Posted on 4 April 2009 with categories: Anime Reviews, Jigoku Shoujo

It’s quite a challenge to review the third instalment of Jigoku Shoujo, since I’m so incredibly biased for it. The third season basically continues with the same formula, of having 26 episodes, nearly all of them about someone taking a revenge against someone else. The show is evolving, though: the third season does feature a bunch of differences from the previous two, though. A few subtle differences… and a bunch of not-so-subtle ones.

The big difference in which the third season sets itself apart is the nature of all of the different revenges. There never really was a distinct line between good and evil in the Jigoku Shoujo, but at least you could see that the most of the (with a number of notable exceptions of course) ones asking for revenge sort-of deserved some sort of help. This completely disappears in the third season, when the people taking revenge turn into total misguided and deluded bastards, often sending people to hell who haven’t even done anything wrong.

This has several effects. On one side, some of the revenges become totally ludicrous: the formula quickly gets predictable, and sometimes the creators make a bit too generous use of their artistic lisences to send people to hell for the most bizarre reasons. On the other hand, though: it allows them to explore the boundaries of political incorrectness. The only thing it doesn’t touch is racism, but apart from that it confronts the viewer with countless of modern-day taboos, and presents them in a politically incorrect, and yet somewhat realistic manner; and that’s the creepy bit.

Jigoku Shoujo has also been known for its particularly strong climaxes, and Mitsuganae is no different. while I’m not going to spoil anything here, the eventual finale makes optimal use of the huge amounts of building up that the rest of the season put into it, up to the final minute of the show, and this has definitely been the best finale that Jigoku Shoujo has shown us thus far.

So yeah, the first half is mostly nothing special for Jigoku Shoujo’s standards, but the final quarter SO makes up for it. Obviously, in order to enjoy Jigoku Shoujo, you must be aware that it’s an incredibly repetitive series: in nearly every episode, you know for sure that someone is going to get sent to hell. But what makes this such a special series is that even though it has this weakness, its atmosphere totally makes up for it: it’s very consistent and thanks to an excellent sense of build-up, it only gets tighter as the show goes on. And that’s really the strength I see in horror-series: using creepy atmosphere and storytelling to draw the viewer inside the story, and Jigoku Shoujo doesn’t just succeed in it. It succeeds in it for 78 episodes.

Storytelling: 9/10
Characters: 8/10
Production-Values: 9/10
Setting: 9/10
Posted on with categories: Jigoku Shoujo

Short Synopsis: A certain character‘s father calls Jigoku Tsuushin.
Episode Rating: 8,5/10 (Awesome)
And with this, the Winter-season is really over for me. this was the second best final episode after Birdy the Mighty, but then again, when the entire season has been building up to this point, in a season where there only were a few endings that really impressed me, Ai had to start acting like an overly energetic schoolgirl to for me to change my opinion of this series. Jigoku Shoujo has a great personal value for me: after Mahou Shoujotai it was the major reason for me to start blogging, and more than three years and 78 episodes later and it’s still going strong as an awesome series. If there is going to be some sort of fourth season, I’ll definitely be up for it.

So, the big twist? The spider is Kikuri!?!? This seems to be a major case of split personality here, but it turns out that ever since Ai and the others left from Ai’s grandmother’s house, the spider has been happily camping inside of Kikuri’s head, who does seem to be a completely different person, say, a doll. This explains why she’s always causing trouble: it was as a means for her to resist the almighty spider.

As for Yuzuki: in the end she turns out to involve herself with her clients way too much. She turns against the spider and ends up getting punished. Ai then takes the blame, and becomes Jigoku Shoujo, even after finally becoming free, in order to let Yuzuki’s spirit die in peace. A very nice and creative ending, and it does make sense if you link it to the ending of the second season: Ai is mostly emotionless, but the people she spends a lot of time with she develops a bond. This was first started with Tsugumi, and the strength of the bond only became stronger in the successive seasons, in which in the second one she had to endure a punishment of losing her body, and in the third one she had to give up her chance to finally be free of being Jigoku Shoujo.

So, I have no idea what Studio Deen is up to for the current spring season, but these guys always manage to surprise me and they have produced many of my favourites. The past half year has been relatively weak for them, since all of their shows were simply sequels apart from Hetalia, so it’s about time for them to put some new stuff on the table again. Jigoku Shoujo has once again been a joy to watch despite the repetitiveness, and Ai’s character-design has to rank among the top-10 of best character-designs ever.

Oh, and we have a prime here after this post: the part on the right side-bar under “Currently Watching” is completely empty. I’ve never had that case in all the years that I’ve been blogging so far, there were always one or two oddballs every season at least. In any case this means that I can blog 12 episodes for the new season. Definitely going to be interesting.

Posted on 28 March 2009 with categories: Jigoku Shoujo

Short Synopsis: Yuzuki’s past.
Episode Rating: 8.5/10 (Awesome)
Muaha, this episode obviously was meant to explain how Yuzuki died, and it did a great job at it. while extremely exaggerated of course, this episode also featured the problems that single moms face, and oh my god that small version of Yuzuki was cute. The most disturbing thing of this episode wasn’t the death of her parents, but rather how she ended up dealing with it, burying her mother under cherry blossom leaves in the end and simply falling asleep alongside her teddybear.

And yeah, at the end of this episode the inevitable happens: Ai disappears and Yuzuki becomes Jigoku Shoujo. In the end, it was Ai’s knowledge that Yuzuki’s ghost hated modern day society that made her so confident that Yuzuki would be a worthy successor of hers, but at the same time she’d better not be gone forever!

And of course the next episode is going to feature the scene we’ve all been waiting for: that bloody spider. since this series has gone exactly according to Ai’s plans, I really wonder what that total bastard is going to do this time.

This is just pure speculation at this point, since it’s a total mystery what that next episode is going to be, but I’ve got a hunch that the creators still aren’t finished with this series. Think about it: there is one character who hasn’t received any background at all: Kikuri. Something’s telling me that the entire third season was just one big build-up for that possible fourth season, which is going to put Yuzuki and Kikuri against each other. I mean seriously, with a series so focused on build-up, there has to be some sort of meaning between Kikuri’s constant “I’m going to be the next Jigoku Shoujo!”, and there’s no way that that’s going to be able to be resolved in just one episode. But let’s not count chickens before they hatch. First we need to wait for that fourth season to actually get announced… that might take a while.

Posted on 21 March 2009 with categories: Jigoku Shoujo

Short Synopsis: Yuzuki is!%$#%#$@$@#!@#!#$@!@#!!!!!
Episode Rating: 9/10 (Fantastic)
Holy. Freaking. Heck! Oh my god, what an utterly incredible episode. I would even go as far as saying that this has been the single best episode that I have ever seen from Jigoku Shoujo, and with such an amazing series, THAT HAS TO SAY SOMETHING. Oh my god… I’m still amazed at the huge guts of the creators to pull such a plot twist….

So yeah, we all know the problems with the third season of Jigoku Shoujo: the incredibly far fetched stories that populated that first half. But seriously, the show has managed to pick itself up so wonderfully after that first half. It really is something the second season didn’t succeed at, and while at one point I claimed the third season to be the weakest of the bunch, I’m going to have to take that back now. Mitsuganae is at least better than Futakomori, and if the rest of the finale is as amazing as this one, it might as well be as memorable as the original series.

Because, ZOMG, Yuzuki turns out to have been a ghost in denial! Everything that happened so far was because she refused to acknowledge that she was dead, while in fact she was simply being recruited by Ai to join her league. It was indeed very weird for Ai to just pick out a random girl, but there’s nothing weird about it at all: Yuzuki is just another one in a string of random corpses that Ai tried to use in order to find her successor. My guess would be that all of them tried to escape to their previous lives when they found out, leaving Ai without a body again, in search for the next one.

I have to say that I was getting a bit wary of this series when the previous episode still came with the usual revenges, but now I see that this is the sort of climaxes that really works on the surprise element, and thus doesn’t need that many episodes, as opposed to the ending of the second season, which required much more build-up to work.

And yeah, the first half was good for another thing: it helped me lowering my standards for this series. At the beginning of this series, I really was expecting the most amazing series, that may have been a bit too unrealistic. But unlike the stories of the first season, which were incredibly diverse, the stories of the third season all were much more similar in atmosphere and themes. At the expense of the lack of diversity, it did allow the series for some magnificent build-up for the grand finale of the season, and oh my god… it worked so well.

On a completely unrelated side-note: was I the only one who loved how that little crawling ant was animated?

Posted on 14 March 2009 with categories: Jigoku Shoujo

Short Synopsis: A boy who is bullied by some of his classmates calls Jigoku Tsuushin.
Episode Rating: 8,5/10 (Awesome)
When talking about episodic series about a school setting, then the bullied kid is often a very popular storyline (or take any dark series set in school). I really have to say that this has been the best story about bullying I have ever seen. One of the most thought-provoking episodes of Jigoku Shoujo yet and yet again an awesome addition to the finale of the third season of this series.

Nearly always, these bullied stories are very exaggerated: the bullies are portrayed as pure evil, and the bullied one is entirely portrayed as the victim, or at the least the bullies are some sort of misguided villains. We should sympathize with the victims and hate the bullies, because that’s the politically correct thing to do. The best example I can think of right now is that episode Shigofumi dedicated to it. We could sympathize with the bullied one because he was just a good kid who only made one mistaken.

This episode showed that with bullying, people too often try to seek the problem with the bullies. The guy in this episode had enough reasons to be hated. He comes from a rich family, and is basically a spoiled brat, and yet he stood SO FAR away from the usual spoiled rich kids that anime has become notorious for. There’s this whole “I am better than you”-air around him, and that’s why he gets bullied, which only increases this air, spiralling out of control. Especially since the ones who bully him do so mostly because they hate how the guy is wasting money like he is. He continues to flaunt around with expensive tools, like very expensive watches, flat-screens and cameras, while the bullied guy has lost his father, has a sister who out of necessity needed to grow up fast in order to support her family because he himself is bad with the household chores.

Especially the scene in which Ai hands out Wanyuudo to the guy: he really expected himself to be the pure victim, even though he should be happy that he’s got so much money to spend. I think that he never really tried to talk things out with the bullies: whenever they start to threaten him, he’d just pay them off with money, or whatever gadget he was holding. It’s a very interesting kind of discrimination.

And damn… I could have sworn that we have seen one of the bullies before, but I can’t remember the exact episode in which that happened!

In any case, I’m surprised that the series is still going for revenges at this point, with only three episodes left. There was also hardly any Yuzuki in this episode, so I really wonder for what kind of climax the creators are going. It’s clear that they’re building up like crazy right now, and I’m not complaining about this at all, since the past few episodes have been absolutely amazing. And then again, the creators have had an entire season to fully plan in that climax of theirs, and they’ve also done a very successful climax twice before, so something really strange is going to have to happen in order to screw up the ending for the third season.

Posted on 8 March 2009 with categories: Jigoku Shoujo

Short Synopsis: A girl whose identical twin sister is a famous idol calls Jigoku Tsuushin
Episode Rating: 8/10 (Excellent)
Oh boy, this series sure has rocked for the past number of episodes. This episode probably was the last of the regular revenges, and the finale should start next week, and it was yet another great episode that yet again shatters the borders between good and evil.

First it’s established that the girl has a very cocky older sister who she envies a lot (including her boyfriend). The girl then gets to take revenge when her sister gets into an accident and she gets to take over her role. While she’s normally shy and held back, she falls in love with standing in the spotlight and soon starts taking over her sister’s life that she worked hard for to attain. Even when the sister gets better, she isn’t backing down. In the end the sister is the one who calls Jigoku Tsuushin in order to have the pesky sister that tried to take over her life moved to hell. What was especially great about this episode is that at one point, you could hardly tell which one was which, and only if you paid a lot of attention you could see which one was being sent to hell.

Okay, so four episodes left, and the creators have done a very good job at keeping the contents of the finale of this series a total mystery. Seriously, I have no bloody idea what the creators are going to fill those final episodes with, apart from one episode’s attention to Yuzuki’s mother, and that pesky spider is probably yet again going to wait until episode 26 before it shows up.

Posted on 2 March 2009 with categories: Jigoku Shoujo

Short Synopsis: A boy whose mother is pregnant calls Jigoku Tsuushin.
Episode Rating: 9/10 (Fantastic)
Easily the best episode of the third season. Oh, it’s awesome to see how good the final third of this series has become, compared to the huge trainwrecks of the first two thirds. They definitely served their purpose, and it’s really episodes like this one that remind me why I’m such a big fan of this series. Originally when it started out, it was the second-biggest reason after Mahou Shoujotai for me to start blogging, and now more than three years later it’s still going really strong.

First of all: Muahaha! Kikuri is also planning to become the next Jigoku Shoujo (I loved the “Ai no Baka!”, by the way). This just begs the question why she didn’t just take over Ai’s role when she died for the first time, and why she was the one who reunited the dolls again after Ai came back. She may prove to become an unexpected ally of Mizuki, though. That’s going to be interesting. :P

As for the story this episode, it really was a sad yet typical case of domestic violence: one parent is abusing her child (who isn’t even hers), and the other parent knows about it but turns a blind eye to it. The ironic thing is that the stepmother used to be very nice, until she got pregnant. She really wanted to have a happy family at all costs, and when the boy didn’t turn into the only one who could provide her with this she started seeing him just as second fodder (plus, pregnant women can be scary).

The perspective of the boy was also awesome, and the exact reason why any sort of domestic violence is BAD. Even though he’s constantly abused by his step mother, all he thinks about is the fun times they had, and the one responsible in his eyes isn’t his mother, but the about-to-be-born baby, so he ends up sending his future little sister to hell. Since he’s just a small boy who just happens to be a bit more mature for his age and so able to find Jigoku Tsuushin on his own, as he grows up he’s steadily going to be able to see the huge mistake he made in his childhood.

I also loved the effects that the previous episode had on this one: the dolls now start involving themselves more and more with the cases, and they now talk to Yuzuki on a much more personal level, instead of having to remain in the shadows all of the time.

And you also HAVE to love the final scene of this episode. That explains exactly why the creators waited so long with letting Yuzuki getting close to the different people who accessed Jigoku Tsuushin. Even though in this episode she did a lot of work to prevent the boy from using Jigoku Shoujo, when she looked at the end result and how he was happy, she couldn’t help but smile, and we immediately see Ai spying on her. Bring on the character-development!

Posted on 22 February 2009 with categories: Jigoku Shoujo

Short Synopsis: A scientist calls Jigoku Tsuushin
Episode Rating: 8,5/10 (Awesome)
This was definitely the best episode of the third season yet in terms of solid storytelling. Now this is EXACTLY why I’ve become such a big fan of the franchise: it’s nearly always entertaining to see the different revenges, but the real goodness pops up once the story starts touching the main storyline, which is purposefully saved until near the end.

In the third season, where most of the revenges simply looked like each other, this episode stands out as a really unique one, in which it attempts to combine technology with the supernatural. Faking a grudge with the help of a machine. Most of the time, magic is something… magical that no technology can touch, and here we have a very practical example of how technology can manipulate the human body, and so affect the magic in this series. And of course, any episode in which Ai appears for more than three minutes is nothing short of awesome.

And yeah, it’s AWESOME to see Tsugumi back again. To think that it’s been twenty years since the first season. Now all that’s left is for Hajime to make his reappearance with more than that very short cameo in the second season, and I’ll be really happy. It’s also interesting how Tsugumi doesn’t address him with “father”, “dad” or any other Japanese equivalent, but instead addresses him with “Hajime-chan”. That just signifies how extraordinary the relationship between the two has become (well, okay I know nothing about how this goes in the Japanese society, but at least it’s pretty rare for anime; I can only recall one other series which did the same: Arusu in Mahou Shoujotai, which immediately makes it something awesome).

Posted on 15 February 2009 with categories: Jigoku Shoujo

Short Synopsis: A famous flower arranger calls Jigoku Tsuushin
Episode Rating: 8/10 (if only because of that awesome plot twist at the end)
Muahaha! Oh, this is going to be awesome! I guess that I should have seen it coming, but the end of this episode finally reveals the purpose of Yuzuki, something that the show has been building up for nineteen episodes so far: She’s going to be the next Jigoku Shoujo! Oh, this is going to mean two things:
– How the heck is she going to accept the revenges that she loathes? How the heck is she going to accept her job?
– If she’s going to take over Jigoku Shoujo’s role, then what the heck is going to happen to Ai!? Was she just brought back by the spider temporarily in order to find a replacement for her? Talk about cruel.

Oh, and here I thought that she was simply going to be the next Tsugumi. I guess that that now reveals that the final scene of the second season: it probably was a flash-forward (or whatever that’s called) to the future in which Yuzuki has taken up her role as Jigoku Shoujo. The finales of Jigoku Shoujo are always excellent due to the immense amount of build-up that goes into them, so I’m really looking forward to seeing how the creators are planning to instate her as the next Jigoku Shoujo.

Anyway, the rest of this episode was the standard though solid revenge. The theme is yet another one of the evils of society: heritages. Oh, those things can be real bitches if both parties can’t agree on what they want. If I understood correctly, in this episode two sisters try to respectively poison and send the other to hell because of it. The boyfriend was a bit crazy, though: why couldn’t he just point out that the drink was poisoned, rather than gobble everything up in order to prove his point?

Posted on 8 February 2009 with categories: Jigoku Shoujo

Short Synopsis: A girl who likes to send her stories to a well-known radio-host calls Jigoku Tsuushin.
Episode Rating: 7,5/10 (Good)
I really wonder what Ai is doing behind that computer of hers. “Ippen Shinde Miru… wait, let me check my e-mail first”.

In any case, we have another standard episode again, this time about teenaged girls and their idols, where we have a young teenaged girl whose hopes are crushed when she finds out that her idol simply reads a pre-written script. Well, that’s multimedia. Even “reality”-shows are written by professional scriptwriters nowadays, but it must have been quite a shock for the poor girl to find out about this.

Okay, and so I was wrong: Yuzuki most definitely isn’t going to be the next Tsugumi, this series is simply using her to build u for this series’ finale. She hasn’t done anything to stop the revenges at this point. All she’s done so far is failing. You’d think that at episode 18 she’d at least book some sort of progress, but now I’m sure that the creators are really saving the best of her for the show’s finale.

Overall, now that the finale is about to begin, it’s time to look back at the past season. Overall, the random stories in the third season have been the weakest of the three seasons of Jigoku Shoujo so far. The good thing about them is that they always picked out some extreme taboo and started playing with it. The bad thing is the lack of variety. Compared to the first season, the cases now all look like each other, while the first season had a number of very creative and surprising stories, despite the show’s formula. Nevertheless, this series never lost track of its atmosphere, and the stories never fail to entertain, so even though it’s not as good as the previous seasons, I’m not disappointed by this series at all and would love to see a fourth season. ^^;


Mail will not be published
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Wednesday, Oct 7. 2015 04:45 PM)
    If sakurako-san disappoints I am ignoring everything modern that is based on a light novel from now on. I’ve been hit by these adaptations far too often.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Wednesday, Oct 7. 2015 02:43 PM)
    ….Dear God…I have no words in which to describe hidan no aria AA, no words. The original I could take the piss out of. But this is a new low standard set for the light novel medium.
  • Bam
    (Tuesday, Oct 6. 2015 09:02 PM)
    One-Punch Man’s pilot was almost adapted flawlessly. It straight up uses the manga panels as it’s main storyboard, but added just enough new touches to improve the action instead of ruining it. Now let’s see how they animate the mosquitos and all the lasers for the next episode.
  • Bam
    (Tuesday, Oct 6. 2015 08:57 PM)
    And that’s why Madhouse is one of the few respectable studios left. I thought that they will be seriously diminished after Masao Maruyama took some of its key members and funded MAPPA, but One-Punch Man showed that they are still one of the best in the business.
  • k-off
    (Tuesday, Oct 6. 2015 08:51 PM)
    @Kaiser The anime industry isn’t advanced enough in CG to make it look good, is all it is.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Tuesday, Oct 6. 2015 05:51 PM)
    @K-off: Your not wrong, it certainly looks poor but some of the old gonzo animated stuff was far more woeful looking. Stellvia, which was done by xebec was another example of old anime cgi which was quite ugly to look at. Just as I prefer traditional effects in film I also prefer traditional animation techniques to cg.
  • k-off
    (Tuesday, Oct 6. 2015 05:42 PM)
    Lately, the use of badly integrated cgi have been making my eyes sore,from the obviously cgi background characters in Asterisk to the overly fluid mech movements in Aldnoah. I still remember the shitty cgi piano hands in Kimi no Uso.
  • Bam
    (Tuesday, Oct 6. 2015 12:04 AM)
    On the note of good balance between humor and drama- I think BoJack Horseman is an example of a show that executed that almost perfectly in both seasons. You are laughing one minute and amused by the hijinks and silliness and the next minute you are actually moved and shocked by the honest introspection. Too be honest BoJack is more a tragic character then a goofy one, and his struggles are deeper and more existential than they have any business being in a show with anthropomorphic animals.
  • Bam
    (Monday, Oct 5. 2015 11:56 PM)
    The changes in the setting actually made me more excited for season 3 then what I felt the past few weeks, since now the plot needs to move forward from the cliffhanger and hopefully this translates to more cohesion and refocusing on what mad the show great in the first place. I’m pretty sure S3 will also be a blend of episodic and arch story elements tho. Overall a few ups and downs but still a great show.
  • Bam
    (Monday, Oct 5. 2015 11:52 PM)
    The finale also had some of the most overall arch story elements featured in the season. Earth joining the Galactic Federation is a big deal story-wise from now on. Also the use of a cover of Johnny Cash’s “Hurt” (not the Nine Inch Nails one clearly) was a nice fitting yet surprising touch. The throwback to Mr. PB after the credits was a good idea, but felt flat in it’s actual execution.

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