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.


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

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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.

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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.

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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…..

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…..Has a miscarriage.

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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.

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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.


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Hell Girl: Three Vessels | Episode 14: The Street Corner of Bitterness Review

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Plot: Yuzuki now possesses the ability to sense people who are going to contact Hell Correspondence soon. The next client is a girl named Hidemi who accidentally garnered a bad reputation after being photographed with a delinquent in the city. She plans on sending the person who spread the photo of her to hell for ruining her life.

Breakdown: (Note: I somehow overlooked posting this episode’s review in the proper order, but it was just brought to my attention today, so better late than never. Sorry about that. Enjoy! :))

…..*lip smack* This is what we’re starting the second half of the season off with, eh?

Okie dokie.

First of all, Yuzuki is basically now all but cemented as being a less interesting fusion of Tsugumi and Hajime. At least she’s actively trying to stop people from using the service now, but she’s bad at it. She’s also bad at seeming like she’s emotionally invested in anything. At the end of the episode, she’s overwhelmed with the amount of people she’s sensing will contact Hell Girl and is clutching her head trying to get the bell sounds to stop, but I don’t really believe her response. She’s acting way too unemotional about it. Even when she was begging Ai to bring Akie back she was just barely emoting.

Also, side note, apparently Yuzuki’s friends haven’t been bothered all that much by Akie disappearing. I understand that because even I forgot for a little while.

Second of all, this story is a massive mess from start to finish.

Hidemi was in the city for a test, she spent too much time at her friends’ house and ended up missing the last train home. She also broke her cell phone. Unlike most people who would visit various shops, or even stop people on this busy street in this highly populated city, and ask if she can use their phone to call her parents or even the friends she was visiting, she decides the best course of action would be to spend some money at the arcade trying to get a stuffed cat, then sit on the sidewalk and fall asleep…

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It’s implied that she was worried about getting caught by the cops because she was young and out late at night, but is anyone really going to press charges against this kid for missing the train? Also, if she’s worried the cops might hassle her, why did she choose, of all places, the middle of the sidewalk to sit down and even fall asleep?

She’s awoken by aforementioned delinquent, Kinya, and he offers to take her back to the convenience store in which he works where the only other person there is a guy who looks just as skeevy if not moreso as Kinya does.

She finally has the opportunity to call home, though….and chooses not to….because she sees this as an adventure or something. Let me make it clear that Hidemi is very much a shy and proper young woman. Nothing about her even suggests that she has hidden desires to be any sort of rebel or anything. She comes off as the kind of girl who would find not putting the chip clip back on the reduced salt kettle chip bag as an act of rebellion. I’m not saying she can’t just be really good at concealing this part of her, but I am saying that it is strange. Not to mention the fact that it’s a dickish thing to do to stay out in a strange city all night and neglect to call your parents. Even if you want to have some neat little convenience store adventure, they’re still probably worried sick and it’s rude to not at least tell them that you’ll be okay on your own until the trains start back up.

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She spends the night there, and Kinya walks her to the train station in the morning, which is where she gets her picture taken by someone off-screen. It’s in the morning, not at night, and it’s not like there’s any implication that she’s romantically with him or that she’s a prostitute or anything. She’s literally just walking next to him and talking.

The photo spreads and ‘ruins’ her life, which I don’t get. Do people really have nothing better to do than gossip about a photo that looks about as incriminating as a picture of her jaywalking? And that’s all they’re doing by the way – gossiping. No one’s treating her differently outside of whispering around her. Yet that’s somehow enough for her to wish whoever spread the picture to be sent to hell.

The only way it gets worse is through more stupidity.

Kinya was a punk, but he was legitimately nice to Hidemi because some old guy in an alleyway was nice to him and told him that being nice was good or whatever.

It seemed like Kinya might actually be turning into a decent guy, but then, after the commercial break, Kinya’s suddenly viciously beating the old guy in the alleyway because he believes he’s secretly super rich. His reason for thinking this? The old guy wears a big coat when it’s really hot out….so he’s…hiding…money in it something, I dunno. Why he suddenly starting thinking this I also don’t know.

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He gets arrested for the assault, but he also acts like he’s proud of it. He wants to be a big shot and getting arrested by the police will only increase his prestige. He even plans on bragging to the cops about everything else he’s done….This guy is a major league moron.

Yuzuki had convinced Hidemi to go with her to see Kinya in order to help clear her name and improve her reputation, but they both witness his spectacle as he gets arrested. She flips out because he’ll probably be featured in the papers (doubt it) and people will connect him back to the photo. Fair enough in that respect, I guess. She immediately contacts Hell Correspondence on Kinya.

Kinya….Oh geez…*sigh*….Kinya escapes police custody, obtains a gun and takes Yuzuki hostage. No I’m not kidding. No, I also have no idea how those events transpired.

The point is, Hidemi sees him do this. Kinya doesn’t even recognize her until Yuzuki mentions her name, so she pulls the string.

The hell torture is okay. Everyone’s giant-ish and intimidating Kinya. Ai is massive, like kaiju-sized. It’s playing off of the fact that he said he wanted to be a big shot, but now he’s little. Haha.

As he’s ferried away, he laments being nice to Hidemi, but, uh, dude, do you really think letting some lost girl take shelter in a convenience store you don’t even own, feeding her stale bread and then walking her to a train station is properly weighted against beating a poor old homeless dude in an alley, escaping the police, popping off some shots and taking a teenage girl hostage?

Yuzuki waits for Hidemi and, here’s where I get REALLY confused. A girl with completely different hair both in style and color, a much more revealing sense of fashion, tons of jewelry, makeup and a tattoo suddenly bursts in and…that’s Hidemi. She has the little stuffed cat she wanted earlier and the curse mark on her chest, so that’s proof it’s her.

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Why does she suddenly look like this, especially since there’s no implied time skip of any kind after the hell torture? How do you go from “Oh dear, my life is ruined because I was photographed talking to a punk.” to “I’m going to change my appearance so drastically that the gossiping people from before will basically feel justified in believing I was a girl of loose morals, and more rumors will spread about me and ruin my life some more! Ya know, the reason I was miserable enough to call Hell Girl to begin with! I love being smart!” not just in general but in minutes/hours? I almost wanted to believe it was days later, but Yuzuki’s wearing the exact same clothes between when she’s taken hostage by Kinya and when we see the new Hidemi. I don’t get it.

Time issues aside, again, maybe she was just really, really good at concealing a desire to be a more rebellious girl, but they didn’t do a good job of making this connection with the audience outside of one line which could easily just imply a desire for a little more independence not that she suddenly wants to completely change herself both inside and out. Kinya’s character turn was a little more understandable because we knew he was a punk at the start, even though he was on the receiving end of the violence there, but even then he was nearly as bad in his car crash of a personality shift.

Finally, Ai’s back to being Ai fully, which is good, even if I feel bad she has to return to this job at all. They brought back the classic scene of her preparing to take someone to hell, including…her grandma….Yup. Grandma’s back. Where did she go and why is she back? No idea. She’s just here again. Somehow. I like Grandma and everything, but I never once understood her character.

Ai’s trying to teach Yuzuki about the futility of trying to save Hell Girl clients, which is more poking at Tsugumi and Hajime. I know this is for the sake of training her to be a new Hell Girl, but I am so far from caring about that plot element. She better have some gem of a backstory otherwise I’ll just feel like her entire story was a wash.

Overall, this episode was confusing and blah and I really hope things actually pick up soon, especially when it comes to Yuzuki.


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Hell Girl: Three Vessels | Episode 16: The Trap of Temptation Review

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Plot: Naowa is seen as a creepy man by his colleagues because he spends a lot of his free time playing with a local little girl named Kayo. He has no ill intentions, he just legitimately loves kids. Still, he has a shadow hanging over his head and a familiar curse mark emblazoned on his chest. He has already used Hell Correspondence, but who did he send to hell and why?

Breakdown: This episode left me feeling so conflicted.

The start is fairly unique because we’re focusing on someone who has already pulled the string. That doesn’t happen very often.

Even though this particular story is also pretty unique, I found that the events were somehow quite predictable. A new woman named Yuki joins the factory in which Naowa works and she becomes focused on him very quickly. My mind immediately shifted to ‘She has some relation to the person Naowa sent to hell and wants revenge.’ And lo and behold that’s exactly what happened.

What I didn’t expect was that Nakajima, the man Naowa sent to hell, was just like Naowa with one big difference – he actually was a pedophile. He didn’t do anything directly to Kayo, but he did take a bunch of pictures of her, clearly trying to get upskirt shots, and even kept them in an album. He told Naowa that he wouldn’t do anything to Kayo, though such a claim is obviously not to be trusted, and he blackmailed Naowa by saying, if he told anyone about what he was doing, he’d tell everyone that Naowa is just like him. Considering everyone already thinks he’s creepy, that threat definitely has weight to it.

Worried for Kayo’s safety, Naowa sent Nakajima to hell.

We learn all of this because Naowa is telling Yuki that they shouldn’t be together in a romantic sense because he’s bound for hell and won’t be able to find any happiness in the end. He also shows proof that Nakajima was a pedo by showing her the album of pictures he found at Nakajima’s apartment, which gave me quite a bit of pause.

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Why….did he keep that? Why didn’t he burn it or something? Even if he took it for the sake of evidence, which is dumb because there’s no way to prove it was Nakajima’s, he didn’t intend on having Nakajima arrested, and, at this point, has already sent him to hell. If anyone found that album, he’d be buried in so much shit he’d drown in it. Anyone finding it is bad enough, but he’s willingly showing this album to Yuki. While I know why she believes it’s Nakajima’s in hindsight, she has no reason to believe Naowa that the album was Nakajima’s.

He had absolutely no reason to keep that unless it was for his own sick purposes.

Onto Yuki, she is the proper client today. She was high school sweethearts with Nakajima (called it) and knew about his “other interests” but loved him anyway. When he suddenly went missing, she decided to investigate his disappearance for herself since the police wouldn’t help. She got hired at the factory in which Nakajima and Naowa both worked, and, knowing Naowa was close with Nakajima, decided to get close to him for information. When Naowa told her what he did, she called Hell Girl and pulled the string.

And now it’s time for a….

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Okay, technically it was a premonition Yuzuki was having the whole time as she watched Naowa pull the string, but same difference. I guess Ai was trying to convince her that cycles of revenge are constant and inevitable, which is weird because I thought she had learned that wasn’t true at the end of the second season, but whatever. Yuzuki still wants to try to stop all that from happening, though, so Ai releases her from being frozen in place or whatever was happening there and allows her to chase after Naowa after witnessing him pull the string. The episode ends with Yuzuki trying to find Naowa.

I thought this would be a clever ending because it would be ambiguous on whether or not she succeeded in stopping it, but they ruin it by having Yuki’s candle appear at the end, confirming that Yuzuki didn’t stop it and Naowa was sent to hell anyway. So…..that twist was more pointless than a circle.

Obviously, we have to discuss the uncomfortable aspect of this entire episode. Now, I understand that there’s a stigma about single adults having pretty much any contact with children unless it’s their job or something, and this is especially true of single adult men. Some adults do genuinely like kids and want to spend time with them even if they’re not related to them or don’t have a job in childcare or anything. And that’s perfectly fine. Naowa has proven….besides the ‘keeping the album’ thing…..that he doesn’t have any harmful thoughts or intentions towards Kayo or any other child. Naowa is a perfectly fine main character that you can connect with…..Again, barring the album thing.

That being said, it’s also completely understandable why so many people find him to be creepy. Naowa keeps to himself a lot, doesn’t have really any interests, seems uninterested in dating, and spends an inordinate amount of time playing with Kayo. Every day after work he spends hours playing with her and no other kids. Her parents are never around (except once at the start of the episode I think her mom appears and apologizes to Naowa for something. Maybe him spending time with Kayo because she works a lot or something? She seems perfectly cool with him spending so much time with Kayo.) and she’s never with other children.

The way the Hell Team addresses this, albeit briefly, is strange. Hone Onna points out that it’s obviously weird for a grown man to be playing with little girls, and Wanyuudou responds “Even though, in the past, looking with such eyes was weirder.” What does that mean? Are his eyes strange or is he saying watching little girls was seen as weirder than playing with them back in his time? I don’t even know if there’s an argument to be had there. Then Yamawaro says “That’s called ‘eras’, right?”

I dunno. Maybe? Things do drastically change between eras, even when it comes to perceptions of social appropriateness. Even just a few decades can make behaviors that weren’t initially unacceptable in acceptable and vice versa.

Plus, it makes the situation and stigma even worse when you introduce a character who, on the surface, is basically identical to Naowa…..only he IS a pedo. I was starting to feel a tiny bit bad for side-eyeing Naowa so much when he legitimately cared for Kayo, but then justification for those feelings entered the mix when they basically confirmed that the not-innocent version of this type of person is very much valid and probably more common.

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And then there’s Yuki…….*sigh* I usually feel compassion for clients, but this time, no. Her boyfriend was a pedophile, she knew this and didn’t care. Join him in hell. Just go. You’re just as guilty as he is.

In the end, I still don’t know how I feel about this episode. I guess it’s simply middle-of-the-road. It doesn’t do anything outlandish or terrible enough to make me angry at it, which, considering the subject matter, you’d think it would, nor does it do anything particularly noteworthy or interesting to make it actually good – we don’t even get Nakajima’s hell torture. It’s just okay.


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Hell Girl: Three Vessels Episode 13 – Six-Scripted Lanterns Review

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Plot: As the festival of the Six-Scripted Lanterns arrives, Yuzuki tries her best to forget about Hell Girl. However, she can’t hold herself back for long when she realizes that the latest client she saw in her visions happens to be Akie’s private tutor. She has a grudge against Akie’s father, a police chief, for seemingly abusing his power to screw over a case involving the assault of her father, who has spent several years in a vegetative state as a result of the assault. She has her doll in hand and is more than ready to use it, but she wants him to suffer first…

Breakdown: Oh my god, guys. PLOT! And Yuzuki DOING THINGS…..KINDA.

This episode is mostly Akie’s with Yuzuki just sorta hanging around again. Truth be told, even though Akie has been in nearly every instance that Yuzuki has shown up so far, I really don’t care that much about Akie. I mean, she has more personality than Yuzuki and she’s a little more likable, but that’s not saying much.

The client this time around is a complete idiot. And as a bonus she’s also decided to take on the role of the supervillain-y antagonist. Azusa’s father got in a fight with a drunk. The drunk guy hit her father and he fell over. He received a brain injury which caused him to slip into a vegetative state. The drunk happened to be the son of the head of a very powerful family, so he made it seem like the fight never happened and the accident was entirely Azusa’s father’s fault. Later, the son fled to America.

She tried to go to the police, but the police chief, Akie’s father, told his subordinate to make it seem like nothing happened. The investigation never came to be. As a result, she developed an intense grudge against the chief and called Hell Girl on him. However, she wants him to suffer before she pulls the string on him.

She somehow secretly gets hired as Akie’s private tutor and becomes very close to her (Again, some inappropriate behavior for an adult with a young teenager. What’s with this season?) After telling her story, she convinces Akie to move in with her (in the mansion Akie’s dad is ‘borrowing’? I don’t understand rich people.)

The Six-Scripted Lanterns festival is approaching around this time. During the Six-Scripted Lanterns festival, you’re meant to write down something you want to forget on a piece of paper, attach it to a lantern, put in some of your hair and send the lantern down the river to hopefully have your bad memory (or sin) discarded to hell. Coincidentally, the gates to hell do open briefly during this event, and Yuzuki stumbles upon the gateway. Seeing the silhouette of someone who looks oddly like herself beyond the gate, she tries to walk through, but the nurse from several episodes ago stops her, telling her that, if she goes beyond the gate, she will never return.

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We basically get confirmation that this is indeed Tsugumi when Yuzuki refers to her as Shibata-sensei, but other than giving her the warning Tsugumi doesn’t do anything in this episode.

Before she wandered to the gate, Yuzuki had put “Jigoku Shoujo” on her lantern and sent it down, but that obviously won’t work. Also, Akie tried to put “father” on her lantern, but she ultimately decided against it, blew out the candle on it and ran off.

I really don’t understand why Akie isn’t even trying to talk with her dad about this. She has absolutely no proof that her father did what Azusa is accusing him of, other than Azusa’s word, yet she dropped out of high school (I don’t really understand why she did that.) and moved out immediately after being told this story without giving a word of explanation to him as to why. She also nearly symbolically disowned her father entirely.

I should point out that she and her father had a very good relationship before this all went down. She definitely should have trusted him enough to at least bring up what was going on. But nope. The plot said we not only have to have Akie pick out her own tutor and never have her meet with Akie’s dad, so he wouldn’t recognize her as soon as he met her, but we also have to have her not discuss the reasons behind her moving out or turning her back on her father in the slightest. How do you expect us to fill twenty minutes?

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Her not talking to her father about Azusa’s situation is even worse than that because we as an audience never hear his side of the story. The only version of the story that we hear is Azusa’s. Maybe she’s delusional. Maybe this is a conspiracy theory. Maybe she’s just straight up lying. Maybe she’s mistaken. Who knows? It IS kinda weird that she somehow knows that the chief specifically told one of his subordinates to cover this up, to the point where she can quote him about it. Either way, her situation is sad, but she’s objectively a terrible person, as we’ll soon see.

When Akie comes back home during the festival, we get some more uncomfortable flirting, which leads to Azusa telling Akie that she should shower. I would say ‘Don’t worry. She’s not telling her that to prep her for sex’ but it seems kinda silly to focus on that once I explain why she actually told her to take a shower….

As Akie showers, Azusa calls some skeevy guy over and allows him into the shower to rape Akie. See? Terrible person. While this is going down, Azusa calls Akie’s father to taunt him about it, believing he’ll certainly be too late to stop it. However, Yuzuki….somehow knew Azusa was going to do something bad so she called Akie’s dad and rushed over to the mansion, catching them seemingly before the rape could happen, but considering how long he was in there I can assume she was definitely molested in other ways.

Realizing her plans were ruined, she makes a break for her straw doll, but Yuzuki wrestles it away from her and Azusa finally flees. Akie’s dad was going to pursue her, but Akie stopped him for some reason. I guess I won’t ding her much for this because she’s clearly traumatized, but dude, call for some other officers to find her. She just tried to have your daughter raped!

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Why is she smiling in this shot?

Akie is collapsed on the floor in tears, so Yuzuki thinks it best to leave for now. She wanders down the river when Ai’s spirit suddenly shoots into her. Ai emerges from Yuzuki’s body now with a new body of her own…..Okie….Dokie. At least we’re finally free of that magical girl transformation sequence.

Mysteriously, Ai says only “The rest is up to you…” before walking away from Yuzuki. She wonders what that could mean when the straw doll suddenly vanishes from her hands. She rushes back to Akie’s place where Akie is seemingly all better now? Dressed, happy to see Yuzuki and not a tear in her eye…..Okie….Dokie. They run to each other calling out their names and reaching for each other like the ending of a cheesy romance movie when Akie suddenly vanishes.

From the shadows, Azusa smirks with a red string hanging from her finger….

We’re spared a hell torture, but Yuzuki’s eyes flash red as she silently screams out Akie’s name in the rain.

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Okay, I’m going to try to explain what happened. So, here’s something I never considered before. It’s quite possible that Azusa changed her target. That would explain why the doll vanished from Yuzuki’s hand. I don’t think I’ve ever wondered how you would ‘fix’ it if you knew you chose the wrong target. Like, if you blamed someone for something happening but you later found out someone else was responsible. If you found that out before you pulled the string, I guess you can contact Ai again and get a different doll for the new target.

It’s either that or she was targeting Akie all along and the doll just returned to her somehow. I’m not very convinced this was the case though since the doll has never returned to anyone before, barring one or two occasions where Ai interfered, but she has no reason to do that here. I think she changed her target to Akie as a way of making Akie’s dad suffer since her plans to have her raped went bad. She was probably just planning to have her raped, let the dad stew for a bit and then she’d pull the string on him, but she changed her mind when the attempt was unsuccessful. Now Akie’s dad has to live the rest of his life mourning the loss of his daughter, which is a hell in itself.

It’s also possible that she did that to punish Yuzuki too since she was the reason her plans were foiled.

Nonetheless, they certainly provided enough proof that Azusa is a shitty and stupid human being.

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It was stupid enough for her to focus her rage on the police chief when it’s far more logical to target either the drunkard or his father, but the way we had to trickle down to Akie is more stupid than I can convey in words. Even when it came to the worst targets and the shittiest clients, they typically never considered sending someone to hell just to make someone else suffer – mostly because that’s not how Hell Girl works.

You’re only supposed to be able to input the name of the person you deem as causing you the most suffering – the person your vendetta is actually against. She shouldn’t be able to target Akie for revenge because, out of everyone involved in this story, Akie did the least to her. Hell, in the end she helped her by telling her dad to not pursue her. She had more reason to input Yuzuki’s name than she did Akie’s.

I believe it would have been the most logical to kill the drunkard. Not only is he the cause of all of this and a main target of Azusa’s anger, but sending him to hell would make his father suffer because he’d mourn his son’s death.

That still leaves the police chief, but the main people who were responsible for the suffering of her and her father would be taken care of.

Yet somehow we had to take the most convoluted and nonsensical paths possible to end up at Akie being the target.

And all for what? Just so Yuzuki would have the drive to actually get off her ass and do something about these Hell Girl visions instead of being a background prop the whole time.

Akie got fridged. Let’s just admit that. She needed to die, specifically via Hell Girl, in order for the “””””””””Hero”””””””””” to become driven enough to actually start being an active participant in the story. The writers just couldn’t come up with a decent way for someone to realistically target Akie directly, so they went to the hoop store and did some jumping.

When you really think about it, Akie would have been a better Ai replacement than Yuzuki. She has a little more personality, is a little more likable, has a more interesting background (that we’ve been made aware of, anyway) and this could have set up something for her easily. For example, say everything went nearly the same, maybe cleaning up some of the lazier and stupid aspects, but everything in the story goes roughly the same. Azusa sends Yuzuki to hell for ruining her plans and that’s the last mental straw for Akie to take at this point. It would still be fridging, technically, but it’d make more sense, and I’d rather lose Yuzuki than Akie, though it’s kinda hard to give a crap about either of them.

The very end of the episode has Yuzuki passing by a woman on the street and hearing bells. She informs us that a new pain was only just starting. Considering this was the mid-season finale, I get that.

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So…..that was a big stinky mess.

The only good things that came out of this episode are Ai getting her body back and the confirmation that the nurse from before was Tsugumi. Everything else is just a big tangled ball of plot contrivance and stupidity. Oh well, at least things are starting to happen in the main plot now. Here’s hoping Yuzuki becomes interesting in future episodes.

Rating: 2/10

Next episode….


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Animating Halloween (Finale) | Hell Girl: Three Vessels Episode 12 – Midsummer Graph Review

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Plot: Nobuo Nomura is an aspiring mangaka who spends his days getting irritated by pretty much everyone around him. It’s gotten so bad that he’s created a graph charting the various people who annoy him. When a specific person’s annoyance level reaches the goal point, he’ll use Hell Girl to send them to hell.

Breakdown: Sooooooooooooooooooooooooooo……..I’m very sorry we’re ending this year’s Animating Halloween with this pile of garbage episode.

It seems like Three Vessels has a habit of following up every good episode with a dumpster fire because my god this episode was a stupid salad from start to finish.

First off, Nobuo is not a likable client at all. There have been much worse clients, but he’s quite creepy, cringey, perverted and just an overall sourpuss to be around.

That graph I mentioned? It’s actually a poster of a girl in a bikini. And the measurements he uses are little stickers he makes with caricatures of everyone who annoys him throughout the day. Starting from the foot, he adds more stickers up the length of the girl’s body until he reaches his ‘goal’ which is, of course, her chesticles. And he gets a nosebleed when he gets close to putting a sticker on her Bermuda Triangle.

His motives don’t even really make sense. Even if he did send one of these annoying people to hell, what would that do? He’s obviously annoyed by numerous people. Sending one person to hell would only get rid of about 1/8 of his problems.

Being completely fair, Nobuo does experience a decent amount of crap. He’s harassed by rude people a lot and doesn’t seem to have any real friends outside of Yuzuki’s friend, Nozomi, who works with him, and referring to her as a friend is a bit of a stretch.

However, even if you can claim he’s a good guy, just a bit on the weird and cringey side, the argument falls apart because, when things start going his way, and by that I mean he wins a manga award that is even announced in a magazine and he works up the courage to ask Nozomi out, and she accepts, he still decides that he wants to send someone to hell once they annoy him enough.

Not to mention that he spends a lot of time drawing comics in which he sends his enemies to various hells and wins the affection of the bespectacled big-bouncy-boobed maid girl, who is drawn to look like Nozomi.

Secondly, the tone of this episode is mostly comedy. Some of the shots in this episode are just ridiculous. He’ll cheer in front of a real live-action tiger picture, he’ll be framed with flowers and pink lights when he’s thinking of his crush, Kokoro, and he flips his hair dramatically with sparkles all around him when he’s happily drawing….And lest we forget the typical feature of the shy anime dude who is secretly a pervert – he gets nosebleeds all the time when thinking of girls.

Hell Girl is perfectly allowed to have comedic moments, but when it tries to do comedic episodes it just doesn’t work. Unless you’re doing those little chibi yonkoma things in manga, it’s hard to make funny stories of a show where the premise of nearly every episode is sending other people to hell and damning your own soul to hell.

This issue is only highlighted more when a character tries to commit suicide later….

Third, the ending is ridiculously stupid. Grab a seat and let me tell you about the dumbest, most ungrateful girl in the world – Kokoro.

Nobuo knew Kokoro from around school, and she was fairly friendly with him. They weren’t friends, but they were on good terms. He had a crush on her, but she never knew it.

One of the people annoying Nobuo the most was Ryuu, who was Kokoro’s boyfriend. He wasn’t really doing anything outside of being affectionate with Kokoro, but it was obviously pissing off Nobuo greatly.

As Nobuo is getting his life together, he spots Kokoro about to jump off a bridge. Nobuo rushes over and saves her from committing suicide. She tells him that Ryuu was cheating on her with three girls, but Nobuo talks her down and cheers her up before walking her home.

However, Nobuo cannot forgive Ryuu. Yes, you guessed it. Ryuu reached the titties…..by reaching for other girls’ titties.

Hell time is nigh!

But wait! It seems that Nobuo can’t access Hell Correspondence. Well, golly, that’s strange. Wonder why. Hey, Ai, who is hovering behind Nobuo for some reason also we didn’t get a transformation sequence with Yuzuki this week, do you know what’s going on?

*gasp* NOBUO’S being targeted for hell!?

Who is sending him to hell and why?

The who is Kokoro.

The why is a black hole of dumb.

Kokoro regretted opening up to someone like Nobuo and believed he would spread what happened to everyone and embarrass her, even though he’s given no indication that he’d ever do that…..so…yeah, yeet to hell. Don’t send that cheating asshat of a boyfriend to hell. Oh no. Send the guy who saved your life, gave you a shoulder to cry on, gave you some inspiring words and walked you home to hell instead.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, while his hell torture is by far the most creative and cool hell torture we’ve ever had in Hell Girl, it’s also, sadly, by far, one of the most brutal. Because he’s a mangaka, the hell torture is performed as a paper doll ‘animation.’ I say ‘animation’ but it’s mostly paper doll puppetry with some camera editing tricks to ensure we never see the hands.

While this is absolutely cool to look at, poor Nobuo gets cut up into pieces with scissors, boiled alive, burned alive, skewered with staples and folded up into a paper airplane. There have been such terrible people who deserved hell tortures of this capacity that barely got a slap on the wrist, yet Nobuo gets the worst of it. I get that they probably had more freedom with the paper puppets, but still. Forgive the pun, but what the hell?

After Nobuo is sent to hell, Nozomi mourns him. And apparently her friends are mean enough to suggest he ran away from home because he didn’t want to date her? Huh? Nozomi doesn’t believe he’d do such a thing, though.

With Kokoro, she’s already got some new asshole to date. He tells her to wear a bikini instead of the one-piece she’s wearing, so she goes off to change, but is conflicted because the new black curse mark on her chest will be revealed if she wears it. #FirstWorldBitchProblems

And that’s it.

There’s not much more to say about this stupid episode other than, holy shit, guys, LOOK AT THIS POSTER.

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TATANIC!! DIRECTED BY HIROSHI WATANAHE! WHAT. IS. THIS?! Do they even have the right to use that image? Because that is very obviously a watered down version of the real poster and those are very obviously images of Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet.

This doesn’t even make sense as a joke. This series came out in 2008. Titanic came out in 1997. I don’t understand.

Hiroshi WatanaBE directed Three Vessels, but I still fail to make the connection as to what’s happening here. Is it an in-joke? Am I missing something? What’s going on?

Rating: 2/10 Score purely for the cool hell torture.


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Animating Halloween | Hell Girl: Three Vessels Episode 11 – Blotted Page Review

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Plot: Kamisaka has recently found a surge of popularity in his novel, Skyscraper’s Shadow, but not for good reasons. People are connecting the story in his book to the circumstances of a string of recent murders. The tides turn when the murderer, a teenage boy, is caught and directly blames the book for inspiring him. Kamisaka’s life spirals after that. What could possibly help things now?

Breakdown: This episode is incredibly on-point and adds a new spin to Hell Girl’s formula – There isn’t just one client/target today. There are FOUR.

But before we discuss that aspect, let’s talk about the topic of focus today. Yes, we’re exploring that fun, fun subject of ‘I’m not to blame for my actions. The media is. Damn TV shows, movies, comics, books and video games!’

While the plot of Kamisaka’s book is never really explained, we can surmise from the title and some excerpts that it has some part that involves a person being killed by having a weight tied to their ankles and then them being forcibly pulled off of the building as the weight is dropped off the side. That’s what the real murderer does, anyway.

Kamisaka’s book isn’t the only thing given blame as horror movies, violent video games and aggressive manga were also noted as being found in the murderer’s home, but the book is the main thing being given focus. In fact, a character later notes that, apparently, the murderer, Hiroto, said that if he blamed the book his sentence would be less severe. I’m not sure if someone told him that or if that’s just his personal belief, but there it is.

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I would say there’s obviously no truth to that, but I know the world I live in….Can we get a tally on how many times video games and the like have been blamed for turning people into rapists and murderers or is the number simply too high? Likewise, can we get a tally on how many times people have proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that they DON’T DO THAT? Oh that number’s too high too? Rats.

Kamisaka’s life is damaged quite a bit by these allegations. He loses his movie deal, his coworkers start giving him a hard time, he can’t go home because his house is swarmed with press and one publication even frames his words from an interview like he condones violence and seemingly has no problem with what the murderer did in his book’s name.

He seemingly takes some responsibility for what happened, which is why he resigns himself to using Hell Correspondence near the end, but he usually stuck by what he was saying the entire episode which was that he was just writing what he wanted to write and the murderer was just doing what he wanted to do.

Client #2 is a reporter named Sumi Asaba. She interviewed Kamisaka about the incidents and intended on writing a fair article about what he said. However, her editor in chief had different ideas and created the slanderous article I mentioned before. She feels deeply guilty about what happened and is enraged by her boss.

Client #3 is Yui Michio, the sister of the first victim. She wants to learn who the proper target of her hatred should be, so she went to Tokyo to speak with the murderer and Kamisaka to make her decision. Whoever she settled on would be the person she’d enter into Hell Correspondence. After speaking with both Kamisaka and Sumi, she feels Kamisaka is innocent and Hiroto needs to die.

After the three of them meet, they basically create a hell pact. All three of them will send three people in relation to this whole mess to hell. They’ll enter the names at the same time and pull the strings at the same time.

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Yui gets the ‘honor’ of targeting Hiroto since she has the strongest vendetta against him.

Sumi targets her editor, also claiming that doing so will bring the newspaper’s company down since it can’t seem to survive without him. That’s a bit extreme to note, considering you’d be ruining dozens or hundreds of lives from making them lose their jobs but okay.

So, who’s left for Kamisaka to target? His nameless friend whose only real sin was turning his back on him after shit started turning bad. The Wiki page for this episode even only describes him as Kamisaka’s fair-weather friend. I mean, don’t get me wrong, the guy is a bit of a prick, but I feel like they should have written a more deserving target for who was essentially the main character here.

In a bit of a cool moment we see all three of them simultaneously entering the names, getting the dolls, pulling the strings and watching the three dolls all vanish and tell them their grievances shall be avenged.

The hell torture this time around is basically the same for all of them – being thrown off of a skyscraper in various ways. Hiroto gets his big moment of irony in being forced over by having a barbell tied to his ankles and then the barbell is thrown off. The editor guy has acid painted on his feet, forcing him to accidentally jump. Finally, the fair-weather friend is forced off by Ai.

After the deed is done, the trio decide to have a drink together. As Kamisaka goes to grab the beverages, he suddenly vanishes. He’s been sent to hell by Hell Girl client #4.

As Kamisaka is riding in the ferry, he learns that Hiroto’s mother banished him because she blamed him for turning her son into a murderer. He asks what will change from banishing him and Ai mentions that his friend asked the same question when Kamisaka sent him to hell. Additionally, Yuzuki who is also here existing, said something very similar when she was watching the trio get their dolls.

In a very unique shot, we see four candles being lit in the end screen as opposed to the singular one we almost always get, and Kamisaka’s flame is snuffed out.

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This entire episode was very well done. The motives were good, for three of the clients at least (I can forgive the mother. She’s grieving and needs someone to blame. However, I really don’t think Kamisaka had nearly enough reason to send ‘fair-weather friend’ to hell.) the story was believable and it had an overall good message for this entire series, which is kinda what Hajime was trying to convey the whole time in season one.

Nothing is really gained or lost in a lot of Hell Girl stories. Sure, many times the string pull saves the client’s life or someone else’s or it at least stops the target from tormenting anyone else, but just as many times it’s only because they had it coming to them. Pulling the string doesn’t fix anything in these circumstances, it just makes the clients feel better.

I feel bad for all of the clients, and I felt especially bad for Kamisaka…until the very end. It’s hard to feel bad for him when he sent a guy to hell just for being an unreliable friend. It’s not even like they were BFFs or anything. He just seemed like a friendly coworker who made a few iffy comments about Kamisaka regarding the situation after his book was directly blamed. Like I mentioned, he has so little presence that he doesn’t even get a name, yet he was sent to hell. Kamisaka kinda deserved that ferry ride after that.

Final note, and this may seem goofy to point out after all this, but what the hell was up with the glasses in this episode? Kamisaka had nonsensical glasses where the temples just…stopped. There were no earpieces. The temples just stopped about two inches from his ears. Also, the editor guy has weird glasses too where it looks like they have blinders but also gaps right by the lenses.

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Now that I think about it, literally everyone in this episode has glasses on. Kamisaka, Hiroto, Yui, Sumi, the editor, the fair-weather friend – the only person who didn’t have glasses on was the victim. Is it because books are involved in the plot? What is going on?

Rating: 8.5/10


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Animating Halloween | Hell Girl: Three Vessels Episode 10 – The Goldfish in the Mirror Review

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Plot: Kazuya’s parents are constantly at odds with each other. His mother is obsessed with being viewed as beautiful and is addicted to buying new elegant kimonos. His father is pretty much done with her. He detests that she’s constantly spending their money for clothing and usually ignores her or berates her whenever he’s home. Kazuya’s mother really only gets the adoration she desires from a kimono salesman named Saito who is taking advantage of her for profit.

Breakdown: I feel like this story shouldn’t have been a Hell Girl episode, but, on the other hand, if Hell Girl really existed, I could totally see something like this happening.

Kazuya’s family life is rather sad. He’s taken up a part-time job as a paper boy (apparently those still exist in Japan?) which is how Yuzuki, girl of a thousand nothings, knows him. He didn’t take this job to make extra money for himself, in fact his family is rather wealthy and he gets quite a lot whenever his father gives him money. The reason he’s taken the job is to help cover his mother’s kimono buying habit.

His parents have very obvious problems. His mother doesn’t tend to do much housework or mothering, choosing instead to spend her days fretting over her appearance and being buttered up by the kimono salesman, Saito. She still obviously loves her son and husband, but she’s off in her own little delusional world where everything is centered on her beauty and she seems painfully unaware that her husband doesn’t give a crap about her.

His father also seems to genuinely loves Kazuya, but he’s clearly fed up with his wife. Even though he definitely comes off like a bit of a prick, it’s hard not to sympathize with him. His wife acts like a doting housewife, but she neglects doing household chores because she’s too busy preening herself, and she won’t stop spending inordinate amounts of money on kimonos.

Kazuya believes all of the problems in his parents’ relationship stem from the kimono salesman, Saito, who is admittedly a prick but also obviously not the main problem here. Kazuya clearly doesn’t understand the complex issues involved with such severe marriage problems. Makes sense given he’s barely a teenager, but still. He’s a bit too naive, especially considering that he seems pretty mature for his age. He fully understands the weight of the decision resting on the string pull and spends quite a lot of time debating whether or not he should do it, yet he can’t see that sending his target to hell will likely do nothing.

He not only believes that Saito is the main problem in his parents’ relationship, but he also gives every bit of money he gets from his job and from his father to his mother by sneaking it into her pocketbook. She believes the money is from his father and that he’s discreetly trying to tell her to buy more kimonos…..

This being Hell Girl, of course he pulls the string, and, sadly but predictably enough, it fixes approximately nothing. No one even seems to notice the dude is gone, and another equally slimy kimono salesman starts buttering up Kazuya’s mother soon enough. The whole situation is very depressing because Kazuya just accepts his fate even though his actions didn’t help a damn thing. He even shows Hone Onna a book on hell and flippantly states that he’s going there someday.

I just don’t understand the point of this episode. All it is is sad and a little stupid. Nothing really happens….Nothing changes. Kazuya’s now set to hell and he didn’t even get anything out of the ordeal. Hell Girl simply couldn’t have helped in his situation. Saito wasn’t the problem, nor was sending him to hell cathartic, and sending either of his parents to hell would’ve probably just been damaging to his life, so…..why is this a Hell Girl episode?

Not even the hell torture is that interesting. It’s just the hell team parroting back Saito’s own skeevy manipulative words to him and assaulting him with goldfish. The only cool thing that happened was Ai riding a golden dragon….I realize I probably made that sound much more entertaining than it was – it wasn’t.

In another series, this setup would actually be pretty good. Maybe it would show the kid dealing with misplaced anger, trying to help them see their problems and try to fix them, and either helping them reach a healthier place together or accepting that it simply can’t work but also knowing that it’s not the end of the world.

But this isn’t another series, it’s Hell Girl.

Rating: 3/10


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Animating Halloween | Hell Girl: Three Vessels Episode 9 – Stray Inari Review

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Plot: Kaede Inao was a girl everyone overlooked until she took up the art of fortune-telling, claiming she was guided by a mystical fox called Gon-san. One day, she’s approached by a girl who wants Kaede to curse someone else for her. When the curse seemingly works, Kaede becomes quite popular in class since everyone has people they want to curse. However, some people want more malicious curses to be laid on their enemies….

Breakdown: This was quite the screwed up little episode, especially the ending.

I do feel a little bad for Kaede, but she’s kinda bringing all of this upon herself. It does suck to be overlooked and alone, but she believes she’s doing terrible things all to gain attention and she’s perfectly fine with it.

She does struggle a little bit more when someone straight up asks her to kill someone, but, honestly, she doesn’t have too much of an internal debate about this. She becomes so determined to kill her target that, when her cursing fails, she calls on Hell Girl to do the job for her. And she’s, surprisingly, one of the few who actually pulls the string immediately without even bothering to listen to Ai’s instructions or warning. She doesn’t even have a vendetta against this dude, which should make her exempt from Hell Girl’s services to begin with, but whatever.

What is her grand plan after this? She has to assume that once word gets out that she can curse people to death that at least a few others will want this too. Remember, this is the world of Hell Girl where you can guarantee one out of about three people wants someone dead. Hell Girl only works once. You’re on your own after that. Is she going to become a serial killer now?

The real reason this episode is messed up is the absolute ending. The girl who asked Kaede to kill someone claimed that the target was a stalker who was harassing her all the time. However, at the end, she reveals that this wasn’t true.

She just wanted him dead because, and I quote, he was ‘disgusting.’ We never knew anything about this guy besides his name and what he looked like. He looked like a rather normal college kid. This psycho bitch was so, so, SO vehement that Kaede kill this innocent guy for absolutely no reason that she blackmailed Kaede by saying she’d spread the word all over school of her being a fake if she didn’t do it. What. A. Bitch.

And she’s tickled pink that the dude was killed. No remorse whatsoever. She’s proud of what she caused. She’s even introducing Kaede to more people who want others killed, which I predicted. What a horrible person. I hope there’s a future episode where this bitch ends up being a target, but I doubt it.

It’s also interesting to note that this girl contacted Hell Girl about the guy before she went to Kaede, but she didn’t submit the request. Meaning she was able to access the site……She was able to access Hell Correspondence because she thought this guy was so disgusting for some reason that it made her hate him enough to allow her to see it….Wow…just…wow. Also, what a wuss. Do your own dirty work if you’re that evil. Geez.

All in all, this was a good episode with some glaring flaws, but I do agree with Hone Onna. Kaede was a bit too stupid for my tastes. Agreeing to cursing was bad enough, but agreeing to kill was another ballgame entirely. Sure, some people would like her for it, but 1) they’d only like her because of what she could do for them, 2) She’d never be able to do it again, unless she did just murder with her own two hands, and 3) a vast majority of people would be afraid of her, not like her. This is actually depicted when Akie suffers from a minor accident and she’s paralyzed with fear that Kaede cursed her. Lest we forget the power that those kinds of rumors have. Look what it did to poor Takuma – and he didn’t even do anything to deserve it.

….Oh yeah, Yuzuki’s in this episode too, but again she does nothing. We don’t even get the magical girl transformation today because Kaede pulled the string so quickly and there was no hell torture, thank god. It did make me question why Hell Girl is allowed to show up in the flesh when she’s giving the doll over, but when she’s executing the hell torture she needs to use Yuzuki’s body. It’s weird.

Rating: 7.5/10


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Animating Halloween | Hell Girl: Three Vessels Episode 7 – Liar Review

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Plot: The new kid in town, Atsushi, seems like a great guy. He’s good at sports, the girls love him and he’s even spending his free time taking care of his ailing mother. However, his friend Washizu discovers that he’s living in a world of lies constructed by his mother.

Breakdown: This episode is a bit tricky, and the ending might make it seem like it’s stupid, but I really think it’s the best episode of the season so far.

Atsushi is in a scarily realistic abuse scenario. He tells people that his father is very successful and is working a lot out in the city, so he’s never really home much. His mother is very sick, and he has to immediately leave his friends after school to shop for dinner and care for her.

However, the reality is that he was told to say those things by his mother. The true story is that his father abandoned them (???? It’s not entirely clear what happened to him, but the strongest implication is that he left them.) and his mother is a terribly abusive lazy bitch. All she does the entire day is watch TV and munch on junk food. His mother told him to lie about their situation to avoid people gossiping about them or thinking she’s a terrible mother. She demands that Atsushi immediately come home after school and do everything around the house for her. She doesn’t work, she doesn’t try to make money or clean or anything, she can’t even pay rent. She just tells Atsushi to weasel rent money from their grandfather.

If he doesn’t follow her orders to a tee, she beats him and guilt trips him by claiming he’s betraying her just like his father. Then she cries and whines and tells him he’s all she has left, which is some crazy accurate abuse. Yell at the victim for doing no wrong, beat them then make THEM feel bad about the situation by playing the victim and crying and then trap them into staying by making them think you need them. It is really scary how accurately they portrayed that.

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Washizu becomes quick friends with Atsushi, but becomes worried about him when he starts suspecting that he’s lying about his situation. His suspicions are confirmed when Atsushi tells him the truth, but when Washizu starts suggesting they tell their teacher and friends about it, he reneges and tells him to forget everything he said.

Here’s where things start getting tricky. Despite Washizu claiming he hasn’t told a soul about Atsushi’s situation, rumors start spreading around school and the neighborhood, which makes Atsushi’s mom upset. She eventually starts going out on the town, to put it lightly, while acting like she’s allow to, even under the lie, because sick people can’t be expected to sit at home all day. Her night time activities make the rumors even worse, obviously.

Washizu tries again to convince Atsushi to tell their teacher and friends the truth. Look, I get his motives, I do, but what is telling the truth going to do? What is his teacher supposed to do? All it’s going to do is get him beaten, people whispering incessantly and he’ll be pitied. I doubt they’d be able to get him removed from the home or anything. He’s nearly an adult, and his mother never seems to leave visible marks on him.

During the conversation, Washizu discovers that Atsushi has a straw doll. Knowing the rumors about Hell Girl, he tries to convince him to not use the doll and to just tell the truth. It’s not so much about not killing his mother, oddly, but moreso because he knows of the price of using Hell Girl’s services and he doesn’t want Atsushi to damn his soul for someone like his mother.

Atsushi demands he leave the house and stay out of his business, so Washizu decides to get further proof that Atsushi’s mother is such a horrible person that she’s not worth going to hell for.

I kinda get his view, but it’s also totally backwards from what Hell Girl is all about. Typically, if you find out your target is a worse person than you initially thought, it just makes you more determined to pull the string. Most people don’t want to pull the string on targets who are good people.

One night, Washizu brings Atsushi out to a seedy part of town where his mother has supposedly been sleeping around. They spot her walking out of a bar with a random guy and putting her mouth all over his mouth. He’s apprehensive, however, because he’s heard rumors that she has a kid. Atsushi’s mother brushes it off and says she has no child and they continue about their barhopping.

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Content that he’s finally convinced Atsushi of what a terrible person his mother is and how he should just stop lying for her, Washizu is shocked to see him pull out the doll and pull the string in a fit of rage.

Stopping myself right there, let me back up. Again, remember Washizu is the only one who could’ve started those rumors. Weird, right? What does he gain out of starting the rumors? Nothing, really, besides sewing the seeds for Atsushi to be honest since, why bother continuing to lie when everyone is already starting to believe the rumor?

That’s not all that’s weird. He’s seemingly kinda manipulative. In the first conversation he had with Atsushi about his home life, Washizu put all of the blame on his mother. In the second conversation, after he discovered the straw doll, he started also blaming Atsushi seemingly to make him…feel better? He legitimately said “I mean, you have some fault too. Since you listened to her and lied. If I were you, I wouldn’t have.” I nearly had to pause, because I hate these types of people who say shit like this. Hypothetical bullshit based on nothing.

If you’ve never been in someone’s situation before, don’t act like you’re better than them and would never do the supposedly shameful or bad thing they’re doing. All it does is make you look like a self-righteous jerk who can’t actually sympathize.

Finally, when Washizu showed Atsushi the scene at the bar, he had a weird smirk on his face. Why? I don’t know. He even laughed when he told Atsushi “Got it? She’s that kind of person.” Atsushi literally just heard his mother verbally disown him in order to have a better chance at getting laid, and he’s laughing like it’s some victorious moment.
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So, anyway, Washizu was the target.

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Yeah, I was surprised too, but not as much as you’d think I was. Throughout the first half of the episode, I was pretty convinced it was the mother. However, when they were having the second conversation, I actually gasped because the way Washizu was talking and the fact that they weren’t discussing how the rumors got started made me realize that Washizu was likely to be the target. I wasn’t too sure about it, but I was convinced enough to not really be all that surprised when he showed up in the hell torture.

The hell torture this time around actually isn’t goofy for a change. Washizu is hanging over a bottomless pit, hanging on by a branch. The hell team are all collected above. Washizu yells at them to help him, but despite saying they’ll get him help they just stand there telling him to hang on. After a bit, they lecture him on staying out of other people’s business, claiming he just wanted praise and wasn’t actually taking Atsushi’s feelings into consideration and just caused more and more problems for him.

It’s implied that he’s a hypocrite because he yells to them that they’re acting all nice when they’re just enjoying his pain even though he might have been doing the same thing to Atsushi (See: The weird shadowy smirk) Also, like the hell team are doing here, pretending like he’s trying to help but is actually not doing anything to help.

When you view the situation from this angle, the suggestion of telling the teacher and the other students makes more sense. Like I said, realistically, doing that wouldn’t really help him at all – it would just piss his mother off and make him a pity case for everyone else. Case and point, just the rumor going around of the truth made his life miserable and pissed his mother off.

One can definitely argue that his mother deserved that familiar ferry ride way more than Washizu, in fact Atsushi visited the website before Washizu did anything, but the way I figure it his life was manageably miserable before Washizu butted his nose in. After that, everything just got worse and worse. No one was harassing him or anything, but people were gossiping all around him and people were avoiding him.

I feel like a part of Washizu did have Atsushi’s best interests in mind, but he either went about it horribly or really was just in it for his own pleasure, ultimately. It’s honestly hard to tell. There was one moment where he was alone and thinking to himself that he had to help Atsushi, so I think he was at least partially genuine, but it’s unclear.

You ever hear of that philosophy that no one ever does anything completely selflessly? Like, even if you’re donating to charity anonymously, you’re still doing it because it makes you feel good? I kinda feel like that was in play with him. Like he got pleasure from watching Atsushi suffer, but he still told himself it was for Atsushi’s sake and may not have even really registered his own motives while he was doing these things. It’s something to think about.

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As for Atsushi’s life after the string pull….well, it’s actually really sad and kinda scary.

Atsushi basically has a complete psychological breakdown after this. He starts living in a complete delusion of the lie. He acts as if his made-up successful father is finally spending more time at home, so he’s making a nice fancy meal for the whole family, which his bitch of a mother obviously doesn’t appreciate. When she complains about the meal he’s cooking, he throws the hot skillet of meat at the wall, and with one of the craziest expressions I’ve ever seen in Hell Girl, he suggests that all three of them go out to eat. He’s acting so nuts and so broken that even his mother is stunned and afraid. I honestly believed the episode would end with him killing his mother, but I guess his story just ends with him being trapped in a delusion to avoid the pain of his real life.

The end.

Goddamn, that was a heavily layered depressing episode. It’s also frustrating because the one person who deserved punishment didn’t get any.

Did you see what I meant about how you can easily interpret this episode as being stupid, but when you get down to it, it’s really not? I can still totally see why people would think it’s stupid, given that the mother is still alive and well, a seemingly nice kid ended up in hell and our main character ended up going bananas and was marked for hell, but I actually think this is the best episode of season three so far.

It has a realistic and sad conflict, a likable main character, a hateable would-be target who didn’t go overboard with how terrible she was, and a red herring /w plot twisty target swap at the end. Not to mention how terrible the episode as a whole makes you feel, and not in that cheap ‘all humans are scum’ way. This was just sad because it was bad circumstances. If Washizu really was genuine, then he just chose a horrible way to try to help Atsushi. And Atsushi was just a victim the entire time. Hell, you could even dig up some sympathy for Atsushi’s mom if her husband really did leave her……Not a whole lot of sympathy, she’s still a shitty person, but still. Even the hell torture was a lot better this time.

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All in all, I really like this episode, even if it does bum me out that nothing happened to the mother. She was literally the cause of all of this. Something, anything, should have happened to her in the end. I guess now she has to live with a psychotic son who may be so disturbed that he could one day kill her….that’s something.

……Oh yeah, Yuzuki was in this episode. Like always, she just watched all of this happen from afar. The only time she did anything was when she offered to take Atsushi to a vegetable market for more affordable vegetables and we get confirmation that she does indeed live alone since her parents both work a lot of hours. I don’t quite understand why that automatically means she lives alone…Just because they’re not home often doesn’t mean they don’t live there. Or do they just live somewhere else because of their work?

Anyway, I’m already so sick of the transformation sequence that I’ve decided to just fast forward through it whenever it pops up. It’s not like a magical girl transformation sequence or anything. Those are fun. I can sit through those recycled scenes all the time. The Hell Girl transformation is just a lot of Yuzuki yelling in pain and boring shit happening.

Rating: 8.5/10


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