Wow. What a way to end this series. What an incredible mindscrew of a final episode. Seriously, the visual direction of this episode was the best out of all the Aoi Bungaku episodes, even as the soundtrack. I commented a few weeks ago the the director of the final two episodes was a completely new guy, so it really could get anywhere. During A Spider’s Thread, he already showed that he’s solid as a storyteller, and it was very entertaining and intense to watch. But seriously, with this episode he really showed that Madhouse has yet again struck gold.
The setting for Hell Screen is actually the same as with A Spider’s Thread, only the mood, atmosphere, direction and soundtrack are completely different. This episode was much, much darker, despite the at first misleading dark colours. I like how this episode uses a part of the build-up of the previous episode: in there, the king was shown as a bit cocky, but basically as the good guy. In this episode however, it just turns out that he’s a huge bastard. It’s the same that Kokoro used, although with less cheese.
The main focus of this episode was on the lead painter for the king, who is tasked to draw a chamber that has the essence of the city. He ends up wanting to show his anguish at the king’s actions that he decides to draw hell itself, however he he just can’t seem to get the right inspiration. Eventually this spirals so much out of control that the king burns his daughter, which in turn gives him the right inspiration. It’s a bit hard to believe, but then again, it was written by a guy who apparently afterwards committed suicide.
I personally loved how the build-up throughout the episode eventually culminated into that climax. I wouldn’t call this as good as Hashire Melos, but I’d definitely count it among the highlights of this series.
Overall, there should be more anime like this. This series has been utterly amazing in so many different ways. I’d rank the six stories of Aoi Bungaku like this (from least favourite to most favourite):
5. Spider’s Thread
4. In The Woods…
3. Hell Screen
2. No Longer Human
1. Hashire, Melos!
But more on that in the actual review.
Rating: *** (Awesome)