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.
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