Jigoku Shoujo

December 15, 2007

I’m sure we all have someone whom we hate. How we wish that someone would just die and go straight down to hell. Don’t worry, you could just do that in Jigoku Shoujo. All you have to do is wait right at the stroke of midnight and have an internet connection so that you could access the Jigoku Tsuushin (Hell’s Portal or Website) and enter the name of the person you would like to send to hell. Seems easy, right? Plus it’s all just at your fingertips and you don’t have to do anything elaborate.
 
At first, I was reluctant to watch the series because it’s more of a supernatural genre and it isn’t a comedy one. As usual, the write-up on the series was so darn good so much so that it was enough to made me curious to watch it. And I was glad I did as it didn’t disappoint. Most people would classify this series as a horror flick but to me it’s more supernatural because I notice that the main villains here aren’t the ones who send people to hell, but the ordinary mortals called human beings themselves. There’s a devil in all of us. Plus, unlike most horror genres, there aren’t really any scenes which would suddenly appear intentionally to scare and raise your heartbeat level.
 
There are 26 episodes in this series and it is interesting to see what kind of grudges, vengeances and hatred the human kind has against another. Some I felt were very pitiful and were really forced into it as they’re being pushed to a corner while some were so pathetic that it made me go "Like this also can send people to hell ah?". In short, human’s hatred is limitless and they could get really creative if they wanted to.
 
Before that let’s meet the team who makes people’s ‘dream’ (or nightmare, depending how you look at it) come true. The head of the group is Enma Ai, who looks like a school girl and with her pale skin and red eyes, one might become frightful at first sight of her. She doesn’t really speak much unless necessary. The rest of the team includes a young man Ichimoku Ren who has a third eye to see things, a beautiful woman in kimono Hone Onna whose name literally means bone woman and in a certain light, you could really see that she’s made out of bones. Then an old man named Wanyuudou who acts as Enma’s chariot of fire whenever she goes to fulfill requests of her client. Also, Wanyuudou turns into a straw doll with a red string (which is his red scarf) so that Enma could give it to her client if he/she ever intents to exact his/her revenge.
 
So how does this sending of people to hell work? Usually, immediately after one sends the name of the intended victim (better hurry because the webpage will only be available at exactly midnight. So you’ve got to decide and do in 60 seconds), Enma Ai will appear and give the client the straw doll. In each episode, you’ll notice that they say the same lines so much so I can nearly anticipate what they say everytime. It won’t get boring after a while because the producers will try various ways to ‘present’ them. This is what Enma says to her client after giving the straw doll.
 
"In order to eliminate your antagonist, you must untie that red string. However, if you untie the red string you’ll enter into a contract with me. If I deliver your vengeance, I must have you make a restitution for me. Your soul will fall into the pits of hell, left wandering without the possibility of ever knowing paradise. But that is only after you die".
 
Doesn’t sound like a good deal to the client, right? It may seem longwinded but Enma’s spelling out the terms and conditions of the contract so that her clients could really think over and know what they’re getting in to. See, she’s not the bad guy. Most of them would ask back why do they have to go to hell too. This is Enma’s answer: "When one is cursed, two graves are dug". Reminds you of Aesop’s fables Jupiter And The Bee, doesn’t it? Yeah, one bad deed deserves another. "And the rest is up to you to decide" is Enma’s closing words.
 
Having hear all of this, you may think the client will have second thoughts about not pulling the string. Unfortunately, they always do in the end and partly because it won’t be entertaining if majority of them won’t. Once the red string is pulled, a gust of wind will blow the straw doll away as Wanyuudou will say "I hear and deliver your vengeance". Then Enma and co will be on their way to deliver the vengeance by giving the victim a terrifying experience. Though it’s intended to make the victim confess their sins and wrongdoings, I feel that the later episodes, they just skip this part. So if one confesses, would the victim avoid going to hell? Not sure. But usually, the victim is stubborn and still thinks his/her actions are right. With that, Enma says another trademark (recycled) line.
 
"O pitiful shadow cloaked in darkness. Thy actions caused men pain and suffering. Thy hollow soul drown in thy sins. Would you like to see what death is like?".
 
Enma will stretch out her right hand and the flowers on her kimono will start coming out to the sound of a bell. The next thing the victim knows, he/she is lying on a slow little boat to hell. Some is in shock, some just accept it. While Enma rows the boat into hell, she’ll say "I’ll carry this vengeance to hell". Back on Earth, the client experiences peaceful days without his/her antagonist but a black round mark is always seen on his/her chest as prove that he/she has entered the contract. But I suppose they have no time to worry when they’ll die and go to hell and will go on living the rest of their pitiful lives happily. In every episode, the final scene will show a lited up candle with the client’s name and Enma saying "I will exact your vengeance". The candle is supposed to represent the client’s life and when it goes out, so does the client’s life.
 
Each of the episode follows this pattern. We’re introduced to someone who is being antagonised by another in some situation, he/she contacts Jigoku Tsuushin and gets the straw doll. Some need a little time to think it over while others have no qualm about pulling it straight away. Enma and co goes into action, victim sent to hell and a somewhat happy but sombre mood ends it all for the client. You can take a guess even at the next episode preview which is narrated by Wanyuudou asking the next client’s name, his/her vengeance, his/her wish (the client always say "Send him/her to hell) and finally "I hear and exact your revenge".
 
While Enma and co aren’t exacting other people’s revenge, they would be stationed at some place whereby it’s always sunset among the valley and streams with lush greeneries and flowers. I’m not sure what they really do in that hut but there seems to be an old woman (let’s call her Grannie) always spinning a wheel behind a paper door. You’ll never get to see her face, only her shadowy outline, as she sometimes make a conversation with only Enma. Meanwhile Enma is seen doing things to kill time like soaking in the stream or eating the berries off the bushes. And there’s a mysterious spider whom everyone tries not to talk or say more than they should when it’s around. Yeah, there’s a computer in the hut and whenever there’s a request, Grannie will inform Enma about it and prepares her kimono for her job. Since some of the clients need time to think over before they pull the string, Enma and co would disguise themselves and undergo some sort of an investigation work. I later find out that this is to see whether they should accept or reject a client’s request based on their heart. Something like that. It got me thinking, in later episodes for some requests that they should’ve turned down, why didn’t they do so.
 
In order not for each episode to be a total bore or monotonous, the producers also presented the episodes in a different manner such as being told through a flashback or the opening scene shows how the victim goes to hell first then the story is then told how it all ended up like this. Even some of the way they show Enma conducting her terrifying experience on the victims are quite creatively done. After watching the entire series, I still find the first episode to be the most pitiful and best one. What a perfect way to start things. It tells of a school girl Mayumi who is entrusted with a large sum of class funds. But the fund went missing and she is in a panic. An obnoxious and b*tchy classmate, Ayu, who is actually the one who stole the money, ‘rescues’ Mayumi by using her own money to cover up. So in order for Mayumi to be grateful, she has to become Ayu’s ‘dog’. Mayumi has to do every of her bidding or else Ayu will spill the beans that she lost the funds. So much so, Mayumi has to go and meet her fancies as to when the latter likes. And there’s 1 time whereby Mayumi was forced into compensate dating, only to later find Ayu and her friends have taken a photo of her in such situation with her handphone. As usual Ayu threatens and blackmail her. Mayumi has no choice but to obey and keep quiet even if it incurs the wrath of her parents and teachers. Then Mayumi reaches her limit when that pic circulates and her teacher knows about it and even changed his perspective of her. Why, that poor girl didn’t even do anything wrong or against Ayu! Why that sadistic #&*$#&^ b*tch! Mayumi could no longer take it and pulls the string (earlier on she did contact Jigoku Tsuushin when she overheard rumours about it but hesitates to use it). As Ayu goes straight to hell, Mayumi’s at least glad that the b*tch won’t be around to torment her further.
 
Episode 2 is the second most pitiful and saddening episode. It’s about a girl Ryouko who’s been terrified because there’s some stalker who’s stalking her with weird gifts like dead insects. She’s very very emotionally broken down, traumatised, very afraid and it’s pitiful to see her parents trying their best to defend her from that unknown stalker. Her dad enlists the help of a detective who reveals that the stalker may be his young partner and advices him to pretend that everything is normal as not to arouse his suspicions. The ending was an unexpected for me because it’s revealed that the true stalker is the detective himself! Didn’t see that one coming. He even went great lengths to frame his younger detective and even killed him! Just when the detective is about to lay his hands on Ryouko, she finds the strength to pull the red string and sends the detective straight to hell. He deserves it. I’m sure Ryouko can breath easier now after all that terrifying ride she’s been through.
 
I somehow felt the rest wasn’t as good as the first two but nevertheless they’re still good to watch. Perhaps I’ve come to expect the same kind of intensity by then. Like episode 3, a school baseball club member sends his rising star comrade to hell when the latter’s responsible for his friend’s death but everyone blames him for it, episode 4 a little girl does the same to a vet doctor because he lied to her about unable to save her pet dog when he’s just attending more important things and pet lives aren’t that important to him, episode 5 a lady employee sends her cocky corporate lady boss there as the latter thinks life is like a game as she uses her to do her biddings, episode 6 a high school girl gets rid of a b*tchy woman (who’s also the head of the housewives committee) because her mom saw her committing adultery and ever since then her family is shunned and bullied, episode 7 a young upcoming actress decides to send her employer to hell because she chose another girl instead of her but before she could pull the string, the other chosen girl whom she has ‘taken care of’ exacts her revenge first and sends that ungrateful young lady to her doom.
 
By episode 8, Enma’s activities has gained the attention of a journalist named Hajime Shibata. This guy seems to be blackmailing celebrities and gets his ‘income’ by nicely ‘threatening’ to reveal their scandal. But he isn’t a bad guy. Though he has heard of rumours about people sending others to hell, he isn’t really interested at first but soon find out that the rumours are true. Not only that, Hajime’s daughter, Tsugumi, sometimes have visions of Enma and the next victim. Yeah, she goes into some sort trance. Scary for a little kid to see such things. Luckily Tsugumi stays strong. Other than that, Tsugumi’s a cute little girl whom you’d feel like pinching her cheeks and I find it a weird habit that she calls her dad by his first name. Is it the trend today these kids? Because of Hajime’s strong opinion that sending people to hell is wrong no matter what the reason, most of the subsequent episodes sees the father-daughter pair in a race against time trying to reach (Tsugumi can see where the string pulling incident takes place through her visions) and convince the client not to pull the string. Would they listen? Either they’re too late or the client is too stubborn and as a result, their efforts are futile. Because of that, Wanyuudou, Ren and Hone are cautious and wary whenever Hajime is involved. They don’t like the idea someone else butting into their job. So like in this episode, Hajime didn’t manage to stop a lady who sent her best friend’s boyfriend to hell because she thinks that it’s his fault that her best pal is hospitalized due to his abusive ways.
 
The rest that follows seem the same too. In episode 9, one of the sisters decides to send some celebrity baker to hell because not only he stole some cake creation of theirs but he’s causing them problems which will crush their dream like shutting down their store. Episode 10, a young school girl Minami wanted to send her best buddy Shiori to hell because the former thought that the latter ditched her to be with the more ‘in’ group of friends but when Shiori got betrayed, realized and come back to her, during a struggle due to Shiori’s curiosity of Minami’s straw doll, she accidentally unties the string. With that Minami hopes to become her friend when she meets her in hell. Episode 11, a guy sends some chief editor to hell because the latter ruined his family with some accusation article of his. Episode 12 a school girl sends her teacher she has a crush on to hell to end his misery and acknowledges the fact that she’ll go be with him in hell when her time comes. Hajime goes to interview an old client of Jigoku Tsuushin in episode 13 and though he’s old, he tells Hajime about his grudge and revenge back when he was young (back then it was through newspapers. Oh even Jigoku Shoujo changes through time and technology). Hajime saw a large painting of his which is a portray of Enma. Soon that old guy dies and we see the painting weep. He’s happy to see Enma still her same old (young rather) beautiful self as he rides the boat to hell.
 
Episode 14 a young girl Saki decides to send the town mayor to hell because though he looks like a caring person upfront but has ties with the underworld and is responsible for her dad’s death. Episode 15 a girl named Mina sends her aunt to hell after she discovers that she’s responsible for her mom’s death and her corpse is hidden in some cellar, whom Mina was always told that she committed suicide after getting pregnant and dumped by her boyfriend. Episode 16 is about a pair of circus twins who really look alike, Yumi and Yuki, so much so I can’t really tell them apart except when they dressed differently. However, one of them is always abused and the other always in favour by the ring master. Hajime thinks that the abused twin is gonna send the ring master to hell but her intended victim is her other twin. With her twin gone, the abused one becomes the ring master’s favourite gal. See, he can’t tell the difference too right?
 
Episode 18 a young girl Miki is held ‘hostage’ by a cruel woman Meiko because Miki’s dog accidentally injures her. Meiko plays on Miki’s conscious by holding her dog as a hostage and tells her to do all her bidding or else she’ll kill her dog. Though Meiko killed the dog, Miki eventually snaps and decide to send her to hell because Meiko killed the new born puppies! That woman’s a sicko. Even when the police arrived to arrest her, she thinks that they or anybody else is out to steal her whatever fortune. She deserves it badly. Episode 19, a young bride sends her doll maker mother in law to hell because the latter thinks that she’s just a doll but just when she thinks her troubles are over, to her horror that her husband-to-be too shares the same view as his mother. Episode 21, Hajime and Tsugumi visits the latter’s friend Yuuko who intends to send her dad’s best friend Ryousuke, who’s a con man, to the other world because of him, their life was a miserable one and her dad passed away in misery. Though Hajime and Tsugumi manages to persuade Yuuko not to exact her revenge, but the end scenes show Yuuko in her new orphanage home and an accessible computer. Oh well, I guess viewers could imagine themselves from there. Episode 22 a man sends his lover to hell because she didn’t love him for himself but for his money. This episode is also the death anniversary of Hajime’s wife Ayumi and we could see some tension between Hajime and Tsugumi arising. Throughout the series, Tsugumi’s perception of Enma’s doing gradually changes and differs opposingly from Hajime because she thinks it’s right to send bad people to hell to end innocent people’s misery.
 
There are some requests that Enma turns down like in episode 17 whereby the client is actually a spirit of an abandoned doll who thinks that she’s a real life child. She’s so lonely that she wants Hajime and Tsugumi to forever stay at this place. But in the end, it’s all just an illusion as she eventually turns into dust. Maybe Enma prefers human souls. If there’s a Jigoku Shoujo, then there has to be a Jigoku Shonen, right? That’s what episode 20 is. Now this Hell Boy has no relation with the one from the American comic book Homo Sapiens. I don’t really remember but this guy wants to do battle with Enma and draws her out by making some comical actor to access the Jigoku Tsuushin. When Enma appears, he gives Enma a sound beating while he bounds her team as they watch helplessly. Why doesn’t Enma fight back? Anyway, that comical actor unties the string because he’s always bullying and taking advantage of him and thinks that he’ll eventually kill him. With that, Enma kicks into high gear and sends that dracula-like guy back to hell. So why is he called Hell Boy? He did mentioned that he went to hell and escaped from it once. So why is he so afraid of going back there when Enma does her thing? Dunno. But he said to wait because he’ll be back in the future and will make his escape once again. Don’t worry, you’ll never hear of him anymore. Besides, this Hell Boy did bring up some old vague memories of Enma’s past, which will play a significant role at the series’ end.
 
Episode 23 is the most heart wrenching one that it made my heart sank. Hajime investigates and tries to persuade an old man from sending a kind nurse to hell because he blames her for his wife’s demise. It’s not the nurse’s fault and it’s due to the circumstances that time. He’s really full of anger and wants revenge. The nurse on the other hand is really innocent but Tsugumi has visions of her being sent to hell. In the end, that old man reveals that he isn’t tech savvy and doesn’t know how to use a computer. So who send that nurse to hell? Some random dirty looking drug addict! What the? Does he even know her? Why did he do it? For thrill for fun? How did he know her name? Was he under that old man’s orders? Dunno. I felt really pitiful because the nurse didn’t know what hit her and when she realized that she’s going to hell, she pleaded for Enma to turn around the boat. I don’t know why Enma didn’t turn down the request in the first place. Enma’s comrades did notice how her heart is wavering after this.
 
Episode 24-26 is Enma’s flashback and how she came to be. It also tells the connection of Hajime and Tsugumi with Enma. Long ago when Enma was a mortal, it seems that she’s just not an ordinary mortal. She has some powers. Because of that, the villagers feared her and treated her differently. They finally decided to get rid of her as a sacrifice to the Gods when their crops are dying and blames it on her. However a young boy Sentarou was against all this and tried to protect her but he could only do so much. So on the day Enma was supposed to be sacrificed, Sentarou faked her death. After that, Enma is seen living alone in the woods and Sentarou comes to play with her every night. However, the villagers soon discover that Enma is alive because their fortunes did not turn as they followed Sentarou one night. In a rage, the villagers killed Enma’s family and buried her alive. Enma is in fear and pleads for Sentarou to help but in her final vision, she saw him running away. That’s when all her respect, believe and love for him went down the drain. Sentarou bowed to the villager’s pressure to bury her but eventually ran away. In actual fact, Sentarou didn’t run away because he was a chicken but he’s saddened that he couldn’t do anything to save her. While the villagers took over to bury Enma, in her rage, she burns down the entire village with her powers. Only Sentarou survived because he wasn’t there when it happened.
 
So what is Sentarou’s connection with Hajime? Hajime is actually a descendant of Sentarou! Enma finds out about this when the father and daughter visited some shrine, supposedly where the sacrifice took place ages ago. For the first time, Enma shows her angry side, otherwise, she’s quite expressionless. She’s gonna take her revenge on them and kill them (after showing her the flashback of course) as her comrades try to stop her. Though she failed at first attempt (that spider’s rowing the boat with Enma on it to hell. What a funny sight), Enma manages to escape and is gonna get her revenge her way. She gives Tsugumi a straw doll. Holy cow. Tsugumi didn’t even access the website. Enma is desperate. Will Tsugumi pull the string. Enma shows Tsugumi a vision how her mom died and show it was Hajime’s fault. While Ayumi’s alive, she was having an affair with a politician Hajime was spying on. Well, since Hajime is a workaholic, Ayumi felt lonely. After Hajime found this out, he throws Ayumi out of the house and forbade her from seeing Tsugumi even though she regretted her actions. However, Ayumi soon got into a car accident near Hajime’s home and dies.
 
After witnessing this, Tsugumi is confused. Enma is telling her to pull the string. Pull the sting. Pull the string. However, Tsugumi decides not to pull the string because even so, he loves her dad very much. Just like how Hajime loves Ayumi and regrets that he should’ve forgave her earlier and that the accident wouldn’t have taken place. It’s quite heart wrenching to see Hajime and Tsugumi hugging and forgiving each other in tears. In return, Tsugumi tells Enma that Sentarou’s love for her was also real even though he made a mistake. Hajime pleads to Enma to let them go and in return he’ll stop investigating or interfering with them. Enma burns down that shrine in her rage. After that, she goes back to her usual place with her team while Hajime and Tsugumi start their life together anew. So is Enma forgiven? I suppose so. That’s because it ends with yet another client and another job for Enma and co. Somebody’s got to do the job.
 
It doesn’t end there as there’s a 2nd season called Jigoku Shoujo Futakomori with 26 more episodes of human vengeance. Though viewers can expect generally the same thing but the 2nd season springs a few differences and surprises. For instance, Wanyuudou doesn’t have the sole honour of becoming the straw doll as Ren and Hone too take turns. Even the next episode preview is narrated by several other characters. The team also does more investigations and sometimes get a little ‘attached’. Also, when Enma sends her victims to hell, she’ll stretch out both arms to unleash a flurry of sakura petals. There’s a new enigmatic and mysterious little girl called Kikuri. I’m not sure what her real role is throughout the series but don’t be fooled by her looks. She’s actually a mischievous naughty little kid who enjoys creating little problems for others. It’s like fun to her. Even Enma’s comrades aren’t too fond of her, just tolerating her childish ways. Yeah, the feeling’s mutual too. Kikuri like he always call Wanyuudou baldy and Hone and old aunty. She can appear and pop out just about anywhere either back at Enma’s sunset place or the real world. By the way, Hajime and Tsugumi won’t be appearing as main characters anymore but will make a one-off appearance in a later episode.
 
We also learn from the start of the 2nd season is that Enma is doing such a job as a punishment for burning down her village. Thus, her loved ones are being held as ‘captives’. In a way, by ferrying people to hell, this keeps Enma herself from going to hell. Ironic.
 
Another surprise in the 2nd season is that the next client in the next episode preview doesn’t necessarily end up pulling the string but somebody else. It’s quite refreshing. Like episode 5 whereby some geek is always getting bullied by some stupid gangster, Leon. The geek contacts Jigoku Tsuushin but finds out that Leon has a crush on a school girl. Unfortunately, that Leon’s gangster boss is gonna teach him a lesson not by only beating him up but steal that girl he loves. Thus Leon enlist the help of that geek for revenge. Leon pulls the string to send him to hell but it’s a shortlived one. That’s because soon after that in his happiness, Leon gets into a bike accident. And what goes around comes around. Everybody watches him bleed to death as he lies there pathetically asking for help. Wow. Only after 1 day, he’s gone. He’ll be meeting his boss sooner than he thinks. If you pay attention, the candle scene at the end shows his light going out.
 
The same case in episode 5 whereby a chubby kid, Souta is like the loser kind. He likes a girl, Kiwako, but because she likes someone else, he doesn’t say a thing and prefers to watch from behind. It’s like if she’s happy, I’m okay with it. Souta one day finds out that Kiwako’s boyfriend is the bad type and is in a dilemma on whether or not to contact the Jigoku Tsuushin to send this @$$hole to hell. But it seems Enma rejects his requests. Then 1 day Souta is in the infirmary with Kiwako as she shows him the mark on her chest. To his horror, Souta concluded that she must’ve sent her boyfriend to hell (because he his buddies drugged and gang raped her during their date. @(*#@!). Souta then decides to go to hell himself as he is seen preparing to stab Kiwako’s boyfriend buddies at their meeting place. Looks like there are several ways to go to hell.
 
Also this season explores how Enma gathered her 3 comrades and their past. Like episode 12 whereby a truck driver wants revenge because of an old man’s stubbornness not to relocate his house at a dangerous cliff bend resulting in the death of his brother previously. But he didn’t get to pull the string because the old man passed away just in time. In a way, the driver’s safe and realizes that old man’s intention. This road brings back memories to Wanyuudou because it was the road he was fleeing and protecting a princess but failed to do so as the princess’s carriage perishes. Also on Wanyuudou’s past in episode 19 whereby history repeats itself on a descendant of a victim of the hotspring inn owner sent the present hotspring owner’s descendant to hell. It’s an episode whereby Wanyuudou is seen as some large chariot fire on wheels. Enma offers to take him in as Wanyuudou gets to see Enma’s job and by the end of it, he agrees to be Enma’s chariot. It does bring back memories for Wanyuudou, huh. Same hotspring spot, same grudges, same aftermath. Humans never really changed.
 
Hone’s flashback is in episode 21 whereby she becomes a prostitute because she was betrayed by her lover to pay off his debts. At the brothel, she befriended another prostitute, Kiyo, and plans to escape. However, she got betrayed once more and was killed and her body dumped at a nearby river. It was when Enma came to pick her up. In present time, I’m not sure what’s happening because the ghost of Kiyo possessed some pregnant woman to send her no good boyfriend to hell, then disappears. Huh? Ren’s past is in episode 17 whereby he’s actually a spirit of a samurai sword and has witnessed countless murders. He was abandoned after some great battle and that was when Enma came to retrieve him. In present time, a girl named Nene plans to send her mom to hell. Some family problem thing. Thing is, Ren wanted to interfere but was prevented by Wanyuudou. It seems Nene’s mom did use the Jigoku Tsuushin to send her abusive husband to hell to protect them both. Though Nene is stubborn, she eventually realizes everything. Though Nene didn’t pull the string, her mom jumped off the bridge herself. Oh the horror. Ren stops Nene before she follows her mom down. Oh humans, they’re all so pitiful.
 
The other episodes could pretty much follow the same flow with more human grudges to be seen. Like episode 1, a school girl sends her mad teacher to hell because the teacher enjoys conducting weird experiments on her but in the end she finds out that her best friend may also be her accomplice and could’ve have a hand in it. Episode 2 about a family desperately looking for a missing daughter by distributing leaflets but Enma and co knows that girl is already dead and her soul is wandering aimlessly. They tell her living sis Yayoi about it and she gets her revenge by sending the murderer to hell. I don’t believe I remember the criminal’s name nor was it ever revealed. How did she know his name? Anyway even after that, Yayoi and her family continues to look for the missing child but at least Yayoi does it with more enthusiasm now even though she knows her sis is already gone. Episode 3 about a girl Tae who loves her childhood friend Kei so much that she rather stay behind and watch Kei be happy with his girlfriend Yumie. Eventually Tae realizes that Yumie is cheating on Kei and that she’s just loving him out of pity, Tae pulls the string (Yeah, Kei accidentally fall to his death when he had a chat with Tae about love, life. I think they ‘did it’). I don’t know but it seems Tae moved to another place and there’s a boy which looks so much like Kei. Episode 4, a man named Shuuichi needed money as his wife’s at hospital so he joined some host club. Unfortunately that host club head, Shouki, killed another member and made Shuuichi an accomplice. Thus he blackmails him. Shuuichi eventually has had enough and sends Shouki to hell because the latter 1 day came to the hospital room and told his wife that he killed a man. But when Shuuichi thought everything will be fine after that, his wife doesn’t recognize him but asking about their daughter (Kikuri, who’s been fooling around. They had no daughter).
 
Episode 7 about a girl Megumi who has a really psycho mom. She’s the kind who love her son so much so that when he died in a bike accident, she went berserk, going to the media and demanding a shrine being built at the place where her son died, etc. Sick. It’s revealed that even her son isn’t too fond of her mom because it ‘restricts’ him. Could no longer tolerate her mom’s strange behaviour, Megumi pulls the string. Yeah, her mom is still insane on the boat to hell. A fake Jigoku Tsuushin in episode 8? A student Nonohara tries to access it but fails. Ren finds out she wants to send to hell an elderly teacher Shouko Baba, who puts heavy make-up, as she’s said to be cold and heartless with students. Then it’s revealed that a teacher Kuriyama is using Nonohara for her revenge against Baba. It’s a little complicated so I’ll keep it short, back when Kuriyama’s a student, she didn’t like the way Baba treated her and decides to send her to hell but chickens out when she finds out that she has to go to hell too. She thinks she deserves to go to heaven. In present time, after much drama and such, eventually Baba accesses the website and sends Kuriyama to hell. All right in front of her eyes. Baba is willing to go to hell for making a monster out of her. Well, as for Kuriyama, she’s in shock why did she have to go to hell. Remember, when 1 is cursed, 2 graves are dug. Episode 9 sees a pair of siblings Maho and Mikio. Mikio’s not only a pretty model guy but he cross-dresses too. Mikio loves his sis so much that whenever Maho got a new boyfriend, Mikio will cross-dress and steal them away! What the? I can’t believe those losers would actually ditch Maho for some cross-dressing jerk. Yeah, he does look pretty in that too. Maho knows this and it has been going on for some time. In the end, Maho sends Mikio to hell because she loves him too. What a weird love. Well, love is indeed weird.
 
Episode 10 is about some bum, Tetsuro, who lives off a couple of woman albeit he’s more like a useless person than a violent parasite. Hone even joins in to make it a threesome. It’s a little comical here. But in the end when Tetsuro goes to hell, he thinks that it’s okay since it’s 1 of the woman who sent him there. But to his surprise, Enma tells him it’s not. The one who pulled the string is some random guy who drives a car so much like Initial D’s Toyota AE86, whom Tetsuro accidentally bumped and spilled coffee onto him. What the?! Like this also can have a grudge. I wonder how he knows his name. Episode 11 is a weird psychological one. A girl named Shizuko seems to be stalked by her mysterious neighbour, Tachibana, and has something to do with cats. I’m not sure if I understand this episode because Shizuko eventually contacts Jigoku Tsuushin to send Tachibana to hell but then it is revealed by Ren that Shizuko is Tachibana herself! Is she living in denial? Does she have a split personality? Did she send herself to hell? I dunno. Okay, so there is a real Shizuko. Once Tachibana is gone, Shizuko enters her room to find lots of pictures of cats. Probably the main reason why she’s mad at Shizuko. That stray cat Shizuko has been taking care off may be Tachibana’s.
 
Enma and co works in an oden restaurant in episode 13 to find their client Kihachi is the restaurant owner who’s wife died in an accident while her daughter is in coma. Years ago when the accident happened, there was a news report on it. While the reporter was reporting on the scene, there were 5 idiots making silly signs for attention like as though they’ve never been on tv before. Kihachi is enraged and goes on to kill them for disrespect. However, Kihachi is ill and there is just 1 more to go and he doesn’t mind going to hell by contacting Jigoku Tsuushin. When he finally does and soon surrenders, to his horror, his daughter has opened his eyes. He regrets that his daughter will now know he’s a killer. Yeah, Kikuri had a hand in waking her up. A quiet town near a lake in episode 14, sees how some tv writer Kakinuma keeps a family from moving and under his whatever schemes. The family, including their son Takuma, has been receiving threats and abuses from an unknown source. Though Takuma knows it’s Kakinuma and contacts the Jigoku Tsuushin, he gives back the straw doll. When Takuma’s dad realized that Kakinuma is behind all this and the person who killed his wife, he’s gonna confront him but Kakinuma has the upper hand. Finally the one who sent Kakinuma to hell is a woman supposedly his ex-girlfriend or what. But when the police arrived, they only find Takuma there and thinks he killed his dad, though he’s still alive and is in critical condition. Ever since then, Takuma is arrested and is called Devil Child. Well, it’s hell on Earth for him one way or another. Pitiful.
 
The elections is coming up in episode 15 and Yuriko’s dad seems to be quite involved as a campaigner for the candidate Oizumi. Yuriko’s dad is the kind where he cares about nothing except his own and would go to great lengths to achieve even if it means endangering his own daughter’s life! What kind of father is he? When Yuriko realizes all this is and contacts the Jigoku Tsuuhin, Enma turns down her request because somebody else has already requested it, her mom. Yup, her mom eventually sends him to hell. Still talking politics, isn’t he? With that, Yuriko and mom moved away and stayed out of politics for good (shouldn’t most of us too?). A woman named Ran is in a dilemma to pull the red string to send a man, Tejima, who lied to her to get some company’s info in episode 16. But Ran didn’t manage to do so. Just then an elderly woman Matsu makes a deal with Ran to beautify her so that they could get back at Tejima. Ran becomes a beauty and manages to charm and deceive Tejima (that womanizer!). They even managed to exposed him. Because of that Tejima commits suicide. Ran, being the good innocent girl is in a panic but Matsu is a total opposite and says that she’s also responsible. In the end, Matsu decides to silence Ran and manages to wound her with a knife but before Ran dies, she manages to enter Jigoku Tsuushin and send Matsu to hell so that nobody else will fall into this evil woman’s scheme. Another sad episode because soon after that, Ran too dies of her wounds.
 
Episode 18, a young lady Rina along with her dad is taking care of her gloomy and paralyzed mom. But something happened in the past which made Rina’s mom like that. At first impression, she looks like a typical pain in the ass person to take care of and only a very patient person could do so. In the end, it’s Rina’s dad who pulls the string to send her to hell because she still wouldn’t forgive him for whatever it was. A friendship turned bitter in episode 20 about Juri holding Mari ‘captive’ as the former threatens to pull the red string if she doesn’t do her bidding. This is because do to some jealousy thing and Juri’s leg got injured in the process unlike in the 1st episode of the 1st season whereby it’s for mere fun. Lots of drama to see how their friendship mended back and it seems Juri’s leg was okay all along, it was rather her heart that’s hurt. Then an accident befall on Juri and she really gets injured this time. The 2 friends are in the hospital and some touching conversation they had. Mari wants Juri to pull the red string because if they she dies, she won’t know where she’ll end up but if she pulls the string, they’ll meet in hell for sure. What kind of reasoning is this? Though Juri is reluctant, Mari pulls the string for her. Sometimes I wonder if these kids know the meaning of what they’re getting into.
 
Remember that Takuma kid back in episode 14? He’s back and this will be the major final story arc of the series, episodes 22-26. Because of lack of evidence, Takuma is released but everyone in town still thinks he’s an evil kid and tries to keep their distance. Episode 22 sees Takuma bumps into a girl Seri who seems to be the only one who don’t think he’s that Devil Child and before you know it they became friends but Takuma isn’t too fond because he thinks he’ll bring trouble to her. Anyway Seri’s returned to this place as it was once where she lived and loved. Something to do with her parents selling the house to get money so that the contractor could develop it. Oh oh, Kikuri trying to stir up some trouble, but not if Hone and co could help keep her at bay. Then some accusation from Seri to some head developer of the place saying that she’ll expose his relationship with her as a minor but in actual fact the developer didn’t have any relationship with her at all. Because of that, the developer’s wife holds a grudge. Just when Takuma gets a little comfortable with Seri’s presence, the developer’s wife pulls the red string and sends Seri to hell. Takuma finds out too late and he is alone once again. Yeah, his house is always in darkness. Saving electricity?
 
A detective comes to investigate a missing woman in episode 23 and by this time, Takuma’s reputation as Devil Child has grown so much so a vigilante is stationed outside his house to make sure he doesn’t do anything. The leader of the group Naito firmly believes that Takuma’s the 1 behind all those bad things. The detective appearance may remind you like Hajime’s case back in season 1 and he too has a younger sister, Hotaru who indirectly helps in his investigation. The detective soon finds out about Jigoku Tsuushin (when that missing woman shows up as a bruised corpse with that black mark on her chest) and is curious but unlike the rest, he doesn’t jump to conclusions. As fate would have it, Takuma and Hotaru meets and the latter too doesn’t believe that Takuma is the cause of all this and tries to investigate this all but Kikuri seems to transport Hotaru to Enma’s place. In the end, the detective heads to Takuma house and Naito and co thinks he’s here to arrest him but instead he’s just looking for his sis. Naito notes that they’ve seen a young girl entering Takuma’s house but hasn’t come out since. Fearing the worse, they barge in and confronted Takuma. Takuma says that Hotaru probably has gone home but Naito refuses to believe. Just then, Naito vanishes right in front of everyone’s eyes, scaring the wits out of everybody (2nd time for Takuma to see such things). It seems that the wife of Naito’s friend is the one sending him to hell for whatever grudge she had against him. Meanwhile Hotaru is at Enma’s hut and wonders if there’s a phone she could use to call.
 
Episode 24 is ‘funny’ in the sense that everybody in town is sending each other to hell! Wow. Everybody really hates everybody. It’s crazy. Enma and co must’ve never worked so hard before. I’ll deliver your vengeance. I’ll deliver your vengeance. I’ll deliver your vengeance. They all deserve each other. I wonder if the maximum per night to accept a request is 3 because there can only be 3 straw dolls at a time. Not only that, the clients are blaming Takuma for the victim’s disappearance. Obviously that kid is confused and terrified as he doesn’t know what to do. The detective finds several books written by Hajime about the true Jigoku Shoujo and learns about its workings. Meanwhile Kikuri shows Hotaru a jar whereby there’re several candle with names of clients who have used Jigoku Tsuushin. I dunno how long Hotaru took to find Takuma’s name but she’s convinced that Takuma’s name isn’t there. Tsugumi makes a very brief appearance at the end of the episode to tell that detective to believe in Hajime’s work (because he’s trying to find out more about Hajime and why he wrote such a book). I don’t really know the implication of this. But after that she scoots away, never to be seen again. Then Kikuri appearing before Tsugumi asking her to play with her but the latter says next time. Huh? The detective goes back to Takuma to confirm that black mark on his chest but there isn’t any. Then some angst guy Tsuyuki doesn’t believe the detective’s words that Takuma isn’t the 1 and soon a struggle ensue in which the detective saw a black mark on Tsuyuki’s chest. With that, Tsuyuki beats up the detective and thinks he’s conspiring with Takuma to kill them all while Takuma is helpless cowering in fear. Also, Hotaru has managed to get out of the place and back to the city. I wonder if Hotaru really saw Grannie’s face back there? Did she really freak out then?
 
Tsuyuki and his gang are out to kill Takuma in episode 25. By this time, Takuma and Hotaru are together and trying to run and hide from them. Eventually they’re caught and Tsuyuki plans to slowly drown them at the lake. They pleaded for them not to do so but as usual they won’t listen. The detective is still alive and shows up in time to scare them away with his single gunshot in the air and rescue the kids. But Tsuyuki hasn’t given up yet and thinks that they must take care of the detective. Since 1 of the members, Hasue, hasn’t used the Jigoku Tsuushin, Hasue gives in because he’s like a henpecked husband. Some drama and talk while the detective drives Takuma and Hotaru out of town when suddenly, the detective disappears. It looks like Hasue bowed to pressure to untie the red string to send the detective to hell. The car crashes. Not him too. Hotaru is in total shock and grieve. Hotaru then takes out her laptop and accesses the Jigoku Tsuushin and types Takuma’s name, saying that she has to send him to hell to end this craziness, which is opposite of what she said earlier on that she’ll always protect him. Oh no. Is Takuma going to hell?
 
Hotaru did send Takuma to hell in episode 26 though the latter pleads for her not to. On the boat, Takuma pleads to Enma which in a way reminded her of her own past. Back in the real world as Hotaru attempts to drown herself, Kikuri tells Wanyuudou, Hone and Ren that Takuma didn’t went to hell because Enma turned the boat around. Wow, for a change. Then Kikuri starts to change, especially her voice, and it seems she’s the Lord Of Hell (later I found out she’s just a vessel for it) and tells the trio that Enma has been released of her duties and is now a mortal! Takuma comes to in the real world with Enma lying beside him. Takuma is saddened and cries uncontrollably when he finds Hotaru’s lifeless body and decides to end it all by running away with a weak Enma trying to go after him. Tsuyuki and co are trying to find Takuma and succeeds when they saw Takuma throwing gasoline over his house (Hasue still frantically trying to get rid of the black mark so much so his chest is sore. You can’t buddy). Wanyuudou and the rest spot Enma trudging along but to their horror, she doesn’t recognize them. Wanyuudou says it’s their punishment as their ties with Enma has been severed.
 
During the struggle, Takuma drops the lighter and sets the house ablaze as Tsuyuki and the rest continues to hit Takuma until Enma appears and tells them to stop. They are shock to see her and thinks someone has requested for her and before you know it, Hasue goes crazy and starts whacking her. Wanyuudou and the rest can only watch helplessly from afar. As the gang beats up Enma, Takuma gets enough courage to yell at them to stop. With that, Enma soon passes away and a bright light glows and her body turned into sakura petals and disappeared into the air. I read and found out that with Enma’s self sacrificing act, this allowed her and her loved ones to be freed. Kikuri on the boat to hell thanks Enma for her hard work. In the end scenes, we see that before the detective’s demise, he has published some report to prove Takuma’s innocence. Takuma is seen with his recovering dad as they visit Hotaru in hospital. She isn’t dead yet, just in coma. Finally things turned for the better for Takuma. Those townspeople went missing not sure whether into hiding or to hell. Finally, Wanyuudou, Hone and Ren parted and each went their own way. Grannie is still spinning her wheel. But it ends with a cliffhanger. Because there’s a new Jigoku Shoujo as a request is seen on a girl’s handphone. Who could it be? Donno. But it’s sure that the business of avenging human grudges will never end.
 
Overall, the ending left me with mixed feelings. Though I felt good about Takuma’s change of fortunes and Enma’s freedom, I still wonder who Kikuri really is and about Wanyuudou and the rest, where did they really go since they went their own ways. Since Takuma wasn’t sent to hell, does this mean Hotaru won’t have to go to hell? And with Enma gone, will those souls designated for hell have the contract nullified? Nevertheless those townspeople got what they deserved and I’m quite disgusted with the way they think and act. The dark side of humans working at its best. And I’m pretty sure even without the Jigoku Tsuushin, humans will still find a way to carry out their revenge. So how popular is Jigoku Shoujo? Well, there’s a live action series too albeit it’s only 12 episodes.
 
Besides the series touching on human grudges, it also makes you ponder about the afterlife especially hell. I’m still wondering if those clients who accessed the Jigoku Tsuushin have really any idea about eternal pain and suffering. Do they ever stop to think that their current situation won’t be as bad a million times compared to the situation they’ll be in in the afterlife? Instant and immediate gratification comes to mind. Typical. Humans always want instant results, the ‘have it now’ factor and think about the consequences later. Yeah, why not for the hell of it.
 
There seems to be something about the drawing, art and animation which makes it unique. I mean, that if I ever see this kind of drawing, my first impression is that it has to be from this series. Though, some of the lesser characters in a way look the same. Also, at times the scenes may be a little too dark. I need to mention something about the episode title screen. It’s so bloody ‘cakar ayam’ (doodly) that I can’t even read it. Actually, it’s written in red-blooded kanji and I can’t read kanji ;P. Even so, the writing is so ‘fanciful’ that one has to be very proficient in Japanese to actually read it. They seem like just lines to me. Even the subbers tried to follow its writing.
 
Of all the opening and ending themes of both seasons, I still like the opening of the 1st season, Sakasama No Chou, the best. Both the openings as with the 2nd season opening, NightmaRe (not a typo error), is sung by SNoW (also no typo error here). The ending themes Karinui (1st season ending) and Aizome (2nd season ending) are sung by Mamiko Noto who is the voice of Enma. The song starts out with a nice slow melodic tune but when she starts to open her mouth and sing, it send shivers down my spine. No, her singing isn’t horrible, but rather it sounded like a ghost/spirit. And with Enma’s ‘scary’ voice, you know lah. So I always quickly skip this part. Basically the song is about pain and suffering which fits the show well. There are several background music in the series and most of them gives you that eerie and gloomy feel.
 
As mentioned, Mamiko Noto voices Enma and is also famed in other roles like Yakumo of School Rumble, Ana of Ichigo Mashimaro and Hecate of Shakugan No Shana. You may recognize Wanyuudou’s voice actor Takayuki Sugo as Zangetsu of Bleach and Ren’s voice actor Masaya Matsukaze from Ouran High School Host Club’s Kyoya. Takako Honda voices Hone who also does Catherina of Trinity Blood and Junko of Nana. Tsugumi is voiced by Nana Mizuki who also did Oboro of Basilisk and Fate of Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha. Since there are new characters in nearly every episode, the cast list is a long one, though there are some who voice several characters in different episodes. You can’t tell the difference, right? There are even famous seiyuus lending their voice for a small part like Akemi Kanda (Asuna of Mahou Sensei Negima) and Junko Minagawa (Ryoma of Prince Of Tennis).
 
I don’t mean to sound a sexist but I kinda noticed that in the 1st season, a large majority of the clients who pulled the red string are females. Hold it. Before you girls start calling me a male chauvinist pig, doesn’t it show that mostly females are often bullied and pushed to a corner? It’s like the only way out since they’re not the violent kind. Having said so, perhaps guys would likely let their fist do the talking. I’m still not anti-female okay. In the 2nd season, the client gender thingy is more balanced.
 
I browsed over the internet and actually came across a Jigoku Tsuushin! Of course I know it’s fake but better not play play. I don’t want some pale faced Jigoku Shoujo standing right next to me or being whisked away to that sunset world. With this I have a few questions in mind. Firstly, can a client request for a contract a 2nd time? I mean, all the while we’ve seen them as 1 time users. Maybe they’ll get rejected. Secondly, if one adjusts the clock on his/her pc to midnight, will it work? I mean, time can’t be that accurate, right? Everytime we see the stroke of midnight on the pc or wall clock, Jigoku Tsuushin is accessible. Thirdly, what if there are 2 or more people with the same name? I don’t think Enma and co are that stupid to send the wrong person to hell. Fourthly, if somebody else other than the client pulls the string, will the person who pull the string be the one to go to hell or the original client? Then again, Enma isn’t that dumb.
 
I’m glad I watched this show and after watching this show, I keep reminding myself that even if there are people that I have a grudge against, I shouldn’t resort to such things. Besides, there are better ways to solve problems. If only everyone in the world has watched this show and change for the better. But you know, what are the chances of that happening, right? Hey, I don’t mean to insult, annoy or condemn anybody. So don’t type my name and send a request via Jigoku Tsuushin, okay!

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