This review is an old review transferred from another site I posted it in. I have tweaked it a little to fit more in the context of this site. So if you think you have seen this review before, it's possible, though unlikely since it didn't get that many views. This review is basically about both the first season and Futakomori. At the time I wrote this Mitsuganae had not yet been out, nor even hinted of. I really thought Jikugo Shoujo would end at Futakomori, since it all seemed to end so neatly. I should never underestimate Enma Ai (or the entertainment business for that matter).
Anime Review: Jigoku Shoujo & Jigoku Shoujo Futakomori
There is nothing more enjoyable than seeing people get what they deserve. Both in good and in bad. Especially when it comes to bad. Nothing gives you a sense of righteousness better than seeing an evil person being punished for his deeds. It hits awfully close in this modern day and age, when justice can be bought with money and blood. Real justice and "official" justice are no longer the same, when corrupt officials forge evidence and innocents suffer because of it.
Jigoku Shoujo is an anime that uses this modern world setup and offers us the sense of real justice, by showing us how evil deed never goes unpunished. Jigoku Shoujo (or Hell Girl to make things easier), puts common man in the shoes of a judge, by giving him a way to get even. This obviously causes a lot of misfortune in the end, as "revenge is never the answer". Or so they say, but at least it gives us a sense of satisfaction. For awhile. Needless to say, there is a lot of tragedy, but nothing that would make you shed a tear. After all, they brought it upon themselves.
Hell Girl is an episodic anime that follows people, who are mistreated in life and start harboring revenge towards their fellow man. Enma Ai is the hell girl (and you will remember that after it has been repeated over and over again), a sort of demon that grants vengeful desires by promising to take revenge on their behalf. All she wants in exchange is your immortal soul. But of course, who cares about your afterlife, when your real life is in shambles. So they agree, mostly. Enma Ai usually teaches the recipient some lesson, before she takes their soul to hell. Every episode has pretty much the same story, although sometimes all does not end well for the one who asked the revenge. There will be tragedy, and a lot of it.
There is a continuous storyline to go along the episodic story and that is about some reporter that starts to examine these odd disappearances. On top of it all, his daughter seems to be linked with Enma Ai, and she occasionally sees through her eyes. Tracking down the grim reaper is not an easy task, but they manage to do pretty well in the end. On the second season, the continuous storyline is different and is explored more profoundly. It involves a small town that discovers the pleasures of using the hell girl's "services" and then blame the new kid for all the disappearances. This all goes so hectic towards the end, it puts even Yagami Light to shame. Although the stories are basically about the sufferings of some random dudes and their revenges, there are a lot of more deep philosophical episodes, which make you doubt the line between right and wrong.
Enma Ai is a hard character to categorize. At first she simply doesn't seem to have a will of her own, but really she just doesn't care who she kills and for what reason. She delivers everyone across the Sanzu River (which is basically the same as River Styx), no matter if they were good or bad in reality. I don't really know why, but I loved her character. Maybe its because of the one doing her voice acting is Mamiko Noto, who also played Tsukamoto Yakumo in on of my favorite comedy animes, School Rumble. Her story is revealed at the end of the first season, since that pesky reporter just doesn't leave her alone until she gives him an interview. You know, just like in real life.
I loved this anime myself, even though some of my friends have had a mixed feelings about it. Some complained about the lack of continuous storyline, and normally I would too. But I probably have such a strong sense of twisted justice that I just loved seeing people die for the slightest of evil deed. One thing I complain, is the fact that Enma Ai doesn't really kill anyone, she just takes their soul and the body mysteriously disappears along with it. I would have loved to see her kill the recipient with a different way at each episode, just for variety. And blood.
One thing that kind of went over my head, is how easily everyone gives in to the bullies. They never even considered other alternatives than the whole revenge aspect. Lets say it had gone to a point that you are willing to commit suicide, wouldn't it be easier to just leg it at this point. Like skip school or something if the bullies are at school. But no, he rather commit suicide or murder than skip school. Such dedication to the educational system cannot be healthy. I can understand those that are really at their wits end, but most of them give in way too easily. Maybe it's a culture difference thing, I dunno. All in all, I liked the anime and even though my friends say that I have a weird taste, they still love watching them and then blame me for it afterwards. I just love that. For that reason I'll recommend this anime to pretty much everyone. Some people will like it and some people won't. You won't know until you try it. Feel free to blame me if it sucked. I'll be more than happy knowing I just ruined some poor man's life. Hopefully he won't send Hell Girl after me though.