Plot: The continuing stories of Hell Girl….
Chapter 22: A Request for Hell
This chapter is very interesting because it breaks some rules of Hell Girl. Most notably, Ai gives our main character, Asuka, a straw doll when the client in question was misusing the service. I’ll explain why later, but Kikuri asks Ai why she gave her a straw doll, and Ai responds, “I wanted to see what she’d do.” That is extremely against the rules. Ai’s personal opinions and emotions do not factor into her job. If they do, she gets in big trouble.
Asuka is being viciously bullied by basically everyone in school, but most specifically a bitch named Ichida. When a cute boy named Katase joined their school, Ichida tried asking him out but he rejected her. He and Asuka had been spending a lot of time together, and the word around school was that they liked each other. Ichida got so jealous that she started bullying Asuka horribly and even got her friends in on it. No one was willing to call them out on the bullying and just left Asuka to suffer.
She didn’t want to tell her mother because she was a recently divorced woman who worked very hard for her daughter. She also didn’t want to stir up trouble at school and risk damaging her record. She saw Hell Correspondence as a way out….but not really. She fully understood that sending someone to hell would not solve her problems. Even if she did send Ichida to hell, her cohorts might still bully her or more bullies might come out of the woodwork. She even overheard that her mother was also being bullied at work.
The bullying gets so bad that she decides to pull the string. Turns out, she called Hell Girl on herself. She’s too scared to commit suicide in any other manner, so Hell Girl was seen as the better option. She should not have even been able to input her own name into the service let alone get a straw doll out of the deal because, as Ai mentions at the end of the story, Hell Correspondence is for settling grudges, not committing suicide. Yet she allowed her to use the service this way just because Ai was curious as to what she’d do.
Asuka is sent to hell and is devastated that the hell she winds up in is basically just a recreation of her life back on earth – being bullied by the same girls relentlessly only now they have supernatural powers and whatnot.
…..I uh….don’t know she expected. Using Hell Girl to commit suicide never made sense to me. I get that mental illness as a whole makes you think irrationally, but typically people commit suicide as a means of ending their pain. I know that there are people who believe in hell who still commit suicide, but it’s really difficult to understand why they would outside of believing they need to be punished even more than they believe they are in the living world for some reason. It’s not like you could ever think hell is preferable to whatever you’re experiencing in the living world. Hell’s whole shtick is to take whatever pain you experienced in life and magnifying it by about ‘fuck you’ many times. It’s a very complex topic that has no firm answer, but in this particular case I don’t get Asuka at all.
How is she gutsy enough to send herself to hell for absolute certain instead of taking her chances with committing suicide in another manner and maybe going somewhere else in the afterlife? I’d be scared shitless if I had a one-way ticket to hell in my hands. Suicidal thoughts are already terrifying just wondering what might happen to you after you die, if you even believe anything will, but knowing for certain that you’d be sent to hell? I can’t imagine why anyone would pull the string.
But she did.
Ai tricked her. She never sent her to hell, she just created hellish illusions to teach her a lesson about using Hell Correspondence properly. It’s not a means of committing suicide – it’s a tool to get vengeance. If she has such a grudge in the future, she’s free to use it. However, Ai notes that she probably won’t be needing such services.
In the real world, she nearly falls off the roof and just barely hangs on to the railing. Katase grabs her in the nick of time and pulls her up, saving her life. He explains that he used to be bullied quite badly in his old school, and her optimistic words to him when they were bonding before she got bullied resonated with him. He felt ashamed for not helping her when she got bullied, but now he’s not afraid to show his affection for her and stick by her. It’s implied that the bullying more or less dies down after this, or, if it doesn’t, they deal with it together instead of suffering alone.
Kikuri asks if this case brought up any memories for Ai, and we get a rough flash of her being bullied as a child.
This is a very rare case where there’s a happy ending and it’s fully happy. As in no one’s going to hell in this one. Granted, yeah, Ichida’s a massive bitch and I wish she at least got some comeuppance, but Asuka’s okay, Katase’s okay, they’re together and happy, and they’re heading for a brighter future. That’s all I can really ask for.
Overall, this was a pretty cut a dry story at face value, and I’m a bit iffy about breaking the rules so blatantly, but it was a good story with strong characters and a very satisfying ending.
Chapter 23: The Bright Dream
This chapter was kinda sloppy, but it ended up being alright. Midori is a middle-school girl who is constantly pressured by her mom to study harder and get better grades. She very rarely gets to do anything else but study. One day, she accidentally rides the train too far and winds up in Shibuya where she has a really good time trying on fashionable and colorful clothes she never gets to wear and allowing herself to have some fun. She’s talent scouted by a guy who says she’d make a great model, and she’s excited for the opportunity, but her mom doesn’t want to let her do that. She’s appalled by her grades and tells her she needs to focus on studying and forget frivolous things like modeling.
Midori is so distraught and burned out that she runs away and finds the talent scout guy, who winds up kidnapping her. Turns out, he has a nice side-business making and selling CP while keeping middle-school girls trapped in his house. If they resist too much, he sells the girls and finds new ones.
She manages to take his phone and call the cops once, but he’s able to send them away without them even setting foot in his house just because he waves it away as a prank. Good job, cops. They point out that the call came from that location, too, which would clearly indicate abusing emergency services, but they just leave without doing anything.
With his phone still in hand, she contacts Hell Girl and sends him to hell. She has a tearful reunion with her mother where she admits that she struggled a lot after her husband divorced her, and she never wanted Midori to go through that same pain. In order to protect her from that, she wanted her to focus on her studies as much as possible to carve out a better future.
This sounds really sweet, but this line kinda ruins it.
Midori’s Mom: “I just wanted you to be a good girl so your dad would care for me again.” Uhmmmmmm…………Fuck you. In that one sentence, you not only placed the blame for your divorce on your daughter, but you also admitted that you treated her like crap because you thought if she was better your husband would come back to you. You’re messed up, lady.
She apologizes to her mom, they make up and everything’s better.
Overall, this was a fine story but it kinda went a mile a minute. It hopped all over the place and felt way too rushed. It’s a fairly realistic and pretty good story, but even then that final line from her mom rubs me the wrong way. I guess it’s good that she admitted it so she can be better later on, but still. Maybe there was a mistranslation there?
Chapter 24: The Winners in Love
This story was……really uncomfortable….and unsatisfying.
A middle-school girl named Chinami asks her teacher, Furuya, out on a date, and he agrees. They secretly start dating, and I have to read lines like “It will be tough dating an adult.” and “When I graduate from middle school, we’re getting married.” It’s no secret at all that this guy is a skeezeball. He’s even more of a skeezeball than he seems because not only is he still dating a woman he’s been seeing since he was a teaching student, but he’s also clearly stringing along other young students behind Chinami’s back. It’s also no big mystery as to who will be sent to hell in this story.
The two twists that actually caught me off-guard disappointed me above all else. First of all, I really thought Orihara, his adult girlfriend, was actually trying to protect Chinami from Furuya because she knew the kind of man he was……but nope. What you see is what you get with her – she’s just an incredibly jealous woman who wants Chinami out of the way.
The second was that they both called Hell Girl and basically had a stand off. Chinami and Orihara seemingly wanted to send each other to hell and attempted to pull the strings at the same time. I could tell from a mile away that Furuya was really the target of one of them, but I was surprised that it was Orihara, and even more surprised that Chinami didn’t pull the string. It’s good that she didn’t, but it was still a little surprising.
Orihara pulled the string on Furuya because she wanted to have him all to herself and find happiness in hell, a statement that has been made by a few clients/targets in the anime, and one that is nonsensical as Ai points out on the ferry ride. “Happiness in hell? I really don’t think so.”
Orihara wound up killing herself shortly after the string pull, and, since she was a client, she immediately went to hell. I don’t know why Ai allowed them to be together in the ferry, especially considering they didn’t die together. Is that even the real Furuya?
Overall, this chapter was fine. It was just a little disappointing and uncomfortable. Admittedly, it was less predictable than I thought it’d be upon first impressions, but I still didn’t care much for what came out of it. I’m really glad that Chinami didn’t get sent to hell, though, because, at the end of the day, she was just a kid being manipulated by a creepy guy. She didn’t deserve to be sent to hell.
Also, Kikuri had more presence in this chapter than she ever has in the manga, but it was mostly to torment Chinami about her decision on whether or not to pull the string. She specifically pointed out that Orihara had called Hell Girl as well so it would put her on edge about possibly being the target, and she observed how lucky she was to have her grudge be taken care of for her. And, yeah, she’s right. Both Furuya and Orihara are both gone and didn’t have to damn herself at all.
Chapter 24: Special Chapter – Ichimokuren
This is Ren’s backstory chapter. It basically follows the same beats as the backstory episode he had in the anime, Silent Gaze, however the client story is entirely different.
In this version, he’s following a girl named Ayana whose father recently passed away. He committed suicide because he borrowed a huge amount of money from work and couldn’t pay it back. Her mother passed away some time before her father, so she’s entirely alone. She keeps getting harassed by people connected to her father’s work who want their money back. I’m not exactly why or how these people are affected by this. She said he borrowed money from his work and couldn’t pay it back, but these people are acting as if he flatout stole money from their pockets.
At the start of the volume, someone is threatening her with a knife and trying to kidnap her, implying that, I guess, he was going to make her pay him back with her body? It’s unclear. Later, someone is sent a message where it says “The father of this house borrowed money and then killed himself!” and the person who got it yells out that “This is the robber!” as if they didn’t know that information beforehand.
She has called Hell Girl before the story even began, but the target is unclear. She just says she’s going to get revenge on her father’s enemies. Oddly, she says her father is probably in hell too. Is that just because he committed suicide, or is she taking the terrible sin of borrowing money as severely as the random people are?
Ayana barricades herself in the house after that because they start pounding on the door and yelling at her, demanding their money and calling HER a thief. One of them even yells that, if she’s not going to work to pay off the debt, she should kill herself like her father.
What the hell is wrong with these people? How were they all so terribly affected by a defaulted debt to a company by a single person that they have such massive hate for them that even committing suicide isn’t enough for them? That they’ll also harass their young daughter and tell her to kill herself? Does she live in the same town as Yuzuki?
As all of this is going down, her clearly creepy as fuck uncle keeps insisting that she move in with him, but she doesn’t want to. One day, her house is set on fire. It was arson, but the fire department was able to contain it quickly, so the damage wasn’t massive.
She runs to her room to pull the string on the doll, but a voice tells her not to. It’s Ren, who is watching her from the shadows. This is the point where the manga differentiates wildly from the anime. In the anime version, Ren never directly interferes with the case. They’re not supposed to interfere at all. It’s against the rules. I don’t know what repercussions Ren would have if he broke the rules. Either he’d be forcibly removed from the Hell Team, turned back into a sword or Ai would have to pay for his mistake. Either way, you’re not supposed to do it, and, in the manga, he did. And this won’t be the first time.
After her house is set on fire, she decides to move in with her uncle, who, being creepy as fuck, quickly starts showing his true colors. And they’re even worse than you probably thought. Not only is he a creepy fuck who is obsessed with Ayana, but he also reveals that he’s been obsessed with her for a long time and wanted her all to himself. He made her father borrow the money and drove her father to suicide. He also set her house on fire to basically smoke her out and force her to live with him. And now, despite having her right there, after all of this, he’s just going to stab her to death anyway because she doesn’t want to give in to his advances.
That’s quite the reveal….I kinda thought he had straight-up murdered her father and made it look like a suicide. I guess he somehow predicted that the town/random people/I dunno would drive him to suicide because they’re all irrational morons without a thought between them.
Ren, realizing what’s about to happen, runs to the house to hopefully save her since he doesn’t want to see anymore bloodshed. He gets there just in time – saving her from being stabbed by standing in the way and getting stabbed himself, which, despite being really sweet and heroic, is also a no-no. He’s very much interfering right now. I guess he’s not interfering directly with Hell Girl business, but he definitely did the first time, and this is still a large form of interference.
In the anime, they faked out Ren interfering. Wanyuudou and Ai were very concerned he would let his emotions get in the way and affect the case. Like here, he was seen running off towards the scene of the final confrontation supposedly to interfere, but, in the end, he didn’t. He just consoled the girl after the events were already over. But in this story he did fully interfere. I can’t even say the circumstances are particularly different. In neither story was he about to interfere in a string pull. In the anime, the main character’s mother was going to kill herself, and in the manga the main character is about to be killed.
I do appreciate that they pointed out the irony of a katana being stabbed, though. I also thought that, while a bit weak, it was interesting that this story kept bringing up blades to create a stronger connection with Ren.
Ayana is safe. Hone Onna says they apprehended her uncle for borrowing the money – what? He wasn’t apprehended for nearly murdering his niece or stabbing Ren? God, what is with this town and borrowing money? At least I can assume he gets the death penalty for that heinous loan.
Ren is content. Ayana may no longer have any family, but she has good friends and hopefully a bright future, and she won’t be sent to hell when she dies. Ren also now realizes that Ai and the others are his family now, just like the revelation in the anime. I guess he gets no punishment whatsoever for breaking the rules of his job. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to see Ren get punished at all, but it’s confusing that the rules keep getting broken without any consequences or even anyone mentioning it.
And that was volume six! And it was…..okay. I like that we’re getting some insight into the backstories of the Hell Team now, but I’m not particularly liking that so many stories ended with a reveal that was both obvious and still surprising, but just because of how insanely over the top it was. I like that the manga is more comfortable ending stories without having the string be pulled. The anime really doesn’t seem to like doing that at all, but it adds a lot of suspense to the stories if you do it right.
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