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Hey, look, my first review! In answer to a question on my last post: this blog will not only review series, but all reviews will be related to Japanese creations. Movies? Animated (Miyazaki films) or otherwise Japanese (Ghost Train). Games? Probably anime-ish (Persona). Music? Japanese (Ayumi Hamasaki). I'll also review conventions I attend. Now then, on to the review. The Basics Title: Jigoku Shoujo Episodes: 26Genre: Horror, Supernatural, Mystery, PsychologicalAired: October 5, 2005 to April 5, 2006Directed by: Takahiro OmoriProducers: Aniplex, Studio Deen, SKY Perfect Well ThinkOpening Theme: Sakasama no Chou by SnowClosing Theme: Karinui by Mamiki Noto Review The Story: “Happy” is not a word that exists in the storyline of Jigoku Shoujo. This series opens up dark and stays that way to the very end. There are times where it seems as if something may end well, but don't be fooled: Jigoku Shoujo will teach you a lesson in sadness again and again. The basic premise is that if someone is causing you trouble—to the point that you feel hatred for them—you can access the Hell Correspondence at midnight and enter their name. If you do this, Enma Ai (Jigoku Shoujo, Hell Girl) will come to you. She is capable of sending your tormentor to Hell. However, in exchange, you have to go to Hell when you die. You will be given a straw doll with a red thread around its neck. Pulling the thread sends your tormentor immediately to Hell. Each episode is completely disconnected from the others, until about midway through, when there is some form of connected-ness. Of course I can't really detail that, because it would be spoiler-y. I'm pretty sure you don't want that. The Characters: The major players in each episode vary greatly depending who wants to send whom to the pits of Hell. However, there are several consistent characters—Enma Ai, obviously, and her helpers Wanyuudo, Hone Onna, and Ichimoku Ren. The only one of these characters you receive the history of in this season is Ai (spoilers!). Then, about midway through, the characters Hajime and Tsugumi Shibata are introduced. Hajime is a reporter who begins investigating the Hell Correspondence with the intention of stopping it, while Tsugumi is his daughter who sometimes sees through Ai's eyes. Ai is well-drawn, as are Hajime and Tsugumi; the other three are not allowed nearly enough room to grow, though it is pleasant to see how they are dedicated to Ai. The Music: I am a firm believer that music can make or break anything, be it a TV show, an anime series, or a movie. For Jigoku Shoujo, the background music does its job admirably. Composer Yasuharu Takanashi did a master job at capturing the feelings required for the anime with his music. Much of it is dark, if not outright, then in undertone. Listening to it without the series can get a little bit creepy sometimes. I love letting Ake ni Somaru, my favourite piece used consistently in the series, in a pitch black room. Conclusion?: Do not watch this series if you're only into light anime. However, much as Jigoku Shoujo may not be a happy series, it will make you think. If you were in the shoes of the character who is troubled, what would you do? Would you pull the thread? There will be times when you scream “Pull the string!” and times when you know beyond a doubt it wasn't worth it. There will be times—many of them—when you have your heart broken by this series. There will be times when you question if what Ai is doing is right. Will there be times when you laugh? Maybe, if you're anything like me. I suppose it depends. But this series is definitely one to pick if what you're looking for is a series that can be described as “thought provoking”. My rating: 8/10. Fascinating, with perfect music and a beautiful, completely fitting style of animation. The only reasons I refuse to give it a 10/10 are the lack of development for Ai's helpers, and episode 18.
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