Have you heard of Jigoku Tsuushin? It’s a website that can only be accessed at midnight, and if you type in the name of the person you hate, the Jigoku Shoujo will appear to exact your revenge and ferry that person to Hell. Who is Jigoku Shoujo and why is she so willing to kill?
summary by Mana
Highs: Beautiful artwork and animation; realistic portrayal of humanity at its worst; Episode 20
Lows: Revenge-of-the-week theme drags on; dual storyline leaves too much unsaid; wasted potential
On the outside, Jigoku Shoujo is a macabre, stylized anime with lots of atmosphere and a creepy little girl in a kimono. While the show maintains all of these elements throughout the majority of the series, at its heart, Jigoku Shoujo is a Mahou Shoujo show mixed with family drama and a splash of the supernatural.
The first half of the show deals very much in the Magical Girl theme, complete with transformation sequences, catch phrases, and all the re-used animation that comes with it. However, despite its heavy revenge-of-the-week plot structure, it still manages to tell a good tale each episode, and the early episodes feel more like a beautifully illustrated storybook than a single, coherent series. The artwork and animation are simply stunning, especially in regards to scenery and angles.
As the series progresses, we are introduced to more permanent characters and the plotline picks up… at least for a short while. It isn’t long before the repetitive episodes fall back into place, this time tacking a father and daughter onto the cast and leaving the rest of the series to deal more with their personal drama and less with Jigoku Shoujo. The odd duality between the two storylines clashes very strongly, and the audience doesn’t get to learn enough about the family to really care about them.
Meanwhile, the story of Jigoku Shoujo doesn’t get explored as fully as it could have, and leaves many questions unanswered. A few episodes stand out here and there, but the revenge-of-the-week theme holds strong and too many episodes are left that add nothing to the show. The ending in particular is disappointing, as it feels terribly rushed and manages to say very little.
If you find yourself intrigued by the legend of the Jigoku Shoujo, watch the first few episodes; they stand out suitably on their own. Insisting on watching the rest of the show will only lead you down a path of disappointment.
Jigoku Shoujo can be downloaded legally in the United States HERE.