Welcome back everyone for the final round of our three episode reviews when it comes to summer shows. Each week, we have tried to hit a few shows that reach that third episode mark each week and give them a little mini-review looking at whether or not it is worth your time and ours to finish the show. We have done reviews with other shows, but since this is the first season in 10 years for Jigoku Shoujo, we figured it was worth a shot. We will briefly summarize the story, give our thoughts and expectations as of before starting episode 1, break down each episode, talk about how our expectations have changed since watch the first three episodes, and then if we will continue watching. Gets your straw dolls and butterflies, and let’s go.
The story of Jigoku Shoujo is rather straightforward. If you hate someone enough that the hate has taken root in your heart, you simply need to access Hell Correspondence at midnight sharp. If you meet the two conditions, a window will load simply saying “We will take revenge on your behalf”. “Your grievance shall be avenged” is another common translation. Anyway, in Yoi no Togi or The Fourth Twilight, The gang is back at it again sending people to hell, but this time, a new character has appeared. Named Michiru, she has some sort of connection to Jigoku Shoujo, but no one knows what it is. She appears questioning what Ai Enma is doing and why she is doing it. How far will Michiru go to interfere with what is going on? Find out though as Ai continues to carry out her service.
To be honest, I am totally hype for this series. It is not because I think that Jigoku Shoujo is the most amazing story ever told, or the art is heart stopping, or even that the staff and seiyuu are amazing. It’s none of that. What Jigoku Shoujo does better than almost every other anime I have seen, and I say this with personal conviction and confidence, is that the characters are well developed to the point that you even begin to empathize with them and the overall story of a hitwoman working for hell is unique. There is nothing like what Jigoku Shoujo does. I have never, in the 12+ years that I have watched anime , had a show that continues to surprise me as well as make my empathize with the fictitious characters of a series like Jigoku Shoujo does. Is it the best anime I have ever seen? No. Is it in my top 10 of all time? Yes. Without a second thought. I’ll try to keep fanboying to a minimum, but please be aware that I am in love with this franchise.
What’s Happened So Far (Episodes 1-3)
Jigoku Shoujo holds no punches as it dives into the topic of online bullying via a chatroom. It’s most likely the app LINE that everyone and every business in Japan and many countries in Asia has. Anyway, a girl named Shizuka from her class is being bullied and wants to send her whole class to hell. Jigoku Shoujo is like a mediator and tells her that she cannot be greedy and the rules cannot be bent. As Shizuka goes to class the next day, the bullying grows. The power of words is the clear theme here. Another girl named Yukawa is also in Shizuka’s class but she accidentally draws attention to herself after she has her phone out. Ren keeps an eye on her, literally, as Yukawa begins to befriend Shizuka. As Ai Enma herself watches on, she hears someone say “there is no need for Jigoku Shoujo!” a foreshadowing. Shizuka takes Yukawa to her place to hang and they have a very awkward conversation.
The next day, she makes a group chat for herself, Shuzika, and another classmate. There, they can unload their emotions. As Shizuka is drawn in, she talks more and more to them. At a train station later, as a train is leaving, Ai and her group see a new girl who simply says, “Ai Enma, are you sure about this?”
As Shizuka gets more and more sucked in, she starts talking about how she wants to kill all of her classmates. The next day though, she is exposed and her face is put over the convo app icon. Betrayed, she swears it was not Yukata. She thinks it must have been knight, and runs to the classroom looking for someone named Yokota. Yokota does not know her and everyone starts laughing. On the roof, she sees that Yukawa was the first person to say that Shizuka was annoying and the bullying explodes. At midnight, she accesses Hell Correspondence and gets the doll. We then see how weak her classmates are. Confronting Yukawa in the park, she hears her story, and then sends her to hell. The judgment this season is really harsh but very modern. The mysterious girl again appears to tell Ai that what she is doing is wrong. After that, Shizuka is fearless. We then see that there is another boy named Yokota and it was not the Yokota that Shizuka saw. Leaving us to wonder if it really was Yukawa who exposed Shizuka.
Episode two is all about the cutthroat industry of the entertainment business. It actually opens with Haru getting the doll from Ai. Who is Haru? Well we learn soon after that Nanako and Haru are a Manzai duo. Manzai is a form of comedy. As a front, Nanako is the smart one and Haru is the one who works hard. Ai watches a show and then we meet the mysterious girl again. The show goes off and is well-received. We then learn that Haru and Nanako are actually reversed in real life. Nanako is the slave so to speak, and Haru is the brains behind the operation. Nanako is more into the group than Haru and really wants to work hard. Apparently a long time ago, Haru met Nanako and Nanako begged her to be her partner and she would do everything. This means then that Nanako is relying on Haru’s material to make it. Ren becomes the manager and so he sees their everyday life. Suddenly their popularity explodes and they start to do things individually too. As Haru is working, Nanako brings her some tea.
It’s very clear that Haru feels suffocated and burdened by Nanako. We then learn that the reason why Haru took Nanako was because she was willing to listen to everything that Haru said. Nanako also realizes that Haru’s old partner is watching their shows. Nanako threatens to call the police and report him as a stalker. They have this weird sort of relationship that is like a married couple in the way they talk and their mannerisms. Anyway a fight breaks out and Haru hits Nanako. Nanako then reads Haru’s notes and learns that Haru cannot make up anything currently.
The next day, Haru meets with her old partner. Their relationship seems to have been reversed where Haru was Nanako and her old partner was Haru. The cycle of abuse repeats. Nanako decides that they should do a concert. Haru is in a good mood and agrees. They agree to do a good concert. They do the show and of course, it’s a total hit. We see flashbacks and they really have grown a lot. After they show, Haru tells Nanako that she wants to break up. The final joke that Haru made on the stage was she wanted to swap places with Nanako. So she does. Nanako pulls out the doll and pulls the string. Their roles are swapped for a second. As you see, they both no longer want to live and it is this understanding that allows her to kill Haru by sending her to hell. This was a very odd episode.
Episode three… I had to watch the episode twice before I could write anything about it. This episode, Episode three of Jigoku Shoujo Yoi no Togi is without a doubt the most psychologically disturbing thing I have seen in a long time. There is a family of six living together but it is like living in hell. The grandmother is a monster, the wife is cheating, the husband is cheating, and the older sister is sleeping with her cousin and is a bully. It’s just a train wreck all around. This means that everything falls on the son and his younger sister. After the grandmother loses it over some steak, she stabs the mother. The daughter slaps the grandmother over her outburst and kicks her mother before the father refuses to deal with it all and just leaves. When the younger daughter tries to make sure she is okay, she gets hit. This is a disturbing setup. The son then happens to wake up in the middle of the night and witnesses his mother sending the grandmother to hell. The next day, the mother seems to be in a better mood, but she does not care about the fact that the grandmother is missing. The cousin, Yoshinori rolls up to mess with Akira and Arina, the son and youngest daughter. The member of Ai’s group even go as far to say while watching from a distance that the family is worse than hell itself.
Akira gathers people affected by his parents, a wife, a boyfriend, and the bullied classmate, and proposes that they send them all to hell. The lady backs out even after he offers to share 300 million yen with them. We see Michiru in the window and think that maybe the woman backing out was due to her influence. The next day, Yoshinori moves into the house and basically is up all hours of the night being loud and eating. When confronted by the husband and wife, Yoshinori snaps and we see that he is neglected at home. He lashes out beating both the husband and the wife. Akira is teased relentlessly by Yoshinori the cousin and we see that he is even making passes as Arina against her will. Akira finally gets up the nerve and asks Jigoku Shoujo but he is still nervous about going to hell. The husband bounces because he does not want to stay with the teenager and the wife does the same. Both abandon their two children at home with Yoshinori. We learn that the older sister and Yoshinori are having issues and the older sister is not around which is why they are with him. As he tries to assault Arina, she hides in the bathroom. He tries to make the door open and finally does get in. The next morning, Akira sees a broken and assaulted Arina. His resolve set, he meets with the classmate that his older sister is bullying and they agree to pull the strings at the same time. This time though, they are quickly sent to hell. However, the mother and father are left alive. They never came back home, but now, with Akira’s spirit full of despair, he and the bullied classmate decide to become vigilante killers.
Expectations & Impressions After Episode 3
The OP is very meh. It reminds me of season 1. It’s alright but the ED featuring Mamiko Noto is so much better. It suits the series better overall. The story is just as I thought it would be: dark. Now I do have to say it again, but episode three has to be the most disturbing episode in the entire series. Abuse is never ever okay, but it does show what can happen and in Japan. This is why I feel like Jigoku Shoujo is the perfect anti-Slice of Life series. It really does have those slightly tender moments, but they are frequently dashed by cruel reality and that makes for an all-the-more interesting story. Where Slice of Life anime paints everything in a positive light, Jigoku Shoujo paints everything in a realistic and dark light. If I had to say something of note, it is that the creators are going even darker to make this series stand out. We may only be three episodes in, but the series feels as if it has an overall darker tone and feel to it compared to the previous seasons. This is most likely to make it stand out and for shock effect, and it sure does. If you want to honestly feel crushed by something, this is a good series to start with. There are no happy moments so far. Release is one thing, but happiness is another. If I had to say something was lacking, it would be the fact that we have not seen much of the servants to Ai yet. They appear here and there but not like the previous season. The other thing would be the overall art. I mean, it is really, really rough in some places. Please stop dropping the ball on the art Studio Deen.
Keep Watching or Drop?
Yes. Yes. Yes! I will keep watching this show no matter what. It’s a fantastic show with an amazing soundtrack, plus all of the original seiyuu are back to work on it. It feels as if the series picked up right where Mitsuganae left off. Either way, it’s good. Overall I want to give this a 10/10 for what it does and it’s potential. But I do have to take away a point for the art which is pretty bad in a lot of places. So, 9/10 it is. The story is good, the music is fantastic, the seiyuu are stellar, and the shock value is present.