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shinsengumi's Jigoku Shoujo Tv Review

Jigoku Shoujo

Jigoku Shoujo tv Review

Rumor has it that somewhere on the Internet there is a website accessible only at midnight -- the Hotline to Hell -- where people can ask the Hell Girl to take revenge on people who have wronged them. However, when one person is cursed, two graves are dug, for if the Hell Girl fulfils your request, you too will be consigned to the pit of Hell when you die. Would you untie the red ribbon and sell your soul to the Hell Girl for vengeance?

Description: shinsengumi

Story & Characters

As of this writing, Jigoku Shoujo is still being aired in Japan, and therefore this review is based off of the first eleven episodes of this twenty six-episode series.

Rumor has it that somewhere on the Internet there is a website accessible only at midnight -- the Hotline to Hell -- where people can ask the Hell Girl to take revenge on people who have wronged them. However, when one person is cursed, two graves are dug, for if the Hell Girl fulfils a request and ferries an antagonist through the gates of Hell, when the one desiring vengeance dies, he too will fall into the pit of Hell to be tormented for all eternity.

Jigoku Shoujo makes use of its highly original concept by showcasing the lives of very different people whose lives have taken a turn for the worse, usually due to the machinations of a single person. When they're at their wits end, the access the Hotline to Hell after having heard a rumor of its existance and are then brought before Enma Ai, the Hell Girl, who hands them a straw doll with a red string tied around it, telling them that if they untie the string, vengeance will be taken at the cost of eternal damnation. When the string gets untied, the tables turn, the antagonist is spirited off to Hell and those who have sold their souls to the Hell Girl remain to face the consequence of their pact.

Individual episodes of the series invariably follow this formula, and while the different characters are often very compelling and different circumstances do help spice things up, after a few episodes the story does start to become a bit stale. It isn't until partway through the series that a cohesive plotline starts to develop when the rumor of the Hell Girl piques the interest of a freelance journalist who starts to investigate mysterious incidents that may have to do with the Hell Girl over the backdrop of the usual individual plot structure. It will be interesting to see where this plot goes, but unless a major twist or wrinkle appears in the plot, the unique concept of the series alone will not be able to salvage the story and make it interesting enough to continue following.

Character development is also fairly weak, at least in the first dozen episodes, because there is little time to develop the casts of individual stories before they are discarded at the end of their respective episodes. The Hell Girl herself is an utterly emotionless and static character whose motivations and background are never disclosed, and the three members of her little entourage are little different. Furthermore, while some of the antagonists have motivations that are gradually revealed over the course of an episode, others seem to be nothing more than cookie-cutter evildoers who simply torment others for the hell of it. The only characters that have any measure of depth seem to be the journalist and his young daughter, of whom we are starting to learn more as the series progresses.

All in all, at this point in time, the series, while off to something of a slow start, still has a lot of potential that it could capitalize upon in its second half. At the same time, if the rest of the series is nothing other than more of the same, then for all of its conceptual originality, this series will easily become just another metaphorical face in the crowd.

Rating: 6

Art

Character design is certainly a strength of this series, as exemplified by the designs for Enma Ai, the Hell Girl. Whether dressed in a schoolgirl outfit or in a traditional black kimono with drifting (literally) flowers, she cuts a graceful and elegant figure. At the same time, she has a certain unnerving mystery surrounding her, a quality lent her in the unblinking gaze of her large red eyes. All of the other characters, recurring or otherwise, all have very distinct, if far less-striking, appearances as well, drawn in reasonably good detail in the same general style as characters in contemporary series.

In the animation category, Jigoku Shoujo does not fare quite as well. The animation quality is not poor, but the recycling of footage, especially the sequence when the Hell Girl responds to a summons to exact vengeance, becomes routine as the series progresses. It would be nice to be able to see those sequences, which invariably occur at certain points in every episode, from different perspectives or different settings just to make things more interesting. On the other hand, the sequences leading up to individual antagonists being dragged, kicking and screaming, to the gates of Hell are substantially different from episode to episode based upon the particular sins of the respective antagonists and are both very well-designed and reasonably well-animated.

Rating: 7

Sound

As far as background music goes, the soundtrack to Jigoku Shoujo is actually quite good in setting up the requisite mood for individual scenes. As is the case with many such soundtracks, many of the tracks are not particularly well-suited for listening on their own, but while that may deter some from purchasing the soundtrack, that fact does not detract from the quality of the soundtrack as a soundtrack in the most fundamental sense. Furthermore, the opening theme, Hakasama no Chou, is perhaps one of the best anime opening themes of the season. Performed by SNoW, a 20-year old singer from Tokyo who is just starting to enter into the J-music scene, it is one of those laid-back themes that makes good use of an acoustic guitar harmonic line to complement a catchy melodic line.

In the voice acting department there is little to say (which for anime series is not a bad thing). Enma Ai does have a very soft and somewhat airy voice that, while I typically do not prefer, seems to fit her character particularly well. Besides, the softness in her voice, when combined with her penetrating stare, only serves to make the moment each episode when she asks a doomed antagonist, "would you like to see what death is like," all the more chilling.

Rating: 8

Presentation

As mentioned previously, Jigoku Shoujo has a very clever and original premise that it relies heavily upon. Unfortunately, overuse of this single concept makes the series tend towards what is essentially repetition, one of the two major complaints with the series. While this may be intentional, to add an added philosophical or religious aspect to the series, the consistent plot formula (albeit with occasional wrinkles tossed in) and recycled clips do eventually wear away at the great potential of the series. With the gradual inclusion of a unifying storyline, the plot is beginning to pick up and thus this weakness is starting to be alleviated, and therefore it is likely that in the remaining episodes the series will pick up and fully capitalize on its potential.

However, the second complaint still stands. To put it bluntly, for an anime about vengeance and eternal damnation, it simply isn't scary. While the horror sequences that lead up to an antagonist being dragged, often kicking and screaming, are well-executed in design and animation, oftentimes they simply do not evoke the sheer terror that the damned antagonists should be feeling. In place of the dread and fright that should be the stuff of nightmares, the series instead often coaxes little more than vague queasy feelings. On the other hand, this may be a good thing, as this reviewer does not handle gore and horror very well, but this shortcoming still stands as a fundamental weakness of the series.

Overall, do these two flaws ultimately doom this series? While the question is a personal one that certainly depends on the tastes and preferences of individual viewers, know that even in light of the aforementioned weaknesses, there is still something about how everything comes together in this anime that makes this reviewer come back again and again for more whenever a new episode becomes available.

Rating: 6

Final Verdict

6.50 (above average)

Reviewed by shinsengumi, Feb 24, 2006

Comments

  1. tareren Feb 24, 2006

    Great review, nice choices of words and the description is very good...
    As for being 'horror' er... this is an anime, i do not think they would want an anime to have that real horror factor cos children maybe watching it >_< hehe, i don't know that you can't handle horror tho' you certainly doesnt sound like one who will faint in the middle of horror movie screening XP

    I was going to watch this series myself, but now that I read your review, myb i shud just borrow few episodes, n if i like it, then I will continue it >_< i dun really like repetition >_> but myb the originality of the series will compel me to watch it again, who knows... i jst hav to try watching it :D

    Thanks for sharing the review ;)

  2. Kidder Feb 24, 2006

    Great review, I agree with you completely.

    When I first heard about the series I figured it'd be quite dark and disturbing, but after watching the first 5 eps I realised that this show barely counts as horror-lite. The show gets very repetitive after the first few episodes and the lack of really horrifying animation kinda makes it hard to keep watching the show. I don't mean there's a lack of gore and violence, but rather the "revenge" parts seem quite mundane and I reckon could have been made a lot more dark.

    The whole "Hell Girl" idea is very original and was what got me interested in the series in the first place, but I can't really work out what sort of target audience the creators were aiming for. There are some pretty adult themes involved in some episodes, but as I said earlier this show is horror-lite and would probably only scare my little cousins.

  3. T-kun Feb 24, 2006

    Thanks for this review!
    I thought about this anime and if I should buy it or not!
    Your review will help to solve my problem!

  4. shoujoboy Feb 24, 2006

    Interesting premise indeed, but with all things "creative" it can either work out or just fall flat on its face. Although I would anticipate it would pick up in the latter half of the series, it still stands that it seems the early episodes will degrade the overall experience. It sounds interesting enough to put it on my radar, but not so much that I'll go out of my way to get it. Of course an eloquent review as always.

  5. Luceyd Feb 24, 2006

    Excellent review, gotta agree in many things.

    Based on that I have seen up to episode 8, can't say I'm thrilled with this series, and it's sad, I had a lot of expectations from it. Then again, it may be like My-HiME, that the real deal started around episode 11-12. Hopefully it's like that, or the dissapointment will be way too big.

    The concept of the series is interesting though, so at the same time, that's what keeps me hooked. We'll just have to wait and see what happens, right?

  6. Lumenesca Feb 25, 2006

    Very informative, but why is your review headings for a video game review? O_o

  7. monoyunaki Feb 27, 2006

    kono anime wa ii janai :) demo chotto ,I think its story is chotto not as good as miyu ,the ending song is good ,I think so :D

  8. YuriToBara Mar 09, 2006

    I'm watching jigoku shoujo and I must say it's somewhat repetitive. But hell, I love Enma :3
    Great review, it captures the interesting points of the story.

  9. Sabbathiel May 03, 2006

    [h]Ello
    I'm watching anime Jigoku Shoujo too, the stories are repetitiv... but I love the way, that Enma say: " Would you like to go to Hell?" THis anime has beautiful look :) and atmosphare is so.... mraau ^_^

  10. Rhyme097 Sep 14, 2006

    jigoku shoujo is My favorite one. I like Ai cast .... it's cool

  11. kokuyu Dec 03, 2006

    the softness yet husky voice of Enma Ai is certainly to be lauded , for unlike other ordinary girls' voice which are cute, this voice (seiyuu by Mamiko Noto) expresses an air of mystery and eerieness surrounding Enma Ai. besides, it's also a neutral sound that favors no one, much to a unique and individual personality.

    the vengeance throughout the plot, despite majority being repetitive, there're quite a number where even the innocent ones are ferried to hell, which too strenghten the point "is this the only solution?", yet deepens the theme. good review *thumbs up* ^^

  12. EILERON May 25, 2007

    some of the circumstances featured in the anime seemed to be too trivial to warrant Enma ai's special services.... like the one with the dog... i keep thinking that if that happened in real life, no one would use Ai for revenge, especially if the payment is one's own soul.... still, the situations presented in the Futakumori has definitely improved...

    as for the complaint about the lack of scare factor... i think the personality of Ai and the way she--and her minions-- exact revenge is designed not so much to scare the viewer witless... but to disturb him into thinking really hard about its implications...

    great review! thanks!

  13. aikur Feb 02, 2009

    i like this show and agree with most of your points
    but it is really good can if you can get past the repetitive parts and you can still enjoy it

  14. rukasu04 Mute Member Feb 12, 2010

    Thanks for the review

  15. angelxxuan May 23, 2012

    well structured review, and I can't argue with it much either, the anime had potential, but it was too repetitive for me. I would switch between spoilers and watching it and then skipping a few episodes and it still made good sense to me.

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