Allright. It's been a while since I've done something like this so bear with me as I try to find my way again. I did quite a lot of them in the past on a different website which you can find here: http://legendsofsatura.net/index.php/forum125/6-reviewing-guild.html
....They probably aren't very good though but please do stop by if you have the time and inclination. Originally the site was for writers, mostly original but also fanfiction.
Also I'm Dutch so there will be spelling errors. If you find them annoying give me a shout and I'll try to fix them.
Oh, I will try to keep spoilers to a minimum but there will be some. Usually the worse I rate an anime the more spoilers this will contain. You have been warned
So, you have probably already read what the animation is about in the discription given by Anime-Planet, which is the same as on the box. I will therefore try not go into the story that much unless I'm ranting about something (spoilers).
CHARACTERS: Main character is Ai Enma, who is known as Hell Girl. She has just one purpose and that is supplying people with the ability to send the object of their revenge straight to Hell. She herself does not judge, only the people who summon her do that. She shows therefore no emotion, whether you curse someone to Hell or not is of no consequence to her at all.
Hone Onna is a vengeful spirit of a prostitute that was brutally murdered centuries ago. She appears as a beautiful woman and used that to lure unsuspecting victims to their doom. At some point Ai seeks her out and she decides to become one of Ai's servants. Her job is to investigate the victim and meet out punishment.
Wanyudo is another of Ai's servants. after dying in a fiery crash while trying to escape some samurai he continues to haunt the mountain road he died on. After meeting Ai he becomes her servant and he often transports her to her victims. Normally he appears as a friendly old man, his spirit is that of a burning carriage with his face as weels.
Ren is the final servant is Ai and he used to a sword. After killing so many men he became steeped in blood that he developed a personality. Ai approached him and gave him a new perpose.
STORY: Well, I can be very short here as there isn't one. Each episode is a stand alone arc where someone summons Ai to banish someone to Hell and, if the curse is released, does so.
Ai simply does not care. If the person asking has a big enough grudge than they will be able to access the Hell Girl site where they can enter the name of the one they want to send to Hell. Ai appears and gives them a doll with a red string. Should they wish to release the curse all they have to do is pull lose the string.
The person cursed will then immediately go to Hell and (s)he will literally vanish from this world. The one who placed the curse will also go to Hell but only after they die.
This is literally it. There is nothing much to add to this premise. Is it enough? Maybe, 'Kino's journey' and 'Mushi Shi' is similar in that the stories are separate episodal arcs. Some episodes may connect to each other but overall that is that and I like those anime's very much. Hell Girl is not something I truly enjoyed and I think that the reason is that she is not a very interesting character.
She doesn't do anything and for the most part does not care about the people she takes to Hell. It is a job for her, one that must be done. Nothing more, nothing less. There is nothing for us to relate to as she is some supernatural being with amazing powers. Kino and Ginko were human. They faced human problems and as such were relatable even though they both share a bit of the emotionlessness that Ai has.
Kids suck. Kids are the beta version for young adults, full of annoying glitches and bad user experience, annoying to be around with, and without the adult features installed yet. Seriously, if you want to ruin something good, put a kid in the lead role. For every Usagi Drop there are a trillion shows where the kid ruins any hope of anything good. The entire point of Jigoku Shoujo Futakomori is the last few episodes, and they star a kid. He sucks. I don't care how much he gets beaten around (the perverse pleasure ran out with my patience for the twat), he isn't a proper person, and he ruined what was the best written part of the franchise up to this point.
Now, beyond that, what can be said about Jigoku Shoujo Futakomori that hasn't already been said about Jigoku Shoujo? Well, not much. If you thought that the first season was repetitive, well, here we go for an even more repetitive second season. Oh, the last few chapters are good, and they make people forget that the entire first half of the season is such a yawnfest that it made my brain bleed. Seriously, you can skip two thirds of the episodes of the season and not miss anything that hasn't been done in the first season.
Don't get me wrong, the repetitive nature of the "good person suffers, bad guy gets punished, no happy end for anyone" is what attracts people to shows like Jigoku Shoujo Futakomori. But the first season had at least some hints of an underlying story at certain points. What we do get is an episode for each of the main characters. It's nice to have their backstories, but even they are put within the formula that repeats itself over, and over, and bloody over.
While the annoyingly repetitive nature of the series will cause me to use the word repetitive a repeated amount of times, there are some improvements over the first season. The animation is improved, and there's an actual ending point that doesn't suck, but actually ties things together. The sound is still great. But the two best characters from the first season are gone for good. So, while the show is technically superior at what it does, it gets a whole lot more annoying for people who have long term memory.
Writing (Story and Characters):
Repetitive, redundant, repetitive, reduntant, redundant, but some nice things. Jigoku Shoujo Futakomori has its moments, but they don't manage to erase the tedius first twenty-something episodes (which are repetitive, and a large part of them redundant). Like the first season, the repetitive nature of the show is a strength and a weakness, but it really is more of a weakness for me (and indeed, those with long term memory and the capability to get bored). Shock value only lasts for so long, and it's been over fifty episodes by the time the second season is over. You may have noticed me repeating stuff a lot. Consider it a homage to the writing.
There is no story for most of Jigoku Shoujo Futakomori beyond "someone gets messed with, make bad guy go to hell, no one is happy. Rinse and repeat, including the episodes which are supposed to give us backstory. It becomes painful, quick. There is some aesthetic value to an episodic show that dares to not try any other flavor other than "like last episode", but really, this is the last show in the universe to binge watch. The last few episodes are rather good and only have a few plot holes that don't really matter as the show is about sending people to hell anyways.
Oh, the characters. There are a few ones I actually sympathized with this season. But really, Jigoku Shoujo Futakomori has a problem with such a large cast that we are focused on the four (and a half) main ones. They aren't all that interesting. They do get a backstory, so that's nice I suppose. Still, most characters are disposable by nature (and about half do get disposed of), and the endless villainy doesn't really matter in the end because it ends up being ordinary. Still, there are a few nice characters, I suppose.
Repetitive is the name of the game in Jigoku Shoujo Futakomori and it is repeatedly proud of that fact. I cannot get over how much of the season was just the first season only with slightly better animation. Still, I suppose that people who loved the first season will find the second even better as it is a purer, more polished version of what annoyed me.
Art (Animation and Sound):
Like last season in concept, exactly like last season in sound, better animation. The end.
People tend to gush about Jigoku Shoujo or hate it. I say it is a mediocre experience, but alas, the completionist in me had to see it once I got started with the first season. It isn't quite bad enough to drop... just average. Jigoku Shoujo Futakomori will give you a more refined and slightly better executed version of the first season, but the refinement makes it truer to form, which makes most of the season have less impact.
If you have not read my review on the first season you can read it (here).
This season of Jigoku Shoujo is much better then season one. There is more plot, backstory and better quality. Those that enjoyed season one would definitely like this season. However in this season, it does not seem like you need intense hatred to access Jigoku Tsushin anymore.
This season (Jigoku Shoujo Futakomori) have more plot compare to season one. It still have the same short story format, however I feel that more story was cover this time and the ending of the anime was also well done.
This season animation was better compare to season one. It looks better and it has a better "feel" in the atmosphere. Overall it has season one art, with better quality.
The sound was fitting to the anime.
This season have what last season lack, backstory. This season, each character was given episode to expains their backstory. This help to give a better understand on why the character act the way they do.
Overall, this season is better and if you have watched first season this season is strongly recommended. This season is more interesting and the twist at the ending was fun to watch and also show how they link season one to the current season.
I was aware of what I was going to get into when starting Hell Girl: Futakomori or Two Mirrors, and yet I was surprised of what was behind the red thread. Much like the first season, Two Mirrors follows the same episodic style: we have a poor soul being tormented, they ask Hell Girl for help, they resist at first but then banish their tormentor to Hell by trecherous illusion before riding on the creepiest ferry boat in existence. Or does it?
Even though Two Mirrors follows the formula above, there are plenty of twists that are provided. Some episodes don't give the viewer of whom is banishing whom, while other times our initial person doesn't even access the Hell Link. Rather someone gets there before they do. This honestly left me guessing and provided another fine twist along with the others to come.
Some have said that Two Mirrors is more campier than the first season. This can be seen in that Wanyuudou becomes a race car before running over the tormentor Christine-style. Let alone the image of Ai Enma being a delivery girl. Yes. It exists. Others have also complained that the show is also too slow; making this combo appear to be dreadful to the wary. However, I didn't view the new jigoku or hell illusions to be camp. I personally saw it as the studio further stretching their imaginations along with the stories of hatred, betrayal, jealously etc. Plus, considering that its viewers have seen season one (like I have) than the imagery of the Ai and her assistants poking fun is a breath of fresh air to me.
There's definitely pros to this season. The servants Wanyuudou, Ren and Hone Onma are further fleshed out and play a bigger role. Their backstories are discovered and all three become all the more interesting just as the mysterious Miss that they serve. If any of them intrigued you, I recommend this season for these backstories alone. The only downside is that we have a newcompatriot in young Kikuri whose laughter is probably the next creepiest laugh to Majora's. I didn't much care for her, but she has her own inner plot as well that may intrigue others. The soundtrack sets the right mood with familiar songs that have new arrangements and a few new ones as well. They fit into the world of Hell Girl wonderfully. I also liked the opening, but the ending was a bit lacking to me; it wasn't as memorable as "Karinui"
Now..the finale. I personally didn't think it was as strong as Hajime's and Tsugumi's fate in the first season, but I did find it intriguing that the show decided to focus on a character that tried to access the Hell Link before. Although I questioned at times that over the trauma the kid went if he was going to be the next Shinji Ikari in the making. It's in those episodes alone that bring forth the psychological bending that fear can cause in people and how it can inspire the greatest evil in anyone. It was the very same psychological horror in a Death Note-esque fashion (Hell Link becoming the latest craze in sentencing death by the ordinary people and how 4 such ordinary people become a cult with the seal) that made me watch episodes 22-26 in almost a whole sitting. Not only do we get connections with those characters where a few first are shown, we delve more in Ai Enma's ever-twilight realm, the loss of humanity, plot twists lie abound, the "what if Ai Enma turned the boat around?" and the fate it brings to not only Ai but the servants that may be interpreted as her family.
All in all, if you have some free time or unsure of your next anime, I recommend Two Mirrors, especially if you enjoyed the world of Hell Girl the first time around.
A bent spider lily in a field of wheat where the twilight is always present.
Everyone who knows my tastes slightly well knows that I'm all for sad/tragic/depressing/bitter/dark stories, and Jigoku Shoujo excels at this. I remember myself being somewhat bored through some of the episodic plots in the first season, but in this second part I really liked most of them, and even the lesser graceful ones were good. It's a fact that my love for dark stuff has grown along the years so that may have some influence... but it's not like I didn't enjoy these kinds of stories back then in 2006/07, when I watched the first season.
I've never been a fan of shows that pretend to be serious but fall flat in delivering any actual heavy or emotional material and try to patronize me with cookie-cutter feel-good happenings. If you are going for something like that, don't mislead the audience and go all-out with the comedy/cheerful tone in the first place. And since that hardly ever works beyond 'well', the easiest way to grab me to a show is a mostly serious story (or bunch of stories), which is evident by the sheer amount of such shows in my top list.
Jigoku Shoujo does this. Its stories pretty much always follow a predetermined formula: people are bothered by their peers, access Hell's Mail, are given the straw dolls and, after being driven to their limits, beyond the point of no repair, they finally send their fiends to Hell. Of course, such a repetitive scenario is a weak point per se (despite it presenting plenty of variations), but it's the ill nature of each and every of these stories that makes it work.
The recurring themes are hatred, deceipt, loss, betrayal, death, egoism, lust, despair, obsession, sadism and anxiety, among many more. Yes, it's very far from a pleasant experience and that's why it's good. While the show may feel exaggerated or overwhelming at times when depicting the evil side of humans, the direction of the stories in general is much to my liking. My favorite kind is probably the one about families crumbling down after an awful experience that escalates eating away at their minds, or through the unbearable harassment of those they consider friends. The reason is that these are probably the ones which pull more heartstrings, as you can see the suffering of every member and how they try to put up with it differently, unfortunately to no avail, until meeting a disgraceful end. Because that's the darkest point of the show: even after taking revenge and disposing of their object of hatred, in almost every case it's already too late for things to go back to the way they were and the protagonists are left drowning in grief and remorse, every day being one step closer to their entrance in hell.
My only gripe about the show's storytelling is the fact that most of the stories focus on highschool students. Given that this is not a moeblob antics kind of show that's not a problem, but I'd surely appreciate more variety in the scenarios.
Another point of interest and improvement in this season was how Jigoku Shoujo's assistants (Ichimoku Ren, Wanyuudou, Hone-Onna) were also fleshed out in a minimal yet sufficient manner to make them feel as more than soul-less minions. Their thoughts about their relationship among them and with the Mistress are also handled similarly, and satisfyingly enough.
The arc that wrapped up this season was wonderful and a great, fitting ending to the series as a whole. As Marius said there isn't really a need for a third season and I'm supposing they'll pull a ''comeback to the past'' to keep telling episodic stories (else they'll be ruining a niiice finale). I'll be starting the third season sometime soon. For now, I'm already enamored by the opening theme.
Long story short, I very much enjoyed this new season of the franchise - more than I expected. For those who don't mind the repetitive basic structure, this is a recommendable watch. For those who despise the show for ''not being a good horror'', in my opinion horror was never the selling point of this.
This hatred will ferry you to Hell.