Saturday, March 15, 2008

New Favourite Anime - Jigoku Shoujo

Jigoku Shoujo (Hell Girl) is my new favourite anime series. I am collecting the manga as well, but I heard it was toned down for younger audiences. You can actually see that in the artwork, which tends to look "cute" most of the time, whereas the anime is surely more sinister and gloomier.

It tells the story of a website (Jigoku Tsushin, or "Hell Correspondence") where you enter at midnight (if lucky enough to be granted access) and transmit the name of a person against whom you have a grudge. The Hell Girl will then come and offer you a straw doll (normally the next day), which is the symbol of the pact you agree in making with her. Once you remove the string around the doll's neck, Hell Girl will immediately call upon your grudge and bring him/her to Hell. That's the idea permeating the episodes.

Fascinating. And it seems Hell is quite busy too, since it's not that easy to get connected. As for your grudge, it needs to be justifiable. Namely, you must take revenge upon an evil person, a real jerk for that matter. It's not just anyone (otherwise it would be too easy, no?)

At any rate, Hell Girl makes sure you understand that, by entering the covenant, your own soul will be the price to pay in the end - but this time, after you are dead.

It's basically a series of revenge tales, and so far, the people being punished are really evil, and seemingly deserving their fate, as I mentioned above. It also seems that Hell, in this case, is a concrete, physical location and not a mere metaphysical concept, since people literally disappear through its magical gates, brought in a boat by the innocent girl herself.

The girl is beautiful, has huge beady red eyes, wears a kimono and traditional clothes and, if anything, starts the episodes with a rather expressionless face. Striking, but empty. However, if you pay attention, you will note that she gradually changes. I am curious to know what is going to happen inside her as the series progresses. You mostly perceive that change through her eyes.

So far, I only watched 5 episodes, the last being "The Woman in The Tall Tower", and at this stage we still don't know much about Enma Ai (the girl). I believe she is atoning for something that happened in her past (past life, that is), but I still don't know what that is. I will wait for the DVD's to be released and the story to unfold by itself, little by little!

I also managed to get two soundtrack albums on eBay, and the music is gorgeous as one might certainly expect from such an eerie plot.

Meanwhile, I can recommend the fan site, containing beautiful wallpapers and extra information.

Have fun!

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