Saturday, December 1, 2007

The Girl From Hell

'Jigoku Shoujo - The Girl From Hell' is a fantastic animated series. It is a traditional Japanese ghost story with circumstances beyond anyone’s control but yet still under the control of other humans. There is a website, accessible only at midnight, called the Hotline to Hell. If someone who feels like they are a victim goes there, they can type in the name of their antagonist and to have sent to hell. Enma Ai then appears and tells them that they must untie the red string on the straw doll she gives them for the contract to be complete. However, should they untie it, besides their antagonist being taken immediately to hell, they too will be condemned to hell when they die..
The aforementioned scenario plays out in basically every episode. Victim shows up and feels wronged, they contact Ai, they wrestle with whether or not to pull the string, then they pull it anyway. The real story in this show is not the people who appear for only one episode and act out their vengeance. The story in Jigoku Shoujo is all about Ai. From the start it seems she is an emotionless girl who just keeps doing the same thing over and over. However, this is her job, her duty, and her curse. Once you realize that, you begin to understand the gravity of the repetitiveness. It has a purpose: to make you empathize with Ai. In every episode you see something new about Ai, something subtle and small.
The characterisation is so powerful and intense that u can't help being drawn towards them. Ai’s sadness, and the overall theme of the show, is simple: the human desire for vengeance. Every episode you see the same tragedy play out even though you think “this time maybe they will see the error of their ways.” Before they are left to decide, Ai always shows the victim a taste of what hell will be like when they die. Despite this, they always pull the string anyway to exact vengeance on their antagonist. Some victims are relieved of abuse for one lifetime to be carried to hell when they die. Is it right to send someone to hell when they have done wrong? This drama plays out between the Shibatas through the series. The daughter believes that the antagonist probably deserves it and that being sent to hell in the long run to be relieved of a temporary pain is worth it.
Overall, the unraveling of the mystery of Enma Ai is what makes this show so good. Granted there is a fiercely repetitive nature to this show, but if you can get past that in get into the heart of the story there is a hidden jewel in the silent red eyes of Ai. The emotion and drama of Jigoku Shoujo [Girl From Hell] and the artwork make it a must-watch animated series for adults. [The violence, sexual content and dark, brooding tone make it thoroughly unfit a series for kids!]

1 comment:

Anindo Sen said...


Awesome series...... very different from the others in the genre...... cool post!!!