Hell Girl Episode 26 (FINALE): The Ephemeral Review

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Plot: Ai’s escaped her ride to hell, and she won’t let Hajime and Tsugumi off so easily. She whisks Hajime to the realm of eternal twilight, trapping him until she can complete her plans. She traps Tsugumi in her apartment and hands her the straw doll, trying to convince her that her dad is worthy of her hatred and deserves to go to hell. If she succeeds, she’ll managed to lock both of their souls to hell.

The decision rests with you, Tsugumi.

Breakdown: Is it series season finale time already?

The Spider, and I’m just going to call him that because it’s easier to type than The Master of Hell and that’s what every official source calls him, is angry that Ai broke his cardinal rule of never unleashing her hatred. Hell has hungered for Ai’s vengeful soul for hundreds of years, and now it looks like they’ll get it. However, Ai realizes that she’s not done. Hajime and Tsugumi have survived her onslaught and she must finish her final mission. The Spider tries to restrict her and stop her from leaving, but she bamfs off of the boat and back to the land of the living.

She essentially kidnaps Wanyuudou, Ren and Hone Onna and goes to Tsugumi and Hajime’s location. As Hajime and Tsugumi are talking about why Sentarou didn’t try to save Ai, Hajime mysteriously vanishes.

Ai shows Tsugumi a vision of Hajime’s final conversation with Ayumi before her car accident. At the scene of said crash, we get a bit more of the story that we weren’t shown prior. Hajime repeats to himself, like a mantra, that it wasn’t his fault.

Ai ends the vision and chastises Hajime for being such a cruel person, focusing only on absolving himself of the blame instead of admitting that he essentially sent his wife off to die. I’m still not sure if they’re saying Ayumi committed suicide or she just wouldn’t have crashed if she hadn’t been emotionally driving in the rain.

Her reasons for all this are to make Tsugumi mad enough at her father to wish he be sent to hell. That way, Ai will kill two birds with one stone by instantly damning Hajime and eventually damning Tsugumi. She gives her a doll, which I guess means there really is no age limit for this stuff as Tsugumi’s a mere seven years old. Either that or Ai told that rule, should it exist, to fuck off.

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She keeps tormenting Tsugumi into making the decision, claiming that she didn’t do much to change her opinion of him. Deep down, she’s truly hated Hajime since the day her mother died. Tsugumi vehemently denies this, but Ai won’t let up.

Meanwhile, Hajime is hanging out in the realm of eternal twilight with Hone Onna and Ren, who are conveying Ai’s story to him. She became Hell Girl not of her own volition but as punishment sent down from hell itself for unleashing her rage upon the village 400 years ago. She is forced to watch the suffering caused by exacting revenge over and over without allowing her own feelings of vengeance, or really any emotions, to spill over. She even went to the trouble of locking her own memories away so she’d have even less of a chance of rekindling the rage.

Ren points out that, over the years, she had been making some progress in washing away her sins and letting go of her hate, but when Hajime and Tsugumi came around and not only reminded her of her tragic past but also revealed that Sentarou’s bloodline was alive and well, she snapped.

Ai’s grandmother, who has never spoken to anyone but Ai, suddenly speaks to Hajime claiming that she’ll release him from the realm of eternal twilight if he agrees to do her a favor.

Back in Ai’s house of fun, Tsugumi is unable to leave her house because Hell Girl won’t let up on torturing her until she pulls the thread. She even shows her a vision of her mother begging for Tsugumi’s help as blood pours down her face. Tsugumi, struggling with her decision and seeing no way out, is about to grab the thread when Hajime shows up.

Ren and Hone Onna also appear, trying to convince Ai to stop, but she just slams them into a wall and continues about her mission. Hajime tries to take Tsugumi away, but she refuses. She asks what really happened to her mother and Ai shows them all the vision of the car crash. Tsugumi walks toward Hajime with the doll, wondering if he’ll act the same way he did in Ai’s previous vision, but instead he collapses to the ground stating that it should’ve been him who died that day.

Truthfully, Hajime loved Ayumi with all his heart and that never changed from day one. He loved her so much that he felt he had to work as hard as he did in order to give her a good life, but most of what he gave her was loneliness since he was never around. When Ayumi cheated on him, he was so angry that it consumed him and he even wished her dead, but he never believed it would actually happen. When it did, he was wracked with guilt, even if it wasn’t technically his fault.

Still not clarifying the suicide thing.

He apologizes to Tsugumi for making her feel alone all that time and going through such heartache because of him.

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Ai says it’s too late for frivolous apologies and keeps telling Tsugumi to pull the string. Accepting his punishment, Hajime tells her to do it too….uhhh, it’s fine if Hajime believes he deserves to rot in hell for his guilt over what happened to his wife, it’s even okay for Tsugumi to be considering this, but he is telling his seven year old daughter to damn her soul to hell in order to send him to hell. Not to mention the lifetime of guilt and mental trauma she’ll surely go through should she actually do it.

Tsugumi slaps him and says she might miss her mother, but she’s adored the times she’s had with Hajime. He’s her favorite person and she’d never trade him for anything. Hajime feels the same, telling her that each day with her is a blessing. They embrace in the rain of the vision, and I’m left to wonder what Ai hoped to achieve with this.

If she altered the events of the actual accident to make it seem like Hajime was being a selfish dickhead back then, surely she’d have to believe he’d act differently (or the same? We never see what really happened) when she showed it to both of them. And surely Tsugumi would lose any hatred in her heart the instant she saw her father collapse in grief and beg for forgiveness.

Tsugumi had never shown any actual hatred up until this point – she was just at a dead end in finding a way out of the trap Ai put her in, was emotionally exhausted by her visions, and had no way of getting Hajime back. That’s really the only reason that she even considered pulling the string.

I never felt like she’d actually do it once Hajime showed back up, even if she demanded to know what really happened with her mother.

Maybe Ai was so blinded by a lack of faith in humanity that she believed Hajime would indeed act like the asstard she made up or if Tsugumi’s supposed inner hatred would be on the same level as hers, but it’s never that convincing.

Kudos on both Hajime and Tsugumi’s scene here as it is horribly tragic and beautiful at the same time. While I didn’t cry, I was definitely feeling the urge to do so, which I typically don’t do in happy endings.

Ai is shocked at the show of forgiveness and love and transports them back to the cherry blossom tree, which is temporarily restored back to its former glory after having been destroyed in the previous episode. Tsugumi returns the doll and tells Ai that Sentarou truly loved her as much as she loved him. He just couldn’t face the same fate she and her parents were damned to.

Tsugumi doesn’t mention this, but either way Ai was going to die. Sentarou had absolutely no chance to save her at that point. His only other option besides helping bury her was to die with her, and he couldn’t do it. His cowardice filled him with guilt for many years and drove him to build the Seven Child Temple as an apology to her.

Ai tearfully transports them to the temple and burns it to the ground, even killing the poor priest inside. Not cool, Ai. At least teleport him out.

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Hajime is about to theorize why Ai burned the temple down, but stops himself—Uh guys, seriously. Person in the burning building. Call the fire department and wax poetic later.

Just to show how terribly inconsistent the Wiki is sometimes, Sentarou’s biography explains that Ai burned the temple down as a rejection of his apology while the entry for this episode explains that she did it in order to finally forgive Sentarou, since the temple was built as a symbol of his guilt. I’m more inclined to believe the latter because the former just makes it seem like she finally learned of true forgiveness just to say ‘fuck your apology, Sentarou.’

You still killed a man, though, Ai. I wouldn’t even bring it up outside of maybe a joke if they didn’t show him getting engulfed in fire, but they did so, Ai, you killed a guy as an ‘I forgive you’ card.

Tsugumi: “Promise me you’ll never leave me again, Hajime.”

Hajime: “I won’t. Cross my heart.”

And he was never seen again.

Not making a joke. Even though Tsugumi is seen throughout the next three seasons, Hajime never appears again. According to his Wiki page, he writes a book about Hell Girl, presumably as part of his deal with Ai’s grandmother that we never learn the details of, and he mysteriously vanishes after that. You’d wager he might’ve been sent to hell, but even Ai and her assistants don’t know where he went.

I assume that, since this series didn’t seem to be designed to last more than a season, they had no clue what to do with Hajime and just wrote him out.

In season three, Tsugumi even states that Hajime is dead from off-screen the-writer-said-so-they-were-extremely-lazy-with-this-itis.

The end.

Oh wait, there’s a Marvel end credits scene.

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We see a bloodied dead cat, because why not end the series on something I’ve been actively trying to avoid? A girl kneels in the rain in an alley with the black doll and Ai appears before her stating that the decision rests with her.

Ai’s back to her old tricks again because she is still required to do so, and as Ren, Hone Onna and Wanyuudou explain over a montage of every client from the series, as long as there is hatred and a need for vengeance, their work will never be done.

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I’ll be wrapping up my final thoughts on the series as a whole in a full revamped review I’ll be releasing shortly, but I love this finale.

Even though Ai’s efforts to get Tsugumi to pull the string are a little questionable in their true effectiveness, it was a great parallel to her own story and a very fitting way to close it out. Ai had been so wrapped up in her own hatred that she never stopped to try and forgive Sentarou or even attempt to empathize with what he was probably feeling back then. It took seeing Tsugumi forgive her father to finally open her heart enough to wipe his guilt away.

The fact that these two stories work in conjunction with each other so well means they can both be closed out simultaneously with little issue, creating as clean of an ending as we can get with Ai still being Hell Girl. I am a little annoyed that we never learn what Hajime promised to Ai’s grandmother since it seemed important enough to allow him to leave the realm of eternal twilight, but I guess we can just chalk that up to a little more laziness.

The art and animation were improved a little more for the finale, which is good. But I really could’ve gone without ending the series with a dead cat emblazoned on my brain.

Rating: 9.5/10

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Pokemon Episode Analysis: Episode 2 – Pokemon Emergency!

Poses for picture; still can’t get a clear shot of their faces.

Character Debuts:

Officer Jenny: Despite the seeming lack of police assistance in actual emergencies most of the time, there are cops in the world of Pokemon. Most of them, the prominent ones anyway, are Jennys. In practically every town ever, there is an Officer Jenny. They all look exactly the same and are somehow all related to each other. Officer Jenny is sometimes accompanied by a Growlithe.

Nurse Joy: Just like the Jennys, there are also identical Joys who are all related to each other in every Pokemon Center in every town. Nurse Joys are usually assisted by Chansey. I honestly don’t know why none of these Nurse Joys ever wanted to go the extra mile and become a Pokemon doctor, but whatever.

Team Rocket: While Team Rocket as a whole is a large organization, it usually merely refers to the trio of Jessie, James and Meowth. Jessie is a vain and greedy woman who rarely has a moment of kindness. She also seems to hold the most power in the group and kinda acts as the main leader since James and Meowth are regularly frightened by her. Jessie used to be a very poor and kind child, but the rest of her backstory is a big web of mess.

James is slightly nicer when the situation calls for it, but he is also pretty vain and greedy. Unlike Jessie, he was actually born into an incredibly rich family, but ran away from home because he didn’t want to be married to the obnoxious Jessibelle.

Meowth is one of the few Pokemon in the world who can talk, and this is made even more impressive since he’s also one of the few who can talk without the assistance of psychic powers. He taught himself how to speak human language and walk on two feet in order to impress a female Meowth named Meowsy, but his efforts ultimately made him even less appealing in her eyes and he eventually went on to join Team Rocket.

Plot: Ash takes an injured Pikachu into the local Pokemon Center for treatment, but the place is soon attacked by the malicious Pokemon thieves, Team Rocket. Ash as well as the girl he met in the previous episode, Misty, try to battle them, but to no avail.

Instead, the center’s backup electrical supply, a team of Pikachu, shock the trio and their electric power brings Pikachu back to peak health somehow. In order to take them out fully, Ash uses Misty’s broken bike to generate power through the headlight and power up Pikachu enough to deliver one final Thunderbolt, causing the entire Pokemon Center to explode by igniting the gas from one of Team Rocket’s Pokemon, Koffing.

Team Rocket take note of Pikachu’s incredible power and vow to capture it no matter what. Meanwhile, Ash continues on his journey by heading through Viridian Forest, which leads directly to Pewter City, the site of his first Gym match. Misty follows him, determined to get Ash to pay for her ruined bike, but as they travel through the Viridian Forest, Ash spots a Caterpie and readies a Pokeball for its capture.

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– The title card is looking a bit more normal, but they still use the Pokemon logo to say ‘Pokemon’.

– Oh….so I guess, from what Dexter says anyway, that the function of the Pokedex in the anime is really more for the trainer’s benefit in providing information and advice and not keeping a log while trying to see and capture all of the Pokemon, IE Completing the Pokedex. Hmph.

– James in episodes 2 – 8 isn’t voiced by his most notable voice actor, Eric Stuart, here. He’s instead voiced by Ted Lewis who does quite a few roles otherwise such as Tracey, Giovanni, Bakura and Bandit Keith from YGO. He does have really good range, and he fits the role pretty well here, but I can see why they’d replace him with Eric Stuart if his role was going to become more comical later.

– Likewise, Meowth also has a different voice actor in the earlier episodes, episode 2 – 31, Nathan Price, who does the role more low-key than Maddie Blaustein will later on. I honestly can’t decide which voice I like better, but Maddie’s is also more fitting for the more comical parts while Nathan is better at being more sly. Plus, Maddie says ‘Meeeowth’ a little better.

– I really will just take a minute to enjoy the more serious Team Rocket for this episode. I do love them as comic relief sometimes, but it would be nice if they were an actual threat.

– Why did Jenny feel the need to jump her motorcycle into the Pokemon Center? Yeah, risk more injury to the already injured Pokemon. And it really took them until nightfall to get there? How big is this city?

– It’s weird to me that Pikachu is so injured after just taking a few Pecks by a couple Spearow, especially given that he’s strong against Flying types.

– Nurse Joy’s a bit of a bitch here. People must come there all the time with Pokemon at least in Pikachu’s condition, considering how many attacks there are in Pokemon and the fact that their lot in life is usually to fight, yet she chews Ash out for letting Pikachu get moderately hurt when she doesn’t even know how it happened. That’s like a doctor yelling a parent for letting their kid scrape their knee.

– Why is the Pidgey that comes out of the cuckoo clock green?

Must be all that awful hospital food.

– And here we get the only mention ever of Ash’s deadbeat not-caring-whatsoever-about-his-family dad. I would complain about this, but at this point does anyone really care who Ash’s dad is? Yes, it’s a mystery, but no answer will really be fulfilling now. Plus, he’ll just be a target for hatred considering he never seems to talk to or otherwise communicate with Ash or Delia. And I do not believe for a second that they always talk off-screen or never ever managed to bump into each other during their journeys.

– It took four days for Ash’s dad to get to Viridian City?…..Why? Jenny said all of the other Pallet trainers had already passed through. What was keeping him so long? Maybe I’m wrong about Ash’s dad. Maybe he’s like Flint and completely sucked at training and was too ashamed to show his face around his family again. There. That’s a suitable story for Ash’s dad. You’re welcome.

– Delia: “Spreading your wings and soaring like a Spearow!” Uhh, I’d change your wording, Delia, considering the main reason he’s feeling like crap right now is because of a flock of Spearow.

– Delia: “And are you changing your underwear everyday?” He hasn’t even been gone a full day yet. Are his underwear made of the same material as the notes in Inspector Gadget and they’ll blow up after a period of time?

– The legendary Pokemon on the board at the Pokemon center are interesting. Ash believes the blue bird is the one he saw earlier, but it’s an Articuno not a Ho-Oh. Ho-Oh won’t be introduced until Johto. I’m not even sure what this really indicates. Did Ash just think it was the same because the outline is kinda similar or the anime creators screwed up? I would think he’d believe Moltres looks more similar given the coloring. Also, for some reason, Arcanine is up there. I know that he’s given the moniker of ‘legendary’, but why? Is there a legend about Arcanine somewhere? Because he’s just the evolved version of a fairly easy to find Pokemon.

– Oh my God, there’s text everywhere. I feel so unreasonably happy.

– I still find it funny that Oak’s all ‘There’s no way you saw a legendary Pokemon’ here and yet not a year goes by now where Ash DOESN’T see/battle with/spend time with a legendary Pokemon. It’s so common now that he’s basically become totally used to it.

– Misty: “You’re what happened to my bike, you little loser! This is what happened to my bike after you stole it to save your Pokemon!” Yeah, he sure is a loser because he cared more about his Pokemon’s well-being than a hunk of replaceable metal. Can you get less annoying soon so I can start hating Ash, please?

– Misty: “I don’t want any of your lame excuses, Kid! Just gimme a new bike right noooooooooowwwwwwww!!” First of all, kid? He’s the same age as you. Second, nice tantrum.

– What ‘procedure’ was Joy performing anyway? She put on rubber gloves and went in and came out with Pikachu having a lightbulb on its head while connected to some black box and some electrical box but no bandages or anything else on its body. He got Pecked a few times, he didn’t have his electricity sucked out him.

– Ash: “Listen, I’m sorry about your bike. But I’m going to need some time to make things right.”

Misty: “NO WAY! I FELL FOR THAT LAST TIME!”

Fell for what? He said he’d bring it back someday and accidentally got it destroyed. He hasn’t even been gone a full day, so he could’ve been intending on giving her a replacement bike SOMEDAY. Though, considering how crazy expensive bikes are in the Pokemon world, I can kinda understand her anger.

– They have radar that detects aircrafts in Viridian City? Ones that can specifically identify the craft as belonging to Pokemon thieves? Where are these in future episodes?

– I am weirded out beyond belief by those Pikachu in the Pokemon Center. They not only chant, but they hold out their paws like robots and have mouths that are way too big.

– Why do they need to be on a treadmill anyway if they produce power on their own?

– The hell is up with the eyes on that Pidgey?

Can Pidgey not look normal today?

– It’s amazing that Team Rocket is so intimidating during the early episodes that all of the Pokemon actually refuse to fight because they’re so scared just by seeing Ekans.

– I still don’t understand why Misty let Goldeen out. Either this was poking at the fact that all Pokeballs look identical and thus it must be hard to determine who’s in what without customizing them or she’s just an idiot.

– Misty: “You know as well as I do that a Water Pokemon can’t battle on land. I was just warmin’ up!” There are so many things wrong with that. Let’s start with, no, only SOME Water Types can’t battle on land. How were you ‘warming up’ by letting out a Pokemon that you knew couldn’t battle on land? Did you need to warm up your Pokeball throwin’ arm? Even if it was a distraction or something, what good would that do considering they’re standing in front of the only exit?

– Oh, I guess it wasn’t the only exit……There were no other visible doors to that room besides the one Team Rocket burst through and were standing in front of the whole time, but whatever. Still didn’t do much because after Ash and Pikachu escape, they’re immediately followed by Team Rocket.

– Why did Pikachu even need hours of ‘treatment’ if just being dogpiled and shocked by a group of Pikachu seemed to make him good as new?

– How did any of them survive that explosion? Pikachu’s in the ICU for being pecked by a few birds for a second or two yet is perfectly fine when in a building that just exploded and created a fire so big it looks like it took out a city block.

– How did Team Rocket get away?

– Now that I’m really thinking about it, Pikachu’s attack really isn’t a decent reason for them to be so insanely obsessed with catching Pikachu. It was essentially given a buff to begin with in regards to the bike and the only real reason anything substantial happened was because of the reaction with Koffing’s gas.

– I can’t believe it took me so long to question this, but isn’t it impossible for Team Rocket’s balloon to be ‘popped’ and send them flying all over the place? Wouldn’t it just gently float down? It’s not a helium balloon.

– How is the computer perfectly fine? They’re literally sitting amongst the rubble that once was the Viridian City Pokemon Center with a desktop computer that’s not even dirty.

I didn’t know Nokia made desktop computers.

– Narrator: “Will Ash capture the Caterpie?” Seeing as how the next episode is titled ‘Ash Catches a Pokemon’ I’ll go ahead and say no.

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This episode was….pretty okay. It was sillier than I remember it being, and I already remembered it to be a tad silly. Team Rocket pose a threat for a change, but they don’t even go the full episode without being downgraded to comic relief. Plus, I do have to say that the start of their obsessive mission was just not really worth it. I’m starting to think that after a certain point, catching Pikachu was no longer about catching it for its power or rarity but purely because of a personal vendetta.

Misty’s still annoying here, and Ash is still relatable and likable, even if he still has a lot to learn.

I also really like the linear set up of the first handful of episodes. I miss having an actual story instead of ‘Leave home on journey’ ‘Go to gym’ ‘filler’ ‘gym’ ‘filler’ ‘another gym’ ‘filler’ etc etc etc. The only times filler isn’t really filler in later episodes is usually just when Ash catches a Pokemon; those incredibly rare occasions. Plus, after he gets his party filled, he hardly ever gets more.

Certain aspects are still bugging me like mentions of Ash’s dad knowing they go nowhere, another mention of the other two Pallet trainers that also goes nowhere…..But it’s still pretty decent.

Next episode, Ash Catches a Pokemon. Caterpie joins the group (Oh sorry, spoilers!), one of the rare times Ash catches a Pokemon without needing to spend an entire episode bonding with it. We also get the rare treat of him catching TWO Pokemon in one episode, marking Pidgeotto’s debut. I really love Pidgeotto; hate the hell out of how he gets treated over the series. We also have a cute little episode just getting to know Caterpie and seeing it trying to bond with Bitchy—Err, Misty.

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