Jigoku Shoujo (Hell Girl)
Plot: "Has someone done something to hurt you or the ones you love? Are you seeking revenge? Rumor has it that there’s a website that can service your needs. Titled “Hotline to Hell”, it contains a form that can be accessed only at midnight. Type in a name, and the Hell Girl will carry out your bidding – for a price. For though your appetite for revenge will be satisfied, your soul will also be condemned to hell after you die. But who is the Hell Girl, and does she care whether your revenge is justified? Apparently not, as long as she gets more souls…" (site synopsis)
Story: Another one of my favourite horror animes, Jigoku Shoujo aka Hell Girl is one of my all time favourite animes that i ever seen which really impressed me. Even though the horror aspect is not so well defined, we dont see too many bloody scenes or murder scenes or stuff like this, this anime has a huge psychological impact given by the concept of "judging people who commited sins and ferry them to hell". This may seem weird, it may seem ridiculous but the way the things happen here makes it one of a kind, this is what makes Jigoku Shoujo in my opinion a great anime, and not only. The story of this anime revolves around a girl named Enma Ai aka as Hell Girl (Jigoku Shoujo). She, toghether with her partners, Wannyuudo, Ren Ichimoku and Hone Onna, receive tasks from different people via internet but not ordinary tasks. Hell Correspondence (Jigoku Tsushin) is the site where people can send tasks to Enma Ai and can only be accesed at the middle of the night. After sending the task Enma Ai appears in front of them, talks to them, giving instruction and promising that she will take revenge for their cause but of course everything has a price. Enma Ai does the same thing to all the people that used Hell Correspondence to reach her, she gives them a doll (infact that doll is Wannyuudo) with a red string, telling them that when they want to send that person to hell they should just pull the red string and the revenge will be granted. However to produce a psychological impact (this is what i liked at this anime) the one that sends someone to hell will also go to hell when they die, this is the price payed by using Enma Ai's services.Well we can guess that in all cases it happened like this. At the begining of this anime only one thing bugged me, the fact that it was so repetative, until the last 5-6 episodes we only see Enma Ai and her companions accomplishing tasks and almost nothing about their past.The story development is quite slow, it does not exist in the first episodes, i think that only around the middle things start to move forward and beeing rushed at the ending.Well rushed or not but for this first season i think that the ending cleared up everything, not only that we got to know something about Enma Ai, who she was, if she was a human or not and what happened to her, we also got to know stuff about her companions and about the people that were chasing after her (Hajime Shibata and Tsugumi Shibata). Somehow this anime is like Death Note's sister, it has a similar concept, a similar plotline but different circumstances, ways of punishing and different mentalities.
Animation: In terms of animation, Jigoku Shoujo is not bad at all. The animation style makes it one of a kind, a proff of the progress of the animation quality and definition. The character designs are not something out of common, the only thing that really catches your atention in terms of character designs is of course Enma Ai, a really distinctive character, her red eyes and long black hair really give you the impression that she comes from hell, a very good character design.
Sound: Not bad in terms of sound as well, the opening and ending songs were somehow listenable, not really my type but i kinda enjoyed them.
Characters: Well the weakest point of this briliant anime is obviously in terms of characters.Even though this anime has a nice character development (we see new characters by passing through episodes) but 95% of them are episodic which means that after one episode they dissapear completely, the only task those character had was to mentain the action and the psychological impact in this anime.However this thing does not happen in all episodes, around the ending things finaly settle down, more information about Enma Ai, her companions and the ones that were chasing after her are revealed and see almost none episodic characters.
Overall: I don't know about you guys but i really liked this anime, i enjoyed it until the end and i have no regret that i spent half a day by watching it. Since i am also a big fan of horror animes this one not only that it had a somehow decent horror aspect, what surprized me was that the psychological impact that it produces is stunning, somehow it makes you put yourself in the shoes of the protagonists. Jigoku Shoujo in my opinion it would have been a masterpiece if it was not so repetative, i cannot forget that i was about to drop it around episode 11-12, really got bored and i was not eager to start a new episode.But because of the ending and the way things developed i really changed my mind about it.
Jigoku Shoujo Futakomori (Hell Girl Second Season)
After the events that happened during the first season, Enma Ai and her companions move along with their requests trying to leave aside the incident with the reporter Hajime and his daughter Tsugumi. Once again typical for Jigoku Shoujo, it maintains its episodic aspect, each episode focuing on a new pair of characters with different backgrounds and different situations. This time though a new character enters in the pictures a small girl named Kikuri who is taken care by Enma Ai and her companions, but her existance and as well as her role is totaly covered in mystery as well as her sudden appearence. Since Enma Ai feelings from her past clouded her judgement during the end of the first season when she had a confrontation with Hajime (which happened to be a follower of one of his ancestors which happened to be a close friend to Enma Ai during her childhood, when she was still alive) Wannyudo, Hone Onna and Ren Ichimako try to approach her differently so that a second incident might be prevented. However, the site which is accesed during midnight became more and more popular among the mases and the revenge request became more frequent than usual. But since Enma Ai's job was to accept all the requests that she receives and to bring them to a proper end she fulfilled them without further doubts until one day when she actualy encounters a situation which again makes her remember some painful memories. This season also focuses especially on developing Enma Ai's companions as well. By ratings and other reviews, this season seems probably the best since it covers the flaws that the first season left however even this one ends with a lot of clifhangers leaving many things unsolved. Jigoku Shoujo Futakomori proved to be as good as its predecesor with slightly more stuff to add but once again, the episodic aspect interferes and makes the show pretty rushed near the ending just to reach a certain conclusion, the same flaw that made the first season have a downfall.
Jigoku Shoujo Mitsuganae (Jigoku Shoujo Third Season)
In my opinion by far the most thought-provoking season of Jigoku Shoujo, Jigoku Shoujo Mitsuganae focuses alot more on another character that enters in the picture starting from episode one, Yuzuki Mikage. This season, the same like the others maintains its episodic aspect but it completely drops the character development (which has been covered during the first and second season) and it focuses on Enma Ai's connections with Yuzuki and also the appearence of a new companion, Yamawaro and his past connections with Enma Ai. After the events from the second season, Enma Ai gone missing and the whole business with the Jigoku Tsuushin has been halted, her companions returned to live in the human world to live a normal existance trying to leave behind their experiences with Enma Ai. That until Kikuri returns to give them the news that Enma Ai is back in business, taking control of the body of Yuzuki Mikage to continue the Jigoku Tsuushin website operation. Once she returned and her companions are back in business the website is once again reestablished and ready to reserve more tasks. This season depicts the ending of Enma Ai's contract and the preparation of a new Hell Girl that will continue the Jigoku Tsuushin operation. This season focuses alot more on the psychological impacts then the other ones did, probably the most terrifying experiences this show came up with are depicted during the ending of this show, centered around the new main protagonist Yuzuki. How is she connected with Enma Ai and from all the people why is she the one who is controled by her? To find out, you must watch this show.
I cannot overlook the evolution regarding the animation quality, design and directing, since Jigoku Shoujo is a show that spanned three seasons during 2005-2009 i have to admit that there has been some progress regarding the animation. Also the sound has been improved as well with new opening and ending soundtracks but the background sounds were idealy kept.
Even though this marked the ending of Jigoku Shoujo, I believe that it could be continued endlessly since the struggles of Enma Ai seem to be an eternal cycle that she can never escape, the chain of hatred, lust and revenge can never be broken and as long as it remains intact the Jigoku Tsuushin will remain in operation ready to receive more and more requests and to fulfill more wishes and to dig more graves for both the client and the culprit.
~Enjoy and Cya Around~