Jigoku Shoujo: Yoi No Togi

January 12, 2018

What, what WHAAAAAAAAT????!!!! OMG!!! I thought it all ended?! But here it is, the fourth season, Jigoku Shoujo: Yoi No Togi! I never knew it would happen since it has been 8 years since the third season last aired! Why now?! What is this nostalgia they’re playing at?! Hell, what do I care? As long as I get to hear Mamiko Noto again I’m more than happy to watch this horror series, the only horror series that I will ever approve myself of watching. But hmm… There is a catch. In its synopsis it is already stated there will be 6 new episodes and 6 ‘reminiscent’ episodes. Oh no… RERUN!!! Ippen shinde miru ka?!

Episode 1
Shizuka Mayama is constantly being bullied by her classmates. At least on the social messaging service, everyone calls her names. Especially a gasball since she is chubby. She thought of calling Enma Ai. She wants to send a few to hell but is told only one at a time. The harassment continues and Mayama would definitely have played into their hands if she responded but Yukawa ‘saved’ her by distracting the teacher’s attention. Yukawa hangs out with her and they both become friends. After lecturing her about continue to get involved by listening to the nasty harassment, she invites Mayama to join a social messaging she created only for loners. The only other person is Yokota. Mayama seems a lot happier messaging in this group. She even gives suggestions how others should die. Enma Ai and her team continue to watch over her when a strange girl pops up before Enma Ai asking her if she is sure about doing this before disappearing. One day, Mayama sees her classmates acting strange. There is a laptop on her desk that reveals the loners’ conversations. Thinking Yukawa couldn’t be the one, Mayama heads over to the next class to find Yokota. She isn’t sure what she is talking about and laughs. Then she finds Yukawa also badmouthing her in the other conversation. With anger building up, Mayama contacts Enma Ai. She is now given a straw doll. Then she goes to confront Yukawa. She reveals that she was the one who started this harassment because she found her annoying (like always apologizing for no reason, etc). But she didn’t think it would turn out this bad and would die out. She felt bad and became her friend. Mayama is not convinced since she still posted bad things about her. Yukawa denies it was her. Maybe it was Yokota. But Mayama says she met her and that’s how she knew Yukawa and Yokota are the same person. She pulls the string. Yukawa suffers a handphone nightmare with an app deleting all her innards before being sent to hell. As Enma Ai rows her to hell, the strange girl views all this is wrong. Enma Ai doesn’t care. This is work and has nothing to do with it. Mayama becomes badass in the aftermath, not caring about anybody. It is revealed that there is another person with the same Yokota name in that same class. A boy.

Episode 2
Enma Ai gives Haru a straw doll. But she gives it back as she cannot do it. Hone interviews a famous comedian, Nanako. Her comedy partner is Haru. She looks like the dumb and clumsy type and is always doing Nanako’s bidding. However behind the face of the public, the roles are reversed. Haru is the brains and Nanako is her obedient subordinate. Sounds more like an avid fan girl who is grateful for picking her up. The strange girl continues to bug Enma Ai. When Wanyuudou asks about her, all Enma Ai says is that she has forgotten her own identity. Ren becomes their manager as he continues to observe them. One night as Haru is racking her brains for new materials, Nanako mentions she saw her former partner in audience. He might have quit show business but seeing how Haru has become famous, maybe he wants her back. Wow. Yandere look… The next time she sees him, she wants to report a stalker. After all, he once abused her and all. Haru is crept out seeing how clingy Nanako is and slaps her. She accuses her of sleeping with the producer to get her first gig. Later Nanako goes to see what new materials she had come out with: None. Haru goes to see her former partner to complain how weird Nanako has become. He finds it odd that she was the one who picked her up and now she doesn’t want her. Flashback shows how Haru saw Nanako in a lame act on stage. For some reason she asked her out for a drink and a weird partnership formed between them. Haru was able to do it because of Nanako but now she feels she is a baggage. She realizes she has become like him in abusing her. Haru goes home and starts anew, discussing new materials with Nanako. After doing another successful show, at the backstage, Haru pops the message they should break up since she is at her limit. But Nanako views this as her being abandoned since she wants to get back with her old partner. Haru assures he has nothing to do with it and also doesn’t blame her. But what’s this? Nanako has a straw doll in her hand?! Nanako believes she won’t be happy even if she quits comedy and that’s why she doesn’t want to live anymore. Haru realizes Nanako has always understood her. Of course. She is her partner. Nanako pulls the string and promises she’ll be there soon. Haru will be waiting too.

Episode 3
Each of the grownups in the Nagata family have some sort of disturbing personality problem. So it is hard for the young kids, Akira and Arina to live in such a sick family. It’s literally hell. One night, Akira sees his mom pulling the string on the straw doll and the next day, grandma is gone. Akira talks to Arina about this so they decide to do something. They call the adults their parents who have an affair with as well as their eldest sister’s bully victim. They want them to help send them to hell. Once they’re gone, the siblings will inherit the assets in which they will distribute to them. However they throw caution that the penalty outweighs the benefit because they themselves will go to hell. Besides, they know they are afraid of going to hell themselves and therefore requesting them to do it on their behalf. It’s a no go. One day, eldest sister brings back home their cousin to live with them. She has an affair with him and he too has a nasty personality. When the parents try to tell him to go home, he becomes violent and beats them up. So he is hurting them for hurting him by not being sensitive to his feelings? Crazy. Akira is okay with the abuse he puts up with him but he line is drawn when he tries to rape Arina. After the parents left home with their ‘respective reasons’, the cousin gets even more violent with the kids. After tying up Akira, he goes to rape Arina. That was the last straw. I mean, he got a straw doll. He is going to send the cousin to hell. At the same time, the bully victim also has one and plans to send eldest sister to hell. They discuss how they have found the resolve to do this because as long as those demons are alive, somebody will suffer. They are going to sacrifice themselves for their sakes. Besides, knowing they will go to hell, they won’t be afraid what kind of person they’ll meet after this. They pull the string. In the aftermath, Akira and bully victim team up to murder the latter’s tormenters. Hey, it isn’t murder if their body isn’t found, right? Akira’s parents never return home and Arina continues to be a vegetable. Sad…

Episode 4
At a retirement home, Sakura is being lamely scared by a fellow senile old woman, Tamie. I’m sure she’s just fooling around as it looks funny than scary. Unfortunately the abusive workers beat her up and bring her back to her bed where she is tied up. Sakura tries to save her but is also abused. Thus Sakura seeks Enma Ai. She has lots of people she wants to send to hell but since she can only send one, that person is Saeko Yanohara who is the facility’s director who covers up the abuses and profits from it. Working in this facility is Tsugumi. She is one of the few kind workers but has no power to stand up to authority. Wanyuudou also disguises himself to investigate and he and Sakura clicked since the latter thinks he looks like her former school teacher, her first crush. Oh, the flame is still burning strong in these old people? I mean, Wanyuudou seriously takes a liking for her? He talks to her why she never reported this to her family members. She doesn’t want to worry her family as she does not worry about them. She asks him about hell and if it is right to curse someone at the end of one’s life. One day, Wanyuudou sees her collapsed on the floor and her hands dirtied. She wanted to watch the sakura trees bloom. So he brings her there. One day when Saeko brings the reporters to show them how good her facility is, Wanyuudou is shocked that Sakura has lost her memory. Tsugumi attends her and it seems she still remembers. She hints to the old guy that Sakura has forgotten whom she wants to send to hell and it is better this way. Another facility staff tries to expose the cruelty of this facility in front of the reporters. That is when Tamie happily says Sakura keeps a diary of all the abuse. That night, Saeko and the workers storm into Sakura’s room, abuse her to look for the diary. They only find the straw doll as she tosses it out. Wanyuudou realizes Sakura buried the diary near the sakura tree that day before losing her memories. Tamie comes in trying to save her but gets abused too. Wanyuudou put back the straw doll and this time Sakura is able to reach it and pull the string. In the aftermath, Sakura looks calmer now that she is in the hands of Tsugumi.

Episode 5
The strange girl slowly remembers herself as Michiru. There is a joint funeral of 3 families whose sons died. When another family comes to pay their respects, they are shooed away and they blame them for their son, Satoshi is the only one who survived the tragedy. Flashback shows the family are transporting their sons on a trip. Not only they bullied Satoshi but they disregard safety advice from his parents. Then an accident happened. Those with seatbelts on are still alright. Those without are flung out and it’s a horrible mess. Michiru feels sorry for Satoshi as she could relate to him. She lives in the feudal era and her father helped bring electricity to the other tenants. The landlord is not happy about this. So his son and his friends try to lure and push Michiru into a pond but they drowned instead. She is the only one who survived but her family gets accused for killing the boys. The villagers even turn their backs on them. Therefore Michiru thinks it is wrong for innocent Satoshi to be sent to hell since one of the boys’ mother has written down his name. Enma Ai tells her she’ll have her answer once she remembers everything. Continuing the flashback, as Michiru’s family has been ostracized, she goes around to find food. However she is lured and trapped in the landlord’s shed where they left her to die. Michiru uses her last ounce of strength to climb to the top window to place a wind chime. Her parents searched for her for days but couldn’t find her. Then they hear strange wind chime sounds and follow it to the shed. They break down the door and see her. At this time, the landlord and villagers are going to burn down the place. Father tries to reason with them that they will be charged for murder but nobody’s listening. Yeah, if the police can’t find any evidence… The shed is burnt down and father instantly died after taking a blow to the head when he tried to fight back. Michiru believes she has remembered her memories and her decision still doesn’t change. She is pleading to Enma Ai to stop the mother to send Satoru to hell. However the mom throws away the straw doll. Enma Ai explains when your situation changes, your allies change too. What is right or wrong is no more than a person’s feelings. There is more that Michiru hasn’t remember fully yet. When her mom died trying to protect her from the flames, Michiru let out a curse. The flames then burnt everyone down and eventually the entire town. She has committed an unforgivable sin and must atone for it by becoming Jigoku Shoujo! That is her answer.

Episode 6
Michiru refuses to become Jigoku Shoujo and she believes Enma Ai has been persistent in trying to turn her into one. She denies and says it is this spider from hell who wishes it. She doesn’t believe and leaves but the rest knows no matter how much she escapes, she’ll come back here. Tetsuya and Yui are dating and soon he pops the question. Happy story, right? However Yui has been visiting JT every midnight but never goes through with it. Yui then takes Tetsuya to see her father in hospital. He is in coma and on life support. She reveals the truth. Her father once ran a food delivery service. One night 5 years ago he was assaulted and left for dead. Although the culprit was caught and sentenced to only 3 years. Yui noticed Tetsuya who was supposed to be the culprit’s colleague not satisfied and left. Yui then worked in his company to find him and learn the real truth. The only clue was he had a mark on his chest. Of course it was hard and she was about to give up and by accident she spotted it on him. Tetsuya reveals on that night, there were 5 of them. A couple were drunk and when they accidentally bumped into Yui’s father, they got violent and beat him to a pulp. The rest were too scared to stop. The ringleader is Kogure who is now the president of the company. Suzumura is his accomplice but he is no longer around. He died in an accident shortly after that incident. Michiru has been spying on this case so Enma Ai notes it is for her to decide. Yui is going to enter Kogure’s name in JT but Tetsuya stops her. He doesn’t want her to go to hell. He knows about it because he was the one who sent Suzumura to hell. Shortly after that incident, Suzumura raped his sister who worked in the company. She was threatened not to tell and Tetsuya only knew about it after she hanged herself and left a note. Tetsuya contacted Jigoku Shoujo and immediately pulled the string. Tetsuya is going to set things straight. After quitting the company, he goes to the police station. However Yui contacts JT. Michiru is now Jigoku Shoujo???!!! She doesn’t hesitate to pull the string. We see Michiru in action. Is it me or does she look cute than scary? Yui is satisfied it is over as she unplugs father’s life support. She is shortly arrested. Tetsuya is disheartened to learn what happened. All she can say is that she is going to hell with Kogure while her father goes to heaven. Now Satoshi sees Michiru and wants to send himself to hell, thinking he would be trouble around his parents. Of course that isn’t possible so Michiru tells him how sad his parents will be without him around. It might be impossible now but do it for his parents’ sake. Please smile too so that one day they can meet in heaven. Kikuri is mad because Yamawaro has ‘dumped’ her to be Michiru’s assistant. After all the constant abuse? I can see why.

Episode 7
Mamoru Hanagasa is a talented baseball player. Lots of girls admire him. Lots of his comrades admire him. Away from the prying eyes, Hanagasa beats up fatty Shinichi Muroi and frames Daisuke Iwashita that they were fooling around by the river and accidentally pushed him over. So when Iwashita sends Muroi home, he has to pretend and go with Hanagasa’s story. That was the last Iwashita saw of Muroi. He never come to school and a few days later, the school announces he has sadly passed away. At his funeral, everyone blames Iwashita as the culprit. Even his own father punches him for it. Hanagasa also pays his respect but he is a good actor shedding crocodile tears. It gets worse when the detectives want to question him because autopsy reveals Muroi had ruptured organs. Iwashita panics and runs away. Later that night he contacts Jigoku Shoujo and is given a straw doll. Next day he confronts Hanagasa to take responsibility. However he won’t and even ‘thanks’ them. Due to this, he doesn’t need to play in the tournament and it would save his shoulder. He did plan this all on purpose. Iwashita cannot accept this anymore and pulls the string. And so we see Iwashita’s baseball torment as well as his judgment from the Jigoku Shoujo team. He remains arrogant till the end and does not own up to his responsibility before being sent to hell. Hanagasa has disappeared and others are talking how a witness came forth to reveal he beat up Muroi with a baseball bat. Iwashita moves away to his aunt’s place and notes it will take time for him to settle down.

Episode 8
Namiko Todaka is the wife of the local branch manager and beware those who crosses her path. The unfortunate for Keiko Yasuda as she has been harassed and living in fear. Even her daughter, Haruka is not spared from the harassment by Todaka’s daughter and her friends although to a lesser degree. The harassment even reaches her husband who for some reason gets accused for no reason by the branch manager. One day the harassment got too much as Todaka sent a guy to harass her at home. When Haruka comes home, she sees her mom unconscious and gas building up in the closed area. She starts to have a grudge on that woman and contacts Jigoku Shoujo. However Enma Ai warns her she cannot save her mom and only provide revenge. After understanding the T&C, Enma Ai shows her what happened. One day they were walking home, her mom saw Todaka making out with a man from her window. Todaka spotted her and became enraged. Soon, she framed her mom by hiring guys to make it look like she had a fling with them. If she exposes this, she will implicate Haruka too. Haruka witnesses her dad beating mom up and not believing what she says. Haruka cannot take this anymore. Her family is ruined so she pulls the string for Todaka to face hell. In the aftermath, her mom smiles more often and it is rumoured Todaka ran off with another man. Her daughter becomes the talk of town and is ashamed of what her mom did. Almost a target for bullies. Haruka notes her life might have become better for now but knows she’ll have to pay a price once she dies.

Episode 9
Akane Sawai locks herself in her room despite her teacher, Yoshiki Fukasawa keeps knocking on her door to talk to her. Ignoring his pleas, she only contacts with an online friend known only as Cheppo. With Fukasawa being persistent, Cheppo suggests she try contacting JT. Of course Sawai is in a dilemma to pull the string. We see Fukasawa constantly doing this is because the vice principal has been pressuring him. Truancy is bad for reputation. One night, Sawai is surprised he visits. So she finally explains about the hell that is society. You have to put up with something even if you don’t want to do it. When she can tell he has been pressured because of his reputation, he blows his top and yells back to not speak like she knows everything. He realizes his outburst and apologizes. He then admits all that and leaves. This makes Sawai even more confused. She doesn’t know what to do. She seeks Cheppo’s help but she too is unsure. Next day, everyone is in shock that Sawai turns up to class. Later Fukasawa talks to her in the teacher’s room but had to leave for a while to attend something. Sawai then contacts Cheppo but notices Fukasawa’s handphone ringing. To her horror, Fukasawa is Cheppo! She demands an explanation so he takes her to an abandoned house where he admits he is Cheppo but unaware Sawai is the person whom he is corresponding with. He explains he never knew why kids skipped school until he became a teacher. After she lets him know she entered his name on JT, he wants her to send him to hell. He is tired of it all and wants to be at peace. Really?! Hell is peace? Sawai is unsure at first but as she observes, Fukasawa continues to teach but the students never paid him attention and he often gets lectured by the vice principal. She finally pulls the string. Fukasawa is glad to see Enma Ai who then shows him the consequences of what he has done to Sawai. I guess he didn’t know she is going to hell too as he sees her crying and murmuring how she will join him there. Too late to regret now. He’ll forever be in regret.

Episode 10
Wanyuudou hitchhikes with a truck driver on a coastal road as he reminisces his past on this path. But the truck driver asks him if he has heard of JT. Because at the end of this road there is a stubborn old man living alone in a house. He refused to move out despite being given compensation and it is believed he is being greedy. Because of that, the road has to be built around it and this has caused accidents and death. The truck driver’s younger brother died in an accident here. Even after that, the old man refused to move out. The truck driver entered his name in JT but Jigoku Shoujo never came. He is going to avenge his brother by himself. Meanwhile Hone stays at the old man’s house as a wandering traveller. She learns all his family is dead and he is the last one left. He tells her he was born in this house, lived all his life here and wants to die here. People think he is greedy but even if they relocate him, do they expect him to live in a new environment with strangers? The old man starts coughing. The truck driver is going to ram into the house but that is when Enma Ai appears before him to hand him a straw doll. He wanted to pull it but he was a second too late. The old man has died. He doesn’t believe it and still wants to crash his truck. Till he tries to avoid Kikuri and had not Wanyuudou stop it, he would have died in the same place as his brother did. Soon the truck driver sees the old man’s peaceful body. There is a letter addressed to him in which he leaves all his property and compensation of his brother’s death to him. The house then ‘dies’ along with the owner and collapses.

Episode 11
Akira Kitakami keeps staring at Mitsuko who is manning the electrical shop. It’s not that he likes her or anything. Maybe he does. But the thing is, her husband Seiji is very abusive. He thinks she is trying to seduce that kid and always tortures her. Worse, Akira secretly spies on this torture. Even when Mitsuko is slow in answering the phone, he tortures her. Akira contacts JT but is still unsure if he should pull the string so he talks to Yuzuki for help. He is confused why Mitsuko doesn’t run away and keeps staying by his side and take in all the abuse. Maybe this is a form of love? Ultimately Yuzuki tells him to not get involved. One day he visits the store again and this time he is serious in wanting her to run away from that creep. He will help her if needed. She is reluctant since he will always hunt her down. Too late. Hubby’s back. He gets even violent in beating her up. Pipsqueak can’t even take him down. Trapped beneath the rack and Mitsuko continues to suffer, his only way out is to pull the string. It’s over. Next day, he comes to see her again. The store is still in a mess but Mitsuko is missing ever since.

Episode 12
Kaede Inao is believed to have a fox spirit named Gon that does as she wishes. So when a classmate sends in a curse request and it becomes true, Inao who was once a loner and ostracized is now ‘famous’ and getting all the attention she wants. With friends requesting curses, she does them and it all turns out well and as per wanted. Of course the Jigoku Shoujo team know there is no such spirit and all that has happened are merely coincidence. One day a classmate wants her to kill a stalker and nothing happened to the stalker, Inao becomes more and more desperate and her classmate is starting to get impatient and threatens to expose her as a fake. Inao went to great lengths and performing ridiculous rituals just to get this stalker killed but in the end he still breathes. Now even more desperate, she contacts Enma Ai and pulls the string even before she could finish reading the terms of the contract. With this case ‘solved’, the classmate is so glad the stalker has disappeared. Oh, she lied about the stalker and just didn’t like his face. Now she introduces a friend who has a request of someone killed…

To Hell With Everything!
WTF???!!! Is this how it ‘ends’???!!! I’m sure many viewers and long-time fans would be cursing the producers for deceiving them about this season. Yeah, rerun half the season with old episodes and call it a new season. I have this bad feeling so many people are contacting Jigoku Shoujo to send them to hell. Furthermore, the way it just suddenly ‘ends’ without further explaining about that Michiru’s case rubs further insult on wounds. More on that later.

After a long absence, watching the same old formula of vengeful people sending others to hell still feels interesting and intriguing. Yes, it worked on my nostalgia side too. The new stories are nothing new or original, at least not that it brings in any fresh ideas because it is still people with twisted vengeance and motives sending the ones they hate or ‘love’ to hell. They also try to put this mysterious Michiru girl in the mix. At first it sounds interesting because you’ll be guessing who this girl is and what her connection is to Enma Ai. And when her past and all is revealed, she is supposed to become the next Jigoku Shoujo? Or at least another colleague? Erm, didn’t they try that in the third season whereby Yuzuki was supposed to be the next Jigoku Shoujo but that didn’t happen and hence Enma Ai continued to helm that role?

But it was most mind boggling, confusing and disappointing to see how Michiru’s story ‘ends’. Because she has been against Enma Ai’s ways and refused to become Jigoku Shoujo. And what do you know? Suddenly she becomes Jigoku Shoujo in the end! WTF?! How the hell did that happened? What exactly happened?! Did the master of hell brainwashed her into accepting her role? Well, the only good thing Michiru became one is how Yamawaro is now her subordinate and this should shut Kikuri up. Yeah, I love seeing that annoying brat getting tormented now that the object of her bully has gone over to the other side. That’s the best way to get back at someone who has been tormenting you ever since. They’ll only appreciate it when they find themselves no one and nothing to torment anymore. Come back!

The way the new episodes ‘ended’ just to pave way for the reminiscence episodes is one reason why I felt disappointed with this season generally. Not only did I not get enough explanation about Michiru’s end result (maybe it is just that, Michiru becomes Jigoku Shoujo. The end), the reminiscence episodes are just reruns of an entire episode from previous seasons. Damn copy and paste. Are they trying to hint something here using this method? Well, this isn’t the first time a series does this as Gintama did it in one of their seasons. A few other animes have also done this but that is more of a recap episode rather than entirely copy and paste. The only difference that prevents it from being 100% copy and paste is that at the start of each episode, we see a mix of paper cut-out and real life animation of the Jigoku Shoujo team in a bar reminiscing one of those old episodes. The only good part about this segment is how Kikuri gets owned and bullied, her plans backfired because of her brattiness. It’s like getting a taste of her own medicine. They should have just made this part longer and renamed it, Kikuri Gets Bullied. Anyway, watching the reruns in a way made me feel mixed. Because I couldn’t remember a damn thing! It was as though I have watched this for the first time! Serious! I didn’t actually recall any of these episodes. So I was going like, “Did I see this before?”. Only that truck driver episode I remember hints of it but still I forgot many parts of it.

Because I vaguely describe such episodes in a sentence in my previous blog, it didn’t help jog my memory. Yeah, I was even being lazy then. Therefore if they rerun the entire 3 seasons, I might as well have watched like as though it is new since I have already forgotten about them. So I believe this reminiscence episodes are like teasers for audiences new to anime so that they can go back a decade to watch the original seasons. I also feel that this fourth season is like the producers and writers ran out of ideas and thus they needed some reruns. This is also why the fourth season is the shortest among all the other seasons at it only has a single cour to it whereas all first 3 seasons were double cours. Heck, this fourth season had only half of an actual cour. More people being sent to hell, more back stories of the Jigoku Shoujo team to find out and the other third party who is trying to stop them. And this is why Michiru as the new character and latest addition to the Jigoku Shoujo team feels wasted and disappointed.

In a way, the reminiscence episodes aren’t so bad since it brings some nostalgia as we get to see the entire old process of how Enma Ai and her team fly into action. Right down from handing over the straw doll to the person who called her and saying the T&C, to that mysterious granny’s shadow who is always turning the spinning wheel and when the string is pulled we see again how Enma Ai puts on her kimono as well as Wanyuudou’s fiery face on the fiery wheel fly over the horizon to take the targeted person to hell. But still, it is overall bad for the series because if we wanted to watch reruns in HD, which is already available a long time ago, we would have gone watched them.

I tried to come up with conspiracy theories of why certain episodes were selected for the reminiscence arc. As much as I scratch my head about it, I can’t find a connection. Because some episodes show young Tsugumi and some show Yuzuki. It is truly copy and paste. So if you have not watched previous seasons and wonder who these girls are, you’re going to be very much confused. I thought the episodes were multiples of 3’s but one of them broke this combo. Damn. That was the closest I could find. Or maybe they just selected them at random. Just to screw with us. Even if we were told there are 6 new episodes and 6 reminiscent ones, we kept hoping one of them would be different and especially when it reached the final one, there would be something absolutely different. We were wrong. Why oh why do I even ponder about this kind of things?

Of course there are a few questions that I once asked in the previous instalments of this series and it made me ponder again but with no real answers in sight. For example, I remember asking what if the time isn’t exactly midnight, can you still contact Jigoku Shoujo? What I meant is that if you turn your PC clock back or forward, will you still be able to contact her? Because we always see people connecting to JT right on the dot. What if multiple people hand in their request at the same time? Assuming they are at the same location in a similar time zone. Because you know, there is only one Enma Ai who has to give the straw doll and explain the T&C. Now with Michiru joining the team, I guess it lightens the load. But you know, human grudges are so endless and it is unrealistic that there is only 1 request per night. And some who requested do not pull the string immediately but they wait for a few days. So what happens in between those days while the team is waiting? Besides, the Jigoku Shoujo team has only ‘limited staff’ and hence limited number of straw dolls Enma Ai can hand out. Imagine if there are 100 people who request a grudge that night. What do you mean that won’t happen? Imagine the aftermath of a football match in which a controversial goal was given and hence a controversial victory to the traditional rival. Yeah… There’ll be thousands who are going to hell tonight! They should have been addressing such questions rather than putting in those reruns.

Art and animation for the new episodes seem to be updated as they are sharp and vivid. There is a stark difference when you compare and watch to the reminiscence episodes. You can see how a decade changes stuffs like technology. Imagine just 10 years ago we were still using CRT monitors and television. 10 years ago we didn’t have Smartphones with apps and the latest were like those Motorola Razr flip phones. Heck there is even landline phones! Rarely see those today, right? And USB pendrives were like 8MB!!!! That’s so big at that time!!! Wow. Really nostalgic.

As for the voice acting, I still love Mamiko Noto all these years and this is probably one of the earliest anime series that I watched featuring her that made me fell in love in her voice in the first place. It’s really nostalgic. Her character might be saying the same lines over and over again and her other dialogues may not be varied but I never get tired of her voice. More Jigoku Shoujo anyone? More like, more Mamiko Noto for me!!!!!!!! Oops. Anyway, as for the opening theme, Noise by Mio Yamazaki feels odd. It is such a lively rock piece. I shouldn’t be surprised because previous seasons of the opening themes like Nightmare, Tsukihana and Sakasama No Chou has this lively feel to it. Like in all season, Mamiko Noto sings the ending themes. This season’s Irogami still has that creepy feel that makes it feel that it is a good thing she isn’t a full-fledged singer? Hey, I love her voice but not exactly when it comes to singing.

Overall, I still love the Jigoku Shoujo series and mainly it is because of Mamiko Noto. But if you’re talking specifically about this fourth season, I would say it is disappointing. It only seemed a bit better because of the nostalgia factor that hyped me up. Having reruns in already a short cour isn’t the good way to go and the new story itself as well as the new character isn’t satisfying enough. Maybe the hint is already in the series’ name itself. The series is already at its twilight. If this is its way of going out with a bang, it sure wasn’t it. In conclusion, it goes to show that people never change. The grudges will always be there. The vengeance will always be there. The money milking drive from nostalgia will always be there. The suckers will always be there. When are we ever going to learn? Curse you all! O pitiful shadow bound in darkness, bringing torment and pain to others. A soul drowned in sins. Want to try dying for once? No thanks. I’d rather keep my soul in case the next season comes around.

Jigoku Shoujo Mitsuganae

November 28, 2009

Back by popular demand! Both in the real world and in the story, I mean. That’s right. I wouldn’t have really thought that the producers would really have come up with the third season called Jigoku Shoujo Mitsuganae since everything seems to have indicated to have ended at the end of the second season. If you’re not familiar with Jigoku Shoujo, here’s a brief outline. If you harbour any deep hatred for anybody, you can send that person down to hell by accessing a website which only appears at midnight called Jigoku Tsuushin (JT). You will be given a straw doll and if you untie its red string, the person whom you hate most shall be ferried to hell immediately but your soul will also go to hell after you die.
 
For those faithfuls who have watched the second season finale should have know that Enma Ai has been released from her contract and job of ferrying those pitiful souls to hell and the rest of her JT team of Wanyuudou, Ren and Hone has been dispersed. But I guess there is too much hatred in this world and somebody has to continue doing the job, eh? In my opinion, this is still an excellent series if you want to know what kind of grudges human posses, from downright stupid and ridiculous to clinging on to their so called last piece of hope.
 
As seen in episode 1, that cheeky mischievous brat Kikuri makes a return by rounding up the rest of JT team. They even have a new member. A young boy named Yamawaro. Since Kikuri’s body is now a mechanical doll, you can see that she has Yamawaro has her slave-cum-servant because that gentle boy often obliges her childish wishes. Yeah, she has him wind up her key at the back of the body if she wants to continue moving. Furthermore, the entire JT seems to assemble at a middle school and even disguises themselves as staffs there. Their new hideout? It seems that the gathering at this school has also 1 purpose. A student by the name of Yuzuki Mikage has the ability to see potential people accessing JT through the eyes of Ai. So where is Ai anyway? Since she doesn’t have a body of her own, one night as Yuzuki is taking a bath, Ai suddenly comes out of her bathtub, kisses her and what do you know, she inhabits the body of this high schooler. Note, this isn’t going to be a yuri series. But that explains why she can see things. Enough to spook any girl. Of all the people, why her? You’ll find out much later in the series.
 
Anyway this episode sees Yuzuki and her pals, Akie Takasugi and Itsuko Hiraisho. Rebellious Itsuko doesn’t like their homeroom teacher, Tange, because he caught them in class passing notes. He also writes in his notebook the offences they make and this is a big blow if they want to have a bright future. Itsuko decides to create evidence against Tange and even ropes in reluctant Yuzuki to help like taking pictures of him hanging out with school girls but it backfired when her parents are there and finds out what she is doing. Her anger reaches boiling point as she accesses JT. Ah, all those familiar recycled lines are back. Take the straw doll… Untie the red string… Enter into a contract with me… The one you hate will be ferried to hell immediately… Your soul will also go to hell… You will never go to Heaven and will experience pain and suffering for eternity… When 1 is cursed, 2 holes are dug… The rest is up to you to decide. Itsuko has had it enough when Tange confiscates her mp3 player and learns that he has dispose of it. She confronts him and accuses him of failing students he dislikes and he counters that back by saying he will do the same to her and whips out his notebook. Yup, string pulling time. Now this particular season has Ai doing her delivery in a slightly different way. Since she inhabits Yuzuki’s body, every time someone pulls the red string, Yuzuki will enter through some dimension and experience pain like as though a giant cocoon is bursting out from her back. That cocoon turns into Ai and now her kimono has designs of balls, flowers and fans. Another recycled scene to note. Ai and JT send Tange to hell and in the aftermath, Yuzuki reappears back in reality and notices the mark on Itsuko’s chest. However the girls soon learn that Tange is never a bad person because Itsuko’s mp3 player was given to Akie to be given back to her later and that he had lied about it. Furthermore, his notebook has only doodles. The next day, Itsuko transfers to another school. Poor teacher…
 
So how is that for a returning bang to the series? Oh, the nostalgia of those recycled lines from Ai: "Ippen, shinde miru?", "Kono urami, jigoku e nagashimasu" and "Anata no urami, harashimsu". This particular season also sees Yuzuki trying to stop all those hopeless souls from pulling the string. Experience tells that people are too caught up in their hatred to listen to what this girl is trying to tell them. I’m not sure if this JT thingy is confined to this school and town area because many of the people we will see tend to come from here. Well, keep trying Yuzuki… Also note that this time one doesn’t necessarily need to have a computer to access JT. You can do it with the convenience of your handphone too. Vengeance made easy…
 
Episode 2 has Yuzuki continued to be troubled with her spooky visions. This time, another middle schooler, Akira who seems to be in love with a middle aged married woman, Mitsuko, of an electronics store. However, he notices she is being controlled by her overprotective and abusive husband. I can’t believe that jerk would beat his wife up even if she didn’t answer his phone call! Not even if she’s attending to a customer! How many times must he call in a day?! Akira has had enough of witnessing the husband beating his wife at a nearby warehouse and you know, he goes to JT. He enters the shop one day and wants Mitsuko to run away with him. She disagrees but the husband arrives at the doorstep. Upset of what he is seeing and confirming his twisted misinterpreting that she is having some sort of relationship with this kid, he starts attacking them. Akira takes drastic measures by pulling the red string. In the aftermath, he tells her everything is alright and will come back tomorrow. She agrees. But when he does so, he finds her missing, the shop in a mess and a picture of Mitsuko and her husband during happier times. What does this mean anyway? Did she run away by herself?
 
In episode 3, Yuzuki and Akie saved a popular idol, Jun, from being raped by an obsessed fan. Jun’s manager offers them to have dinner with Jun as gratitude. Upon arriving at the hotel, a girl named Masako approaches them and hands them a package to be given to Jun. After dinner, Jun and her manager panic upon hearing the package they received. Inside it, several erotic photos of Jun. Yuzuki and Akie leave to meet Masako again outside the hotel. Masako proceeds to tell them how she and Jun were from the same agency but Jun had mistreated her badly so much so she had to give up her dreams of becoming an idol. Masako even demonstrates her singing ability but in a nutshell, she isn’t even worth to be called an American Idol reject. HORRIBLE! Then Jun comes by to admit that she did horrible things to her in the past but even so she did it because Masako had no talent in singing. No matter how true it was, it was enough for her to access JT. Masako is offered a large sum of money to keep quiet but during one of Jun’s performance, Jun revealed the terrible things she had done to her road of stardom but was able to obtain her dream through her fans. Masako is part of the crowd, still isn’t convinced of what she has heard and pulls the string. Fancy seeing Ai and her JT team doing a Jigoku Concert? Anyway the lesson learned is that even if she has changed now, the fact that what she did in the past will still remain. In the aftermath, all her fans (even that rapist!) gather at the stadium hoping Jun will someday return.
 
Episode 4 feels a bit yaoi. Another schoolmate of Yuzuki, Takeru, was once a victim of bully by his classmates. But ever since he was saved by a guy named Nishida, he followed his path and became a little cooler. You could say that got closer and there are hints of yaoi moments there but nothing offensive. Then 1 day as Takeru and Nishida are in a bus, they witness some thug harassing a passenger. Nobody dared to stop him and even until the thug and his victim left, he still continued to harass him. To make things worse, Takeru saw how Nishida was quivering in fear in his seat. So where has all that justice he preached gone to? That’s when Takeru accessed JT and sent him to hell. He even said how the whole people in the bus need to be sent to hell but it doesn’t concern him. WTF?! More like he doesn’t know their names. So why not the thug at most? Not liking the hypocrisy? In the end, Takeru returns to his timid and being bullied ways. Why? His statement rings a frightful truth: "Even if I change, society won’t change".
 
Yuzuki bumps into a first year student, Ririka in episode 5, thus breaking her beaker. Luckily her teacher Miyama is a good and kind teacher and wonders if she is hurt in anyway. However Miyama starts getting harassing phone calls even right in the middle of the night from Ririka’s grandma who thinks the she is being a bad teacher! Miyama approaches Ririka about this so she will talk to grandma. However things didn’t get better when grandma even went to the extent of distributing warning flyers how terrible Miyama a teacher is! Oh God! Thankfully the other teachers are reasonable and try to quell that irrational grandma but to no avail. She even stops Ririka from attending school till Miyama resigns! Miyama one day goes to make a surprise visit to Ririka’s home. Ririka tells her reasons why grandma is acting so and that she is not a bad person. Grandma suddenly comes home and is surprised to see Miyama there. Miyama hopes Ririka would clear everything but to her horror, Ririka says how Miyama is threatening her to do this and that or else. Miyama is shocked and leaves. When she does, Ririka comes rushing to explain the reason she does so was because she thinks she will be fine since she is an adult. Unable to take this anymore, Miyama access JT that night and sends Ririka to hell with the reasoning that a teacher’s responsibility is to her students. The next day, Miyama sees grandma staring blankly into space from her window, wondering where her beloved grandchild has disappeared. Oh my. Even such a good natured person has resorted to using JT. Just goes to show how nasty humans can get.
 
Somebody wants to send Ren to hell in episode 6? I would like to see that but the person who requested it, Yuu, got her request rejected instead. As Hone is impersonating as a gym teacher in school, several students have become her fan, including an obnoxious and proud one, Kira. Yuu is also in love with Hone but thinks Ren is her lover, the reason why she wants to send him to hell. I think Yuu is trying to make Kira jealous that she is closer to Hone than her by using a band aid she received from Hone and making it look like a kiss mark on her neck. Kira accesses JT and the next day finds out her shoes are missing. Yuu is the culprit and she even lies that Hone was the one who told her to do this. Unable to take it anymore, Kira pulls the string. Now, Yuu’s horror feat features her in a race with the other JT members and Ai, to see who will be the first to reach Hone and claim her love. The thing is, Yuu employs dirty tactics to rid her competitors and even kicks Ai! Can she do that to Jigoku Shoujo? Yuu wins but finds her true self isn’t what it seems to be (she’s a bag of bones for those who can’t remember). The next day, Kira is over Hone and has found someone cooler to admire: Wanyuudou. WTF?! The taste these girls have. Just as Yamawaro said, anybody is okay for them as long as they are useful to them.
 
In episode 7, a transfer student, Inuo, seems to be everyone’s favourite kid because of his many talents. However, all this is just a lie as he is just doing what his lazy abusive single mother is telling him to do. However the class rep and his friend, Washizu notices something is wrong and pesters him to talk. He then finds out Inuo’s mom is faking an illness and wants him to report to the school authorities but Inuo is reluctant. The days pass and rumours has it that Inuo’s mom is seen going out with men from shady areas. When Washizu meets Inuo again, he panics to see a straw doll in his hands so he tries to persuade him from solving the matter through other means. Washizu shows Inuo how his mom is going out with those men and Inuo can’t take it anymore as he pulls the string. It seems it isn’t his mom he is sending to hell. It is Washizu instead. Methinks he can’t stand nosy people poking into the lives of others, that’s why. In the aftermath, Inuo becomes a crazy person engulfed in all the lies mommy has created and shows his tantrum, giving that mother of his something a little to fear about.
 
Yuzuki befriends a woman, Hatsumi when she returns her lost dog Momo in episode 8. However Hatsumi’s neighbour, Shintani doesn’t like her because of several misinterpreted references and misadventures she had with Momo. Now, Hatsumi is a very nice person and a responsible dog owner but Shintani thinks otherwise. She devises several plots to annoy Hatsumi and possibly to get rid of them. One day Shintani sees a TV show about food that one shouldn’t feed dogs and the next thing Hatsumi knows is that Momo is in a near death state. You know what this means. However Hatsumi is still able to tolerate it all even if Shintani continues to mock her and scatters her package containing dog sheets on the rooftop. Hatsumi tries to pick each one of them up and one was over the balcony. With her life hanging in the balance, I don’t know why Momo brought the straw doll instead. In Hatsumi’s panic to grab anything, she accidentally pulls the string before falling off the edge to the bushes below. Wow. The first case of accidental string pulling. Though Shintani is sent to hell, Hatsumi is seen recuperating and badly bandaged in hospital, wondering why pets aren’t allowed in here.
 
An unpopular girl in school named Kaede seems to becoming popular in episode 9 due to her fortune telling skills. Her little curses which comes true seems to help her as she credits it to a fox spirit named Inari. Then an obnoxious girl, Chizuru, decides to use her services by getting rid of some stalker. Initially reluctant, she gives in to pressure. However all of Kaede’s attempts to rid of the stalker failed so much so Chizuru thinks she’s a fraud and threatens to expose her as one. Kaede pleads for more chances and each time she goes to great lengths and does greater rites but to no avail. She gets desperate and contacts JT via handphone. How desperate is she? Before Ai could even finish her terms and conditions of the contract, Kaede pulls the string. Stupid girl indeed. She’s even laughing like a mad girl! The next day, Kaede learns that Chizuru had lied about the stalker and she made up the story just to dramatize everything. It’s just that Chizuru didn’t like his face. Chizuru then introduces a friend of hers whom she has someone in mind to kill. You can tell from Kaede’s expression that she’s in deep sh*t and had it. Yeah, stupid girl. Really.
 
Kazuya is a classmate of Yuzuki when she notices him delivering papers as his part time job in episode 10. Kazuya’s household seems to be in some sort of problem. Daddy doesn’t care about mommy and mommy seems to be infatuated in buying more kimonos in hopes of attracting her husband. The salesman selling the kimonos is a smooth talker just like how many aspiring salespeople would like to sell a refrigerator to an Eskimo. One day Kazuya confronted his mom and wants her to stop letting the salesman in but she disagrees, thinking that he’s a good person and continues to buy more kimonos from him. Well, only 1 option left. Then during a sports event, Kazuya overhears how the salesman is just using his mommy to get more sales. He goes home and pulls the string. But has all that changed? Because another salesman is seen trying to sell his stuff with more flowery and flattering words. I guess every woman loves to hear those sweet words, eh? Why not? Since her husband is unable to shower her with those.
 
A string of murders seem to imitate the story of a mystery novelist, Kamisaka in episode 11. Because of that, his popularity has skyrocketed due to the wrong reasons. A magazine reporter, Asaba, decides to interview him to find the truth and soon, the true murderer, a young boy, is caught and reveals that he did so because he found it interesting. However Asaba is upset to find that her editor twisted her facts to portray Kamisaka in a more negative light. One day, Yuzuki and Akie meets Michio, supposedly the elder sister of one of the murder victims. She is here to ascertain who she should send to hell, the writer or the murderer. Michio soon meets Kamisaka and with Asaba’s proof, finds out everything about the false media reporting. Then they got this sick idea with each of them sending the ones they hate to hell simultaneously. And with the count to three, they send the murderer, the editor and Kamisaka’s supposedly friend (initially he supported Kamisaka’s work but when negative news came out, he chickened out and turned against him) to hell. As the trio are to ‘celebrate’ their relief, suddenly Kamisaka disappears. It seems that he is being sent to hell by the murderer’s mother, who pins the blame on him the reason why her son did those cruel stuff. Though Kamisaka maintains his innocence that he didn’t do anything wrong, Ai tells him that the other victims also felt this way.
 
Episode 12 seems a little bit comical because of some loser-cum-joker classmate of Yuzuki, Nomura. I don’t believe I have ever seen anybody in this series nose bleed before. Anyway, this kid is using JT as some game to see which of the people he hates will get to go to hell first. They include a rude lady neighbour, an obnoxious male customer from the soba stall he works part time and the boyfriend of the girl (Kokoro) whom he secretly has a crush on. Nomura plays this game of his by sticking several round stickers over the body of a pin-up model on a poster for every annoying stuff done by them. If the sticker reaches her boobs, that ‘lucky’ person is to be sent to hell. I think. At the same time, one of Yuzuki’s friends, Nozomi (also working part time at the soba stall) seems to have a crush on Nomura and up to a point where the duo are to be going out on a date (perhaps he thinks he could never be with Kokoro?). One day, Nomura spots Kokoro trying to commit suicide by jumping off a bridge but he saves her in time. He learns that Kokoro is sad that her boyfriend was dating several other girls at the same time. Nomura gives her encouragement that she’ll find a better guy. She thanks him before they part. Back home, Nomura is confident that he is going to send Kokoro’s boyfriend to hell, since he has reached the goal. However it seems he can’t access JT. Why? Ai tells him that somebody else has a grudge on him. Who? It’s Kokoro! She can’t believe that she confided her problems in him and fears that he would tell everyone and ruin her reputation. Bummer. Nomura’s horror feat is also different because it is shown as live action sequences with Nomura drawn on a piece of paper as he is being boiled or being stapled. Then the funny part when Ai says that usual try-dying-for-once line, Nomura says how he doesn’t want to die! Too late. In the end, Kokoro gets herself her new boyfriend and she’s bothered a little by the mark on her chest. But she’ll think about that later. But poor Nozomi is in tears because of Nomura’s disappearance as her friends comfort her. Only Yuzuki truly knows what has happened…
 
In episode 13, a woman named Azusa confronts a police officer Norisha in episode 13 about he’s trying to forget something on the 6 Script Lantern Festival but he ignores her. Norisha is Akie’s father and to make matters worse, Azusa under an alias becomes Akie’s personal tutor. One day Akie visits Azusa at her house and sees the latter’s father in coma. Azusa plays guilty mind games with Akie by saying how her dad got involved in an accident but the police prevented the truth from surfacing and that person she holds responsible was Norisha, though the culprit Takumi is the son of an influential person and has fled overseas. Akie is shocked by what she has heard and when she goes back, she tells daddy how she wants to live alone, not giving him any further reasons. But this is all part of Azusa’s plan to make them suffer. Yuzuki helps Akie unpack in her new apartment and after that they attend the 6 Script Lantern Festival. The JT team explains that a significance of this festival is that is a time when the gates of hell opens. Akie decides to leave early when Yuzuki sees a light from a distance and approaches it. A woman appears to tell her not to go there or else she won’t come back. That woman disappears when Yuzuki turns around. She then senses Akie in trouble and rushes back. At the apartment, Azusa tells Akie to take a shower and while doing so, she has some accomplice of hers to rape her. Luckily Norisha appears fast enough to stop them (Yuzuki called him). Azusa thinks of pulling the string but Yuzuki manages to stop her so she flees. Then as Yuzuki is at the river, a little light enters her body and we see Ai separating from her body and now she has a body of her own. Ai rejoins her JT members as they welcome her back. Yuzuki thinks she is freed from this nightmare and goes to see Akie but she disappears in front of her. It seems Azusa managed to access JT and got another straw doll. Yuzuki can’t believe what she saw and could only let loose her cry amidst the pouring rain. Oh damn it! Why does an innocent girl like Akie get sent to hell?! Does Azusa hate her that much? I mean, she does know of the culprit’s name so she should’ve sent him to hell instead. Don’t get how some people think. Yuzuki walks to school dejectedly one day and passes a girl and notes how this is a start of a new nightmare.
 
That girl is Hidemi and in episode 14, she got lost in the city and meets a small time ruffian trying to make it big, Kinya, who seems to have a soft spot for her. Kinya learns that she is a model student with a bright future while comparing himself as a useless delinquent. You could say the duo got along quite well. However enemies of Kinya took pictures of them together and this is enough to ruin Hidemi’s reputation. When Yuzuki learns that Hidemi is planning on using JT, she tells her experience of what happened to innocent Akie. The girls decide to go find Kinya only to see him being arrested for beating somebody up. Hidemi is shocked to see what is happening and contacts JT. Later Kinya busts out of the police station. He takes the first person he sees as his hostage: Yuzuki. In all that chaos, he doesn’t recognize Hidemi, breaking her heart. Finally he does recognize but it is too late as she pulls the string. In the aftermath, Yuzuki sees Hidemi ditching her good girl image and lets loose her wild side. She’s going to hell anyway, right? Yuzuki is adamant of not giving up her quest to stop people from accessing JT but senses too many grudges from the crowd. Well, it’s such a hateful society. On another note, since Ai has her body of her own, no more that cocoon bursting scene. It’s back to that Wanyuudou’s fire carriage scene and well, sometimes she’s back in that eternal sunset hut with her faceless grandma perpetually spinning the wheel. Or else, Ai takes refuge with the rest of her JT members at the school. Can’t believe this is their base, eh? Also, Kikuri isn’t pleased that Ai is back because it means the rest would pay less attention to her. Hey, she has Yamawaro, right? Not enough? Pout all you want, kid. I’m rooting for Ai!
 
Usagi is a slow girl and in episode 15 she is constantly being saved by her close friends. As contrast, her brother, Michi is a successful musician. He returns home to their family and scolds her for being a turtle. But I guess even slow girls are capable of feeling hatred because Yuzuki senses Usagi accessing JT. She’s slow but not stupid. However one of her classmates, Endo, has a crush on Usagi and even asks her out! Love works in mysterious ways. Yeah, the turtle surpassed her friends in getting a boyfriend. Michi isn’t happy so he frames him by showing Usagi that he is two-timing her with photos of Endo going out with other girls. Eventually they broke up and when she goes tell Michi about this, he is surprised to see a straw doll in her hand. It seems Michi too has one! Are they planning to send each other to hell?! Michi explains how he’s always envy her because their parents always have expectations of him. In addition, he came back to tell them he was quitting his musician job. The siblings reconcile embrace and threw away their straw dolls into the river. Yuzuki is relieved to see what they had done and thinks this case is closed and needs no further intervention. Michi goes back but finds himself being sent to hell. It seems Usagi went back down the river and pulled the string. Still can’t forget the grudge? Perhaps she is still slow in that area. A short flashback how Michi disagreed to be Usagi’s bride when she grows up but said he would if she’d become beautiful. Usagi is still standing in the river believing that she could still do her best.
 
In episode 16, Yuzuki tries to stop a man, Nawa, from pulling the string but she is too late as Ai stops her. Nawa goes back to his mundane factory life and playing with a little girl, Kaya. Soon the factory receives a new worker, Yuki. Being a male dominated occupation, the guys tried to hit on her but Nawa inadvertently saved her (he was just passing by so the rest backed off). Feeling grateful, Yuki starts going out with him though he seems gloomy and a boring person. But that gradually changed when Kaya understood that he can’t play with her because he’s got a date. Finally Nawa tells Yuki how he sent his colleague Nakajima to hell. When Nakajima first arrived, he along with Kaya always played together. Nawa one day realized Nakajima is some sort of paedophile when he found several pictures of her in his room. He confronted him and though he admitted he wasn’t going to cross the line (he was just happy looking and not willing to take any physical action) and points back at Nawa that he is the same, Nawa couldn’t accepted it and decided to protect Kaya by contacting JT even if it meant going to hell himself. Soon Nawa finds out that Yuki was Nakajima’s boyfriend and that she infiltrated this factory to investigate his disappearance. She chose to get close to Nawa since he was his close friend, Now that she knows everything, Yuki sends Nawa to hell. Tit for tat. However all this was just a premonition Ai showed Yuzuki. A vicious never ending cycle of grudges. Yuzuki still wants to save him so Ai lets her through but she lost him among the crowd.
 
Episode 17 focuses on Yamawaro’s past. When Yuzuki sees one of her visions, she goes to see the grandma who accessed JT but finds out the mansion only has an elderly professor and his young wife. Though she sense something amiss, Yuzuki leaves. We learn that this couple had a son named Hikaru but he died long ago. Yamawaro was a mountain spirit and somehow he had an uncanny resemblance to Hikaru. He initially never thought of mixing with humans and even Ai once came to request him to join JT but he refused, thinking it was natural to be alone. Then curiosity got better of him. Yamawaro appeared before the professor’s aging and ailing wife and she thought her son had returned and treats him like her own real son. However the professor knows very well he isn’t Hikaru so he uses Yamawaro as his experiment subject to create some anti-aging and eternal life potion. Well it worked in a way. Eventually she realized what is going on and tells Yamawaro to run away. But as time passes, she couldn’t get over the fact her husband used their ‘son’ as an experiment and decides to send him to hell. When Yamawaro goes to have 1 last look at her, he sees the entire mansion sinking and her ‘mom’ embracing what looked like Hikaru in her arms during her last moments. This episode raises some questions. For instance, I saw that she had requested a straw doll when it was during its newspaper stages. Does it mean that she has been keeping Yamawaro’s straw doll as her son ever since? The reason why Yamawaro never appeared in the previous 2 seasons? Also, how come she suddenly turned back to her hagged old looks when Kikuri pointed out that Yamawaro wasn’t her son? Was it all just an illusion?
 
A radio show named Jotaro Shijimi seems to be popular with the school girls in episode 18. One of the girls Chiriko is a big fan and has a letters read nearly every night. Yuzuki and friends soon find out Chiriko is that person under the alias "Chi-chan". Furthermore, one of Chiriko’s suggestions for the show is to create a JT corner for one to take out their grudges. Then Chiriko meets another girl, Kaname, who happens to be another regular on the show going by the name of "Kaeru Hime". They both get acquainted and soon Kaname suggests for them to go meet Jotaro in person. When they arrive outside the station, Kaname is excited to see Jotaro’s co-host, Yume. As Kaname expresses her eagerness and dreams to become a scenario writer to Yume, Chiriko can’t help feel devastated that all this was just a made up script, thus crushing her dreams of whatever fantasies she had on Jotaro. She then contacted JT and one day as she and Kaname are walking to school, Chiriko asks if Kaname had told anyone else about the script and since the latter said no, Chiriko pulls the string on her. WTF?! She can’t accept the reality, eh? Chiriko goes back to her fantasy world of Jotaro, refusing to believe all that scripted stuff was real. Better to live within one’s fantasy than to face the harsh realities of live, huh?
 
Yuzuki meets a young woman, Kaori, who is the heir of a famous flower arrangement organisation in episode 19 and learns that the head of the organisation has recently passed away. Kaori is running away since she did not like her predetermined future but was brought back by her childhood friend-cum-colleague, Tsukio and butler Kodakuri. At the funeral, Yuzuki spots the JT team and they are pretty shocked too to learn Yuzuki’s ability to recognize them seeing Yamawaro had put some illusion effect on them. Kaori soon runs into trouble with another woman named Yukina, claiming that she is the real daughter of the deceased. She wants to fulfil her late mom’s wish. In other words, she wants to be the next head of the organisation. Yukina has an even ulterior scheme. She uses the lawyer as her accomplice to poison Kaori. Tsukio overheard how Yukina isn’t interested in the organisation and is just merely using it as a stepping stone so that she could sell the land she inherit for a high price. When the nervous lawyer serves Kaori the drink, Tsukio drinks it in her place instead and collapses. Kaori is filled with anger and accesses JT. Later Kodakuri shows Kaori the dark secrets of the organisation whereby they planted flowers through the skulls of the deceased. Kaori realizes that this is what she had wanted to do all along. With that, she sends Yukina to hell and later tells dying Tsukio how she’ll use his corpse as her first project. Yuzuki is surprised to learn that Kaori has decided to accept this line of her family business. But later Yuzuki gets the most shocking news of her life. Ai tells Yuzuki that she will be the next Jigoku Shoujo and that it is her destiny. Wow. A successor. Erm… I don’t think this is the kind of job any girl would want to do. Besides, bratty Kikuri sometimes confront Yuzuki to say that she won’t lose out because Kikuri is bloody sure she’ll be the next Jigoku Shoujo. Dream on…
 
Remember Ai took on Hell Boy in the first season? In episode 20, she takes on Hell Professor. Another development is that, recall that cute little Tsugumi girl back in the first season? Yeah, she’s all grown up now and the thing is, she is working as a nurse at Yuzuki’s school! Tsugumi did appear earlier in the series. The time when she warned Yuzuki not to go beyond the shrine during the 6 Script Lantern Festival. Even the JT team failed to recognize her till lately. However, Tsugumi senses that someone wants to send her to hell. She resigns to her fate, only to be taken by some servant named Kikyou to see his master, Shougo. Yuzuki along with Ai and her JT team arrive at Shougo’s mansion and we see he has created some supernatural barrier preventing them from entering initially. When they do so, Ai shows us that she is capable than just sending people to hell as she destroys Shougo’s machine for that barrier. So why does Shougo hate Tsugumi? Actually he doesn’t and is actually an admirer of her dad, Hajime. Of all the mumbo-jumbo explanation, this is what I understand. Shougo is some accomplished mathematician who created some weapon responsible for the lost of many lives. One day he discovered something with his theory: The existence of hell. He got infatuated with it and did lots of research and because of his torrid childhood past whereby his dad used to hit his mom and one day mommy pulled the string and sent daddy disappearing. Soon mommy vanished too. But one of the conditions for accessing JT is to have that grudge feeling. How can he do so if he doesn’t have enough hate to send anyone to hell? Simple. He used deep hypnosis. Furthermore, Shougo says how hell is created by society and wants Tsugumi as part of his experiment as he ties her up in a crucifix position. He also wants to meet Ai after learning she has taken a body in this town. Ai agrees to deliver his grudge, much to the horror of Yuzuki and other JT members. Before Shougo could finish pulling the string, Kikyou did one on him on behalf of all the children he took in as atonement for killing their parents but had used them heartlessly in his experiments. Shougo realizes his hypocrisy and is sent to hell. As everyone leaves, Yuzuki pleads Tsugumi for help but she replies that destiny cannot be changed.
 
While Yuzuki is in a dilemma over her fate, in episode 21, she meets a young boy named Kaito. She notices his body bruises and concludes that he is an abused child. She learns that his stepmom, Nanami, treated him very nicely but ever since she got pregnant with her own child whom she names Mao, that’s where all the mistreatment and verbal abuse came in. No matter how small those mistakes are, Kaito gets punished. Yuzuki confronts his stepdad but the latter scoffs it off. The JT team tells Yuzuki that daddy actually knows it all the while. Just that he chose to ignore it. When daddy comes back, he hears another one of those abuses from outside and thinks he has to end it. One day, Nanami leaves for her usual medical check up so daddy takes Kaito to the mountains where he once promised they would all go as a family. At the lake, daddy attempts to kill Kaito! At the same time, Yuzuki tries to go stop them but is stopped by Ai. Ai tells her that hell is inside of everyone and decides to show it to her. Yuzuki witnesses daddy almost committing the hideous act but he backs out upon realizing what he is doing. But is too late because Kaito already pulled the string. So who got sent to hell? Mao! OMG! Can you send an unborn person to hell?! An innocent foetus who has yet to breath his/her first breath already sent to the eternal fields of pain?! Would it be conscious enough to know what pain is?! Because of that, Kaito and his family are back to the happy trio they once were. With that in mind, is it possible to send a fictional character to hell?
 
Yuzuki continues to despair about being the next Jigoku Shoujo in episode 22. So much so she collapses and comes to in Tsugumi’s infirmary. She seeks her advice but as usual nothing much could be done. On her way home, Yuzuki encounters Sumika, the reserved twin of the famous model, Yuika. Being a twin acts like a double edged sword. Though Yuika puts up a friendly personality in public, she is quite cruel especially to Sumika. She also uses her to do assignments she doesn’t like. Now that’s making full use of your other self. Nobody could tell the difference between them and the only thing which distinguishes them apart is the birthmark on Sumika’s hip. One night Yuika was out drunk with her manager-cum-boyfriend Masato, she got into an accident and broke her arm. Not wanting to waste her photo shoot, she sends Sumika in her place. Soon Sumika thrives in Yuika’s place and even does a much better job than her. She even starts getting into a relationship with Masato. What the heck, can’t tell the difference anyway. But all this you know, means Yuika is burning with jealousy. The twins confronted each other and Sumika isn’t Yuika’s shadow anymore as she is on par with her. One of the twins accesses JT. Yuzuki tries to stop them but can’t tell which of them has the straw doll. Later Masato meets one of them to say he is dumping her for the other. The dumped twin pulls the string. It is revealed the one who pulled the string was Yuika as she returns to her familiar spotlight while Sumika laments her fate for just pursuing her dreams.
 
Another bullying case in episode 23. The victim this time is a boy named Fumio. He is being subjected to that by Tomohide who seems to bear a very strong grudge on him, and his lackeys. Meanwhile Yuzuki is tired of her futile attempts so whenever she sees her visions (Fumio accessing JT in this case), she tries to ignore them. She also tries to study hard to take her mind of this. We also see that Tomohide isn’t a total cruel person. Back home, he takes care of his little sister while their single mom is away working. When she asks him about daddy, he didn’t say much but suspiciously he has a mark on his chest and things indicate he might have sent his own father to hell. One day Tomohide and his lackeys decide to return the camera that they got from Fumio during a previous bully. However, they see him so polite with his parents like as though the bullying had no effect on him. Tomohide gets furious as they take Fumio to the woods for another bully session. This time, Tomohide is going to get physical, which could land them in trouble. In Fumio’s panic, he takes out the straw doll. Tomohide knows his fate and challenges him to pull the string. He also warns Fumio that even if he is sent to hell, his miserable life won’t change. Fumio panics and pulls the string. The lackeys become afraid when they see Tomohide disappear before their eyes and flees. Next day in class, when the teacher mentions about Tomohide’s absence, his lackeys start panicking and blurt before the class how he was sent to hell. They get paranoid and start pointing their fingers at everyone for holding grudges while they cower in fear that they don’t want to be sent to hell. Fumio later learns what Tomohide say may be true because he witnesses bullying the high school he will be going to. Elsewhere, Yuzuki confronts Ai about her fate and the redundant existence of JT since hell is in everyone’s heart. So Ai says that Yuzuki hates her and wants to send her to hell! Yuzuki runs home and cries, thinking she too may be consumed by hate. Anyway, the reason behind Tomohide’s grudge against Fumio is not known.
 
Yuzuki continues to ignore her fate of being Jigoku Shoujo in episode 24 as she studies hard for her entrance exam. But she this Jigoku Shoujo thingy must be getting to her head because she is seeing visions of Akie! Not only that, the people around are starting to forget her! Then the entrance exam she took and thought had passed, it seems her number was actually belonging to another student. Thinking that Ai is screwing with her, Yuzuki is upset and calls her out. But only Tsugumi recognizes her. She invites Yuzuki to her home whereby she explains how her dad tried to stop JT but found out he was just part of the system and eventually gave up. Tsugumi too is tired of the whole thing and probably thinks Ai is showing her all this to make her think so as not to feel hatred herself and that some people actually may have found their last hope in JT. Since Yuzuki isn’t willing to accept all this, Tsugumi tells her a shocking truth. Are you prepared for this? Yuzuki disappeared from this world a long time ago and all that she has experienced was just illusions. The reason she told her not to go beyond that shrine was that she may be stuck in limbo in the after world. OMG! Yuzuki is dead?! Unable to take all this, Yuzuki runs back to her apartment, in reality is in a dilapidated state pending for demolition. She goes back to her room to see her skeletal self holding onto a stuffed toy. Ai and her JT team appear to confirm that this is her. Wow. I didn’t see this coming. So are all those visions and people with grudge for real or just part of Yuzuki’s illusions? Maybe that’s why Ai wanted to groom Yuzuki to be her successor? On an unrelated note, Tsugumi should’ve said "I see dead people…". Just kidding.
 
In episode 25, Yuzuki thinks Ai is still screwing with her. Since she is adamant that she won’t become the next Jigoku Shoujo, Ai shows Yuzuki her past. When she was alive with her parents, daddy brought her that stuffed toy as her early birthday present. They were happy then. One day, daddy who works as a bus driver got into an accident when the brakes fail. A lorry at the junction slams into the bus, killing everyone onboard. Daddy soon passes away in hospital but the family victims are enraged. To make matters worse, the bus company says that the error is artificial, pinning the blame on the driver. Because of that, Yuzuki and her sickly mom Sayo, gets shunned by society and even at school, Yuzuki’s pals ignore her. It’s so heartless for them to call them murderers! Sayo took up part time job at a grocery store of a childhood friend but the latter’s wife didn’t like the idea even if he was okay with it. Eventually she quit and her health worsened. Yuzuki took her to a hospital but not even 1 would treat her! Heartless! And I thought it was their oath to save lives. During Yuzuki’s depression, that’s when she met Akie, who gave her a candy. Sayo knew her time has come so she takes Yuzuki to an abandoned shrine where she passed away. After burying her body with sakura petals, Yuzuki goes back to her room and sleep with her stuffed toy. With that, all she remembers them all. Soon she hears Akie calling her. As they reach out, Ai disappears and Yuzuki now dons her kimono. She realizes the need for a Jigoku Shoujo and accepts her fate. She vows to purify this world and makes a promise to Akie that she won’t send sinless people like her to hell. But Hone says that this isn’t Akie and is just a guide. Yuzuki says that their master has disappeared so they will have to serve her. Everyone walks away except Wanyuudou. Yamawaro wanted to stay too but Kikuri pulls him away. At their base, they receive their next job. Oh no! It can’t be! Yuzuki the next Jigoku Shoujo has become true! Well, I don’t really blame her for changing her mind. Oh great. Her eyes are now blood red instead of innocent blue.
 
Yuzuki’s first job is to send Azusa to hell in episode 26. And the person who requested it is Norisha. Call it fate, eh? Meanwhile Tsugumi has a little chat with Ren and Hone before leaving town. Now it’s Yuzuki’s turn to say Ai’s recycled lines. Since Akie was sent to hell, Yuzuki gets personal and supports Norisha to send Azusa to hell. Norisha decides to go look for Azusa so he could see her fall to hell. Elsewhere, that spider comes out of Kikuri’s forehead! Scary! Norisha arrives outside Azusa’s home but later tells Yuzuki that he can’t do it and gives back the straw doll. Though he can’t forget or forgive her, Azusa has done something bad so she will eventually go to hell. Now that is some rational level headed thinking. If everyone could only think like that. However Yuzuki isn’t happy and decides to send Azusa to hell herself. Ai appears to stop her since this would be breaking the rules but Yuzuki blasts her away. Ai tells Wanyuudou to gather the rest. Yuzuki approaches Azusa and when she said "Ippen shinde miru…", she sounded more cute than intimidating. However Azusa soon turned into that spider who is going to send Yuzuki to hell for breaking the rules. Yuzuki trying to fight back the Master of Hell? Definitely a big mistake. Luckily Ai and her JT team appear and rescue Yuzuki from its clutches.
 
When Ai and Yuzuki are alone, Ai tells about the weaklings humans are, their desperate attempts among other things and I believe this is the first time I see Ai shed tears! Then she shows the reason why Norisha didn’t have the heart to pull the string. He saw how Azusa was taking care of her comatose dad. This has Yuzuki remembering her own case as she breaks down. But the spider soon appears and Ai says she will receive the punishment instead. The spider tells of humans’ never-ending hatred and that she will never be freed from this job for eternity. The spider releases a bright flash from light as Yuzuki and Ai find themselves in a flower field. Yuzuki is startled that she is starting to vanish but Ai hugs her and says that she is her. Ai kisses Yuzuki a second time and Yuzuki receives the memories of Ai’s tragic past before disappearing. The next scene shows what looks like Yuzuki leading a normal high school life as Ai reunites with her JT members. Finally Azusa confronts Takumi who has just returned overseas from the airport. She stabs him with a knife but soon disappears. While Takumi lies in his pool of blood, we see it is Norisha’s wife who pulled the string. Ai walks through the panic and fleeing crowd.
 
Just as with the previous seasons of this series, I find this season as engaging and interesting. There were several twists and unexpected turn of events. I didn’t actually expect an unborn child to be sent to hell! It is unfortunate that Ai has to continue with this job without any possibility of getting back her freedom. But I guess somebody has got to do the job seeing that humans will never learn and find the easiest way out. One thing still bugs me about Yuzuki, though. If she had died a long time ago and whatever experiences she had was just an illusion, how does she ever make friends with Akie? By right Akie would never have known who Yuzuki is. Another thing that I’m wondering is why Ai and JT were keen on making Yuzuki the next Jigoku Shoujo considering the fact that they know the truth behind her situation. I know that they were both abandoned by everyone else in the world but couldn’t they just tell it straight rather than let her find out the hard way that all this was just an illusion? Perhaps a reason I could think of was the need to find Ai’s replacement if she was to be released from her job like at the end of the second season. Another point to ponder is if all those people who were sent to hell are for real, was Yuzuki just a ghost existing in her own illusion parallel to reality? I felt that Tsugumi’s appearance in the show somehow lacked any impact in the end. It was like she wants to help Yuzuki out but lack whatever will or necessities to do so and in the end couldn’t do much.
 
It was pitiful to see Yuzuki going through all the pain at such a tender age. Her illusions were probably due to the fact that she still believed that somewhere deep down, humans have that hope to be saved. Just like Tsugumi once did. Well like they say, two wrongs don’t make a right and if Yuzuki went on continuing to hate those around her, she wouldn’t be much different from the rest. Now if she had actually continued to be the next Jigoku Shoujo I think the rate of people being ferried to hell will increase. Why? Oh heck, Jigoku Shoujo looks even cuter now! Haha! Just kidding. But seriously. Like a marketing ploy, eh?
 
In view of the technological advancement in accessing JT, I can’t help think what is the next step for vengeful people to access the site. I remember how Shougo did his research of its evolution from newspaper columns to basic programming to the internet and currently handphone. Maybe the next phase would be just to wish it real hard from the bottom of your heart, eh? Possible? It’s human hatred we’re talking about. Don’t be surprised to see that one can access JT from your TV set or even via telephone call. Dial 1-800-SEND-EM-TO-HELL to exact your revenge! I’m still curious to know what lies beyond the shrine pathway to hell that Ai ferries her victims into. I may have an idea but you know, I’d still like to see it. I also thought that this season would reveal the identity of the faceless grandma since she did make a short appearance. But that’s not important and another story.
 
Many aspects of the series in terms of drawing, art, animation, music and voice acting (more famous seiyuus lend their voice and make cameo appearance such as Rie Kugimiya, Yuko Goto and Kappei Yamaguchi) are pretty much consistent with the previous season. Yeah, I still can’t read the episode title which is still as ‘cakar ayam‘ as ever. Not that I could ever read Japanese kanji in the first place. But just a little note that the episode title now appears right before the opening theme, Tsukihana, sung by Nana Kitade. The song sounds a little like soft rock and the lyrics are a little abstract. As usual, Mamiko Noto who voices Ai once again does the ending, this time entitled Ichinuke. However I find this piece not as creepy as its previous seasons because it feels like a slow pop though it still gives off an eerie feel.
 
It was a good thing they made this series because I can see for myself the dark side of humans. As expected, some reasons were stupid and there are those which are pitiful. Hopefully I would learn from their mistakes and would not resort to such low-down tactics. I believe I have said it before that it’s best to control and channel your hatred into a more positive means. There’s nothing more to be said. Period. And if they are willing to make another season, you can bet that I will be eagerly waiting to see Ai and her JT team deliver their vengeance. Since I felt that this season didn’t have any clear cut indications that the series is at its end, my guess that another sequel is possible. Seeing the kind of direction in today’s life, maybe we need more Ai in this world. That would be like playing God. If you still insist that you can’t stand that person any longer, don’t just sit there. Go for the hell of it! You’ve already got one foot in the grave. See, have we learned anything so far?
 

Jigoku Shoujo

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!

Sakasama No Chou

May 18, 2007

  Itsuka hikari ni mukau, Sakasama no chou,
  Kimi to kami wo kiru, Kagami no naka
 
If those words sound familiar then it’s because it’s from the song Sakasama No Chou, which is the opening theme of the first season of the anime Jigoku Shoujo.
 
  Jugyouchuu no ryouku, Hibiku ashioto,
  Taezu ame no oto ga, Tsuite kuru yo
 
One thing good about this song is that because the singer, SNoW, has a hoarse voice (not to insult her), I don’t have to worry about high pitched lines or long sustaining notes. Which means I can sing this song easily and don’t sound horrible like I should. Though, I still don’t sound as good as the original (or even close!), but it’s better than those high pitched ones.
 
  Kanjiru mama no katachi wa mabushii,
  Amai hana ni naru doku no mi ni mo naru
 
Unfortunately, there isn’t a karaoke version of it. Dang. Why does such song which is easy on my voice seems not to have a karaoke version. Not even an instrumental version of it. So I have the honours of doing a duet with SNoW herself. Uh-huh. As expected, her more melodious voice covers up mine.
 
  Kyou mo ame ano hi to ima to,
  Sora to sora de tsunagitai no
 
Lyrics wise, this song isn’t about your typical simple love song. I mean, for a supernatural anime like this, the words for the theme song has to be fitting, right? Basically it’s about lonliness, abandonment and such. I think. Feels kinda a little abstract too if you ask me. Nevertheless, with the chorus nearly repeating the same words (especially the last part where it’s quite repetitive), it’s not that hard to remember the lyrics. Okay, so I did took a while to remember them.
 
  In this craziness uncertainty hitori hitori no omoi wo,
  Bokura wa doko ka ni nokoseru darou ka
 
Speaking of which, there’s one part which I’m still trying very hard to get it correctly, the timing and all. And that’s the bridge part. I felt like I was singing a ‘slow rap’ because she was singing the lines without fullstop. Because of that, it’s like a tongue twister to me and I usually fumble the words. Sometimes I’m too fast, sometimes too slow, and sometimes I just mispronounced it. Haih, still having problems pronouncing correctly after all this time.
 
  In this craziness you gave me live hitotsu no omoi wo,
  Bokura wa doko made mamoreru darou ka
 
The song overall isn’t flashy as it doesn’t have blaring and ear-piercing instruments. Not to say that this is a 100% ballad but it seems slow and smooth with a few guitar pluckings here and there with the drum beat solo at the end of the song. Easy listening? Maybe. Depends on how you look at it too. Anyway, I’ll be continuing my duet until the karaoke version comes out and I’ll do a solo by then. Wait a minute. Who am I kidding. There’s never going to be a karaoke version.
 
  In this craziness uncertainty hitori hitori no katachi wo,
  Bokura ga doko ka ni nokoseru darou ka,
  In this craziness you gave me life sorezore no katachi wo,
  Bokura wa doko made mamoreru darou ka