The world is full of cruel people who find satisfaction in tormenting the weak. However, there is hope for the less fortunate. A website that can only be accessed at midnight called HellCorrespondence, is the answer for these poor individuals. When a person has had enough of being tormented. They log on to this site and input their tormentors name. The person is paid a visit by Ai Enma aka Hell Girl, a young girl with a mission. Her duty is to torment the evil person and eventually take them straight to hell. But her services aren't free, because the victim must pay a price as well. They too will eventually end up in hell when their time is up. -summary
Right off the bat, I have a problem with this story. I don't believe anyone would make a deal like this, no matter how weak they are. Especially, after Ai Enma gives them a taste of their fate should they seal this deal. I honestly believe they would try killing the tormentor themselves, instead of reserving a seat in hell to suffer twice, for only ONE moments revenge. So, based upon this gibberish, which happens to be mistaken for a story. It just doesn't make any sense at all.
Now, I have a serious question. How do you take a story with a twenty six episode length, containing borrowed content from at least three series, and STILL make the story appear as if it could have been told in six? Well I didn't at all think it was possible, but Takahiro Omori, director of Hell Girl aka Jigoku Shoujo, didn't only prove that it was possible. He actually succeeded in doing it.The man is a professional at reusing scenes, catch phrases, story elements, plot elements, and dragging the "revenge of the week" theme beyond all normal human tolerance. Hell Girl is not a spectacular series in my view. Instead, it's an atrocious one, which is a serious test of patience, but in a completely wrong way. After really thinking about it, and reflecting on this ham-fisted project. This is the worst series I have ever seen, and it's damn sure the laziest as well.
Along with being lazy as all hell, it's also very unoriginal in almost every way. Hell Girl borrows heavily from Vampire Princess Miyu, Requiem From The Darkness, as well as Death Note, and that's just off the top of my head. Hell Girl is just so derivative, and so much of a copy and paste; I just can't understand how it was green lighted in the first place. It even borrows character types, along with introducing its plot twist around the exact same episode number, as the first series I just mentioned. This is creative laziness at its finest. I cannot stress enough how lazy this series is. It is incredibly repetitive on almost... no, I take that back. It is incredibly repetitive on every level. The basic premise is this; a troubled person is introduced, most of the time it's a teenage girl, the person is abused, they hear about the website, and in the very beginning, it's almost always from passing by school girls gossiping. They log to the website and Hell Girl appears. She explains that she will take the tormentor to hell, but the victim will also spend eternity suffering. Who would make a deal like this? The tortured person in question gives it some thought, then said person is somehow pushed, next, Hell Girl and her companions mentally torture the baddie, and ferry them off to hell. This exact same sequence with very, very, minor adjustments takes place for an unbelievable SEVENTEEN straight episodes, then begins again. Later, they drop the school girls. The person just knows about the site. Then a father and daughter gets thrown into the mix. This is some very bad and lazy storytelling. I don't care what anybody says. Also, as if the constant repetition isn't bad enough; they actually rehash a couple of episodes. For me, Hell Girl is a very annoying series. I-hate-it.
The two characters introduced are Hajime and Tsugumi. Hajime is a journalist who happens to learn of Hell Girl and seeks to put a stop to her. Tsugumi is his seven year old daughter who inherits the ability to see through Hell Girls eyes. This gives them an edge to find who called her, and try to persuade the person that revenge isn't the answer. This plot line is also beat to death without mercy, and the dual storyline is tied up by the end. But anyone who cares for an intricate storyline will be suffering from a very bad headache, due to the constant reiteration of its themes. It also gets worse because predictability is through the roof. Episode nineteen especially comes to mind. I figured out the fate of the antagonist in maybe about three minutes. If a person doesn't see that climax way before the end. Then they should never watch TV ever again. Yes folks, it's that obvious.
Another thing that really bothered me in regards to the story. This seven year old actually argued with her father about Hell Girls agenda and becomes one of her supporters. How on earth can a seven year old comprehend deep and vile emotions such as hatred and revenge? This doesn't make a lick of sense at all.
Now is Hell Girl completely bad with no good qualities at all? No, but it's cutting it amazingly close. There's a small amount of good episodes and they show rare glimpses of talent, but it gets carried away with everything it does right. There are episodes that truly standout. They do an excellent job portraying the evil hearts of man, and you will feel the characters plight. Plus hate their tormentor, and it's a refreshing feeling watching them get theirs. However, this can only go on for so long; I got the damn point a long time ago, and this simple, repetitive, Dragonball Z-ish storyline would be just fine if Hell Girl was oriented towards children with short attention spans, but this lackluster project was meant for an adult audience.
I also got the picture on revenge is not a good thing. However, the writers clearly overplayed these themes just to make the series longer to cash in on it. It is very easy to get lost in an anime series by missing one to three episodes. Hell Girl, you can actually skip about a dozen and still know exactly what's going on.
I'll give the series a little more credit. Hell Girl utilizes Japanese folklore pretty well. Her companions are based on certain and most well known "Yokai". "Yokai" are demons, spirits, or monsters with spiritual and supernatural powers. Two of her companions are the most notable "Yokai". "Hone Onna" this is translated to "bone woman", she exposes the bones in her body to scare her victims. "Wanyuda" becomes a flaming carriage of the same name. The myth is that this carriage took people straight to hell. Ren is the third companion who uses a giant eye to see inside buildings. These three characters backgrounds are lightly touched on. Unfortunately, they were so badly developed along the way with Ai (HellGirl), that I didn't care too much for them. Ai's past is heavily dived into very late in the series. So you at least learn why she's doing these things.
Hell Girl is also atmospheric at times, utilizing a horror edge, but some episodes are a lot better than others. The series does have stunning artwork. The character designs and backgrounds are very beautiful. However, the animation which is pretty good reuses scenes like hell. If you fall in love with a certain scene in Hell Girls realm. Don't worry, you'll see it again. The soundtrack is good as well, and fits each moment appropriately. If you love a certain song. Don't worry, you'll hear it again. I complain a lot and with good reasons. I prefer my anime to have developed characters, story, and plot line from the very beginning with a few twist. I am not a fan of the "monster of the week", especially when the story isn't even being developed, and high production values is not what makes a series good for me. To include, the non plot related elements lead nowhere for the most part. I was thisclose to watching Sword for Truth in order to satisfy my need for plot progression.
There is nothing wrong with an episodic style, unless, there is some variety via different stories and plot lines. The best example of a series that pulls that off to near perfection would be Cowboy Bebop. Cowboy Bebop is hailed as one of the greatest anime series EVER MADE, with very good reason, and it's always talked about, as well as recommended. Hell Girl is a series that will soon be forgotten even by those who defend it today.
The series doesn't have an elaborate storyline. Therefore, replay value is very low. Despite the maybe three to six good episodes plus ending. I just can't recommend this. It is not worth sitting through twenty six episodes for about ten hours, to see the exact same stories over and over, and this is where my anger mainly lies. This series was nothing more than a money drinking succubus. It dragged out its story only to fit a twenty six episode format, when the story could have been told in six.
Well in a nutshell, that's Hell Girl for you; a very pretty series but very little else, and it really doesn't matter how beautiful a series look, a bad anime is a bad anime. I only recommend this to people who found some type of enjoyment in Vampire Princess Miyu. Which is another very bad and repetitive series. It almost feels like a carbon copy. Surprisingly, there's also a second season that was recently released here in the states, along with a third one as well, and I will not bother with either of them. Takahiro can go to hell in a hand basket.
As a final note. I noticed on a different site that this series is listed with a 520 minute run time. That is a lie. This abomination clocks in at a hefty 635 minutes. If you enjoy listening to broken records for 635 minutes. Then you'll enjoy this. But speaking for myself, I'll stick to far superior anime series, which is just about everything else out there.
As an extra note, it's my honor and pleasure to mention that Funimation DID NOT pick up the second and third seasons of this putrid show. They actually reneged on their deal to produce them, due to very poor sales of the individual DVD's, as well as the main series. Unfortunately, some smaller company picked them up. However, last word was that the sequels were doing terrible as well, so I guess there is a higher power out there after all. Thank God for small victories.
-Good exploitation of evil people, nice visuals, makes you appreciate better anime
-Very repetitive in all areas, silly logic, could have been shorter, nonsensical story, a very lazy project, cure for insomnia, makes me never want to watch an anime more than two episodes ever again
What did you think of this review?
Hell Girl (地獄少女, Jigoku Shōjo?), also known as Jigoku Shōjo: Girl from Hell in Animax Asia's English-language television broadcasts, is an anime series, produced by Aniplex and Studio Deen. It premiered across Japan on numerous television stations, including Animax, Tokyo MX, MBS and others, between October 4, 2005 and April 4, 2006. Following the success of the first season, the series was followed soon after into a second, Jigoku Shōjo Futakomori (地獄少女 二籠?), which premiered October 7, 2006 across Japan on Animax. A live-action television series adaptation started airing in Japan on Nippon Television from November 4, 2006. A third season of the anime, further continuing the series, was first announced on the mobile version of the series' official website Jigoku Tsūshin. The official title of the third season was announced to be Jigoku Shōjo Mitsuganae (地獄少女 三鼎?). and began airing on Japanese TV October 4, 2008.