For those of you that don’t know, back in 2010 I used to do vlogging/comedy skits with my siblings in a cheap and silly manner, that lead to my work on recording stuff with friends for EOD. We had some silly plot points (made adorable by the fact that my siblings were 5/7/13 years old for my two brothers and sister respectively) but one of my favorite videos was the fact that my sister was able to pull of a creepy Samara impression, and even an Ai Enma cosplay, who is Hell Girl.
So here’s the premise behind Hell Girl and the website, Hell Correspondence. Basically at midnight, you go to the website Hell Correspondence and type in the name of the person you want sent to hell. If you have true vengeance/hatred in your heart she appears like a tooth fairy for the wronged. She will then hear your plea and if deemed worthy (which is a very low/arbitrary bar) she will impart a straw doll to you, colored to match the member of her entourage sent to do the task. The terms and conditions are then explained that while they die here and now, your end of the deal is that when you drop dead, you too have a one way ticket to hell. Most people are absolutely okay with this (otherwise the show would be quite boring) and subsequently pull the red string from the straw doll leading to them being damned and an interesting death scene for the offending (but not always guilty) party.
Horrid murder aside, there’s been three seasons with the fourth out now, the first two with 26 episodes and the third with 12. We find a vast majority of this show to be seemingly Scooby Doo esque in formula. There is an offended party, and through one way or another end up damning someone to hell.For the most part these episodes are self contained with most plot development tracking up towards the end of the season typically in the last 3 or so episodes. This is where people tend to get divisive. Whereas a large amount of shows as popular/syndicated as Hell Girl have that or those episodes that people collectively agree are garbage filler, people argue that ALL the generic episodes can be viewed as garbage filler baring the last few episodes of plot. While I admit I did this for the second half of season 2 and season 3 entirely, I went back and it helped make sense as they slowly put build up to the end scenes. To be fair, the pacing and subtlety of this is not the best executed and CAN be avoided for the main plot episodes, the whole gist of this show is people sending people to hell.
I should point out that the show makes a vast amount of these deaths as a plot point. When sent to hell, the target suffers horrid deaths such as being yanked through walls and being trapped literally INSIDE buildings, being eaten alive by monsters, mocked to death, being turned into a puppet, or even sometimes just having the curse invoker die literally as soon as he pulls the string. Another point of contention for fans is the BEST scenario to send someone to hell. Is it when the antagonist is pants on head levels of evil (such as a child molester, murderer, or otherwise malicious individual) or times when it’s realistic, such as a bully who’s torment drives their classmates to suicide? The show gives us these different variations and while most people find it to be horrid to try to meet all these varying differences, I do not mind it and in fact find the formula to be quite entertaining. A huge point is the fact that this vengeance is also ARBITRARY and can be inaccurate, or even worse COMPLETELY WRONG. Misdirection occurs and leads to individuals being sent to hell for things they DID NOT DO. Personally I know some people who were enraged by this because the bad guy “didn’t get got” or terrified because it’s unjust punishment and that can get scary if you were brought up Catholic. I however, find it to be a good and refreshing dynamic that sometimes you might not get the right person as that uncertainty adds a nice dynamic that keeps this from becoming boring and stale.
While the show stands the test of time in regards to a number of details, some things kill me today as they did back in the day. While the art is great, the animation is usually choppy and poorly done. Beyond that, I have very few issues with the production values/aspects of the show. The voice acting is just as bone chilling now as it was nearly a decade ago when Ai asks “Ippen… shinde miru?” which is basically “Would you like to see what death is like?” Musically the death scene sound track is just as likely to get your blood pumping now as it did back in the day with the solemn music of Ai ferrying the damned to hell just as peaceful and eerie as ever. Most of all I really did enjoy this back when I had a lesser taste in anime and now I can look back at some of these episodes and find it a great watch still. It’s not for everyone that’s for sure but if you like shows of revenge then this is definitely for you. Check back tomorrow for my post on S4 of Hell Girl and leave a like or comment lest your soul drowning in sin gets cursed to hell.