Jigoku Shoujo – 22
Tsugumi has another vision; this time, she hears Ai say the name “Sentarou” while seeing the boy that Ai’s been having visions of. Tsugumi is actually in the middle of buying some chestnuts. Today is the anniversary of her mother’s death, and she is going to visit her mother’s grave with her grandparents. Hajime pretends not to know and doesn’t go with her. After she leaves, he finds a book about Japan’s sakura trees, which has a picture of a waterfall similar to the one from Ai’s memories (though he doesn’t know that). He then goes to the local cafe and is surprised when the owner knows about the death anniversary. It turns out that Tsugumi had come to the owner wanting to learn how to make kuri okowa (glutinous rice with chestnuts and red beans), her mother’s favorite dish.
Hajime remembers courting his wife Ayumi and eventually marrying her. But his work constantly took him away, even on their wedding day. Ayumi was always to be alone, even after she gave birth to Tsugumi. Then, on an assignment one day, Hajime caught Ayumi with another man. As he’s remembering all of this, Hajime gets a phone call from Tsugumi. She simply tells him a name and a location and then hangs up. He realizes that it’s another Jigoku Shoujo incident and rushes out, but he arrives at the hotel too late to prevent a man from pulling the red string. The man, whose grudge is on a woman inside the hotel, says that although he loved her, she was using him for money. He says that he can’t forgive her, and that reminds Hajime of the time when he had said the same thing to one of his senpai in reference to Ayumi. The senpai had asked him to think about how essential having both a mother and father are to Tsugumi, but Hajime had already made up his mind. Sometime after, Ayumi had come back begging for them to start over again, but he turned her away and wouldn’t let her see Tsugumi. She drove away after he told her that he didn’t want to see her again. Ayumi died in a car crash that night.
In the end, Hajime tells the man that he’ll only feel empty if he hates someone, which is why he shouldn’t try to get revenge. Tsugumi and her grandparents, meanwhile, arrive at her mother’s grave with an offering of kuri okowa. However, they discover flowers and a box of the same dish already there. Tsugumi is moved to tears because she immediately knows that this was Hajime’s doing.
Another episode of Jigoku Shoujo that I really enjoyed. And this time, it’s not just because they’re straying from the norm. Ayumi’s death and the circumstances around it (Hajime having pushed her away with neglect and then hate) really define why Hajime is now hell-bent (if you’ll pardon the expression) against the Jigoku system. He doesn’t want others to repeat his mistakes. This episode can make you really love and hate him at the same time. It’s his fault for being so absorbed in work that it drives his wife to infidelity and later death, but you have to give him credit for realizing what he did (albeit too late) and trying to make amends in his own ways (fighting the Jigoku system, visiting her grave). The actual grudge and sending the girl to hell part wasn’t all that important this episode. It instead served as a parallel to Hajime’s own past. I do wish that they had spent less time showing the girl going to hell and more time in flashbacks about Ayumi.
It’s also noteworthy that we’re slowly learning more about Ai. In addition to the fact that the boy is named Sentarou, Tsugumi is researching the place that she saw in Ai’s memories. The specific picture that she found in her book was labeled 六道郷. Looking at each character on it’s own, that could mean six road village, which doesn’t say much. However, 六道 could be referring to the six worlds of existence from the wheel of life in various dharmic religions (which includes Buddhism and Hinduism). One of the six worlds is, of course, the world of hell. You can see that the picture depicts the same place as is seen in both Ai’s memories and the red world that she now lives in. Maybe that’s how it’s all connected. That’s just a theory anyway. Read more about the wheel of life.
In other news, the Jigoku Shoujo OST II will be released April 19th.