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