Hell Girl: Two Mirrors (Hell Girl Season 2) Full Series Review

Rating: 7.5/10

Plot: The second season of the horror anthology, Hell Girl. Ai continues to do her job, taking requests on her website to send people to hell and marking the clients for hell (when they die their natural death) after she’s done the deed. Day after day, request after request comes in, but she starts to falter in her duties when she meets a boy whose story becomes eerily similar to her own.

Breakdown: Continuing on right from where we left off in season one, Two Mirrors continues exploring the cases of Ai’s clients while also including new additions to the formula and the cast of characters.

Ren and Hone Onna, who originally were really only used for hell torture shenanigans, are also used as dolls in this season, relieving Wanyuudou of having to do it every time. Why he was the only one used in season one, I don’t know.

The Hell Team is also being far more involved in cases than they have been in the past. Before, they pretty much laid back and just waited for their client to pull the string. Sometimes they’d get involved, if the circumstances of the case were wonky, but for the most they wouldn’t even really appear until the final scenes. I really liked this change because it allowed the main cast to actually be, oddly enough, the main cast. It’s hard to really connect with the cast if most of what we see of them is brief glimpses where they’re playing dressup and tormenting targets.

They still do that, of course, but we get so much more of them actively watching and talking about cases, and numerous times they actually get directly involved, which is obviously a very risky move. They’re not supposed to have any influence on whether or not characters pull the string, but there are a few times where their presence and interference has seemingly affected matters either for the better or worse.

For example, in one episode Ren accidentally triggers a sequence of events – events that otherwise likely wouldn’t have happened at all – that lead to the client pulling the string. In another episode, it seems like the Hell Team, including Ai, are trying to protect an old man who is their current target from being sent to hell because he was very innocent and had noble causes in what he was doing that was earning the ire of the client.

It definitely makes the stories more interesting to have the Hell Team even just commenting on the situation in the background, but it adds so much more when they get emotionally invested and even see themselves being reflected in the stories of the clients.

Speaking of the Hell Team, we also finally get all of their full backstories – Hone Onna’s being the most fleshed out and interesting, but all of the stories being pretty good.

With good additions come bad, however, because this season also introduces us to Kikuri – a little girl with massive purple bug eyes who is basically irritation incarnate. Her true identity isn’t revealed until the final episode, but her existence still doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. Even knowing her true identity, which is confusing in its own right, she neither needs to exist in this story nor does she need to be nearly as annoying as she is.

The individual stories, as you can imagine, vary quite a bit in their quality, being an anthology. It’s really hard to find any anthology where nearly all of the stories in the set are equally as good, and Hell Girl is never the exception to this rule.

There were only a couple of outright stinkers, there were some shining gems in the lot, but even the moderate/mediocre episodes never usually bored me.

A disheartening theme throughout most of the stories this time around did start weighing on me, and that’s utter depression. Part of the appeal of this series is watching horrible people be sent to hell in comeuppance for their actions towards the client. It’s always bittersweet considering the client is also literally marked for hell as a payment for this service, but many times the client’s life is made much better or they have a better personal outlook towards the future. Some instances during season one even seemed to bend reality or time or what have you to make the client’s life a little better after pulling the string.

It’s essentially a problem that was plaguing Hajime and Tsugumi’s mission as well, because they, or moreso Hajime, were always trying to stop clients from pulling the string. They thought using the service was wrong, even if the targets deserved it or the clients really had no other options – sometimes in a life or death manner. Hajime basically had the catchphrase of “Revenge is bad and that’s that.”

It was difficult to really root for them too much because it always seemed like it was actually for the better for the client to pull the string instead of continuing to live the way they were. Sometimes, they had other options and means of escape and it was more or less just a ‘they deserved it’ type of deal, but many times it seemed like it wasn’t the worst thing to just send the target to hell.

Yes, this sounds terrible because it’s pretty much saying it was difficult to root for people who were, plainly, trying to stop murders, but that’s the way it’s been framed for us. The writers had to go to ridiculous lengths to create a situation that actually supported their viewpoint. It involved an unrealistically perfect woman being sent to hell by a random psycho just….because. In order to avoid writing a reason why, they immediately killed the client off. And, as you can imagine, even that wasn’t strong in their favor because, being honest, Hell Girl’s rules should have prevented that situation from ever happening.

This season would have actually worked more for them because so many of these stories are just flatout depressing. Many are very well-written, despite the downer…everything, but that doesn’t change the fact that I wrote ‘depressing’ way too many times in my individual episode reviews. There’s even an episode that seems specifically designated to just say ‘Humanity’s nothing by evil scum, has been since the dawn of time….but some of them are okay a little, I guess.’

Our very first episode, in fact, gives us a bit of a bait and switch because, while it does go back to business as usual with a horrible person tormenting a young girl, it’s later revealed that the target wasn’t the only one tormenting her – the other being her only friend – so she basically sent that person to hell, damned herself to hell and didn’t get full revenge nor end the problem.

Not every single episode is a complete downer, some even have kinda-ish happy endings, but a good chunk of them are borderline heartbreaking.

One of the worst examples was Tragedy of the V where the client is a serial killer, though he’s doing it out of vengeance for his lost family. The only family he has left is a daughter who is lost in a coma, seemingly forever. He’s deathly ill, which is why he resorts to Hell Girl for his final target, and accepts his fate after he pulls the string.

However, as horrible fate would have it, and by ‘horrible fate’ I mean Kikuri being a bitch, his daughter wakes up from her coma immediately afterward, sending him spiraling in a personal hell, realizing his horrible actions and what he’s done to his daughter. This ending wasn’t just depressing for him, it was really depressing for his daughter. She had been in a coma for years and now has to cope with learning her family, barring her father, is dead, that her father turned into a serial killer to avenge them (and not even really avenge them, but moreso avenge their honor because the targets were assholes who were goofing around on TV as they filmed the wreckage of the house his family died in) and that he’s knocking on death’s door himself.

I think the writers actually realized how much they’ve shifted into just being sad sacks this season because the hell tortures this season were sparse. The ones we actually got were typically very awesome and creative, so that’s good, but part of the fun of watching this series is seeing how the Hell Team gets creative with their torments before taking the target to hell, so it’s a bit disappointing that we didn’t get to see that very often.

Speaking of Hajime and Tsugumi, though, I was disappointed that they barely got so much as a cameo this season. Hajime wrote a book about Hell Girl that a Detective, Meshiai, uses to learn about Hell Link, but it’s also implied that he died some time between seasons one and two. I mentioned in my review of season one that Hajime never appears again, and I was a little right because he only appears in a very short flashback as Meshiai reads the book. However, Tsugumi shows up very briefly to convince Meshiai that the story is true and heavily implies that Hajime is dead.

Tsugumi only looks about one year or so older than she did in season one, so what could have happened to Hajime in the meantime remains a mystery. Tsugumi does reappear in season three, now grown into a woman, and she gets a brief few shots in season four, but we never learn of Hajime’s fate as far as I know.

Tsugumi is horribly underutilized. She could have been so much more important than what she was in season two. All she gets is literally one scene, that is actually badly written, in one episode and then she’s gone.

Before I expound upon that, let’s explore the overarching plotline for this season; the story of Takuma Kurebashi – the ‘devil’s child.’

….Oh god…Where do I even start with this kid?

First of all, Takuma’s story isn’t really overarching throughout the entire series. He first appears in episode 14, which sets the stage for all of the other horrible dominoes to fall, but doesn’t appear again until episode 22, which is the start of the rest of his story until the end of the series. Yup. He gets the last five episodes all to himself.

Second of all, he’s a really likable kid, which makes watching him suffer so much all the more painful. He did contact Hell Girl, but when he realized exactly what her services entailed, he respectfully declined and decided, instead, to let the cops handle his problem (Spoiler alert – they don’t.)

He’s always very kind and respectful of people, even when they treat him like garbage. When he’s hearing whispers in the mall, he hums to himself and ignores it, only to cry when he’s all alone. When things start getting worse, he holes himself up in his house and does disturbing things like lay in his overflowing backtub in the dark singing the Seven Sending song to himself.

He’s very non-confrontational, which might be why, when he does become confrontational, he’s pretty bad at it…..almost comically bad….I’m sorry, I still can’t get over what he did in the finale. It was just a gem of nonsense.

Third, I can’t even begin to convey to you how much horrible garbage this kid goes through over the course of this show. It was seriously getting hard to watch after a while, and it was hard enough just in his first episode. Do you know that TV Trope ‘The Woobie’? If they had an award show for Woobies, he would clean up.

Rarely have I ever seen a character go through so much shit in succession with really no bright spots along the way – and if there were bright spots, they were snuffed out within 24 hours. I’m not exaggerating, by the way. If he’d get a friend or even someone trying to clear his name, they’d be taken to hell, die in an accident, savagely assaulted into a coma, beaten and kidnapped or driven to suicide and left in a coma all within about 24 hours of either meeting them or hearing good news about something they’re doing for him.

I have a master list of all of the bad things that happened to Takuma over the course of the show in the final episode review.

If you thought the individual stories were getting to be too depressing to enjoy, you certainly won’t have a single drop of enjoyment watching Takuma’s extended plotline. You’re not meant to, obviously, but it drags on for way too long. The kid gets six episodes of torment – nearly a quarter of the entire series – suffering from one blow after the next, and usually doing it all alone. It, honestly, could have been cut down by at least two episodes and have the same effect. Hajime and Tsugumi’s story spanned many episodes in little pieces before getting their main focus, and the show continuously inserted them into regular episodes, even if they barely did anything. All of this happening at once, barring the gap between episodes 14 and 22, is just too much to pile on.

Nearly everyone either shuns, hates or is terrified of this poor kid who did literally nothing to deserve it. He’s even made the scapegoat for tons of Hell Girl clients in order to avoid suspicions being directed towards them for the disappearances they’ve caused.

Not even that makes much sense because, outside of this particular storyline, no client has ever been charged or convicted of a Hell Girl disappearance because the service never leaves a trace behind. That’s partly why the service is so appealing to many people. It’s basically the perfect murder. All you need to do is pull a string on a doll and they’re gone for good. There’s no evidence to lead investigators towards accusing the client, considering both the doll and the target disappear upon the string being pulled, and the suggestion of Hell Girl is just laughable to investigators, so it just seems like these bastards are blaming Takuma for no reason.

After all of that happens to him, none of the people who actually deserved to be punished got any punishment. The guy who started the ‘devil’s child’ rumors is sent to hell, but that’s about it – and that was in episode 14 so that was just the tip of the iceberg. Even if the ultimate message is to forgive and let go of anger, at least a little cosmic karma would’ve been nice to see. But nope. Not a single bit of punishment for them outside of being damned to hell once they die naturally.

It’s just such a hard pill to swallow. Nearly every client in this show has to suffer, but they at least get some reprieve when they pull the string, and they don’t go through half the crap Takuma does. This is one kid who even refused getting the doll and refused to lash out on those wronging him for so long, until the very end (and even then, he doesn’t do much) and he gets the bare minimum in return.

Coming back to Tsugumi’s role, she easily could have taken Hotaru’s place in Takuma’s story. Hotaru is the younger sister of Detective Meshiai, who has been assigned to the rash of mysterious disappearances in the town. She serves as Takuma’s one longer-staying confidant (And by that I mean, again, 24 hours) throughout his arc, but her role easily could have been given to Tsugumi. She already knows of Hell Girl’s story, she’s an established and beloved character, she would have plenty of reason to befriend this kid and try to help him out, and she would be able to better convince Meshiai of the legitimacy of Hell Girl. She could also make for a good big sister character if they aged her up a little more.

But nope. Kikuri, for some reason, calls her out to just briefly tell Meshiai to believe Hajime’s words from the book, not even revealing who she is to him in order to give him much more of a reason to listen to her. Then she just up and leaves and we never see her again, this season anyway.

Great use of her character. Good job. I’m proud of you.

It’s a bit of a problem anyway because Hotaru’s not that great of a character. She has her ups and downs and she truly cares about Takuma, even though she barely knows him, but she’s also irritating and ends up betraying Takuma anyway – completely pointlessly even – just so she can play the role of Sentarou in this story.

As I touched upon in the plot synopsis, Takuma’s story is meant to be a reflection of Ai’s backstory, which puts her at odds. For most of the episodes, she and the Hell Team just sit by and watch over Takuma as all of these terrible things keep happening to him. He’s not a client, but they continue to visit him and follow his plight anyway. Things come to a head in the very last episode when he’s sent to hell via Hell Link and Ai has to ferry him away.

This is Ai’s big final test in her repentance. If she decides to go against the Master of Hell’s orders, she and her parents will be doomed to hell for all time. However, if she doesn’t, she’ll be allowing another innocent person to be wrongfully damned (literally) the same way she was 400 years ago.

The resolution to Ai’s story is pretty well done, even if the absolute ending is tainted by the third season. I wanted to view this in same light I originally viewed this season way back when I originally watched it, which was when I believed it was the final ending to Ai’s story, but I just can’t shake how it’s marred by the third season (and fourth) continuing on instead of letting it end here. Is Hell Girl really such a cash cow that they didn’t want to let it end, or was Ai’s character design really so appealing or notable that they didn’t want to introduce a new Hell Girl and gamble on her instead?

Neither the ending to her story nor Takuma’s is really great, though. Ai’s turnaround lacked strong emotional impact, which is disappointing given how emotional the ending to season one was, and Takuma’s was too cleanly scrubbed at the end, even with the implications in play. There’s just no way a kid who has gone through that much horrible stuff can just get up and move along happily like nothing happened. I’m glad he at least got a partially happy ending, but still.

Bottomline: This season got knocked down just half a point from it’s predecessor because it was harder to actually enjoy than season one, and the main plotline was just a little too drawn out and relentlessly upsetting than the storyline with Hajime and Tsugumi. There are many points where this season shines brighter than season one, and I’ve even stated that this season holds some of the best episodes of the franchise, but the problem areas drag it down a little too much to really keep it at the exact same level as season one.

You don’t even get to enjoy nearly as much poetic justice as you’re accustomed to due to the change in writing or tone or whatever they were going for. Even the best episodes, even the ones that do have sweet, sweet karma in them leave you feeling depressed. Not all shows, especially not Hell Girl, are designed to make you feel good, but 26 episodes worth? That’s pushing it.

I really needed Ai’s finale to be one big uplifting hurrah to make up for it all, even if it would have to be bittersweet, but it wasn’t. It was a good note, but it was also weighed down by bad. And, as much as I hate to take future seasons into consideration, even the good in the finale is tarnished just on the basis that it’s not the actual end for her.

I hope her actual finale in Fourth Twilight makes up for it, but all I’ve heard is terrible things about that season (it’s even earned a one star rating on THEM Anime Reviews – ouch.)

Additional Information and Notes: Hell Girl: Two Mirrors/Jigoku Shoujo: Futakomori was directed by Takahiro Omori, who also directed Koi Kaze, Baccano! and Durarara!! It was produced by Studio Deen and is currently licensed in North America by Sentai Filmworks, but it has yet to be dubbed in English.

Episodes: 26

Year: 2006 – 2007

Recommended Audience: Like the first season, the subject matter alone calls for a more mature audience, but, specifically, there are some brutal scenes involving people being boiled alive, beating a young girl to death with shovels, miscarriage caused by pushing a pregnant woman down stairs (though we never really see that, if I recall) a woman being shot in the neck with an arrow and more. You also have some iffy themes such as incest and rape appearing once or twice. There’s also some animal abuse and death, but not nearly as bad as some of the stories in the previous season. 15+

Hell Girl: Two Mirrors Episode 26 (FINALE) Indigo Dye Review

Plot: One last doll. One last red string pulled. Hotaru sends Takuma to hell in order to stop the cycle of revenge, but is this truly the end? Will Ai be forced to watch a child suffer through the same fate she did over 400 years ago, or will she find it within her heart to let go of her own anger, forgive those who wronged her and finally end the cycle of revenge?

Breakdown: Previously on “This Kid Can’t Catch a Fucking Break,” the defense squad viciously beat and kidnapped Detective Meshiai, who finally had some proof in clearing Takuma’s name in this whole ‘devil’s child’ and Hell Girl mess. A good chunk of the town, especially most people in the defense squad, had taken to using Hell Girl to make people disappear left and right and using Takuma as a scapegoat. The defense squad feared that suspicion would be placed back on them if Takuma was cleared, so they kidnapped and beat Meshiai unconscious, holding him in a shed, to prevent him from doing so.

Meanwhile, they set out to kill Takuma in order to end this whole fiasco once and for all.

Takuma wasn’t without a kind hand, however, as Hotaru found him and aided his escape. They took refuge in a shrine where Hotaru started reading the book about Hell Girl written by Hajime that Meshiai left behind. They learned of her horrible and familiar backstory from over 400 years ago and worried that they’d suffer the same fate as she did. Hotaru claimed that won’t happen and vowed to protect Takuma no matter what.

As bad luck would have it, and by ‘bad luck’ I mean Kikuri being a bitch again, Kikuri lead the defense squad to the shrine where Hotaru and Takuma were hiding. They took them, tied them up and lead them into a boat in a lake. They tied large rocks to them and smashed a hole in the boat before pushing it out into the water, waiting for it to sink and the kids to inevitably drown.

It looked like it was the end of them until Meshiai drove up, having escaped from the shed. He scared away the defense squad by brandishing his gun and rescued the kids in the nick of time.

Just when things finally looked like they might get better, as they’re driving home, Meshiai suddenly vanished – he had been whisked to hell by one of the only people in the defense squad who hadn’t used Hell Girl’s services yet.

The car crashed into a ditch, but the kids were unharmed. Still, Hotaru was devastated by the loss of her brother and they had no clue what to do next as they walked home. Suddenly, Hotaru stopped in the middle of the road and used her brother’s laptop to access Hell Link – she intends on sending Takuma to hell in hopes of ending this once and for all.

And now….

At this point, Hotaru’s annoying, an idiot and a bitch. Just thought I’d catch you up.

It’s remarkable how quickly her character went downhill. Initially, she was pretty cool – shaping up to be an even better detective than her brother. She also sympathized a lot with Takuma. Then she got kinda annoying because she didn’t believe Takuma’s story about Hell Girl at all, but that’s understandable. Then she was back to good again with helping Takuma escape and hide. Then she was back to annoying in how she acted after they got taken. That’s also understandable, to a degree, considering they were about to kill her, but it doesn’t mean she wasn’t being annoying flailing around in the sinking boat when told not to and knocking Takuma into the water during the rescue because she was still flailing. Then we’re back to good again as they drive home. And then it’s down to full idiot with a dash of bitch when she says she has to send Takuma to hell.

And she does it. Not even five minutes into the episode, counting the OP, she’s demanding the doll and immediately pulls the string even though;

1) Her one goal this entire time was protecting Takuma,

2) She should know that killing Takuma won’t stop the town from continuing to use Hell Link or even just being assholes,

3) She was complaining that Hell Link was causing nothing but suffering and shouldn’t exist, yet here she is calling Hell Girl and even rushing to get Takuma gone,

4) She’s immediately damning him to hell when just flatout killing him would give him a shot at heaven, and,

5) Doing this also won’t bring her brother back.

But it’s okay, because she intends on killing herself immediately afterwards.

Yeah, that’s her ‘redemption’ I guess. Just that she is going to ensure Takuma’s not alone in hell and will follow immediately. Again, I must reiterate – hell is hell. Not a place where you pal around with other people. If something in hell is making you happy, you’re either a demon, Satan himself or not in hell.

She does apologize, but that’s of little comfort or use.

And that’s the last we technically see of Hotaru. She attempts suicide via drowning, doesn’t die but ends up in a coma that she never wakes up from.

Great redemption arc.

HGTMEP26FINALESCREEN3
I find it funny that it doesn’t look like she’s even a little wet. It’s like she just passed out on the shore.

But we have to address the most pressing question we’ve had over the course of the series – Can this kid catch a fucking break?

The answer is

*drum roll*

YES!

Well….I guess as much of a break as this kid can get.

Let’s rewind a bit.

Hotaru pulled the string and Takuma was sent on the ferry to hell. Right as she returned to the real world, she immediately walked into the frigid lake to drown herself.

Meanwhile, Takuma is crying in the ferry, and Kikuri, the bitch, is taunting him. First she offers him a candy and then she says, knowingly, that this certainly isn’t the first time someone completely innocent has been betrayed and sacrificed by their friend. Takuma then tearfully begs Ai to help him.

Ai visibly struggles with continuing to row after that, and she, shockingly, decides to turn the boat around and return him to where he originated.

When he awakens, he finds Ai who is now back in her human form – brown eyes and all, even in the clothes she died in. She weakly and emotionally directs Takuma to the water, and he figures out that Hotaru tried to drown herself. Her body somehow ends up on the opposite end of the shore….in this lake…that has no tide….almost immediately after she went into the water, I guess?

The Hell team tries to wring some answers out of Kikuri, who passes out and wakes up as the full Master of Hell. She reveals that, since Ai went against her penance and returned Takuma to life, the souls of those she loves will remain trapped in hell for all eternity.

The Hell team freaks out at this because they find it entirely unfair for the Master of Hell to renege on their deal just because Ai returned one boy. After 400 years of suffering and doing her work without emotion or breaking the rules (barring the first season finale) they believe she deserves to be free now.

And the Master of Hell agrees….Yeah, we’ll soon find that the previous two statements are really contradictory and I have no idea why. He reveals that Ai’s alive, much to the happiness of Ren and Hone Onna, but much to chagrin of Wanyuudou who reveals that, if she was merely revived in her original body, she’ll age 400 years very quickly and die all over again. Ren tries to punch the Master of Hell, but she easily sends him flying. The Master of Hell leaves and Kikuri is….dead? I guess. Not really, she’s still technically alive, but she’s lying face down on the ground and she’s shown to be fine later, but the Master of Hell is still a spider….I dunno. She’s both the Master of Hell yet she also isn’t. It’s confusing.

Takuma’s seemingly too late to save Hotaru, and this, for some reason, is the straw that breaks the camel’s back in him deciding to say ‘fuck it’ and take his revenge out on the town.

Which is dumb.

Yes, the townsfolk/defense squad specifically are responsible for this, but Hotaru’s the idiot who decided to SEND HIM TO HELL with barely a sentence said in ‘remorse’ under the misguided belief that it would stop a cycle of revenge that has been going on for hundreds of years – even more than that if you just want to put the cards on the table and say humanity’s a species of monsters who have been doing horrible things since the dawn of time.

Takuma barely knows Hotaru, either. They’ve spent about a full day, collectively, together. She was still a friend, yeah, and he should certainly mourn her, but being so upset about her “death” specifically, that’s what finally makes Takuma snap and go for the bloodshed?

To continue the comparison with Ai and Sentarou, they were cousins. He was basically her only friend for her entire life. They were close friends, family and even kinda, squickily, romantic interests. It’s a lot more believable and impacting when he betrayed her than when Hotaru did it.

He’s still got his father, too, even if he is in a coma, so it’s not like he has no one left. And he was just granted a pass from Hell Girl – he actually got a break for a change; a break no one else before him has ever gotten.

Though, honestly, I’m not gonna rag on him too much for finally snapping. The kid has been through so much these past few months, I’m surprised he hasn’t already just gone on a killing spree throughout town.

Takuma heads home to presumably exact revenge, and Ai weakly attempts to follow him in order to stop him from making the same mistake she did.

 

Side note: It starts snowing about four different times over the course of the finale act. I wouldn’t mention it if not for the fact that the character take note of it each time, so it seems really odd.

 

Before we get to that, however, we have to put more characters through the wringer. Let’s spin the wheel of torment!

Ah, look at that! It landed on ‘All of the Hell Team.’ Yup, it’s their turn now. What’s their special little slice of hell? Once Ai is revived, they find that she doesn’t recognize them at all. As much as they love her, as much as she’s done for them, all they can do is sit back and try to protect her from afar, knowing she doesn’t remember any of them (But this is something else that’s contradictory because, later, she does remember them….) Also, considering her time as Hell Girl is, supposedly, up, she’ll never be with them again.

Back with Takuma, he…for some reason, soaks his house in gasoline and aims to burn it down? What? What will that accomplish? He does also splash gasoline on the defense squad too (Even though that had to have been improvised considering he didn’t know they were still tailing him. Dude literally just set out to burn his house down.), threatening to burn them all alive, but guess what? It, for some reason, doesn’t work. Takuma is grabbed by one of the squad members and smacked around. He drops the lit lighter into the pool of gasoline, which quickly makes his house go up, but I guess the defense squad was so far away it just didn’t also catch them on fire?

Most ingenious plan, Takuma. Top notch. Just amazing.

I understand that Ai had supernatural powers when she returned from the dead and burned her village to the ground, killing everyone, but still, Takuma, do better.

Don’t come any closer or I’ll burn my house down and leave you all unharmed!

They’re about to just beat Takuma to death in the street, right in front of a burning house, because fuck subtly at this point, I guess.

Ai somehow manages to catch up, shocking the defense squad and concerned she might be ferrying one of them to hell. However, she merely tries to talk them out of what they’re doing and starts to lead Takuma away.

Don’t think we got that happy-ish ending too soon, however, because the apprehensive guy from before, the one who sent Meshiai to hell, is now bonkers. He’s even been trying to scratch the curse mark off of his chest. And now he’s smacking Ai over the head with a shovel, proclaiming that he refuses to be sent to hell.

The whole squad joins in on the vicious beating, aiming to kill her. The Hell Team tries to interfere, but are stopped in their tracks when they realize Ai’s actually smiling at them during her beating, as if she’s finally accepted her fate and punishment for what she had done 400 years ago.

Takuma manages to stop them, however, and we hear Ai’s last words, claiming that, with this act, it’s finally over. She fades into a burst of flower petals and vanishes. Kikuri is shown watching this and crying for some reason. I don’t really know. They’ve been showing the spider and Kikuri separately so I know even less than I thought I did. Maybe Kikuri really is her own person and she was attached to Ai, for whatever reason. Maybe the Master of Hell has a heart? I really can’t say.

Afterwards, we see Kikuri in the ferry passing by the weird thing that was holding the souls of Ai’s parents. It releases them and they pass on to heaven. Kikuri reiterates that it’s all over and thanks Ai for all her hard work as she pokes at a cherry (Ai was sometimes seen eating cherries) in the boat.

In the epilogue, Wanyuudou explains that Meshiai was recording his conversation with Takuma and caught a lot of the stuff the defense squad said on tape too. How they got ahold of the tape considering he was sent to hell and had the recorder on him when he was kidnapped, I don’t know. But it’s just another point in the defense squad’s idiot column because that means they left him untied, not properly secured, with his phone, gun and a running audio recorder. They are the pinnacle of stupidity.

The point is, the recording somehow cleared Takuma of everything once and for all, even though that recording could not have included information on anything useful, being honest. They confirmed that no one believed the stuff about Hell Girl, meaning the lack of curse mark wasn’t proof, and I’m not sure I believe they cleared him of every single disappearance just by also hearing Meshiai’s kidnapping in progress.

Definitely would’ve insinuated the defense squad bastards for their specific crimes, as well as provide good proof of his beating and disappearance, but, not only is Meshiai gone so they can’t really prove he was either actually beaten or kidnapped, but the defense squad goons skipped town and no one has seen them since.

Which is complete bullshit.

Why do they get no comeuppance for their crimes? They framed a young boy for their murders (sending people to hell is basically murder.) They tormented the poor kid day in and day out just to keep their cover. They beat up a detective and kidnapped him. They hunted down and tried to murder two children. They sent Meshiai to hell just for interfering in said murder plan. Them doing so nearly got Hotaru and Takuma killed in a car accident. They beat Takuma up, intended on killing him, then they beat Ai to death in the street.

I know they’re destined to hell once they die anyway, but screw it – I want them to actually pay now…Which, admittedly, is a little ironic because the ending was supposed to be about letting go of vengeance.

However, even that’s a little badly written because what ends the cycle of revenge is the defense squad viciously beating her to death? What? I get that Ai fixing her mistake, stopping the same thing from happening and finally dying was her repentance, but the manner in which it happens is just wrong. The bastards should have been arrested (House on fire, beating a kid to death in the street and still no cops or any neighbors coming out to see what’s up.) and she should have just died of old age like she was going to anyway. Pretty sure speed-aging to 400+ years old and dying that way has to be nearly equally horrific and doesn’t require any cold blooded murder.

Also, apparently, no one believing the Hell Girl excuse also means no one in the town ever tried to use it again? Technically that should just be they were unable to use it…..but….Mmmm more on that in a minute.

After that, the area became a ghost town….somehow. I have absolutely no idea why. The local mall is boarded up and filled with trash, many homes are also abandoned, the streets are littered with garbage, the people left behind seem like flippant assholes and everything there is vacant.

The Hell Team returns to the realm of eternal twilight. Predictably and sadly, they don’t find Ai there. All they find is is a darkened computer and Ai’s grandmother, who is still never explained in the slightest (she’s not actually Ai’s grandma, and I have no clue what her purpose is.) She finally stops spinning string and tells them that Ai says ‘Thank you.’ which is very much appreciated considering they thought she forgot them all for good.

The realm of eternal twilight vanishes and the Hell Team is left in the human world. They decide to go their separate ways for now and just live in the human world for a while.

Back with Takuma, his dad has finally awoken from his coma and is back on two feet, though he’s still recovering. As I’ve mentioned before, though, even with his dad healthy and by his side again, the kid is definitely going to need ridiculous amounts of therapy to realistically lead a normal life again. With all the things he’s witnessed and experienced, I’m surprised he can find it within himself to smile.

They visit Hotaru in the hospital. Apparently, she didn’t drown nor did she freeze to death even though Takuma didn’t immediately call for medical services when he found her, meaning she was probably lying out there in the cold snow, soaking wet, for probably well over an hour or so.

Good job. Pointlessly burning down your house, destroying all of your possessions, financially ruining your family and probably also destroying any mementos of your dead mother while also making an incredibly weak attempt at killing the defense squad that you most likely didn’t even know were following you was way more important than trying to save your friend’s life. (Keep in mind, the laptop was right next to him when he was brought back. He could have alerted emergency services with it.)

Also, this is kinda a bummer ending for Hotaru considering we never see her again. We’re pretty much just lead to believe she’ll be in a vegetative state forever. At least she doesn’t seem to have a curse mark, which makes sense because Ai never held up her end of the bargain. She likely won’t be sent to hell when she passes on, but her brother’s still dead (and I think she might be an orphan considering the only other person we ever see at her home is her brother.)

I know Hotaru was a massive idiot in the end and a bit of a bitch, and don’t try to convince me she knew Ai would turn the boat around and all that would happen to end Hell Link and redeem Takuma – there’s no way, incoming pun, in hell she knew that would happen in the slightest, but she didn’t deserve this.

So, everything’s…I guess as good as we can get on this show. It’s a very mixed bag….

Until….

Until…..

Un….

…..til…..

Takuma and his dad walk down the hall of the hospital as they’re leaving Hotaru’s room. The girl they’re passing opens her phone, looks at a message…..

A bright red message….

….and it says her request has been accepted.

It’s signed….

Jigoku Shoujo.

Look, I know that anyone working on horror seems to be under this belief that all endings to anything horror need to end in an implication that the ‘killer’ so to speak, is still alive and the story continues, but this ending completely ruins everything they just showed us.

“Twix, calm down. It’s probably a new Hell Girl that the Master of Hell wrangled up. Sure, there’s a new cycle of revenge out there, but Ai’s story has been told. She’s done. She’s moved on. She’s in a better place now.” ~Some person reading this maybe, though I’m probably projecting.

Yes, that is EXACTLY what I thought when I first watched this way back when.

Until, however, the third season of Hell Girl, Three Vessels, came out. Guess who’s Hell Girl…..It’s Ai….again….inexplicably. As if they completely ignored this final, concrete ending to Ai’s story.

What? Did they just like Ai’s character design so much they couldn’t let her go?

Granted, the story of Three Vessels is meant to be Ai training her replacement, which is flimsy in itself because why does she need to train her replacement? Did Ai have anyone train her? Why does the Master of Hell not take this responsibility? What, did Ai come back down from Heaven or wherever to do unpaid training? Did they recall the realm of eternal twilight? Awkward reunions with the Hell Team all around?

Three Vessels is something we’ll definitely have to unpack this October because, honestly, I never finished it because I was so angry that they reconned this ending. I only watched a few episodes when it first aired and I never went back because I was just that bummed. And, from what I read online, I didn’t miss out on much and the ending is…..rrgh. But, again, let’s cross that bridge this October.

————————-

So, what of this finale, eh? In my opinion, there’s something here that could’ve really been good, but it was so sloppily written it’s hard to really like it. Many of the decisions made, even taking panic and despair into consideration, were nonsensical and harmful, and I don’t believe about 90% of that epilogue.

A lot of it was just….washed away. The horrible townsfolk who shunned, hated, feared and framed Takuma while also Hell Girling each other like it was going out of style? All left town without so much as a slap on the wrist. The murderous asshole defense squad? No one ever saw them again. All of the accusations over Takuma’s head and all of the ‘devil’s child’ crap? No one believes the Hell Girl stuff, but that being the only evidence to clear his name apparently fixes it all. His dad wakes up and is okay, which is probably the most believable thing. And don’t worry about everything Takuma’s family owned burning to the ground and all of Takuma’s certain mental trauma – everything’s magically good for him.

And even given all of that hand-waving, it’s not okay. Hell Link still exists, and someone’s using it right next to Takuma. For all we know, the finger-pointing and devil’s child stuff could start right back up again, no matter if the original townsfolk have all collectively abandoned the place. His town’s a shithole now, though he needed to move anyway what with the pointlessly burned down house. The people who killed Meshiai got off scot-free. Poor Meshiai is still in hell. And Hotaru, his only friend, is in a coma.

Lest we forget the biggest bummer of all being Ai’s redemption and freedom….apparently never actually happened….

Is it?

I actually like how they went about redeeming her. Last time, she broke the Master of Hell’s rules just to exact her own revenge against Tsugumi and Hajime, who were the last descendants of Sentarou. Even though it was a bummer to see her return to work, it was understandable that she wasn’t ready to be freed yet, even if she had let go of her anger towards Sentarou. That was her first step in actually healing instead of just repenting.

Reflecting her story in Takuma and having Ai break the Master of Hell’s rules once more, but this time for a noble reason, was a fantastic way for her to actually earn her redemption and finally pass on to Heaven (At least, that’s where I assume she went.) But the fact that she had to be viciously beaten to death after she decided to help Takuma was just the wrong choice, in my opinion. Its was completely unnecessary. It’s not even a ‘bitter irony’ kind of deal because, while Ai did originally get hit over the head with a shovel when she died, she was actually killed by being buried alive.

This story as a whole also dragged on a bit too long for my taking. Were you getting sick of my ‘This Kid Can’t Catch a Fucking Break’ gag? Try watching several half-hour installments of it. Not even Ai’s actual backstory, which this is meant to reflect, lasted a fraction as long. It only got one episode in the previous season. Not to mention that, honestly, I feel like Takuma went through way more traumatic events that Ai did.

He’s asking this question to the writers.

Let’s tally up Takuma’s final trauma score, shall we?

– Was shunned by people in town, accused of killing animals and causing destruction.

– Constantly harassed by one guy, who didn’t even have a beef with him specifically.

– Watched his mother be murdered by an arrow to the neck right in his home – the one he still has to live in after that.

– He’s accused of his mother’s murder, and everyone in town believes he did it since he’s ‘the devil’s child.’

– He finds out who actually did it and framed him for it, but can seemingly do nothing about it.

– His father is severely assaulted by the same guy, leaving him in a coma. Takuma bears witness to some of this.

– The perpetrator tries to kill Takuma immediately afterward.

– The perp is sent to hell, and since Takuma’s the only one in the room, he’s accused of making the guy disappear and assaulting his father.

– He’s forced to live alone for months while the entire town continues to shun him and spread awful rumors.

– He finally gets one friend who cares for him no matter what, but then she’s sent to hell the next day.

– People start using Hell Girl in excess and then framing Takuma for their deeds, while also continuing to perpetuate the idea that Takuma’s a devil’s child, making him even more shunned, hated and feared across town.

– Some bitch purposely waits until her target is close to Takuma before pulling the string and sending him to hell, making Takuma look exponentially worse.

– Has a detective seemingly believe his innocence, and when he’s able to provide some modicum of proof, he’s brutally beaten and kidnapped, right in front of Takuma’s door, to keep him quiet.

– Has Hotaru believe he’s at least innocent, and later believing in Hell Girl, only to have her be whisked away to the realm of eternal twilight while she’s in his house, making him look even WORSE.

– A woman is able to clear Takuma’s name at least in regards to the disappearance of the dude who started this mess, but she dies immediately after giving a statement, and her statement can’t even be corroborated so it doesn’t matter much.

– He’s hunted down like a dog and forced to go on the run.

– He’s captured and nearly murdered in a slow and agonizing manner.

– He’s rescued only to have his rescuer be soon sent to hell.

– He’s involved in a car crash because of it (Admit it – car crashes are terrifying enough without the cause being ‘the driver suddenly vanished without a trace.’)

– Immediately following the crash, his one friend and confidant decides to call Hell Girl on him, pinning everything on him when he has done absolutely nothing.

– And she instantly pulls the string, sending him to hell.

– He’s granted a pardon from hell only to find Hotaru basically dead on the shore, having been driven to suicide.

– He loses his house in a fire that was completely unavoidable and made total sense. No stupidity involved. Nope nope.

– He made a lame impromtu attempt to kill the people who were hunting him, and it didn’t work.

– He got beaten again.

– Ai saves him only to get beaten to death.

– His one friend, Hotaru, even if it’s hard to still call her a friend, remains in a coma forever.

– Bonus: It’s quite possible he’s still on the hook for his mother’s murder at least seeing as how the actual perp was sent to hell and Takuma was the main suspect, only getting away from jail time for the moment because there wasn’t enough solid evidence to charge him. His father wasn’t actually a witness to the murder, and even if he was no one’s really going to believe he’s not just covering for his kid.

All of that spanned out over six episodes (14 and 22-26) when it really could’ve been three or maybe four at most, especially since some things just didn’t need to happen.

At least the stuff with Tsugumi and Hajime was spread out in small chunks over the course of half the first season with really the only final three episodes focusing on their own specific story, which pretty much needed all of those episodes. Here, it was just relentlessly pouring on so much crap on this kid one after the other. And considering one of the main facets of this show is relishing in the assholes getting their comeuppance only to find…no one getting comeuppance after ALL OF THIS is just frustrating. Only innocent people directly suffered through this whole arc, barring Kakinuma, and his suffering is bittersweet because it caused more suffering for Takuma.

I’m not saying kill them or send them to hell, but at least arrest the defense squad, show the other townsfolk paying in some karmic way. Do something! Just saying ‘welp, they all left town.’ and wash your hands of it is just lazy and enraging.

Even if they ended the series here and Ai really never returned, it’s still not all that great of an ending for her. I should’ve teared up, but I didn’t. I should’ve been far happier for Ai than I was. This ending should have been on par with the awesome ending of the first season, but it just fizzles and gives up.

It’s a good ending on paper, but the execution never reached greatness, and that’s just disappointing.

Spoiler alert for the rest of the franchise here, but as far as I know, Ai won’t finally officially leave her post as Hell Girl for good until the end of Fourth Twilight, and as far as I’ve heard, that season is a pile of stinky garbage. As I’ve mentioned, we’ll tackle her fate in Three Vessels this October….End of Spoilers.

I struggled quite a bit with my rating for this final episode. I didn’t dislike, but I also didn’t really like it all that much. There are quite a few things to really like, but just as much stuff that is completely nonsensical or just plain bad.

Since it’s keeping me so firmly in the middle;

Rating: 5/10


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Hell Girl: Two Mirrors Episode 25 – Wandering Review

Plot: Takuma’s town continues to fall apart, and now the neighborhood watch group wants his head in order to return their lives to normal. They’ve viciously beaten Detective Meshiai and hidden him in a shed on one of their properties, and now they’ve started to hunt Takuma.

Hotaru manages to find Takuma before they do and scrambles to help him escape from them. Eventually, they are found, and now, since Hotaru’s an accomplice, they plan on killing her too in order to cover their tracks.

Breakdown: Previously on “This Kid Can’t Catch a Fucking Break,” using Hell Link has become the latest fad, apparently. Dozens of people have disappeared in a matter of a week or so. Even the chief of police has vanished. Half of the town is paralyzed in fear, and the other half is snickering in the shadows as they blame Takuma for their misdeeds. With each disappearance, people become more terrified of Takuma and more inclined to use Hell Link since they believe they’re destined for hell anyway due to being in his vicinity.

Hotaru explored the realm of eternal twilight and learned some vital information about Hell Girl. Most importantly, however, she proved to herself that Takuma was indeed innocent as he didn’t have a candle with his name on it, indicating he hadn’t used Ai’s services at all, let alone numerous times.

Detective Meshiai also proved Takuma’s innocence, at least to himself, by researching Hell Girl through a book written by Hajime himself and seeing that Takuma bears no curse mark on his chest. The instant he tried to clear Takuma’s name, however, one of the neighborhood watch guys stopped Meshiai in his tracks. He had used the service, as have most others on the defense squad now. He suddenly attacked Meshiai and yelled to his compatriots that Meshiai was in cahoots with Takuma.

Poor Takuma could only sit and shake behind his door as he listened to the men viciously beat Meshiai.

And now….

We’ve reached a point where the defense squad goons are basically cartoonishly evil now. They intend on killing Takuma and anyone else in their way, even though they’ve seemingly been going out of their way to make sure he stays alive this whole time. And, of course, some of them are even laughing and smiling the whole way through and treating it like some honor to be a part of this messed up Hell Link users club.

After Meshiai got beaten, they threw him into a shed and stupidly didn’t take his phone from him even though they had to have both seen it and heard it several times at this point since Hotaru’s been calling numerous times after returning from the realm of eternal twilight.

Meanwhile, almost immediately after returning, Hotaru finds that Takuma is being hunted by the people of the town and runs off with him, hiding in a shrine for much of the runtime, similarly to when Ai was on the run with Sentarou back when she was alive.

Speaking of Ai’s backstory, it seems Hajime did indeed remember to write her story into the book to share it with anyone who was interested inHell Girl. While I understand why they waited until now to really go into depth about it, it’s a bit strange that they didn’t at least hint at Meshiai reading about it, instead focusing a lot on the technical aspects of how Hell Link works.

Hotaru non-directly points out that what is happening right now is reflective of Ai’s story. Groups of people can easily lose their sense of reason and go mad, resulting in them targeting other people and literally witch-hunting. This is the nature of human beings, and it hasn’t changed in several hundred years since Ai was alive.

However, Hotaru resolves that things will be different this time around since she will protect Takuma from the townsfolk no matter what…..But anyone who knows the other tragic side of the coin in regards to Ai’s story will know immediately where this is going before we even get to the second half.

If Takuma is Ai in this situation, that would make Hotaru Sentarou, and that’s troubling. In Ai’s story, Sentarou also promised to protect Ai at all costs, even though helping her run away and hide put him in danger as well. When Ai was finally found and caught by the villagers, Sentarou was forced to dump the first shovel full of dirt on Ai as they prepared to bury her alive, next to her murdered parents. This was punishment for him as a result of helping her escape. If he chose not to do as he was told, they’d kill him too.

Sentarou tearfully put the dirt in the grave, which Ai took as an unforgivable betrayal, and triggered her initial rage and fury for revenge as she died and was reborn, so to speak. Sentarou had to watch his village get massacred by the ghostly reborn Ai and lived his life in repentance for what he had done, never quite forgiving himself for it.

But before we get to the reflection of that betrayal, let me remind you….Kikuri’s still a bitch.

I’ve been wondering why Kikuri has actually been helping more or less lately. She’s brought Hotaru to the realm of eternal twilight to get her to believe Hell Link is real and Takuma was telling the truth. She put Hotaru in the space where the candles were so she could confirm Takuma was innocent. She lead her to Takuma’s hiding spot when they started hunting him so she could help him escape. She’s been so uncharacteristically helpful….

Well that all combined with what she does in this episode, which is lead the murderous townsfolk to Takuma and Hotaru’s hiding spot in the shrine, pretty much cinches that she was only doing those things so she could put into motion the same events as Ai’s story. She did all of that to Hotaru not out of sympathy for Takuma but because she wanted Hotaru to sympathize with him, help him and eventually betray him.

I get that Kikuri is the embodiment of the master of hell, something we’ll learn in the final episode, so we’re pretty much meant to hate her, but yeesh. She and Naraku should have an ‘annoying as shit and loves to screw with people’s lives’ contest.

Thanks to Kikuri, the defense squad goons arrive at the shrine early that morning (What was their plan? Just hide in the shrine their whole lives? It’s not like the shrine Sentarou and Ai took refuge in – it’s a very public place.) tie them up, throw them in a boat in the lake, tie large rocks to them and smash a hole in the boat (using a comically sized mallet for some reason). They’re pushed into the lake to sink, drown and disappear so the townsfolk can ‘get on with their lives.’

Interestingly, and somewhat annoyingly, the one guy in this group who is being very apprehensive about this whole thing and is voicing his concerns, says this as he smashes the hole in the boat;

“It’s not my fault.”

Not only is that exactly what Kikuri just said after Ai asked her why she told the defense squad about Hotaru and Takuma’s hiding spot, but it’s just so disgusting that the one guy in this group of monsters who was seemingly showing us that humanity’s not all walking trash basically washes himself of any guilt or shame by saying it’s not his fault. Not ‘sorry’ or ‘I have no other choice’ just ‘It’s not my fault.’

But fear not, there’s a light in this situation. Headlights. The headlights of….

*drum roll*

Meshiai’s car!

Yes, those idiots not only left him with his phone, but they also didn’t tie him up nor did they properly lock him down, apparently. They just beat him up and threw him in a shed. He’s a detective you numnutted asshats. Be smarter.

However, I should also be saying ‘be smarter’ to Meshiai because, while he did have the forethought to get his gun (Did he just go and get a gun or did they not even remove his gun from his person when they kidnapped him too? Just how dumb are these people?) he did not have the forethought to maybe call for some backup when facing a group of five people, trying to save two children, while recovering from a severe beating.

They all run off at Meshiai shooting his gun into the air anyway, and he rescues the kids in the nick of time.

And then Ai erases Takuma’s memories of all the trauma, half the townsfolk are arrested, everyone else in town has their memories erased of all the devil’s child bullshit, Takuma’s dad wakes up, makes a full recovery, they leave this shitty town filled with shitty people in lieu of some cool place with a theme park and everyone lives happily ever after.

The end.

Oh wait.

I forgot what series I was reviewing.

There’s still five minutes left in this episode.

So…for some reason, Meshiai doesn’t immediately find a phone or use the one he had on him to report his beating, kidnapping and the attempted murder of two children to the authorities.

He says he will do so later as they’re driving home. At least an hour has gone by. He still has his phone on him. Last we checked it was still receiving calls, and if he hasn’t been using it, chances are the charge is pretty high. There had to have been a phone in the house where the shed was located, too. There’s no reason Meshiai hasn’t called the authorities yet. Some cop he is.

Actually, now that I’m thinking about it, why didn’t Hotaru use her own cell and call the police at any time during this? At no point did they show her leaving her phone behind or it dying or anything. She was trying to call Meshiai several times over the course of the episode, even when they were in the shrine. The existence of cell phones really does create massive problems in a lot of horror stories, doesn’t it?

I should point out that Meshiai had the time to find and put on a coat, though. One that might not even be his because he wasn’t wearing that when he was at Takuma’s house. Staying warm when it’s moderately cool out>getting backup in a very dangerous situation against a group of people trying to kill two children, one of which being his litter sister. Priorities are good here.

No worries, though. They’re all happy and hopeful, driving home to see Takuma’s dad in the hospital and assuring him that they will certainly clear his name of all the accusations one by one, no matter how long it takes.

Takuma and Hotaru even hold hands to comfort each other. Aw.

Uh oh. A partially happy moment! Something horrible better happen to fix this travesty!

And it does.

Meshiai disappears.

The apprehensive guy from before was actually the only one in the group who had yet to use Hell Link. They had him use Hell Girl on him and pulled the string on his doll as they were driving away.

This was foreshadowed, actually. Earlier, they talked about what they should do about Meshiai and they all looked at the guy. Later, Hone Onna and Ren note that it’s Wanyuudou’s turn, but so many people have been using Hell Link lately you wouldn’t think to question where he is. Also, you’re really lead to assume all of the people in the defense squad group have used Hell Girl already, and you can’t use it more than once, presumably. It was pretty clever in the way it was framed.

Even though this was a pretty shocking and good plot twist….why did they opt to use Hell Link on Meshiai instead of just straight-up murdering him? He was already beat like a rug on a weekend. Might as well go all the way – it’s not like they’re averse to murder or anything, and he was their greatest threat.

Or why not use Hell Link on Takuma and murder Hotaru and Meshiai? You wouldn’t even need to hunt the kid down – you’d just need to pull the string. You can’t tell me they have enough hatred for the cop to call Hell Girl on him but not Takuma. Why call Hell Girl for Meshiai and then not force the guy to pull the string while they were there? Why leave him there with his phone and free hands….and gun? They can’t have planned this all out to point where they knew Meshiai would wake up at just the right moment, go after them, not call for backup, not shoot them all in the face, actually rescue the kids, and then drive away while still not calling for backup just so they could pull the string while he was driving. That was in no way necessary and just serves to overcomplicates matters.

Without a driver, the car crashes into the ditch. The kids are both fine after the wreck, but Takuma and Hotaru are now all alone again. The only thing Hotaru has left of her brother is his laptop.

Suddenly, Hotaru stops in her tracks and opens the laptop.

She accesses Hell Link.

She claims she has no choice but to make Takuma disappear….But…No…Just..no. Of course she does. Sentarou was forced under threat of death to put the dirt on Ai, and they were going to bury her alive no matter if he helped or not. The only difference would be how many bodies would be in that hole.

Does she really think killing Takuma will fix anything? Like I said, people in town could still easily use Hell Girl as much as they wanted and blame Takuma’s vengeful spirit or something. I know she’s upset and not thinking clearly, but that was quite the turnaround from ‘I’ll never let anything happen to you’ to ‘Gonna send ya to hell, bye.’

Also, I must point out that she’s using the Internet….meaning they could have used THAT to call for help too. Not that that would’ve saved Meshiai, but still. At least the defense squad pricks would probably be arrested.

————————————-

This episode was exciting and interesting in how it tries to mirror Ai’s story, even if there are a bunch of writing hiccups to make the plot work as such. The twist with Meshiai was surprising and sad, especially considering he was a pretty cool guy who just wanted to solve the disappearances and help Takuma. We never see him in his hell torture, which is good, nor do we see him traveling down the river with Ai, which I think is a bit of a missed opportunity for a character who has been so important these past few episodes.

Even though I’m pretty sure they’ll try to redeem Hotaru a bit more in the next episode, I still don’t agree with her choice to send Takuma to hell acting like everything will be fixed if he dies.

Ai’s story was basically the same as Takuma’s, and the betrayal from her only friend and subsequent death started the cycle of hatred. You really think the crappy people in this evil town will suddenly turn good and everything will be sunshine and kittens after Takuma’s dead? I really thought Hotaru was smarter than that, even if she is grieving and scared.

Also, if Takuma just needs to be dead in order for this to stop, why not just murder him outright? I know that seems like a really cruel thing to say, but hear me out. Calling Hell Girl will allow her to send Takuma to hell immediately. Killing Takuma will probably allow him to pass on to heaven. The kid’s as pure as the driven snow – he would certainly go to heaven. The only bad thing this kid ever did, as far as I can see, is calling Hell Girl, but he denied her services immediately upon hearing how it works. Why damn the kid to hell? Just because you don’t want to have to do the dirty work yourself?

I never considered this before, but Takuma vanishing without a body being shown as proof of his death to the townsfolk would also not help things. The townsfolk might just think Takuma’s damning them all from the shadows and become even more paranoid.

Rating: 8/10

The finale is coming up! Will Takuma really be sent to hell? Will Hotaru be redeemed in her choice? Will Ai find it within her to help stop all of this? Also, we get to see Kikuri’s real face. Is Ai nearing the end of her journey as Hell Girl and this is all a plan or test to free her? Or is it just Kikuri’s twisted sense of humor causing more heartache for Ai?

And the most pressing question will be answered – WILL this kid catch a fucking break?

Find out in the final episode!


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Hell Girl – Two Mirrors Episode 24: Chain Reaction Review

Plot: Everyone in town has been going insane with Hell Girl’s power. People are disappearing left and right, and each client is using Takuma as a scapegoat to shift suspicions away from them. Detective Meshiai continues to investigate Hell Link in order to get his missing sister back, stumbling upon an interesting book on the matter from a familiar friend in the process.

Meanwhile, Hotaru is brought on a messed up tour of the realm of eternal twilight by Kikuri. What truths will she uncover there?

Breakdown: Previously on “This Kid Can’t Catch a Fucking Break,” Takuma was literally and figuratively damned by the entire neighborhood after more people started blaming him for bad things happening around town. Specifically, some Hell Girl clients were explaining away the disappearances of their targets to the cops by saying they saw Takuma with them at the time of the disappearance.

A detective examining the missing persons cases, Seiichi Meshiai, was suspicious of the boy as a result, but he maintained his innocence since there was no actual evidence against him. People were claiming that, in addition to his own mysterious hellish powers, Takuma was continuously using Hell Link to send people to hell, which is why these people were disappearing. Meshiai especially didn’t believe that, but it didn’t stop the neighborhood men from staking out his house night after night. The group was lead by a man who directly blamed Takuma for his target disappearing, wishing to throw suspicion off of him even further.

Yoshizaki, the woman who sent Kakinuma, the one who initially started the horrible ‘devil’s child’ rumors, killed Takuma’s mother and assaulted his father so badly he fell into a coma, went to the police station to help clear Takuma’s name a little, but ran away when questioned about Hell Link. On her way home, she crashed her car and died. At her autopsy, Meshiai noticed an odd black mark on her chest.

Meshiai’s little sister, Hotaru, seemed to have even more sympathy for Takuma and believed he was innocent of everything being accused of him. However, she still thought he knew more than he was saying and thought Hell Link was nothing but a silly rumor.

To change her mind, Kikuri whisked her away to the realm of eternal twilight….while she was still in Takuma’s house….

Meshiai headed to Takuma’s house to find his sister, with the neighborhood watch men in tow since they watched her go in. Takuma let them in, but lo and behold, Hotaru had vanished. The man who lead the stakeout pinned Takuma against the wall and tried to force him to confess that he sent Hotaru to hell, but Takuma wouldn’t.

Suddenly, the man vanished himself. He was the target of the wife of the man he sent to hell earlier. She targeted him to avenge her husband. One of the neighborhood watch members rushed out of the house in fear, ready to spread the word of his first-hand witness to Takuma’s ‘powers’ over town. Meanwhile, Meshiai didn’t know what to think, but knew he had to find his sister. Takuma was once again left alone with his increasingly troubled thoughts.

And now….

Is it possible to hate a whole town of people? Because I hate this town of people.

If they aren’t flippantly sending people to hell at the drop of a hat and blaming Takuma for it, they’re spreading rumors about the kid and continuing to torment him.

In a way, this is a very interesting (read: depressing) look at humanity. So few of the clients in these past few episodes truly seem to grasp the weight of what they’re doing, like most of the clients we see in one-shot episodes do. Damning yourself to hell to get rid of someone you hate is a heavy burden, but every client in this episode just seems to be petty dicks who don’t give a single crap that they’ll go to hell when they die.

Even if ‘the devil’s child’ is a literal get-out-of-jail-free card for these assholes, Ai still always informs them of the price of their actions. They just don’t care.

While some of these people do seem to have legitimate, albeit petty, reasons for hating the people they’re targeting, like blaming their parent for their current mess of a life or detesting that their husband is never home and doesn’t pay attention to the client anymore, it gets to a point where it’s just ‘I just hate you, lolbai.’

And I can understand a little once it reaches a point where it seems like the whole town is damned, but are there so few people who would refrain from killing someone anyway? And if the whole town is damned anyway, why bother killing these people in the first place? Takuma’s gonna strike them down with his Damian powers sooner or later, right? Why sign on the dotted line on your hell contract just to get them there a few weeks, days or even hours faster?

There was one circumstance where I almost felt bad for someone calling Hell Girl. She said the town is such hell now, and she thought she was damned to hell anyway just being there. But then she flips her evil villain switch and goes ‘But if I’m going to hell anyway, I’m going to take someone with me and blame the devil’s child for it!’ Like, come on. Is there a single person in the entire town besides Takuma and Meshiai that isn’t a raging lunatic dickwad?

And if you thought the townsfolk were scared of Takuma before, holy shit, has it gotten so much worse. The newest rumor is that if your eyes meet with Takuma’s, you’ll eventually disappear. It’s not just whispers and glares anymore. People are screaming, shaking and fumbling over themselves in his presence. Takuma went to the grocery store and the cashier broke his eggs trying to get them to scan because she was shaking so much. So she fell over and groveled on the ground for his forgiveness.

Oh yeah, don’t feel too bad for that cashier. She’s the bitch I mentioned in the paragraph preceding that one….

There’s a group of girls at that same grocery store who flip out over seeing Takuma, and one of them meets his eyes, and then later the girls are trying to send each other to hell because fuck if I know.

Everyone is going insane. Over the course of just one night, there are several people in the same town that are sent to hell. It’s become such a widespread issue that even companies are struggling to stay functional because so many of their important employees are disappearing. To say Ai and the Hell Team are busy would be a massive understatement.

This situation actually brings to light a question I had a while back – what happens if all of the Hell Team are out as dolls at the same time? The answer is

They don’t really address it, sooo….yeah. Also, doesn’t Ai cater to all of Japan at least? If all of this attention is being directed to this one town, are they even visiting other places at the moment? Also, also, if everyone is blaming Takuma for this, why has no one yet tried to send him to hell?

Back with Hotaru, she’s having a blast being scared out of her mind at the sight of the true face of Ai’s grandma and learning all of the horrific secrets of Ai’s world.

As she learns this first-hand, Meshiai learns about it by reading a book he got from the library. A book written by….

HAJIME!

He’s never shown from the front and he looks kinda worse for wear, but Hajime wrote a book on the truth about Hell Girl, which is pretty much just explaining how she works and not so much explaining her actual backstory. I assume that this is what Ai’s grandma tasked Hajime with in order to earn his escape from the realm of eternal twilight.

He paid for the publication of the book out of his own pocket with the aim of, supposedly, having the story reach anyone who would listen and spread the word. For what reason? Who really knows? Maybe it was Ai’s grandma, trying to get more people to invest in the legend and use the service so Ai would get closer to her goal of being relieved of her duties. Maybe it was Hajime wanting to warn others or inspire them to not use it because of the very real danger. It’s not really that clear.

Hajime never appears in the series again (I know I said that last season, too, but technically that brief shot of him here could constitute as a flashback since it was showing him writing the book) and it’s kinda implied that he passed away. None of the police can track down anything about him outside of information on the publication on the book, and no one can confirm whether he’s alive or dead.

Tsugumi shows up and also kinda implies that he’s dead because she explains that the book was something he wanted to leave behind and she looked as if she was going to cry when she begged Meshiai to believe Hajime.

Yes, Tsugumi shows up too. She shows up in person briefly. She was seemingly called by Kikuri, but for what purpose, again, I can’t be certain. Maybe to give him more of a reason to believe the story? Even though she didn’t say much – she didn’t even tell Meshiai her name, which would have been useful because Hajime mentions her at the end of the book.

Hotaru’s exploration into the realm of eternal twilight leads her to the space which holds the thousands if not millions of candles that are lit when clients pull the string. Hotaru comes to conclusion that this proves Takuma is innocent and not a devil’s child because she can’t find his name, but, girl, there are so many candles, there’s no way you searched through all of them.

Either way, Meshiai kinda ‘proves’ Takuma’s innocence the same way. After learning that clients gain a black mark on their chests after pulling the string, he goes to Takuma’s house and asks him to show him his chest to see if he has a mark or not (Even though, you’d think Hajime would have included a note that, I strongly assume anyway, once you’ve sent someone to hell…that’s it. You most likely can’t use the service again because your soul, which is used as payment, is already damned. You can’t damn yourself twice. So, obviously, Takuma is not responsible for the string of disappearances anyway. I guess it could be to also clear him of the disappearance of Kakinuma, but Yoshizaki already did that, presumably.) Takuma agrees, and Meshiai sees that there is no chest mark.

But then, as the show goes, things just get worse.

The neighborhood watch/stake out dudes/defense squad/dickheads whatever they want to be called, see Meshiai talking to Takuma in his doorway and one of them approaches him. When Meshiai reveals the information about the mark, the dude stops him from leaving and threatens him. When Meshiai grabs him, he realizes the guy has a mark – he’s used Hell Girl’s services and is also using Takuma as a scapegoat. If this information spreads and clears Takuma of any wrongdoing, the attention will go back to him.

The dude beats the hell out of Meshiai and convinces his cronies to follow suit by claiming Meshiai’s in cahoots with Takuma. The poor kid can do nothing but slam the door in shock at what he’s seeing and just try to block it out by curling up on the floor.

So….If these dickheads have no problem beating up a COP with sticks and shovels just on the belief that he’s siding with Takuma, as dark as this is, why have none of these guys just broken into Takuma’s house to kill him? I know they’re afraid, but the last group had no issue slamming him against the wall and threatening him. Just straight up killing him isn’t that much further to go. It’s not like the people who already used Takuma as a scapegoat need him to live.

“Yeah, but then they’d be charged with murder!” ~some random person, probably.

Uhm, pretty sure viciously beating a cop is basically as bad as killing someone. And this town is so messed up with so much hatred towards Takuma, I can bet they’d be let off on charges somehow.

I saw people in the comments acting like this is some big town scandal and they’re all letting Takuma live so that they can continue to have a scapegoat for future events, but all of these people are so selfish and evil, why the frick would they give a crap about whether or not other people can use him in the future? I mean, if the disappearances still happen even after Takuma is killed/sent to hell, just blame his vengeful ghost or something. It’s no more ridiculous than claiming he’s the child of the devil using an evil website to send people to hell.

Please note – I’m only questioning the logistics of their actions. I don’t want Takuma to die at all. That poor kid has been through way too much.

Meanwhile, Hotaru’s trip to the realm of eternal twilight ends when Ai saves her from the space where the candles are held. Hotaru tells her, rather facepalmingly (is that a word?), that people are being hurt from the use of Hell Link and she should stop it.

I nearly had to pause and giggle at that. Like….do you think she doesn’t know that what she does causes suffering? Don’t you think if she could stop, she would? Or that if she could stop and hasn’t yet the words of some teenage girl aren’t going to get her to change her mind?

Ai just tells her that the decision to stop is outside of her control and she brings Hotaru back to her world.

We leave off with Takuma crying in his doorway listening to Meshiai get beaten, Hotaru confused on the side of the road and Ai looking on at Takuma once more. One has to wonder if Ai is feeling more guilty this season since Takuma truly is innocent in all of this.

She felt more justified before because the people using her service were typically either good people who needed to resort to Hell Link to get rid of bad people or bad people who wanted to get rid of equally bad people. Rarely was the target innocent, but even when they were, that circumstance was so few and far between that it didn’t seem worth it to argue. They had to make up some ridiculously overly pure nurse and have her be targeted by some random psycho who immediately committed suicide after pulling the string so they wouldn’t have to explain why he did it. That’s how difficult it was for the writers to come up with a circumstance where an innocent person was targeted by a Hell Girl client.

Here, not only is Takuma an innocent party who has even refused Hell Girl’s service in the past, when it could have spared him such grief and suffering, but Ai sees herself in him as their stories are somewhat reflective of each other. She not only sympathizes with him, but she probably worries about his soul – fearful that he may end up serving a horrible penance as she is.

Again, we have an episode that is good and interesting, but goddamn it is so depressing.

And I really hate to say this, but we’re STILL not at the worst part yet. Takuma has to suffer more, Meshiai has to suffer more and even Hotaru has to suffer more.

Rating: 8/10

Next episode, for all I just said about no one trying to kill Takuma, next episode….they try to kill Takuma. (In my defense, and this is going to sound bad, it took them way too long) And the angry mob of dickheads aren’t the only ones gunning for his life. An ally also tries to kill him. Dun Dun Dunnn…..Will anyone be left alive in this town after everything is said and done? Find out in the final two episodes.


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Hell Girl: Two Mirrors Episode 23 – Distrust Review

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Plot: Takuma continues to be targeted by people in the neighborhood with glares and rumors, and they’re getting worse every day. Now, he’s being directly blamed for disappearances caused by Hell Girl clientele from the clients themselves. As people get increasingly paranoid of Takuma, more people are demanding he be arrested, even though there’s not enough evidence to arrest him for anything.

No one will believe his story about Hell Link, and those that do believe Takuma is using Hell Link over and over to make random people disappear whenever he pleases. A new detective and his little sister investigate the disappearances and Takuma’s possible connection. Will they be the only ones to believe him? Or will Takuma continue to suffer alone?

Breakdown: Previously on “This Kid Can’t Catch a Fucking Break” Takuma, unjustifiably labeled as a murderer and ‘The devil’s child’ around town, finally found a friend. After drowning in loneliness without his parents and being shunned by everyone else, finding someone who neither knew nor cared about his sordid past and was willing to befriend him was more than welcome. Things looked up for about 12 hours until his new friend not only left town but was sent to hell soon after.

And now….

I warned you before that things for Takuma were only going to get worse. Well, welcome to worse.

While Takuma didn’t get blamed for Seri’s disappearance, he is getting blamed for another Hell Girl victim – and this time it’s entirely on purpose. Some asshat who sent a guy to hell because he made fun of his singing ability (I’m not kidding…) claimed that Takuma ‘ambushed’ them while walking home (Because a ten-year-old can totally ambush two grown men) and the guy who was hellbound walked off with him, never to be seen again.

You know how I frequently find Hell Girl stories bittersweet because I feel bad for the clients since they’re also booking a ticket on the cruise line down the river Styx? I don’t feel that for this guy. How ridiculously villain-esque is this dude to not only send a guy to hell for making fun of his singing but also to frame a CHILD on it?

It’s not even just that. All of the recent Hell Girl related disappearances seem to be getting blamed on Takuma either through simple rumors or the clients blaming them on him. Of course, there’s no evidence to pin anything on Takuma, but the rumors are getting so out of control that the men in the neighborhood, including the asshat who framed him, have started monitoring Takuma’s house at night, even implying that they might be rearing up to kill him if these activities continue.

It’s not only Takuma, either. It seems like no relatively good person can catch a single break.

Yoshizaki returns. She’s the woman who sent Kakinuma to hell – the man who started this whole ‘devil’s child’ thing and murdered Takuma’s mother as well as assaulted his father and sent him into a coma. She felt bad that Takuma was being blamed for what was partially her actions, so she decided to go into the police department to explain that Kakinuma had purposely vanished and Takuma had nothing to do with it. This testimony does help clear Takuma of those suspicions, but the main thing was accusing Takuma of the assault on his father and the murder of his mother, so this doesn’t really mean much of anything. I guess it’s the thought that counts. At this point, I’ll settle for anyone trying to help this poor kid.

Thing is….she dies immediately after going to the police station. Yup, dies in a car crash on her way home.

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I can’t make this stuff up. The world of Hell Girl is, for lack of a better term, cursed.

But hey, let’s keep this hell train going. We’re introduced to two new characters – Detective Seiichi Meshiai and his little sister, Hotaru. Meshiai has been tasked with solving the string of disappearances in the area lately that are all connected to Hell Girl. Like I mentioned, Takuma is being heavily blamed, either indirectly or directly, for the disappearances. Even though Meshiai is suspicious of Hell Link, he doesn’t put enough stock in the idea since it just seems like an Internet rumor to him.

Hotaru actually seems like a better detective than her big brother and figures out certain aspects of Takuma’s story that he couldn’t, but she’s still barking up the wrong tree because, like her brother, she doesn’t believe in Hell Link. She believes Takuma is entirely innocent, but he’s hiding something about the circumstances of his father’s assault and Kakinuma’s disappearance that is entirely non-supernatural.

Surprisingly, the Hell Team is watching over Takuma this entire time, and it seems like this time they’re not there for the sake of another client. They’re there because they appear to be legitimately concerned about Takuma. They want him to tell anyone who will even feign to listen about what happened to Kakinuma just to reach for the chance that someone may believe him and clear his name.

This is pretty big because rarely do they ever actively intervene in anyone’s lives, especially someone who is not a client.

But even this act of kindness goes horribly wrong and Takuma has to pay the price for it.

Hotaru meets with Takuma at his house to interview him about what happened during his father’s assault. Upset that Hotaru doesn’t believe for a second that Hell Link is real, Takuma goes off to his bedroom without another word. While the Hell Team tries to talk to him about it, Kikuri kidnaps Hotaru and takes her to the realm of eternal twilight.

Let me repeat that – Hotaru goes missing after several witnesses see her enter Takuma’s house.

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Have I mentioned I hate Kikuri?

Aforementioned asshat practically tortures poor Takuma into confessing that he used Hell Link to send Hotaru to hell, but Meshiai is actually the more reasonable one here and starts pulling the asshat off of him.

As terrible luck would continue to have it (or…maybe good luck in a way?) at that very moment, the wife of the guy who was sent to hell by said asshat reveals that she’s a client of Hell Girl. And, for some reason, she decided to pull the string just now, at the worst possible moment.

I say this because the guy disappeared while he was hurting Takuma, which obviously makes it seem like Takuma has the power to make people disappear. Another guy who was with the asshat crawled away from the scene, surely to spread the word on what he witnessed, so the rumors are sure to get out of control now. On the other hand, Meshiai now realizes that the power of Hell Link is real and may possibly be open to believing Takuma’s innocence.

At the end of the episode, Takuma isn’t arrested or anything and Meshiai is left with a tangled mess to sort out as he tries to get his sister back. Meanwhile, Hotaru wanders through the realm of eternal twilight and starts making her way towards the familiar house.

All in all, this is a good episode, but it’s also horribly depressing because every nice person keeps falling into terrible circumstances. Even though the asshat did get sent to hell in the end, I didn’t feel much in a way of catharsis because poor Takuma is going to be getting heat 100x worse now, Hotaru’s been kidnapped, Yoshizaki is dead (and in hell) and Meshiai lost his sister.

Rating: 8/10

Believe it or not, things are still going to get worse. Shit is going to hit the fan in the next episode.


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Hell Girl: Two Mirrors Episode 22 – Longing Review

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Plot: A familiar face, Takuma, shows back up on Ai’s radar. He meets a wandering girl named Seri who quickly forms a bond with him – something he desperately needs now that his mother’s dead, his father’s comatose and the entire town has ostracized him, believing he’s responsible for both events. Seri has a dream of going someplace far away, and she may need to resort to less than ethical means of getting what she needs to achieve her goal.

Breakdown: Previously on “This Kid Can’t Catch a Fucking Break,” Takuma was a normal boy who had recently moved back to Japan with his famous producer father and loving mother. However, almost as soon as they had arrived back in town, they started being targeted for harassment. Piles of garbage would wind up on their yard time and again, and fliers claiming Takuma was a ‘devil child’ who killed animals were being strewn about town.

These incidents escalated until it reached the point where the mysterious harasser shot Takuma’s mother in the neck with an arrow – killing her almost instantly. Takuma was blamed for the murder. Only his father believed he was innocent. And soon, not even that would matter.

The real culprit behind the incident was an old friend of Takuma’s father – a jealous writer who felt his failure was on Takuma’s father’s shoulders. Once Takuma’s father realized who was really responsible, the man viciously attacked him with a broken bottle, leaving him on the cusp of death. Takuma arrived on scene during the attack. Just as he was about to get assaulted as well, the man vanished – he was a target of one of Hell Girl’s clients.

As fate would have it, the police arrived on scene shortly thereafter. Seeing Takuma in front of his badly wounded father and no one else in the room, they instantly suspected him. The town’s ire towards ‘the devil’s child’ got exponentially worse. Takuma’s father was lost in a coma, and Takuma was forced to bear the brunt of the whispers, glares and general hatred and fear of him all alone. No one would ever believe the real assailant vanished in thin air…

And now….

Takuma episodes are just so depressing. There’s just no real turning back for this poor kid. Even if his father wakes up and tells everyone point blank that his son had nothing to do with his assault, no one will believe him. They’ll just believe it’s a father trying to protect his son from being ostracized. Even if they get new identities and travel someplace far away, what’s done is done. This kid has an assorted box of trauma-filled chocolates.

Today, Takuma lives alone because anime just does that, okay? No parents? Live alone. Don’t care how old you are. He was let off of murder and assault charges because there wasn’t enough evidence, which is understandable. He’s trying his best to ignore practically everyone whispering about him as he goes about life, but he’s obviously badly effected by it.

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A breezy girl named Seri, who seemingly has no idea of his past, befriends him. She explains that she used to live in the area, but her house was torn down for a train station that never got built due to lack of funds. She used to love going to a nearby creek, which was also destroyed, to see the frogs at night. The frogs were a nice distraction from listening to her parents argue. She grew to love frogs so much that she even has a frog charm on her cell phone and it’s very obvious that her favorite color is bright green.

Takuma and Seri bond very quickly – he even invites her to stay at his house while she’s in town, which she accepts. Apparently, Takuma’s yard is still covered in garbage – it’s unclear whether this is old garbage from the previous Takuma episode or new garbage from townsfolk who despise him.

It eventually comes to light that Seri is involved in some rather shady business. She wants to run away from the town forever and just live freely in some place where there will be a lot of frogs. She even invites Takuma along, though he declines because he has to stay with his father.

In order to leave, however, she needs a lot of money. Thus she started blackmailing a man named Hasue. He was one of the people involved with the destruction of her home, so he was a perfect target. She lead him into having a date with her and then threatened to tell his company that he was having an explicit relationship with a minor, even though they hadn’t done anything together.

He agreed to pay her off, but he started to back out. Seri decided to visit him at his house to talk about it….with his wife present. He vehemently denied the relationship, but the wife didn’t believe him. This was just a taste of the backlash he’d get if she told everyone about them.

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As a result, he once again agreed to pay her. He’d have the money for her the following day. Takuma tries to stop her, asking her to live there with him instead of running away, but she just hugs him, gives him the little frog charm as a gift and heads off.

Now, you may be wondering where Hell Girl and friends come in.

Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeellllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllll……..

They pop up here and there throughout the episode, but we’re not really sure why until the end. Kikuri definitely makes her annoying ass presence known, however. She barges in on Takuma and Seri eating dinner and acts like a big pest. Hone Onna and Ai have to come in and wrangle her away. Also, she’s naked when they take her back and I have no idea why….She was wearing clothes when she entered the house….

When Seri goes to get the money from the mailbox, the designated drop-off location, we see who the client is. Hasue!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

….’s wife!

Dun dun dunnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn!

Legitimately, this actually surprised me. I thought for sure it would be Hasue. But nope. It was the wife the whole time. She put fake money in the mailbox and pulled the string as Seri rode away on her scooter, relishing in the sound of the bike crashing.

I’m not really clear on why she did it – was it for supposedly sleeping with her husband or blackmailing him about it? Maybe a little of both?

I’m not really sure what the purpose of the fake money even was. Did she want to see if Seri would actually extort them before damning her to hell or was it for the lolz?

Kikuri returns shortly after Seri leaves Takuma’s house, because she’s a purple-eyed bitch, and explains that Hell Girl is here for Seri not Takuma, something she wouldn’t divulge earlier.

Struck with this realization, he rushes off to try and save Seri only to find her crashed scooter in the middle of the road and Seri nowhere to be found.

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In conclusion, Takuma made a friend for a day only to have her both leave him voluntarily and then get sent to hell immediately after. Not only that, but he’s standing in what could be considered another crime scene. They don’t show any police there, but he technically is.

This isn’t a bad episode by any stretch of the imagination. It was nice to get an update on Takuma, even if his life is horrible right now, and I liked seeing him have a confidant. The Hell Girl angle was also well-handled. The client’s identity really threw me for a loop, and the motive behind targeting Seri is understandable, even if the exact details behind why the wife was the client are a little hazy.

However, it is tainted by the fact that this episode is a bit overly depressing. Hell Girl’s not sunshine and butterflies (Well, okay, twilight sunshine and weird glowing butterflies) but I’m already sick to death of Takuma’s life being blown up ten ways to Sunday. The kid already has a shitty enough life. There’s no reason to have whole plotlines dedicated to beating him down some more. He’s a sweet kid and it’s just difficult to watch.

No matter what light MAY be at the end of the tunnel for poor Takuma, it won’t be enough for the viewer. He’s been through too much, and we’re still not done with the poor kid.

Yes, that’s right. The next episode also focuses on Takuma as we come down to the wire in episodes. What fresh hell awaits him? Find out next time!

Rating: 9/10


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Hell Girl: Two Mirrors Episode 21 – Paper Balloons Wafting Review

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Plot: The backstory of Hone Onna unfolds as she follows a case in current day that reminds her a lot of her past.

Breakdown: Barring Ai, Hone Onna definitely has the saddest backstory of everyone in the Hell team. Born as a woman named Tsuyu, her life had been one of servitude, torment and betrayal. I thought just hating the young lord, who tricked her into being sold into prostitution to help settle a debt he had, would be the worst, but nope. That award goes to her ungrateful little pissant of a friend, Kiyo.

I really don’t understand this woman. I get that she was always jealous of Hone Onna/Tsuyu, despite their close relationship, but everything Hone Onna tried to do for her, she’d brush off because she was just that bitter. The fact that it seemed like Kiyo didn’t much care that Hone Onna and another man who was trying to help her was murdered all because ‘oooh look, this douchebag bought me a pretty kimono that is way better than anything you own, onee-san,’ is infuriating. By the way, she didn’t get them murdered by accident – she ousted them as they were trying to help her escape and they got murdered as punishment.

I didn’t have an ounce of sympathy for this bitch when they revealed what happened to her after Hone Onna got murdered.

She continued her life at the brothel only to get pregnant by the guy who gave her the fancy kimono. He wasn’t having any of that, however, so he took his sword and slashed her across the stomach to kill the baby. Devastated, she committed suicide in the same river Hone Onna’s body had been dumped into.

Now, you might be thinking to yourself, “Oh come on, Twix. You’re being a bit harsh on Kiyo. I bet she had just as terrible of a life story as Hone Onna. She made a bad decision and paid for it. Cut her some slack.” Well, maybe I would if not for her story’s resolution.

Yup, Kiyo’s not quite done yet.

Cut to present time where Kiyo is sorta-ish possessing their client of the week. While it’s very unclear exactly how much Kiyo is influencing the client, Youko, she does certainly convince her to try to commit suicide, again, via jumping off a bridge into a river, trying to replicate the circumstances of her own death.

I’m only giving half blame on this to Kiyo herself. I don’t know what circumstances turned her into this wandering spirit outside of her sad story, but she’s still knowingly doing it to continue the cycle of pain and misery through women who have similar stories to her.

She earns the rest of my ire by what she does after Hone Onna saves Youko and confronts Kiyo. Believe it not, Kiyo still has the balls to act like she has the moral high ground with Hone Onna. Apparently, Kiyo is just so woeful that Hone Onna can’t possibly understand what she’s going through. Jeepers. Someone you love betraying you and getting you murdered? Hone Onna would NEVER be able to understand that….

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The situation sucks as a whole for both of them, I get that, but Kiyo’s attitude and actions are so shitty it makes it so much more difficult to sympathize with her.

Hone Onna has been massively betrayed twice in her life, and she still managed to get up, move on and trust others, trying to help them, long after she’s died. Kiyo, on the other hand, had someone who loved her, who tried to help her, tried to free her from a life of prostitution and essential slavery, but she threw that away just to be better than Hone Onna.

And when the shit hit the fan for her, she never even apologized or expressed remorse for her actions. She was still completely wrapped up in her own problems until the very end and continued giving Hone Onna the snub. She did say she was happy to have met her one more time before she, I guess, made the conscious choice to go to hell, but that doesn’t make up for much.

You want to know what else? After all that, Hone Onna still tries to save her from going to hell and even asks Ai if she’ll pick up Kiyo at the river Styx to maybe help Kiyo like she did for her.

It’s sad, but also quite touching that Hone Onna has finally found a family that she can trust, but she had to die to get it.

As for our case this week, a woman named Youko has put out a contract on her ex-boyfriend, Makoto. He has knocked her up, took a ton of her money, and left her for some other woman. He doesn’t give a crap about her or the baby and just wants her out of his life. I did proper research on this and no, this is not Makoto from School Days, but don’t worry, he still gets his in the end.

Youko has contacted Hell Girl, but she is still desperately, and I mean desperately, trying to keep Makoto by her side. She doesn’t care if he’s with another woman or never gives her money back or if he loves her or not – she just wants him to be in her life, and he doesn’t want that at all.

Youko has a friend who basically acts like Hone Onna to Youko’s Kiyo in this situation – trying to convince her to leave him and that he’s not good for her, freeing her of a life with someone so terrible, but she won’t listen.

When Makoto makes it as painfully clear as possible that he’ll never be with her in any capacity again, even being the father to his child, she pulls the string and Kiyo guides her into trying to jump off the bridge because she feels there’s no point in giving birth to a child if Makoto isn’t around. When Kiyo’s influence is torn from her, however, she pats her belly lovingly and goes off to live a good life with her baby, so there’s no arguing that Kiyo didn’t force Youko into attempting suicide.

My question is, how long has Kiyo been influencing Youko? Does she even realize what she’s done, in regards to Hell Girl? Does she know she’s damned for hell? Did Kiyo contact Hell Girl in the first place? I’d imagine not because Ai can see Kiyo, but it’s never really confirmed and that bothers me.

Finally, there’s the hell torture this time around. I’m kinda surprised we got one this episode since the current day plot took up so little time in the episode, but Makoto is certainly a big enough jackwad to warrant one. And what a weird one he got.

He’s transported to a ramen shop where there’s a swaddled baby in his ramen. He’s then drowned in ramen broth, grabbed by Ren, Wanyuudou and Kikuri, clad in bathing suits. When we pull out, it’s revealed that it’s not really ramen broth, it’s amniotic fluid. They’re all in a big womb with a giant baby sitting by them. Zoom out even more and we reveal that they’re all inside of a fish bowl, for some reason.

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You’d think that’d be the end of it, but it’s not. They pull out all the stops with this one. As Makoto wakes up in the boat, he’s massively pregnant and, in Alien-style, whatever is in his man-womb bursts from his stomach.

Holy. Crap. I don’t know why they chose this guy to go all out on when there are so many people who have deserved creative and horrifying hell tortures, with full episodes dedicated to their assholery, but that was so insane and, quite frankly, awesome. Weird as hell, pun intended, but awesome.

All in all, I really loved this episode. Some parts about Kiyo were janky, and it’s very miserable, but much of Hell Girl tends to be filled with misery. At least we know Hone Onna’s content where she is and she got some closure with Kiyo. At least we know Youko is going to love and care for her baby now. Heck, we even know Kiyo’s free from wandering the earth and another dickwicket is having a literal pregnancy from hell for all eternity. It’s about the best you can get in regards to happy endings in this show.

Rating: 9/10

Next time, Takuma, another miserable human being, in a different manner, returns! Will there be any light on the horizon for this perpetual tormented boy?


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Hell Girl: Two Mirrors Episode 20 – A Maiden’s Album Review

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Plot: A girl named Mari is under the firm thumb of her supposed best friend Juri. Until recently, they had actually been legitimately great friends – dressing alike, doing everything together and being the other’s rock – however, an incident lead Mari to hurting Juri’s leg and her heart.

Ever since, Juri’s disposition has changed so drastically that she has called upon Hell Girl and is making no secret of using the doll as leverage against Mari. If she betrays her again, she’s gone. With that in play, Juri forces her to do her bidding and controls nearly every aspect of Mari’s life. What did Mari do that was so terrible, and is there any hope for this friendship to blossom once more or will it burn in the fires of hell?

Breakdown: This was one of those episodes where it intrigues me for the first half because there’s a bit of a mystery going on here – that being what Mari did to earn Juri’s ire – but once you learn of the reason, you realize what a stupid episode this is.

This episode is being framed in a bit of a flashback by Ren, who handled this case. He took an interest in Mari and befriended her for a bit, which is what got us to the reveal of why Juri became such a bitch.

Both Mari and Juri were avid tennis players. They trained a lot, but Juri struggled while Mari excelled. Mari always helped Juri through it and promised that the two of them would play doubles together (Whether she means that professionally or just in high school or something is never made clear.) One day, an upperclassman offers to have Mari play doubles with her because she didn’t want to see her potential squandered playing with Juri.

Since she’s clearly being pressured by this intimidating upperclassman (and her friend) Mari said she’d think about it. Juri overheard them. She was in such massive shock, she instantly ran away from the scene. However, her foot crashed through the cracked floor, injuring her leg and putting her on crutches.

Ever since then, Juri became a frickin’ psychopath. She scratched out any instances of that upperclassman’s face from all of their group pictures. Juri forced Mari to put her own name on her crappy tests and papers and put Juri’s name on hers since Mari was a great student, causing Mari’s grades to plummet. She forced her to stop watching her favorite movies. She forced her to report each and every thing she did to her. Juri even knitted matching hats, mittens and scarves with their names on them so Mari can constantly remember her hatred (And I’m not inferring that – she specifically said she made them with hatred.) And to top it all off, she threatens her every day by reminding her that she has the straw doll and will use it any time she pleases.

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I want you to stop reading right now and re-read the reason why she did this heel-turn. She’s filled with this much malice, this much anger, this much hate that she successfully called Hell Girl, all because Mari said she’d consider playing doubles in tennis with someone else.

Not even that she actually agreed – she’d CONSIDER it.

And even though she remains in bandages and uses a crutch, Juri supposedly healed a while before the story started, yet she claims it hurts so much because of Mari’s betrayal and the pain will never go away.

In just as much of a break-neck speed as she suddenly became a super villain, Juri turns the other way completely at random. One day at school she decides to look at a picture that she keeps in the little bag that holds the straw doll. It’s obviously a picture of the two of them even though they don’t show it to us yet. And three, two, one, bam, suddenly she feels like she’s had enough of twirling her mustache and goes to find Mari to seemingly make amends.

But uh oh, here comes another stupid development.

Mari is comforted by Ren again, and she’s so moved by his support that she cries into his chest for a second. Just then, Juri rounds the corner, and, seeing this, becomes just as distraught as she did with the tennis girl before. Because I guess seeing her crying on some random dude’s shoulder is totally ‘betraying’ her again. Is Mari not allowed to have anyone even remotely close to her in her life besides Juri?

Juri runs off, proving that her foot is perfectly fine, and Mari gives chase. She stops Juri in a crosswalk by yelling that they always need to be together.

I’m going to try to say this next part as seriously as I can muster. And you have to trust that I’m not kidding.

Ahem.

And then a truck comes out nowhere and runs over Juri.

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♫ I believe I can fly…♫

What is it with this bitch and getting badly wounded after running away from Mari?

Also, doesn’t this technically mean Ren interfered in this case? If Mari wasn’t crying on Ren, Juri never would’ve ran off and gotten hit by that truck. If Ren wasn’t there, it’s also very possible they would have made up and gone on with their lives. Granted, I can’t see the friendship lasting if Mari can’t so much as look at another human being without Juri having a nervous breakdown, but still.

As Juri lies near death in the hospital, Mari tends to her at her bedside with the doll. She prompts Juri to pull the string out of guilt, but she refuses, pointing to the photo in the bag. Mari looks at it with tears in her eyes, and Juri suddenly takes a turn for the worse. At the last moments, Mari grabs Juri’s hands and forces her to pull the string in the hopes that they’ll be able to spend the afterlife together in hell.

Mari gets her wish, seeing a lantern with the bag and photo floating next to the ferry, but what the hell, Mari?! I’m not arguing that Juri was a good candidate for a halo and harp, but you just forced Juri into being bound for hell when she has mere seconds of life left in her and she had already expressed that she DIDN’T WANT TO PULL THE STRING.

You damned your friend to hell all because you felt guilty and wanted to be with her in hell, which I’ve already explained in a past episode is dumb because I sincerely doubt the welcome wagon in hell will ever let you get a glimpse of your friend, outside of in whatever painful manners they can muster. Hell is not a place where you pal around with your buddies.

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Oh well, I guess you deserve each other anyway. I get that teenagers tend to be very unsteady in regards to emotional states, but there is no consistency whatsoever in either of these two characters. They mean so much to each other that even the slightest thing that could be perceived as betrayal might as well be an affront to god, but they’ll also be insanely shitty to each other at the drop of a hat.

I can see some angle where this might be a very sad and bittersweet episode, but you need to stand on your head and squint to get it. All the other angles are just dumb – sometimes to hilarious levels.

Rating: 2/10

Next episode, Hone Onna’s backstory revealed.


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Hell Girl: Two Mirrors – Episode 19 Hell Amidst the Steam, Lodging for Travelers Review

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Plot: 400 years ago, when Ai’s duties as Hell Girl first started, she met an angry demonic wagon wheel named Wanyuudou. He seeks hell, and she’s just the person to show him the true nature of humanity and hell. She takes him to a local inn where she shows him the birth of vengeance in a person and how many people would be willing to send themselves to hell in order to appease their need for retribution.

Meanwhile, in present day, it seems history is repeating itself.

Breakdown: I’ve been bad-mouthing the brief glimpse we got into Wanyuudou’s past a while back because I felt like they didn’t explore much, but this episode more than makes up for it.

Granted, I still feel like the previous episode wasn’t well-managed because this episode could have also included the full story of him carrying his princess and crashing in a raid by enemy warriors, causing the carriage to burn up and everyone inside of it to die. It’s not really a huge issue, though. I’m just happy we did get Wanyuudou’s full story.

This episode is very poetic because it somewhat literally is history repeating itself. The first owners of this inn, Kahei and his son Yuuhei, screwed over a woman named Tami who was set to marry Yuuhei. She was even pregnant at the time. They opted to have Yuuhei marry a woman named Hanae for really no given reason. Tami quickly and completely spiraled into a rage brought on by a need for vengeance and set Hell Girl upon the inn owner.

400 years later, the descendants of both Tami, a teenage girl named Ichiko, and Kahei, a woman named Yurie, find themselves in a similar situation. Here, the script is flipped, though. Ichiko spotted Yurie putting bath salts into the hot spring – discovering that it was a fake hot spring all along. It was the dirty secret of this multi-generational inn and Yurie couldn’t risk the secret getting out, so she allowed Ichiko to ‘work’ there and get all the free time she wanted lounging around with her friends.

But she doesn’t stop there. Realizing that she has Yurie firmly under her thumb, Ichiko torments her regularly as well, even forcing her to run through the inn naked after throwing her clothes into the hot spring while she was taking a bath.

In the end, Yurie can’t take anymore and sics Hell Girl on Ichiko, who ironically suffers the exact same terrible fate that Yurie’s ancestor did – being boiled alive in a demonic hot spring.

Both the backstory and the two Hell Girl stories worked perfectly and it was paced very well. I liked how they sometimes had sequences of the stories playing immediately one after the next when a particularly familiar scene was unfolding.

It was also a great look into how Hell Girl worked at the start. Even though I sincerely doubt this is Ai’s first case, especially given how she’s acting, it is confirmed that this is roughly around where Ai first started her duties in the role.

Instead of a website, Ai uses ema tablets, which are wooden tablets hung in Shinto or Buddhist shrines. Visitors write their wishes on the tablets, and it’s believed that the gods will hear their wishes and grant them this way. Ai uses special black tablets that have her promise to avenge grievances on the back. They don’t outright say it, but I assume that these tablets work similarly to the newspapers and website Ai eventually uses in that you can’t see or use the tablet unless your heart is filled with vengeance.

Something confused me, though. Wanyuudou acts as her black doll (Ren is blue and Hone Onna’s is red.) but here she’s seen using a black doll and Wanyuudou isn’t it. Who or what were the dolls before Ai had assistants? Were they really just plain dolls? If they were, why does Ai need her assistants to transform into the dolls now?

In addition, for some strange reason, Ai left behind a corpse in the flashback. Ai never does that. The people always just disappear, which is how I assume Ichiko passed. Yet, in the flashback, Kahei is clearly a shrived up burned corpse on the floor and his family horrifically finds him.

Also, holy hell, pun intended, what a horrific hell torture that took me entirely off guard. We really haven’t had a lot of hell torture scenes lately, and it’s definitely been a while since we’ve seen any that have any real horror to them, but geez. Two different scenes watching people being boiled alive. Yikes.

All in all, I really loved this episode. It more than made up for the droplets of backstory we got for Wanyuudou a little while back (Hope we get the same for Hone Onna. My memory really is crap. I swear I’ve watched this season before…) and even the other Hell Girl stories running alongside the backstory were interesting. Not nearly as fleshed out as usual, for obvious reasons, but still.

Rating: 9/10


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Hell Girl: Two Mirrors – Episode 18: That Person’s History Review

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Plot: Rina is forced to care for her disabled estranged mother, Michyo, who seemingly hates her guts and those of her father and pretty much everyone else. Rina’s suffering. Her father is suffering. And it’s all caused by this one woman. If only she weren’t around….

But is Michiyo’s story may not be as clean cut as Rina believes.

Breakdown: I’m going to level with you guys for a second. I had a full review written out for this episode, but I had to rewrite the entire thing because most of my discussion points leaned on a plot point that I misunderstood until I was already done writing it. As a result, my score for this episode went down from a 7.5/10 to a 6/10.

Because my misconceived version was actually rated higher, I’m going to swallow some pride here and discuss what mistake I had made. Plus, it actually makes for some constructive criticism on how this episode could’ve been made a little better, so it works out.

This is an episode that I definitely remembered from when I watched this season several years ago. I couldn’t really pinpoint why because, at the end of the day, it’s fairly cut and dry. Woman is a complete asshole ruining everyone’s lives, so call Hell Girl and put that bitch on a boat. In addition, the more I thought about it while rewatching it, the worse the story became.

That’s not to say that the story is really all that bad. I disliked Michiyo enough to want her to go to hell. I liked Rina enough to want her to not go to hell. And their situation was understandable and not overblown to the point of ridiculous supervillainy. It was simply a case of a woman imposing on the lives of people she hurt before, continuing to be a nightmare for seemingly no reason. Her mere presence and the fact that she required round-the-clock care over the tiniest things was taking a severe toll on Rina and her father on top of that.

But as I mentioned, it’s really not so so simple.

Michiyo is put in the care of her ex-husband after she suffered from an accident that left her almost entirely disabled. Since the accident was deemed her fault, her insurance isn’t covering her nursing care.

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Okay. Ingrate: Confirmed.

Rina despises her mother since she abandoned her and her father when she was young. She never remembered her mother smiling or bonding with her as a child. As time has gone by, Michiyo’s personality has only gotten worse. Now she’s bitter, angry and cruel.

Rina can’t make heads or tails of why her father is willfully accepting the arduous task of caring for her mother night and day. However, she loves her father deeply, so she eventually helps him care for her, no matter how cold and cruel she continues to be.

Eventually, it gets so bad that she believes the only way to solve the problem is by making Michiyo go away by using Hell Girl. She sits on the doll for a while, but adamantly believes she’ll use it sometime in the near future.

When faced with the question yet again of why he lets Michiyo treat him like garbage, Rina’s father shares a very surprising story with her. He owes Michiyo a deep debt because he feels guilty for her being the way she is now, both physically and mentally.

He reveals that Michiyo is not Rina’s biological mother. Michiyo has always been unable to have children. Realizing that Rina’s father deeply wanted children, she begged him to use a surrogate instead of adopting. After a long while of debate, he eventually conceded, believing Michiyo would welcome the child as her own, but he was wrong.

Michiyo changed for the worse almost immediately after that. She never accepted Rina as her child, stopped smiling and grew a horrid personality. After a few years of pretending, she ultimately decided to leave.

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Here’s where I had the major misconception. The dialogue, which at this point was Rina’s narration on the matter, lead me to believe Rina’s father had developed a sexual relationship with her biological mother. That’s why Michiyo was really so bitter. Not only was the child they were raising not hers, biologically, but it was the child of a woman her husband was cheating on her with.

Because of this misconception, I was able to sympathize with Michiyo a little more. I definitely understood her reasons for leaving and refusing to return anyway. However, I was much less sympathetic to her attitude towards Rina because none of that was her fault. Even if she could never accept her as her child, she still should have had it within her to apologize and try to establish a good relationship with her, but she never bothered even trying.

When I rewatched that scene a few times, because I was trying to understand if I missed why or if he and her biological mother broke it off, I finally realized that she was saying he was secretly seeing MICHIYO, not her biological mother, behind RINA’S back after Michiyo abandoned them. He was trying to mend bridges and get Michiyo to accept Rina as her child, but she consistently refused.

In my defense, I was watching and writing that at 3AM.

Rina’s father later states that he should’ve known Michiyo was testing him when she made that request. This was another aspect that kinda confused me at first. She was testing him for what? To see if he’d actually make a child with another woman (I certainly hope through artificial means) instead of giving up his dream of having a child? She never makes it clear why she doesn’t want him to adopt. He just wanted a child – he never made any statement about wanting to continue his bloodline or anything.

He blames himself for her personality shift because of this, even though that’s still pretty flimsy. Michiyo couldn’t have children, and this whole thing was her idea. Maybe she just never wanted to be a mom. Maybe she really did see him accepting this offer as some massive backwards betrayal. I dunno.

As for him being the reason behind her physical condition – during one of his visits to see Michiyo secretly, Rina’s father again tried to convince her to come back home. She felt like she was being pitied and that he was only offering to take her back to make him feel better about his own ‘mistakes.’

She suddenly makes the decision to put an end to his misery herself and jump in front of a tractor trailer. She didn’t lose her life, but she became severely disabled.

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Despite hearing this story, Rina still wasn’t giving up the doll.

The next day, she tries to find it to no avail. Ai tells her that it belongs to someone else now. Here’s where I got confused on a more technical level. Is Ai implying that Rina’s father stole the doll and used it? Because he did see her with the doll and might have known what it was. Or is she saying Rina’s father took out a contract himself on Michiyo? I thought that Hell Girl worked on a ‘dibs’ kind of system. If someone has an existing contract on someone, they have the right to the target. You can’t take out a new contract unless the old one has been terminated, which it wasn’t in this case.

I’m inclined to believe he stole it, because it is the same black doll, but does that mean that, when you pull the string on someone else’s doll, you take the contract? Because he was the one marked after that.

Rina’s father takes her mother out to their favorite spot by the river. He asks her one final time if she’ll ever find it within herself to accept Rina and forgive him. Even if she can’t do the latter, do the former for the sake of Rina because she’s precious to him and doesn’t deserve this treatment.

Michiyo refuses, stating she’ll never be able to forgive him or accept Rina no matter what. In response, Rina’s father pulls the string on the doll, sending her to hell, saving Rina from both Michiyo’s terrible treatment and suffering the fate of being sent to hell.

This was another issue that arose with me only because my initial misconception was now gone. Now that I know Rina’s father wasn’t cheating on Michiyo with Rina’s biological mother, I feel 1000x worse that he’s destined for hell. He did it for the sake of saving Rina, but also for the sake of atoning for mistakes that were never actual mistakes. His wife put a slimy and vague ultimatum in front of him, literally begging him to take this weird bait, and he made a logical choice.

Michiyo overreacted to ridiculous levels over something so stupid, and Rina’s father bore the guilt of making her feel that way when it was completely unwarranted. I can understand if she eventually regretted her decision to push him to having a child via surrogate and that she could never find herself emotionally connecting with a child that wasn’t biologically hers – for all we know she never wanted to be a mom in the first place – but to have such malice against Rina’s father for that and to put such guilt on Rina for literally just being born is disgraceful. She put absolutely no blame on herself for any of this happening and kept playing the victim.

When Rina arrives, her father walks off in a daze and she spots something in the empty wheelchair – a marble.

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One of the Rina’s only memories of her mother involved her giving a marble to her, but she didn’t remember Michiyo accepting it. As we’ve already discussed, she never remembered her smiling. However, when Rina picked up the marble, her memories cleared up a bit more. She accepted the marble and gave the faintest of smiles. That may have been the one and only time Michiyo ever even slightly accepted Rina, and, considering she was keeping hold of it during the entire episode and refusing to give it to Kikuri when she popped up on occasion, it’s believed she was holding onto it as a sort of thread to her humanity. But now Rina will never know.

No answer would make up for anything in the slightest, though.

Michiyo’s ride to hell is entirely silent. She has no emotional response whatsoever. No words to say. Nothing. She’s basically emotionally dead.

————————————–

And….I just feel miserable again. A terrible person got sent to hell, and an innocent person was spared from that fate for a change, but Rina’s father doesn’t deserve that fate, nor does he deserve to seemingly fall into a pit of despair for his actions.

I liked how Rina was narrating the entire episode. That was a change-up from most episodes. The Hell Team also wasn’t really involved at all here outside of a few visits from Kikuri, which were tolerable anyway and served an actual purpose.

I don’t think the little side-plot of her fiance starting to distance himself from her seemingly due to his parents starting to disapprove was necessary mostly because it just added more misery to her situation and wasn’t even really connected with the main plot. None of what she was doing with her mother or father was affecting her relationship with her fiance, and his parents got on just fine with her father at the start of the episode. But she suddenly learns that his parents are starting to disapprove midway through the episode and we never see him again.

I really believe that this episode would’ve been improved if my misconception was a reality. If Rina’s father had cheated on Michiyo with Rina’s biological mother, so much more would make sense and be less miserable. Michiyo’s reasons for becoming so cold and callous would be more understandable, especially in regards to Rina. Her leaving would be more understandable. I’d be a little more content with Rina’s father damning himself to hell as penance for his actions. And even the part with the marble would be a little sweeter.

But nope.

She was just a terrible person who might not have been quite as terrible as we perceived by about a millimeter.

What a twist.

Overall, I’m disappointed that I had to redo this review just to gain a much worse perspective on the episode and lower the score significantly, but it can’t be helped. This is an alright episode for what it’s worth, and I think I finally have the word to describe this episode that I haven’t been able to grasp in the past – sloppy. The components for a really great episode, even if you don’t use my suggestions, are there. It’s just disjointed and doesn’t build upon that foundation well at all.

Rating: 6/10

Next episode, we learn even more about Wanyuudou’s past as we learn about how he came to meet Ai………..Also, obligatory hot springs episode.


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