Is Hell Worse When You Are Already Living in It?
- Episodes : 12
- Genre : Supernatural, Horror, Psychological
- Airing Date : July 2017 – September 2017
- Studios : Studio Deen
Jigoku Shoujo: Yoi no Togi Introduction and Story (Spoilers)
Jigoku Shoujo came back for a fourth and final season. You should already know how Hell Correspondence works, but in case you do not here is a refresher. If you hate someone deeply and bear that hatred in your heart, you can access a special website at midnight only. Hell Correspondence, as it is known, will allow you to enter a name. If she deems it relevant, then Jigoku Shoujo or Hell Girl herself, Ai Enma, will appear before you offering you a straw doll with a red string tied around its neck. In order to ferry the person they hate to Hell, they just need to pull the string. Cursing is a double-edged sword. If they decide to send someone to Hell, they too are cursed and will bear a mark on their body that means when they die, however it may be, they too will fall to Hell and be unable to rise into heaven. Generally speaking, people do not pull the string right away. No one wants to go to Hell voluntarily. Eventually though, they are angered and pull the string thus sending, usually, a bad person or someone who has wronged them, to hell.
In Yoi no Togi, the gang is at it again sending people to Hell. However, what is happening is that there is a new girl who reveals herself to Ai. Coming and going as she pleases, this lost soul is constantly telling Ai that what she is doing is wrong and she needs to stop. However, as Ai is about to respond, the girl, named Michiru, disappears. This leads Ai and company to be confused about her, but Ai actually knows a lot more than what she lets on. After some confusing and then brutally dark episodes, we finally learn Michiru’s backstory. In a setting probably around WWI or WWII, Michiru’s father brought electricity to their village in Japan. He was well-liked save for one very wealthy family. The family was rotten to the core though and hated even Michiru herself who had done nothing wrong. One day, leading her into the woods, the boys tried to drown her in a lake, but she got out. When she did though, the boys did not and drowned. Furious at what happened, the rich family tied up Michiru and locked her in their storehouse without food or water. As she was about to die, her parents find her. Ostracized after the death of the boys, the whole town turns on Michiru’s family by locking them in the storehouse and setting it on fire. As her last wish/act of revenge, just like it was revealed that Ai did, Michiru unleashes holy flames that destroy the entire town and all of the people in it. It is because she did this that she wanders unable to find happiness or repose.
Ai tells her that the only way to find penance is through becoming Jigoku Shoujo. At first, Michiru rejects it, but eventually gives in. Yamawaro, much to the shock of everyone’s favorite Hell princess Kikuri, quits working for Ai and becomes the servant of Michiru as she takes up the mantle of Jigoku Shoujo.
That was the first half of the season. The second half of the season was full of “reflection” episodes where paper cut-outs of Wanyuudou, Hone Onna, Ren, and Kikuri work at a bar and reminisce about events that have happened which then leads into the corresponding episode from either season one, two, or three. That is about it when it comes to the content of the series. We know now that Ai is no longer with us, and while it is not explicitly stated, since she is no longer Jigoku Shoujo, she has either done her penance and ascended into heaven or she has been reincarnated.
What We Liked About Jigoku Shoujo: Yoi no Togi
It was fantastic to see the series come back after 10 years. As usual the music was on point and Mamiko Noto did a fantastic job not only as Ai herself, but she also performed the ending Irogami. It resembles Aizome from a previous season and truly drives home the somber mood of each episode. Watching the series is also enjoyable since all of the characters we have become attached to, are all back as well. Yamawaro barely has a role and Kikuri barely gets any moments on screen, but it is okay because the story melds together well and they do not feel forced. One thing to point out, is that while Mitsuganae was a bit dark, nothing was as dark as the episode with the abusive family and the two younger kids. That was truly the darkest moment that this franchise has ever seen. While depressing, it was still quite interesting and made for a good story. That is what Jigoku Shoujo can still do ten years later: you still feel emotions from the story you are shown.
Here is the part where we are going to take a look at the series as a whole and tear it apart a bit to get to the meat. If you are a fan of this long-running, classic series, then there is a lot that you can enjoy and look forward to. On the other hand though, there is also quite a bit that we as fans can object to. Be it how things were portrayed, how things ended, and more. So sit down, take a breath, and get ready.
1. More of What You Love
If I could, I would write a whole section on why Hone Onna is amazing and I love her. However, that is not what everyone is here for. Jigoku Shoujo: Yoi no Togi is all about bringing back that which we thought was bound to stay to Mitsuganae; namely that we were not getting anymore. However, Studio Deen and the Production Committee decided that this was a good time to bring it back. If you have seen seasons 1-3, only 1, or are new to the franchise, season four is more of what we love. It is still the adventures of Ai and gang doing what they do best and the hitmen and hitwomen of the underworld. True, you only have six episodes of new material truly, but the intros to the reflection episodes are still enjoyable if you do not look to deep into them.
2. A Resolution
Finally we do get the resolution that we have kind of (?) been wanting. At the end of Mitsuganae, Ai is banished to be Jigoku Shoujo after not forcing Yuzuki to take over for her. So we know that technically, Ai is still working even after Mitsuganae ends. Thus in this season, Ai is wanting to be set free again, but she is much more powerful and forceful it seems. She is able to show Michiru her past, force her to accept it, and then force Michiru to become Jigoku Shoujo herself, thus freeing Ai. We still do not know how the Lord of Hell factors into all of this now, but considering Kikuri was present and he never intervened, Ai must be in the clear to be free.
3. The Darkest Moment Yet in the Franchise
One thing I always praise Jigoku Shoujo for, is that it looks at Japanese society very critically and realistically. For horror, I feel that this is essential and makes for a better story when it feels like it could actually hold some truth to it rather than when it is wrapped up in unrealistic things. This season took things a step further with the first couple of episodes. It talked about online bullying, a power struggle and abuse between two business partners, and it talked about nursing home abuse. However, the darkest moment came with episode 3, Someday, Somebody Will. The family depicted in that episode is so raw and so real, that those people could have, and somewhere, someone does in Japan, existed. It was seeped in darkness dealing with mental, physical, and verbal abuse, rape, and violence. Then to top it all off, the boy became a serial killer with the friend he made! There was not a single moment of hope or happiness in this episode at all really making you feel at least something, if you watched it closely enough. That is what makes this franchise fantastic is that you feel for people, even if they only land on your screen for 20 minutes and are gone the next episode.
1. The Resolution
Without a shadow of a doubt, this season was the worst one of the four. While yes, Ai does get out of being Jigoku Shoujo, we saw Michiru for seconds in the first four episodes, then she got her own, and then it was a passing of the mantle. In Mitsuganae, Ai had the issue of dealing with trying to force Yuzuki to become hers. All it took for Michiru was a few scenes, a flashback, and then that tried and true “you have to become Jigoku Shoujo to atone,” and then Ai was free. It was so rushed.
2. The Second Half of the Season.
Speaking of rushed, the second half, after the stick figure intros play, can be watched on fast-forward or 2x speed. There is nothing new in the “reflection episodes” other than the intros where something happens, the former servants talk, and then one says “Oh yeah. We had that one case about…. ” and away we go to another thing we have already seen. There is no indication as to whether or not they were out of source material or not by this point, chances are they were not as it has been 10 years since Mitsuganae, but Studio Deen really dropped the ball here with this one. Then again, they have been dropping the ball a bit over the last two years, so I guess that is something we should start to expect from them.
3. Scary Themes
It’s really difficult to come up with another reason as to why you should not watch this show, but I guess if you are scared easily, then this series might not be for you. It is dark and it does touch on very real themes. If you scare easily or you are someone who has problems sleeping after watching horror or psychological things, then avoid Jigoku Shoujo at all costs as you will not be happy when it is over.
Jigoku Shoujo: Yoi no Togi was a conclusion to a series that had been running for years. While we did not ask for it, we were given it, so that is something. It is great to see Ai be relieved of her duties, but now there is a new Jigoku Shoujo in Michiru. Will we get a fifth season starring Michiru? Hopefully not, but if we do, we will watch even if it is to rip on it a little bit. Now that you have read this far, did you enjoy Jigoku Shoujo: Yoi no Togi? What was your favorite new episode? Are you happy or mad about Michiru? Be sure to let us know down below!
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