Have you heard of Jigoku Tsuushin (Hell Correspondence)? Those with a powerful grudge may only access this mysterious website at midnight, allowing them to enter anyone's name and have that person be ferried straight to hell. Ai Enma, the Hell Girl, will not judge whether or not the chosen target deserves punishment; she will merely exact revenge on them for you. Not much is known about this young girl other than that she swiftly carries out her tasks with the help of three straw dolls. There is just one catch, however—as payment for carrying out such a request, the user must condemn themselves to an afterlife in hell.
Jigoku Shoujo takes place in modern Japan where the internet has filled the lives of many people in this bustling world of technology and sins. This anime portrays the cruelty of the human race, and shows that there are many people in this world that suffer terribly and that, indefinitely, most people wish those that are making their lives miserable would just die and go to hell. And, of course, Jigoku Shoujo, or Hell Girl, is there to exact their revenge.
The storyline is wonderful. The anime itself is mainly episodic, and each episode focuses mainly on one person, and the suffering they're experiencing due to
one person. As you read more into the character's lives, and just how badly they're treated, you, yourself, will want to see that red string pulled, just so that person can suffer what he/she's had coming to them, and you'll be anxious to see their horrifying experience before they're ferried off to Hell by Enma Ai, the Jigoku Shoujo.
You won't always see the the person's experience in hell, nor will you always see the person being carried off by the Jigoku Shoujo. The main experience of this anime is coming to know and feel sorry for the characters that are desperate enough to call forth the Jigoku Shoujo to end their suffering. If you're looking for humor, this isn't a series to watch. Though it does have it's moments, it's more for the people that enjoy supernatural and paranormal related anime, such as Ghost Hunt and XXXHolic. In fact, if you enjoyed either of these, though the two of them are more humorous than anything else, I recommend putting Jigoku Shoujo, and Jigoku Shoujo Futakomori on your plan-to-watch list.
Anyway, this anime is one of those where you'll either love it or hate it. This is a series that got me hooked on the first episode, but if you aren't enjoying it by the third or fourth, then you most likely won't get into it. I hope this review has helped you and convinced you to look into this wonderful anime. Have fun and enjoy.
[Edit 2017: Full disclaimer - I have watched 15 episodes from start to finish, 1-10, 12, 23-26. The rest I either watched on x2 speeds or substituted with reading synopses. (MAL doesn't allow retroactive changes to episode count)]
It's like a badly chosen present. The outside wrapping is perfect, with a pretty ribbon to top it off. When you look inside though, the contents of the box aren't very impressive. You'll probably never use it or end up giving it to someone else.
These are the words I'd use to describe Jigoku Shoujo, a series strongly recommended to me by a friend. I was told the art
was amazing, and it was. The story, however, is far from it.
The art and sound are what constitute as the wrapping paper. Every detail is immaculate, the character designs are vibrant, and every time Ai says "Want to try dying once?" it sends shivers down my spine. It deserves a warm hand of applause in that department.
However, where the animators succeeded, the writers failed spectacularly. It's not that the story is unappealing or lacks interest. There's plenty of that. Who wouldn't be intrigued about a girl sending evil wrong-doers to hell? The problem arises when each episode's format becomes obviously and unbearably identical. Upon watching the second episode, warning bells were sent ringing through my head when I realized that the mechanics were the same each time.
Basically: A person is abused or wronged by someone else who is unapologetic and is unable to see their own acts as unjustified. The victim seeks a solution and calls upon Ai for help. However, they hesitate when she reveals that they too would be dragged down into hell when they died. In the end though, the victims are driven to the point of desperation by their tormentors and give in. Jigoku shoujo then proceeds to carry out the revenge. Evil person is sent to hell. Former victim is emancipated, but each look at the scar that appears on their chest as a reminder of what will happen to them when they die.
There. Shoot me. I just spoiled at least 20 episodes for you.
This anime is episodic, but it's episodic to the extreme. Each episode presents a different set of characters and circumstances, but will almost always follow the storyline I presented above. So it wasn't until episode 22 that I saw a new type of plot as the season started to wind down to a close.
Needless to say, this sort of plot greatly disappointed me. I basically fell asleep on episode 4 and simply skipped 15 episodes. Now this is where I shoot myself in the foot. So, if I haven't watched the majority of the show, how can I really rate this as mediocre? ... True. I don't have complete authority on this matter, but it simply represents my opinion. I did end up taking the time to read the individual episode synopses on wikipedia, and it indicated that I didn't really miss much.
I realize there are those who will be completely enraptured by Jigoku Shoujo's plot. It's simply a matter of taste. I prefer a plot that progresses in great strides, while some love to watch a well formed plot system that simply changes its details while laughing sadistically at the misfortunes that befall the characters. But as always, it's up to you, the viewer, to choose.
I just hope I wasn't too forceful with my bitter commentary. o_o.
Its obviously a very sensitive subject. Personally i think nothing in RL could be any worse than hell, but that doesnt seem to be the case in this show. Considering how many users complete the contract, it almost gets out of hand . Getting cursed to hell because some lady kills your puppies? Thats a little extreme. But for the most part, most of the stories are pretty cruel and unusal "train wreck" stories that range anything from grade school bullies to betrayal to medical malpractice. Considering the main theme of the story being revenge, they could easily make 100 episodes out of thin air.
That is also the problem of this show, the theme starts to get repetitive after about the 7th show. Its the same formula again and again: Tragic story --> Hell request --> Retribution. But just when you think its going to be the same formula over and over again, they throw in a curve ball of a plot twist and introduce 2 new main characters: Hajime and Tsugumi Shibata.
Thats when the show really starts to pick up, sortof. The story finally starts to pickup. No more spoilers here but if you lasted this long to reach this point in the series, then you shouldnt have any problem. The artwork is also a little mixed as well. At times its very artistic and beautiful and others it looks like your standard anime artwork. Even the art gets bitten by the repetative bug just like the story. Granted watching Enma Ai get out of the pool dripping wet in her white robe never gets old, but it hardly changes every episode. She even says the same lines over and over again every time as well, it wouldnt be a problem to me except hearing the same 20 sentences over and over and over again almost makes you think youre really in hell. There are plenty of characters drawn up for this show and they all look fine except for one trait... THE EYES. It takes a while to get used to the eyes...those damn eyes...
I managed to keep my self awake for every episode and not even once fell asleep from the boredom (only once out of necessity). I think its because i always thought because the eyes were watching me. But I think it really means they at least did a good job feeling something for the characters in each story. On one side, you want to know if they\'re going to get what they wished for, or you want to know why somone (i.e. tweenie) would want to pour so much hate agaisnt someone. And on the other side you want to know how the person whos being targeted is going to die. Kind of like the train wreck theory (ppl slowing down on the highway just to look at accidents). Aside from the ending, the episodes that interested me the most was EP6, 13, 15, 21, and 23<--very sad alert.
The sound effects are one thing that was constant, everything from screaming from terror to the enviromental sounds realy helped create tension and atmosphere. My favorite was in episode 5... you\'ll know what im talking about when you hear it. Things like that get stuck in you memory banks. All thought the music is always the same as in every anime, meaning they use the same chase music and the same action music in every episode. But the music doesnt intrude to the show, its hardly annoying and it defintitely keeps your atten to whats going on.
Overall this show wasnt half bad, given the train wreck sadness theme of the story and a very small dose of lolicon, i would say this show isnt half bad. But it isnt half good either with the overuse of catch lines and and animations. It also kept me at the edge of my seat 80% of the time, and it was good enough to garner a new season (Futakomori). So the goods outwigh the bads in my opinion.
If you have not tried Jigoku Shoujo or as it is known in America, UK and Australia "Hell Girl", then all I can say is that you're missing out. Hell Girl is a very unique anime , each episode of the series focuses on another character going through a tough time before they turn to the legendary girl everyone is whispering about. Of course there's a price and even that doesn't stop the protagonist. The story's weakness is that it's very repetitve which doesn't rock everyone's boat as most of the time the protagonist will pull the string off the doll. However, the story gets
more intense when a detective and his daughter is involved to try to stop people contacting Hell Girl. There are surprises in this series, times when the audience is fooled that the ending might be a happy one. The art is brilliant. The character designs are amazing, especially of Ai and her assistants. The scenes of the Eternal Twilight world are beautiful. The sound is addictive, it's very hard not to resist the soundtrack after hearing some of the music from this series especially Snow's Opening Theme "Sakasama No Chou".The characters were very well thought out, even though the main character send people to Hell you can't help loving them. Most of the time you enjoy it unless again it's not your thing. Hell Girl is also a good series for discussing and bringing up the issues of bullying, stalking, murder, blackmail, slander, adultery, lying etc... The ending of the series was brilliant and I really can't say anything as to why because you have to watch it. Overall, an unmissable series.
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