Jigoku Shoujo – 24
Ai is building a tower of rocks while singing a haunting song to herself comparing the life of a sakura tree’s flowers to the lives of children. In the real world, Tsugumi’s friends show her a broken frog figure and talk about sending the boy who did it to Hell by using the Jigoku Shoujo. Tsugumi remembers what happened with Kanako and the random guy last time. With her mind occupied, she runs into the middle of the road, right into the path of a truck. Sirens start going off in the distance, but it seems that Tsugumi is actually ok. She thinks that the truck driver was actually a good person because he apologized even though it was Tsugumi’s fault. However, she wonders if she had died, would Hajime have hated the driver. Seeing the emotional toll that their involvement with the Jigoku Shoujo has taken on Tsugumi, Hajime apologizes and says that he’s going to stop investigating. At home, Hajime suggests that they go to Hawaii for a bit of work and play. Tsugumi smiles at the suggestion, but then she gets another vision of Ai, once again asking if she knows Sentarou. Hajime pleads for the Jigoku Shoujo to stop possessing Tsugumi since they’re not giving up on the investigation. When Tsugumi opens her eyes, she tells Hajime that they can’t stop now because she doesn’t yet know why this is happening or what the Jigoku Shoujo is trying to tell her. In Ai’s home, her grandmother asks her if something’s troubling her, but Ai says that she’s ok.
The Shibatas decide to investigate the place listed in the book about Japan’s sakura trees. On the way there, they catch sight of the Jigoku Shoujo in the rear view mirror, but she’s not there when they turn around. They stay the night at a local inn and Tsugumi goes to take a bath. Without thinking, she had asked Hajime if she was supposed to go alone, but then apologized for saying weird things. In the bath, Tsugumi is paid a visit by the Jigoku Shoujo, and she asks if Tsugumi feels something in this scenery. She stands up and disappears before Hajime enters the bath. He isn’t sure what to make of what Ai said since this is the first time they’ve ever been here. The next day, the innkeeper points them to the local temple after they show her the picture of the sakura tree and the waterfall. Ai is already there, and she watches as the two enter the temple. While they are talking with the priest inside, Ai picks a berry off a plant outside and almost eats it. The priest ends up giving Hajime and Tsugumi black candies to eat. He then explains to them about a ritual in the past where 7-year old girls (same age as Tsugumi) were sacrificed every seven years for a good harvest to the mountain god. At this point, Ai has a vision of herself being led by chanting monks past Sentarou and the villagers. The priest continues by saying that this temple was built around the Azuchi-Momoyama period (400 years ago) to appease the souls of those sacrificed (the temple is named seven child temple). The person who built the temple also opened a candy shop – the Shibata shop. And the name of the founder was Sentarou.
Having regained more memories of Sentarou, Ai now crushes the berry in her hand. In her world, her companions have been looking for her. Ichimoku Ren makes a joke about how Ai is getting to about the age of adolescence/puberty, but gets smacked with a flute by Hone Onna. It seems that even Ai’s grandmother (spider form) doesn’t know where she is. However, Wanyuudo suddenly has an epiphany. Meanwhile, Hajime and Tsugumi have made their way to the waterfall where they find a stack of rocks. In a flash of light and sakura petals, they are suddenly able to see Sentarou and Ai playing happily by the stream, with the sakura tree in full bloom. Hajime realizes that the two must have been childhood friends. The Jigoku Shoujo then appears floating above them and says that the abominable blood (referring to the Shibata lineage) still remains. Tsugumi gets a vision of Ai getting buried alive, calling out Sentarou’s name, and figures out that Sentarou must have buried her. The current Ai really loses it, refuses to be killed, and instead wants to make Hajime and Tsugumi disappear. Her helpers arrive and warn her that killing someone because of her emotions will send herself to hell. However, Ai doesn’t care. Wanyuudo’s carriage blocks her first blast and the helpers urge Hajime and Tsugumi to run away. But they are unable to stop the next attacks, one of which hits the two Shibatas squarely in their backs and sends them flying into the water. Ai disappears and reappears in front of the sakura tree, except the tree is now on fire after having been struck by lightning. She says that she doesn’t care because she wants this grudge taken to hell.
That was awesome! Highlights of the episode include: Ai’s song, Tsugumi and Ai in the bath, and Ai going berserk. We’ve finally learned who Sentarou was and what is connection to Ai was. More importantly, it turns out that Sentarou’s last name was Shibata, meaning that Tsugumi and Hajime are likely his descendants. That would explain why Ai keeps asking if Tsugumi knows Sentarou. However, now that she knows who they are, the normally reserved Ai has gone completely nuts. I definitely didn’t see this plot twist coming, so I was very excited to see how things turned out.
One tiny thing bothered me this episode and that’s that they really didn’t show a conclusion to Ai’s encounter with Tsugumi last week. We’re kind of left to assume that that was that and nothing more was said aside from the do-you-know-Sentarou. On the flip side, I have to say that they did a very nice job in making me think that Tsugumi died because of the truck. The ringing sirens were rather convincing because they reminded me of the scene where her mother died back in episode 22. Speaking of death, there’s a lot of speculation to be had now about who’s going to die and who’s going to hell. If what her companions said is indeed true, then Ai will herself go to hell. But she’s sure as hell (yes, pun intended) going to want to take the Shibatas with her. There’s an interesting shot from the preview of Hajime opening his eyes. Maybe he’s been sent to hell? But there’s also this shot of a hand coming out of the ground. Whose could it be? And it seems like Tsugumi will be paying a visit to the past and a good part of next week’s episode will be devoted to Sentarou.