Dead Cells horror anime podcast: Hell Girl

Hi there, this is typicallydia and I am here on Dead Cells, part of splatterpictures.net to talk about “Hell Girl”. This is a good, though pretty sleepy anime. You know how when watching “X Files”, you kinda get quiet, you kinda get melancholy. you kinda turn inward and dissect humanity under the microscope – or telescope – that the show provides. It never hurts when Scully poses her emo diary entry in soliloquy at the end. The feels. The actual thought provoking is maybe what you didn’t expect from a sunday night television – and it is not what i expected from this anime.

From the friendly neighbourhood wikipedia entry Hell Girl is “also known as Jigoku Shōjo: Girl from Hell, and is an anime series produced by Aniplex and Studio Deen. It focuses on the existence of a supernatural system that allows people to take revenge by having other people sent to Hell via the services of the mysterious titular character and her assistants who implement this system. Revenge, injustice, hatred, and the nature of human emotions are common themes throughout the series.”

That’s a really wordy explanation. Hell Girl is available through a website called the Hell Link, where you initiate a ‘hell correspondence’. You type int the name of someone you want sent to hell. Hell Girl will appear, explain to you the terms of the agreement. Meaning, they will go to hell but your soul will also go to hell once you die a natural death. She’ll hand you a straw doll and you can contemplate this while… hanging out with your straw doll? It has a red string around its neck. So once you are really sure, you pull that red string. Hell Girl will appear again, and sell that person’s soul to hell immediately.

This is one of the first anime I watched when I first discovered Crunchyroll streaming over WiFi the last time I was in college. It comes from Studio Deen who have brought us Pupa, Is This A Zombie?, and other harem, crime, romance and slice-of-life animes. All in all a rounded if not slightly cheesy company.

Themes in the first season seem to really focus on bullies. You know, it gets better, right. Well, no. You make it better. If you can’t make it better – and some people really try to – you just send you enemies to hell.

This is where you meet Ai Enma, her grandmother, and three helpers. Wanyudo is an elderly traditional Japanese man who transforms into the black straw doll. He also changes into her chariot sometimes that she takes to the mortal plane. He seems to be her moral compass.

Ren is her blue straw doll. A good looking younger man, he is also represented as an eye that looks down on humans under scrutiny. He observes their actions and tries to see what condemned them to hell or spurred them to use the hell correspondence. He was a sword in a former life! So he is against bloodshed and is maybe an aspect of Hell Girl’s humanity.

Hone is a beautiful woman who is represented with a red straw doll. In her former life she was forced into a brothel and remains very romantic yet jaded. Hone Onna is a form of a revenge spirit or yokai that allows her to show her form as a bone woman or decaying corpse, much to the dismay of those unfortunate to accompany her and Hell Girl on the ferry ride to hell.

Kikuri is an annoying and adorable little ragamuffin brat that kicks around both the human realm and the shores of hell. She mostly gets in the way and ruins things. A real imp. I like her.

Yamarawo is the yellow straw doll, but i haven’t watched season three yet, so i’ll do another segment when i have.

Now, the hell correspondence. The Hell Link. The web site plays a huge role as almost a character in and of itself. With all of the time we spend online it is a wonder that all we’ve come up with is how to send your enemy sparkles. We all know how that went. If you could send someone to hell would you? Who would you send? Would you be fine with your soul consigned to hell after the deed is done? its easy to sit and watch others do it. they are getting their comeuppance and the people being ferried to hell really deserve it. But, would you?

There are some really great aspects of society covered that usually get poked fun at in other anime but here can be boiled down to their basest elements. The loss of a child. A lover scorned. Sibling rivalry. these are the near everyday themes that are torn away at, layer by layer until you agree the wrongdoer should be held accountable. The victim is right. Someone needs to go to hell.

The last episodes of either season are certainly worth watching if you are looking for a story arch. Otherwise, the stories are an anthology series and somewhat repetitive. The beginnings have similar elements as you are introduced to the players for the episode. The endings are all similar as the person who was cursed by someone they knew is ferried to hell. But then, any fan of horror is used to repetition in some form. Slashers, revenge and possession films tend to veer into an ad lib script. And there is a beginning-middle-and-end formula to follow in most horror so we cant complain too much can we.

 

There isn’t much gore, though there are some pretty intense reveals and some twisted scenes when they head to hell – the series also deals with some pretty twisted thoughts. Just the way some of these revenge plots come about. Most of them are pretty sad. So yeah. If you wanna watch sad stories that are thought-provoking if not morose that always end with someone going to Hell, then Hell Girl is your thing.

The animation style is pretty plain, as is the music. For the opening theme there is a soft pop song that is catchy and upbeat and a brooding, slower closing song. Not grating at all but not particularly memorable. The show is more haunting than anything. That is maybe the best word I can think of to describe why I like it.

I love the look of Ai. at Fan Expo a few years ago there was a cosplayer dressed as sailor outfit Ai, complete with red scelera contacts and had cut her hair into a hime style with blunt cut varied length bangs, instead of using a wig. Ai wears a few outfits through each episode, another formula mirroring the beginning-middle-and-end. A sailor suit that she appears in on earth and while chillin out at home, contemplating her cursed life over blood red spider lilies reflected in the River Styx.  When she is finished bathing in said river she wears a white under kimono, then dons a psychedelic floral swirling technicolour thing that she wears to send souls to hell.

Lovely stuff.

Anyhow, those who like quiet, brooding horror and strange tales will like Hell Girl. Season two and three (Two Mirrors and Three Vessels) stream on cruchyroll, and the first season is widely available. Asking your local comic book shop to order a copy is likely the best idea.

some of the stuff I have my eye on is the upcoming season of Attack on Titan, which will be a while, the second season of Tokyo Ghoul which I’ll be in on soon, remaining Parasyte and its live action counterpart and some new vampire themed anime. Vampire Holmes piques my interest buuuuut I’m looking more forward to Kekkai Sensen, otherwise known as Blood Blockade Battlefront. a nice dark vampire occult story that will help balance my love of Blood Lad. while I do enjoy Blood Lad as much as I enjoyed Is This A Zombie I’m not sure how to approach them on Dead Cells. maybe a comedy episode? We shall see kids, we shall see. In the news is also an anime entitled ‘Horror News’ conveniently enough. It is on crunchyroll right now so once I’m done reading books for the upcoming dark side tour and watching films with Wes ‘Dead Air’ Knipe for Dead Air and splatterpictures.net I’ll be settling into the time vampire that is horror anime.