Jigoku Shoujo – 23
Tsugumi is having an extended vision of an airplane landing, a sunset by the water, a hospital room, and dark figure. For Hajime, she identifies the hospital and a beautiful nurse named Sakuragi Kanako as the target. However, as hard as Hajime digs, he’s unable to find anyone who would have a grudge on her. He eventually decides to go into the hospital as a patient in order to learn more about her. Even there, he’s still unable to find out anything bad from the other patients or nurses. Tsugumi, however, is getting a little jealous of the nurse having Hajime’s attention all the time. That night, the two eavesdrop on an elderly man named Higuchi blaming Kanako for his wife’s death. After hearing Higuchi say that he’ll definitely send her to hell, Hajime decides to pay the man a visit the next day. Meanwhile, Tsugumi is back at the hospital thinking about Kanako when she starts having another vision. This time she sees Ai’s world and Ai herself. The same dark figure from earlier appears, except he’s smiling now. In the same sunset, she sees Kanako descending through the floor (to hell), but she’s unable to get there in time to stop it from happening. She starts screaming in her vision and in real life while the real Kanako is actually trying to wake her from the trance.
Back at Higuchi’s house, Hajime tries to dissuade the man from revenge, but as it turns out, he has no idea what the Jigoku Tsuushin is. Hajime starts to realize that maybe he’s got the wrong man. Tsugumi wakes up and finds Kanako watching over her. Kanako ends up taking care of her like a nurse or even a mother would, and Tsugumi ends up offering her an apple along with her thanks. On the topic of Higuchi, it seems that Kanako doesn’t have any ill-feelings toward the old man and she instead thinks that he’s just lonely. That doesn’t soothe Tsugumi’s fears that Higuchi will send her to hell. She runs out of her room after the nurse, but Kanako is nowhere to be found. The red apple Tsugumi gave her comes rolling down the hall. Kanako wakes up in Ai’s boat, unsure of where she is. Ai tells her that she’s being taken to Hell, and Kanako starts asking who would do this. In the hospital lobby, Tsugumi and Hajime catch sight of the same smiling man who was in Tsugumi’s visions. In his hand is a red string. Ai shows an image of the man to Kanako, but she doesn’t even know who he is. Kanako starts crying and calling for help, but only Ai and Ai’s helpers can hear her. Wanyuudo comments on how he can hear the grating sound in Ai’s heart. In the real world, Tsugumi and Hajime find the body of the man who sent Kanako to hell – he’s apparently overdosed on medicine. Hajime asks Tsugumi if she still agrees with the system and is willing to stand up for the Jigoku Shoujo. Tsugumi doesn’t understand anymore and runs off crying. She ends up at the base of a tree in a playground, but is suddenly transported to the waterfall seen in her visions. Sentarou and a young Ai are playing near her. The Jigoku Shoujo appears and asks if Tsugumi knows Sentarou.
This episode has some truly good plot twists backed up by foreshadowing and some fabulous directing. All of the important places and events are hinted at, and they try to lead us into thinking that Higuchi will be the one to send her to hell. Instead, it’s a random man who drug overdoses before Hajime and Tsugumi can learn why he had a grudge. More than anything else, this episode exposes the potential unfairness of the system to one of its staunchest defenders, Tsugumi by sending a completely innocent person (as far as we know) to hell.
The other big thing this episode is that Tsugumi gets taken to Ai’s past and confronted by Ai. I’m thinking that these memories are her way of eventually breaking herself free of the system, and Tsugumi is the key to doing so. But Sentarou is also a key player, though we still don’t know in what way.
Next week, the continuation of the meeting of Ai and Tsugumi?