she doesn’t care if her ‘friends’ on the internet are assholes, because she can just delete whatever they say to her. Still, Makoto extends an olive branch, but Tomita swats it away. She tells her they have nothing in common, she never asked for her help in the first place and to never talk to her again.

Makoto is shocked, and she continues to get bullied to even worse extents. I don’t know why Makoto is getting all this harassment. Tomita is also outcast, but throughout this entire chapter she’s pretty much left alone barring that one incident at the start, and that was very mild bullying compared to what Makoto is getting.

The bullying gets so bad (and she can’t tell her mom because reasons) that she decides to join the forum that Tomita was on before. It’s a forum for victims of bullying, so she believes she can find some kindred spirits there, even if there are assholes. One of the messages she finds suggests visiting Hell Correspondence to ferry their tormentor to hell. She decides to call Hell Girl on Tsuho, but she’s apprehensive to pull the string.

She becomes even more apprehensive when one of the girls who has been bullying her musters up the courage to greet her. Then she immediately runs off yelling to not tell Tsuho she did it. Uhm….is Tsuho a high school mob boss? Why does she seemingly have all of this power over the other girls to the point where they’re terrified of what she’ll do if she finds out they had the audacity to tell someone on their blacklist “Morning.”?

After this, Makoto thinks there’s some hope for things to go back to normal. She even greets the class when she walks in, and, even though she is met mostly with cold stares and silence, some of the girls do smile back at her.

At lunch, she tries to sit with the others, but Tsuho trips her and has a big tantrum, asking her what she said or did to the other girls. She tells Makoto she’s “ruining the mood for everyone” and that she’s annoying. Makoto tries to plead for Tsuho to take her back, claiming she’ll better herself if she’s always found her to be annoying – as long as she gets her friends back, she doesn’t care.

Makoto: “I think you’re my best friend!”

This line is met with Tsuho splashing her drink all over Makoto as she’s on the floor.

Tsuho: “I thought you were my friend. But you stood up for Tomita-san. So why aren’t you friends with her instead?!”

‘I thought you were my friend, but then you had to stop my mild bullying of a person who has seemingly never done anything to me before! And that is unforgivable!’

Even in the face of everything Tsuho has done and is doing right now, Makoto still pleads for her to put that behind them and make up. And then everything immediately shifts from devilbitch!Tsuho to this.

And that was immediately followed by me saying this.

Like, seriously, what the hell? How are we supposed to believe for a single microsecond that this harpy is actually now sorry for everything she did? I mean, I guess she does change her personality on a dime, considering how drastically it changed in the start, but this is just ridiculous. Tsuho trips her because she thinks she might be winning some of the girls over again, splashes a drink all over her when she calls her her best friend and then screams that, indeed, her major sin was STANDING UP FOR SOMEONE TSUHO WAS BULLYING, and then it’s just “Oh, Makoto, I’m sorry. :’(“

But they have to at least attempt to make us feel even a little sad for Tsuho….considering the very next shot is of her being sent to hell by Tomita.

Yup, Tomita, possibly breaking the rules of Hell Girl, I’m not sure, also called Hell Girl on Tsuho, but she actually pulled the string. Tomita is ecstatic about what she’s done and rushes off to tell her friends on the internet.

Later, we discover that Tomita hasn’t been to school since that happened, though we never find out why. I also find it very hilarious that they’re calling her a freak for spending a bunch of time on the internet. My, how times have changed. Makoto tells herself that there will be people she’ll want to get rid of in the future, but she’ll never visit Hell Correspondence again.

And the moral of the story is that everyone’s garbage.

I’m not even really exaggerating here. The bullies come off as assholes, of course, Tsuho comes off as ridiculously petty and evil, and even the bullied parties come off looking bad. Tomita’s a bitter psychopath, the people on that bullying forum were the same, and Makoto is just flatout pathetic. She’s really on the floor on her hands and knees BEGGING to be taken back by a girl who has done nothing but make her life a nightmare ever since she did something as minor as just pointing out that she’s making someone else feel bad.

Tsuho had the entire class turn against Makoto, kept verbally harassing her and calling her a hypocrite, she got her in trouble with her teachers, the class wrote horrible stuff about her on her papers, she was told that no one wanted her around, Tsuho knocked her down and splashed her drink all over her – but yeah, sure, she definitely sounds like someone I’d like to go back to being friends with. Why don’t we go see a movie? I hear “I’m a Huge Basket of Ass: The Tsuho Story” is playing.

I’ve had bad fights with friends before, to the point where we stopped being friends, and then we made up, but never to anywhere near this level, and groveling was never part of the picture. It sends a bad message, too. You can forgive someone for treating you like crap if you want, people make mistakes, and as long as they show effort in bettering themselves, then it can all be good, but begging someone like this to go back to being your friend? And acting like YOU’RE the problem and YOU need to change to be less ‘annoying’?

This is clearly a toxic relationship. Even if Tsuho wasn’t sent to hell, I can imagine Makoto would never be able to continue being her friend without living in constant fear of somehow pissing her off and earning her wrath once more.

It would have been better if Makoto decided to continue with what she was doing and try to get the other girls to cool it and befriend her again, because it’s clear that at least some of them were acting out of fear of whatever Tsuho would do to them. Then maybe all the girls could realize they were being foolish, see what a terrible person Tsuho is and ostracize her instead. But nope.

Tsuho didn’t deserve a drop of any sort of redemption they were trying to give her in the end. Just because you go ‘boo hoo’ and have her say ‘sorry’ when she’s been gleefully tormenting Makoto this entire time doesn’t make up for a damn thing. She’s a terrible person, and I have no qualms with her being in hell.

Not saying I liked what Tomita did, though, because she embodies the opposite extreme of the stereotype of the crazy bullied kid (Bonus stereotype points: Is a nerd who spends too much time on the internet and reads comics/manga) who ends up murdering their tormentor. The fact that she’s so giddy about it is equally cringey. This series is no stranger to enjoying revenge, but the only thing Tsuho did to her was be rude to her. Sure, she’s also an outcast, but it’s clear that she doesn’t even want anyone else to fraternize with her.

Chapter 17: Fake Hell Correspondence

Ending on a brief note since this chapter reflects a story told in the anime. However, that doesn’t mean it’s a bad note since the episode in question was one of my favorite Hell Girl episodes, The Fake Hell Link. Pretty much everything in this chapter is the same as the anime, barring the differences in names (Shouko Baba is Akiko Hayashi here. Ikami Waka is Sanae Shiraishi here. And finally, Mami Kuriyama/Manaka is Ochiai/Nishikawa here.) and some minor things like Kuriyama had actually tried to use Hell Link before and learned firsthand that she needed to damn her own soul to make it work, but Ochiai didn’t. She just heard the stipulation through rumors, but other than that, spot on.

I don’t think I was in the right mind to enjoy it as much, though, because I was still reeling from the previous chapter.

————————————

And that was the end of volume four!

………It wasn’t that good. Only one story in this entire volume was actually worth anything, and I’m not sure I can give it full marks since it’s mirroring an anime episode. Chapter 14 takes second place in that regard, but it’s difficult to even take that chapter seriously because of how overly evil they made her step-dad.

With the animal abuse chapter coupled with the stupidity of the bully chapter, it’s just not a good volume overall. To make matters worse, we’re also introduced to Kikuri in this volume. Joy. She only shows up looming in the background of one panel, but she’s formally ‘introduced’ in the omake at the end of the volume. So, yeah, from now on we have to deal with Kikuri. Oh well, at least we don’t have to listen to her….

Next Volume….

….Previous Volume


If you enjoy my work and would like to help support my blog, please consider donating at my Ko-Fi page. Thank you! ♥

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Hell Girl: Three Vessels | Episode 21: Right in Front Behind You Review

HGTVEP21SCREEN1

Plot: Yuzuki meets a young boy named Kaito who is clearly being abused by his step-mother. She senses that he’s about to use Hell Correspondence and desperately tries to stop him. But there’s hell within everyone, and the challenge of freeing some people from their personal hell is easier said than done.

Breakdown: Wow. Rarely do episodes of this show leave me speechless, but…..wow.

First of all, this episode breaks your heart from start to finish. This poor kid is being abused so badly and so often that the first time Yuzuki meets Kaito he’s passing out from his injuries in the rain. He desperately wants to make his parents happy, but no matter what he does it’s never good enough. It’s not just direct abuse either. Kaito’s step-mother is pregnant, and she loves to passive-aggressively take shots at Kaito by telling her unborn child, named Mao, to not be like her troublesome liar of a big brother when she’s born.

What’s even worse is that his father is absolutely no help. But that’s the least of the problems with the father, which I’ll get to later.

The entire story is such a raw and realistic depiction of child abuse. New mom loves her biological child more than her step-child, perhaps even seeing him as a stain on their otherwise happy ‘natural’ family, so she mocks him, puts him down and hits him – always on areas that are covered by his clothing. The child doesn’t want to make waves because they don’t want to disappoint their parents. The father’s defensive of the mother and is overly sympathetic because she’s pregnant, and/or doesn’t care enough about his son to step in.

I felt so terrible the entire runtime, and that feeling only got worse and worse the further we got into the story.

Second of all, this is a case with a child client, so obviously the tensions are higher than usual. Kaito is a very likable kid whom you feel extremely bad for as you watch him just try his best and keep a smile on his face all the while he’s being treated like garbage.

HGTVEP21SCREEN2

Third, Yuzuki is being more active here, which is appreciated, but, again, her presence doesn’t affect anything and she doesn’t stop Kaito from pulling the string. Ai interfered this time, showing Yuzuki where Kaito was and allowing her to watch him right as he pulled the string without actually letting her be seen or heard, but still.

Fourth, we really have to talk about Kaito’s dad. As the Hell Team watched Kaito, they asked themselves why he hasn’t yet told his father about what’s happening. I figured it would be the same as most similar situations in Hell Girl, the anime or manga, or just, sadly, real world situations – the dad wouldn’t believe him and would accuse him of being a liar or being jealous of the new baby.

Yuzuki even tries to tell the father about the abuse, but he refuses to listen and storms off.

Thing is, he does know about the abuse, and he’s known for a while…..he just doesn’t stop it because he wants to make his wife happy. She was such a catch that he doesn’t want to sacrifice what they have for the sake of saving his son, which is just as bad as if he was doing the abusing himself.

But his terrible nature doesn’t stop there.

He tries to fucking murder Kaito because he believes that’s the best resolution to the situation.

HGTVEP21SCREEN3

What. The. Unholy. Fuck.

You may be wondering at this point where the string pull comes into the equation. When does that abusive bitch get her whatfor, eh?

Right as Kaito’s dad is about to drown him in a lake, he pulls the string.

And his step-mother…..

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

…..Has a miscarriage.

HGTVEP21SCREEN4

You read that right. Kaito’s target was Mao – an unborn child.

I remember when I first started these reviews and I wondered if there was an age restriction on who can be targets or who can be clients because surely it’s really messed up to send a teenager to hell or to expect them to have the emotional or mental capacity to understand the consequences of their actions in such a huge decision.

How times have changed.

Now we have a child client no older than eight, which actually isn’t too uncommon in this series…..and an unborn baby target.

My jaw dropped.

I never even considered that being possible. At worst, I thought the baby would die if the step-mother was sent to hell. I never figured the baby itself would be able to be targeted.

People were discussing in the comments about how this could even work. The step-mother was very close to her due date, so the baby was fully formed. And I assume that the baby had to have a soul because the deal Hell Girl offers is to get two souls – the client and the target. By all logic, we’re to assume that a baby’s soul is being tortured in hell right now, and that is one of the most depressing things I’ve ever heard.

Kaito opted not to kill his step-mother because he just wanted their lives to go back to normal. She used to be a loving parent who never abused him, but the instant she got pregnant her attitude started changing and their good times together stopped.

He always loved his step-mother. This much is proven when it’s shown that he greatly treasures an Eggman (not the Sonic one) hat as that was the first gift she ever gave him. Even when she cruelly tried to throw it away because it was ‘shabby’ which it wasn’t, he dug through the garbage to get it back because it was so precious to him. Kaito’s biologic mother is nowhere to be found, so it’s understandable that he would be so attached to his step-mother.

Since she changed when she got pregnant, he loved her and so did his father, his logic lead him to targeting Mao instead of his step-mother.

When Kaito pulls the string, his father instantly collapses in guilt over what he was about to do, for some reason (Incredibly convenient conscience timing or the power of Hell Girl?) but Kaito forgives him. Kaito goes to the hospital to see his step-mother to comfort her over her miscarriage, but also to remind her that she still has him and his father and things will go back to the way they were before when they were happy.

And that’s the way the story ends. The three do indeed return to the happy family they once were, only now, as the Hell Team point out, they’re all just biding time hiding from their own sins until they inevitably have to face them. Kaito has to deal with the fact that he killed a baby, his little half-sister no less, and damned her to hell while also coping with the fact that he’s now damned to hell. His father has to deal with the fact that he was complacent with his son’s abuse and that he tried to murder him. And his step-mother has to deal with the horrible acts of abuse she committed against Kaito.

For now, though, they laugh and have fun and manage to enjoy their lives even though they’ve all seen hell now.

HGTVEP21SCREEN5

Yuzuki, for some reason, smiles at this sight even though it’s an insanely bleak image. Yeah, Kaito’s happy now, and yeah they’re all back to ‘normal’ but they all just went through a lot of fucked up shit and things are never going to be okay – especially if the step-mother winds up getting pregnant again.

There are no winners here. There rarely ever is an actual ‘winner’ in a Hell Girl story, but this is devastating at every angle.

This is definitely one of the best Hell Girl episodes I’ve ever watched, but it’s also one of the most difficult I’ve ever had to sit through.


If you enjoy my work and would like to help support my blog, please consider donating at my Ko-Fi page. Thank you! ♥

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Hell Girl: Three Vessels | Episode 20: The Hell Professor vs. Hell Girl Review

HGTVEP20SCREEN1

Plot: Tsugumi, now an adult, finds herself the target of a Hell Girl client. Who is targeting her and why? Will she avoid the fate that comes with that dreaded string pull, or will her life be spared from the depths of hell?

Breakdown: There’s a lot to unpack with this one.

First of all, let us officially welcome back our girl, Tsugumi.

Second of all, let’s mourn the fact that Hajime seems to be basically officially gone now. Tsugumi talks about him like he’s dead, the professor dude never seeks to contact Hajime himself, and Tsugumi goes on about how she’s tired of being alone. Still don’t know what happened to him or, more to the point, why the writers chose to dust him and completely gloss over it. He was a major character all throughout season one. You can’t just do him dirty like that.

Third of all, hip hip hooray, it’s the first time in quite a while that Yuzuki has had so much screentime.

Fourth of all, pbbbtttt, she’s still not doing anything. You’d think she’d have more impact in what is, by far, the most interesting and plot-centric episode of the season so far…..but nope.

Yuzuki is basically a living bad reaction channel on Youtube. Most of the time she says nothing and the rest of the time she’s giving meaningless responses that are neither entertaining nor insightful. She’s also being kinda annoying in that same way Hajime used to be annoying, but worse. She acts like the Hell Team are terrible people who don’t think about the consequences of their actions in sending people to hell.

Tsugumi is much more interesting than Yuzuki in this episode. She can still see and sense things related to Hell Girl, which is how she knew she was a Hell Girl target without anyone telling her. She alludes to a vague past ‘sin’ that she is guilty of. She’s, for some reason, completely resigned to her fate as a victim of Hell Correspondence. In fact, she’s pretty much welcoming it, seeing it as a fitting fate for her. You can also interpret it as her longing to see Hajime again, if the theories of him being in hell are accurate.

Despite the fact that she avoided her previous ‘fate’ she is very firm in the idea that no one can avoid their fates, thus Yuzuki is destined to be the new Hell Girl no matter what. But, this just in,

Finally, we have some interesting theories involving Hell Correspondence brought to you by the client of the week, Shogo Mizorogi.

Mizorogi is a famous and incredibly skilled mathematician who has been researching Hell Girl for years. When he was a child, his mother sent his abusive father to hell. A couple years later, his mother also vanished, seemingly being another Hell Girl target.

He became fascinated by the concept of hell when his formula, the Mizorogi Constant, revealed that other worlds, including hell, do indeed exist absolutely. The book that Hajime wrote on Hell Girl greatly helped his research on the subject. In order to get more information, he wanted to lure in Tsugumi and the Hell Team, so he created some sort of weird generator that creates a force field which repels the powers of the Hell Team (though Ai is instantly able to destroy it.) and input Tsugumi’s name into the service.

Wanyuudo brings up the obvious issue of, if Mizorogi has no grudge against Tsugumi, how was he able to even access the Hell Correspondence website, let alone get a request through?

Somehow, Mizorogi created false hatred through hypnotherapy. This may seem silly, but he’s actually highlighting an issue that has plagued the series in various ways. Sometimes, Hell Correspondence seems easily manipulated. Usually, no one manipulates it on purpose, but many times people have ridiculous reasons for their grudges, are mistaken about their grudge, target the wrong person or there’s a general misunderstanding. In other words, Hell Correspondence requires hatred, but the hatred doesn’t have to be objectively ‘valid.’

Out of this revelation Mizorogi came to a striking conclusion – hell is actually a fabricated system created by weak humans who resort to ‘curses’ to solve their problems. The ‘ultimate irrationality’ created to be separate from the morals and ethics of mortal society.

In order to prove this, he strapped Tsugumi to what I can only describe as a crucification device and hung her over his fancy machine with intents on sending her to hell and analyzing the data from her being transported. He has a specific trigger phrase which will end his hypnotic hatred after the string is pulled.

Suddenly, before he can pull the string, Ai says his trigger phrase, which is her signature ‘Would you like to die this once?’ At first, you kinda think Ai saved Tsugumi on purpose. Nope.

Out of nowhere, Mizorogi’s assistant, Kikyou, reveals himself with a Yamawaro doll. He pulled the string, targeting Mizorogi, which is what prompted Ai to say her catchphrase.

You may be wondering why he did that. Well, along with revealing Kikyou in the shadows, we’re also shown a large group of children alongside him. Kikyou reveals that Mizorogi was suffering from his research. His Constant was originally intended to help produce unmanned military weaponry, which was appealing to governments because it greatly reduced loss of life. Still, he was helping create weapons that would kill plenty of innocent people.

Mizorogi instantly labels himself a hypocrite because here he is criticizing Hell Correspondence for being an irrational system born of the weak willed and kills innocent people when he’s actively contributing to war, which in itself is irrational and kills millions of innocent people all the time.

To help offset his guilt and suffering, he adopted a whole slue of battlefield orphans. They all held grudges against Mizorogi for helping to create weapons that likely killed their parents, and Kikyou, feeling sympathetic to the children, contacted Hell Correspondence and targeted Mizorogi in their stead. All of the children grouped up to support Kikyou when he pulled the string.

Mizorogi disappears, Tsugumi is safe and sound, Kikyou will raise the children and everyone goes home.

Oh yeah, if you were wondering why and how Yuzuki was there for any of it when she wasn’t ‘invited’ so to speak, she sensed Tsugumi was the target, somehow knew to go to Mizorogi’s mansion, and then, like I said, she just kinda watched and complained the whole time.

This episode was indeed very interesting and definitely one of the best of the season so far. The ending kinda came out of nowhere and really requires a few rewatches of that final scene to understand what is even going on, but it’s still good.

I like that Tsugumi is back in the fray, even though she’s become very depressed and despondent. #JusticeForHajime though.

I also liked that all of the Hell Team, even Ai, seem to have retained a soft spot for Tsugumi. They’d still do their jobs if Mizorogi pulled the string, of course, but they all show a great deal of concern for her and desperately don’t want to ferry her to hell. I thought that was pretty sweet.

I’m pretty sure nothing will come of the theories presented in this episode, but they’re definitely points to ponder.


If you enjoy my work and would like to help support my blog, please consider donating at my Ko-Fi page. Thank you! ♥

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Hell Girl: Three Vessels Episode 19 – Snow, Moon and Flowers Review

Plot: Kaori Nakiri is the sole heir to her prestigious family’s flower arranging school, even though she doesn’t have a desire for it. A woman named Yukina appears shortly after Kaori’s father’s funeral to reveal that she is the result of an affair Kaori’s father had and that she’s entitled to half of the estate. However, she wants more than that – she wants to be the heir to the flower arranging school. Considering Kaori’s complicated extended family and how stern they are with tradition, it’s not Kaori’s place to give the role to her, but Yukina will get what she wants no matter if it’s given to her willingly or not.

Breakdown: I’ll be honest, I went into this expecting to sleepwalk through it after watching the preview and, yeah, I sleptwalked through most of it…..Until the final third where things just got so ridiculously insane that it was like an alarm clock made of confusion went off by my ear.

The first two thirds is what you’d expect. Yukina’s a manipulative snake, I don’t care about flower arranging or the school, Yuzuki’s here, we’ll get to her later, Kaori has a thing with her childhood friend/devoted employee/love interest, Tsukio, and blah blah blah. Get to the helling already.

Well, we do.

And….uhh….huh.

Things get messy when Tsukio overhears Yukina plotting to poison and kill Kaori in order to inherit the land, the house and the whole spiel and sell it off to make bank. She never really cared about the school, dunno why she even brought it up.

When her cohort tries to poison Kaori’s drink, Tsukio takes it from her, chugs it, and tells the guy to tell Yukina that her plan has failed.

…..So, uhm….dude….what the hell? The drink didn’t need to be consumed. Just take the drink and tell her it’s poisoned. Have it tested, if need be. Why drink it?

Tsukio has three days, max, to live, and no one’s trying to bring him to a hospital or trying to get an antidote from Yukina or arresting Yukina or anything. Just, welp, nice knowin’ ya Tsu-boy!

As Tsukio lays dying, one of her family members or whoever that was reveals that Tsukio was actually her brother. Her father used to say something like Snow, Moon and Flowers, which indicated all of his children – Yukina for snow, Kaori for flowers and Tsukio for moon. Tsukio wanted nothing more than to be a vessel for the flowers, which, yes, does sound like innuendo given the circumstances, but the meaning behind these words is actually much creepier.

The guy reveals that the Nakiri school is merely the public flower arranging school that the family runs. There is actually a secret school meant purely for the main branch of the family called the Hyakki school (which I believe is a different pronunciation of the kanji in Nakiri, but I could be wrong. That’s what the opening implied.)

The man leads Kaori to the underground school…..and…..What the flippin’ flapjack is all of the this? Kaori is presented with a wall of skulls. The skulls belong to each of the former heads (haha) of the family. They believed that true beauty in flower arranging can only be achieved by arranging flowers in these skulls. According to them, flowers and death go together hand-in-hand. Her father claimed that you can tell the truth about someone who has died by seeing what flowers grow in the ground over their dead bodies.

…..Kay.

Having contacted Hell Girl on Yukina earlier, Kaori now knows what she must do – she must kill Yukina and crazily arrange a bunch of flowers and creepy plants in her father’s skull. Struck with, let’s call it, ‘inspiration’ she also realizes that Tsukio was dying for this express purpose. He knew about the Hyakki school and wanted her to use his skull to create a beautiful flower arrangement. As he lay dying in bed, she agrees to his final request.

So, yeah, uhm, what?

Where did all that even come from? I don’t know what else to say. I am flabbergasted. I guess I’m happy that it didn’t end up being fully boring, but sudden weird creepiness doesn’t automatically equal quality. Held my attention more, but it was more like it was being held hostage.

Since we’re getting closer to the end of the series, Yuzuki is finally playing a bigger role, if only slightly. Yuzuki befriends Kaori quite randomly, but she’s not really a part of her story. Instead, she gets more of a very minor B plot.

Yuzuki recognizes Ren, Hone Onna and Wanyuudou as workers at the funeral, which is shocking to them because they have the power of misconceptions. Basically, they can be out and about disguised at whoever or whatever, and, if someone sees them as two different personas, they won’t recognize them. They’ll just believe they’re entirely different people. Dunno why they can’t just change their appearances, but that does answer some questions I’ve had lately.

Since Yuzuki is no longer feeling the effects of these powers, it’s taken as an indication that she’s ‘awakening’ and Ai will need to tell her about her fate soon. Sure enough, at the end of the episode, Ai reveals to Yuzuki that she has an inescapable fate of taking over her job. One day, Yuzuki will be the next Hell Girl.

And that’s about it. I already knew that, and it was hardly a secret. I thought they already pretty much established that to us a long time ago, so it’s really only news for Yuzuki. At least things are moving along with her plot, but talk about a snail’s pace.


If you enjoy my work and would like to help support my blog, please consider donating at my Ko-Fi page. Thank you! ♥

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Hell Girl: Three Vessels Episode 18: Special Radio Review

HGTVEP18SCREEN1

Plot: Chiriko is a big fan of a popular local radio show called The Midnight Silence. She sends in letters to the show frequently, which are sometimes read on air by the dreamy host Jotarou. She’s become one of the most featured fans under the nickname Chi-Chan, and she’s even become popular at school for her status on the show. However, the “truth” behind the show may not be to everyone’s liking.

Breakdown:

Don’t say it. Don’t say it. Don’t Say it. Don’t say it. Don’t say it. Don’t Say it.

This episode was stuuuuu—-

Stop! No!  ~Positive vibes~

This episode….rrrgh….was…….SO DUM–

Come on, you can do this. Deep breath.

This episode has a severe problem with being good.

In that it’s not.

Well…..baby steps, I guess.

I know I’ve brought this up before, but you know how, in the first season, it was difficult to sympathize with Hajime’s crusade to stop the use of Hell Correspondence because he kept finding cases where it either seemed incredibly justified or the person in question pulled the string at a moment where it saved their lives?

This case should have been in season one because it’s just the type of pointless abuse of the system that Hajime was looking for.

Okay, ‘abuse’ is a strong word, but to say the client today had a ridiculous reason for contacting Hell Girl is an understatement.

Before we cover that, though, I have a question – are radio shows still that popular? At least with teenagers. I feel like I’m watching an old school early 90s anime. Every person in Chiriko’s class (especially the girls) either currently are or quickly become huge fans of this radio show where it’s literally just some guy who sounds attractive saying really cheesy stuff to make the girls all swoon. He reads fanmail on the air, and Chiriko becomes very popular suddenly because she’s one of the most frequently read writers to the show under the pseudonym ‘Chi-Chan.’

Not only do all these girls own a boombox, but they’re all entranced every night listening to this dude and doing nothing else but staring at the stereo.

HGTVEP18SCREEN2

This series was made in 2008-9, so it’s not that recent, but still. Maybe radio’s popularity has stayed stronger in Japan or maybe I’m out of the loop with anything popular. I dunno. Just seemed strange to me.

Anyhoo, as I said, Chiriko, or Chi-Chan, is a big fan of this radio show, hosted by the swoony Jotarou. Every time he reads a letter on air, he sends the writer a bell as a gift. Chiriko has collected several of these bells and lovingly wears them on a bracelet.

After she’s ousted and made popular as Chi-Chan, she meets another fan of the show, Kaname. She’s had more fan letters read by Jotarou than Chi-Chan has, going under the moniker of ‘Frog Princess.’ They become fast friends, and Kaname suggests that they both head down to the radio station to thank Jotarou for everything he’s done for them.

When they arrive, they manage to bump into Jotarou’s co-host, Yume. Turns out, Kaname is also a big fan of Yume because she’s such a great scriptwriter. (Yeah….One of the segments of the show had Yume asking what behaviors Jotarou likes in a girl. He was scripted to respond with “I like a girl who dries her hair after a shower and one that uses shampoo.” I get that, like boy band songs, when the intention is to woo a bunch of teenage girls you have to be vague and act like whomever is being addressed could possibly be any girl who is listening, but this is so bad I legit can’t tell if it’s a joke. High quality writing, Yume.) Kaname is an aspiring scenario writer, and she dreams of working on a radio show some day. Both Kaname and Yume enjoy a pleasant exchange, but Chiriko is in a state of shock……because she never realized the show was scripted.

That, my dear friends, is the motivation for the client this week.

HGTVEP18SCREEN3

No, I’m not kidding. Chiriko contacts Hell Girl that very night and pulls the string the next day as she’s walking into school with Kaname. She sends Kaname to hell purely because she revealed that Jotarou’s show was scripted.

I am currently in the process of trying to be less harsh on the stuff I’m reviewing – try to be more positive – but COME. ON. What IS this?

Let me be clear – Kaname is completely innocent in this. She didn’t reveal that the show was scripted just to be an ass to Chiriko. She legitimately loved the writing on the show and thought Chiriko knew it was scripted. She never once appeared like she had malicious intent in her actions. Not even Yume was being condescending or cruel with her words. In fact, she gave a copy of the newest script to Kaname and encouraged her in regards to her dream of becoming a scenario writer. She was perfectly pleasant when she could’ve easily been a typical famous snob.

After Kaname is sent to hell, Chiriko enters a complete delusion that the show’s not scripted and essentially goes bananas. Her bracelet is now absolutely loaded with bells, and she loving hugs her radio when she’s listening to the program.

There was never, not once, ever any indication that this girl was this obsessed with Jotarou or this show. Not to the point of sending someone to hell over it, and not to the point of going coo-coo for Coco Puffs once she finds out it’s scripted. She was a big fan, sure, but nothing ever indicated that she was anything more than that. I wouldn’t even call her a super fan or anything of the like. She also definitely had a crush on Jotarou (whose face is never shown, by the way) as well, but, again, nothing ever indicated that she was obsessed with him or even in love with the guy.

Everything in this episode was so normal that most of the runtime didn’t even feel like a Hell Girl episode. In fact, if Ai and the others didn’t pop up a few times over the course of this episode, I’d probably forget it even was a Hell Girl episode until the very end.

Speaking of Ai and the others, they were acting strangely in this episode. Ai seemed like she was actually interested in the show and Kikuri was making Yamawaro write in a bunch of letters to the show so she could get featured.*shrug*

HGTVEP18SCREEN4

Back to the topic at hand, I was thinking maybe Jotarou would turn out to be a jerk, or Chiriko would be superficial and Jotarou would turn out to be unattractive, or Kaname would send Chiriko to hell for impeding on her status as the most-read fan letter writer of the show, but no. Granted, those motivations are silly too, but they’re both better than this.

Chiriko’s a teenager. She has to be aware that most things in media are scripted and fake. How many shows go completely off the cuff? Even if she didn’t know, why does the show being fake have to impact her views on Jotarou? Maybe he actually is a really charming, handsome and romantic guy in real life. Just because he’s fed lines to say doesn’t mean he’s not still someone she can admire.

Why target Kaname, for that matter? Shouldn’t she be more upset with Yume for helping create this illusion or Jotarou himself for seemingly being a liar? Why target Kaname just for accidentally revealing the truth to her? She also pulled the string immediately after making sure Kaname didn’t tell any of the other girls about the fact that the show was scripted, like she’s protecting them or something. Chiriko, I doubt all of the girls in school are as naive as you. Heck, Kaname didn’t just know the show was scripted – she knew Yume was the writer. It’s not like they’re keeping it a secret.

Now Kaname’s in hell and Chiriko’s bound for hell all for what? Nothing. There have been some really silly and ridiculous reasons to send people to hell in this show, but this one might just top them all.

HGTVEP18SCREEN5

Oh and Yuzuki? She’s here. She’s just watching from the background until the very end where she’s seen running up to Chiriko seconds after she had already pulled the string and then we later see her flopping over onto her desk in exasperation as she listens to a staticy radio with Ai looming behind her.

I kinda wanted to yell when she did this. She’s acting like she’s exhausted from all this Hell Girl business when she literally did nothing – again. She had a vision and jogged for a few seconds.

Sorry I kinda failed in my quest to be a little more positive today, but sometimes you can’t avoid biting into a bad apple.

Oh well, maybe next episode will be a bit better.


If you enjoy my work and would like to help support my blog, please consider donating at my Ko-Fi page. Thank you! ♥

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Hell Girl: Three Vessels | Episode 17: Inside the Straw Review

HGTVEP17SCREEN1

Plot: Yamawaro’s backstory unfolds and….I dunno. Fitting that he’s a mushroom spirit, because I feel like I just took a bunch.

Breakdown:

I don’t even know where to begin with this. When I saw the preview for this episode, I was uninterested because I don’t much care about Yamawaro’s origins, but now that I do know Yamawaro’s origins, I feel a strange cocktail of emotions beginning with an ounce of confused and topping off with ten gallons of “What is actually happening right now? I feel like my brain is trying to escape my skull.”

I’ll try to summarize best I can.

Yamawaro was a mountain spirit or a mushroom spirit who spent his time alone in the mountains. Sometimes, he would, for some reason, take the form of a naked boy. Other times, he would take the form of a bunch of mushrooms. And still other times he would take the form of a naked boy…..covered in mushrooms….Don’t ask. I don’t know.

Ai stumbled upon him and invited him to join her group, but he initially declined because he believed being alone was just how you were supposed to live.

Later, he found a happy family living in a house near the mountain – two loving parents, Fujiko and Risaburo Ashiya, and their young son who looked incredibly similar to Yamawaro’s human form. The son, Hikaru, tragically died shortly thereafter in an accident in the swamp. His parents were devastated.

Cut to several decades later, the mother, now an old woman, is bedridden and reaching the end of her life. She wishes to reunite with Hikaru and knows she will soon see him in the afterlife.

Yamawaro, for reasons beyond even his understanding, decides to appear to her (naked again) claiming he’s Hikaru so she can give the woman’s life some happiness before she passes. The father is wary of him and later we’ll find out that he knows Yamawaro’s not human, but he doesn’t want to break the illusion and hurt his wife.

The father also happens to be a…doctor…scientist….botanist…medicine man? Some combination of the three? He’s been trying to grow something called caterpillar fungus, which, he surmises, can somehow be used to make a medicine that will bolster a person’s health and grant them longevity. He wants, more than anything, to give his ailing wife more time on this earth. He requests Yamawaro to assist him in his research. Caterpillar fungus needs to grow on a living being, but every animal he’s tried to grow it on hasn’t produced adequate results. He knows Yamawaro is a supernatural being, so he hopes that the fungus will react better with his body. What a coinky dink that Yamawaro happens to be living mushrooms…..I think….right? Why is this Yamawaro’s backstory episode and I’m still confused as to what he actually is?

HGTVEP17SCREEN2
This better not be some sort of weird-ass Mario crossover.

Next comes a….very, very uncomfortable scene where the father applies a special medicine to a fully naked (barring a towel) Yamawaro’s back while chanting something that supposedly makes the medicine work? This is bad enough, but Yamawaro starts moaning and develops a blush on his face…then he starts….panting and sweating….

Look, I get that he’s moaning in pain and the blush, panting and sweating are probably a result of a high fever, but this is still extremely disconcerting to watch.

Spores and mushrooms start growing very quickly all over Yamawaro’s body to the point where he’s basically entombed in them. Slicing off some pieces from the growth, Risaburo makes his concoction, that he calls Ambrosia, and gives it to his wife.

The potion actually works. A little too well, actually. Fujiko reverts back to her thirties somehow. The experiment was a massive success, but Fujiko couldn’t stand what her husband was doing to Yamawaro. The poor boy was wrapped up from head to toe in bandages, because he took so many of the spores I presume, even though the first sample seemed like enough, and she was concerned that Risaburo would continue to experiment on him. She secretly brought him back to the mountains and told him to run away, which he did. Eventually, he must have made his way to Ai to join her team.

HGTVEP17SCREEN3

In present day, things only continue to get more confusing, if you can believe that.

Ai has a request from Fujiko, and Yamawaro insists that he be the one given the job. Ai agrees. He doesn’t plan on stopping the ferrying if she chooses to pull the string, but he hopes that he can convince her to not pull the string at all. Technically, they’re not supposed to interfere with cases, but they seem to have thrown that rule out the window at this point.

Kikuri later finds the straw-dolled Yamawaro lying in a bed in the Ashiya household while Fujiko falls back under the delusion that Yamawaro is Hikaru…..even though….ya know….he’s a straw doll now. Yamawaro also shows his doll’s insides to Kikuri, which, as shown before, is a bunch of fungus. The dialogue points at this being a result of the experiments, but wasn’t he a mushroom spirit before? Did he just turn into a bunch of mushrooms for funsies?

Fujiko has called Hell Girl to send her husband to hell for making Yamawaro suffer for his experiments. Fair enough, I suppose, but why did it take her so long to call her? And if she was considering doing that anyway, why not call her, pull the string and not send Yamawaro off into the woods? Then she could live the rest of her days happily with ‘Hikaru.’

Now…here’s another weird thing. Fujiko contacted Hell Correspondence…..via a newspaper. This isn’t a new thing – Ai used to get her clients from blank newspaper ads back before the Internet, but the scene where they show her doing this is in black and white and she’s young again. She’s still young in present time because of the potion, but the use of the newspaper and the scene being black and white makes me think this was way back when Hikaru died. I guess this is meant to be recently, because they never say she got a doll back then, but they made this shot look way too similar to a distant flashback for me to be certain about it.

Fujiko is suddenly old again now….??? She was in her thirties literally ten seconds ago. She aged fifty years between shots……Whatever. She finally confronts her husband with the doll, accusing him of also having something to do with Hikaru’s death, but he denies this and says it was just a sad accident.

The dialogue is really unclear for the rest of the scene. The best I can make of it is that Risaburo was actually more intent on just finding the secret to eternal life more than he was in helping his wife, I guess. He just said that to trick Yamawaro into helping him….I think. He knew he needed a non-human specimen for his research…somehow…and pure luck lead Yamawaro to them so he took advantage of that. But then he muses that it actually worked and that it saved him trouble? Why is he so confused about why it worked?

Fujiko pulls the string and Risaburo is sent to hell.

However, the weirdness doesn’t even end there. After the string is pulled and everything’s all said and done, Yamawaro rushes to the Ashiya mansion to witness it….sinking into the lake….for some reason. Also, Fujiko’s in there….young again….holding Hikaru…..Is she already dead? Why is the house sinking? There was never any indication that the house was at risk of sinking. Truth be told, I didn’t even fully realize it was situated on water. I knew they were near a swamp, but that’s about it.

HGTVEP17SCREEN4

So, class, can one of you please enlighten me on what the hell I just watched?

I kinda feel like the Hell Girl stuff was unnecessary. Was the guy a terrible person? Yeah. Did he deserve to go hell? Probably. But the timing was really weird, and I honestly didn’t feel like I hated the guy enough to want him to be sent to hell. I don’t much care that he did, but I wasn’t rooting for it.

This is another one of those times where I feel worse for the client because now she really won’t ever be back together with Hikaru again, no matter what was shown in the window. Unless Hikaru’s in hell too for whatever reason.

She should have taken this into consideration when she called Hell Girl. She’s been so intent on reuniting with Hikaru one day. It’s been her one driving focus in her days after Hikaru died. Why would she sacrifice reuniting with her son in peace in Heaven just to send Risaburo to hell for kinda hurting someone who’s not even human? She could’ve just left him or stopped consuming the potion. She would eventually die a natural death, and Risaburo, without Yamawaro around, would die some years down the line and be sent to hell anyway. It’s rather pointless.

The story, boiled down, is fine. Yamawaro connected with some grieving parents in the twilight of their lives because he took pity on them after they lost their son and decided to fill the void for them. He eventually needed to leave, and, realizing the benefits of relationships to other people, he decided to join the Hell Team. But when everything else is added to the mix, it just becomes too confusing and weird to be worth any real value.

The only two things I gained from this episode are learning a little more about Yamawaro, kinda, I still don’t even have a good grip on what he actually is, and seeing Kikuri be *gasp* nice and tolerable for a change. She’s actually having a good discussion with Yamawaro and is defending him. It’s like she’s a completely different person in this episode (and she didn’t need to be wound once for some reason.)

…….Am I forgetting something?……….

……………………OH YEAH, Yuzuki! She exists! Right. She was here for literally one minute of screentime. She went to the Ashiya mansion to talk to Fujiko about Hell Girl. She thought the person would be in her eighties, but the only people living there were in their thirties, so she just….frickin’ left and never came back.

Protagonist of the year.

Didn’t investigate further. Didn’t ask for their names. Didn’t ask if she had contacted Hell Girl or anything. Just ‘Oh I must have the wrong house. Guess I’ll leave the episode now.’


If you enjoy my work and would like to help support my blog, please consider donating at my Ko-Fi page. Thank you! ♥

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com