Short Summary:
Hashimoto Mayumi becomes the victim of bullying after she loses some fund-raising money and has to rely on another girl, Kuroda Aya, for help. While fetching drinks for Aya, Mayumi hears of a dangerous website called the 地獄通信 (Jigoku Tsuushin, or Hell Communication). Mayumi visits the site that night at midnight, and it prompts her to enter the name of the one she has a grudge against. She types in Aya’s name, but is too afraid to click the submit button. The next day, after being physically abused by Aya, Mayumi actually submits the name. She immediately gets a confirmation message on her cell phone from the Hell Girl. Nothing happens to Aya though, and the bullying continues. Aya forces Mayumi to hit on guys for money, but Mayumi back away from it though not before Aya gets an incriminating photo. At wits end, Mayumi decides to commit suicide by jumping off a building. However, on the way down, she is met by a girl who takes her to an alternate red world. The Hell Girl identifies herself as Enma Ai. She gives Mayumi a straw doll, and tells Mayumi that pulling the red string off the doll will take care of the person that she hates. However, there is a price to pay: when the string puller dies, his or her soul will also go to hell, forever to be in pain and anguish. The next day at school, Mayumi experiences the final straw in the form of her teacher getting the picture Aya took of Mayumi the night before. Mayumi goes to the rooftop and pulls off the string. A strong wind immediately blows the doll out of her hand, and it disintegrates. That night, Aya, who gets called to school, sees Mayumi. She chases her inside, but loses sight of her. As she searches from room to room, she sees several horrors, from a faceless classroom to her friends being swallowed up by the wall. She finally ends in a classroom where she meets several creepy looking characters, including Ai. The flower pattern on Ai’s kimono knocks her out, and she wakes up in a boat, being rowed through the gates of Hell by Ai. The next day, Mayumi seems a lot happier, but she is forever branded with a symbol on her chest that serves to remind her of her eventual fate.

ED Sequence:

OP: 「逆さまの蝶」 by SNoW
ED: 「かりぬい」 by Noto Mamiko
No OP for this first episode, but there is an ending song sung by Noto Mamiko herself (she plays the title character). I really like the way the music sounds, but the song itself is still growing on me. The singing starts out rather soft, but Noto-san makes full use of her vocal talents.

Jigoku Shoujo is turning out to be a very interesting show. It bears some resemblances to Death Note in the kill your foes kind of way, but the similarities end there. Instead of a notebook, there’s a website. And killing your enemies comes with a price: eternal torment in Hell once you die. And yet Mayumi pays it anyway. It’ll be interesting to see how other characters deal with it. Based on what the preview shows, I can only conclude that this series will take an episodic approach, with the only recurring cast being Enma Ai and her companions. But it’s still too early to tell where the story is ultimately going, since this episode only introduces us to the concepts and people being the Jigoku Tsuushin and the Jigoku Shoujo.
Production-wise, this show has pretty good animation, but incredible music. The background music, which comes on quite strong at times, sets a very mysterious and even horror-like mood, capturing the mood quite nicely. The character designs are actually somewhat shoujoish, though the series is far from it. But like I said, the animation seems to be really good; however, the raw I watched made everything look rather gritty, making it hard to judge the quality.
I’ll keep watching this raw for a few more episodes, but there’s a good chance I’ll put this on Subbed status if and when a group decides to do it (not because I don’t like the series, but because I’ve got too much on my plate)..

15 Comments

  1. Shinsen is supposed to be subbing this series, which could either be great because they tend to be pretty fast, or not so great because they are doing SO much these days. In any case, I like them and I’m glad they’re doing it.

    I watched the raw and absolutely loved it, even though I couldn’t under 98.99% of the dialogue. The atmosphere is so mysterious, and you’re right – the music is superb!

    Ren
  2. If Shinsen is planning to sub this show, they’ll probably sub this real fast, like they did with Speed Grapher. Unfortunately, I don’t expect much from the quality-wise, like Speed Graphe I’ll have to replace their subs with a better quality version eg. Anime Kraze.

    P
  3. Wow, the producers brings out the real horror drawing of a classic artist named Kousai Kawanabe in the opening scene, and some real good kimono designs! 🙂

    This will gonna be a hella ride in horror anime category this year. 🙂

    stevency
  4. Hm.. hopefully Shinsen can do it fast enough, but still I’ll be following this raw, touch up a bit of my japanese :).

    The art is what 1st attracted Jigoku Shoujo to me. When i heard Noto Mamiko was doing the main character, it shot up to no.1 on my “Must Watch” list. Yes, i’m biased towards seiyuus (^_^).

  5. Thankyou for wirting about this 🙂 It gives us non-japanese speakers a chance to get a look at it before the subs come out.

    Though, i hope i don’t have to wait tooo long for Shinsen to releace it /me stiffles fan boy urge to go over and say “WHEN IS IT COMMING”/

    Im actually rather dissapointed by the art in the screencaps. It doesn’t look as good as i thought it would be. Kind of reminds me of the one episode i saw of 12 Kingdoms. I hope its better on the episode ^^

    i can’t wait ~_~

  6. Thanks for the summary + caps. It looks interesting – the art isn’t all that great (the house scenes and the walls… for good walls and backgrounds I like to refer to Zettai Shounen), but the character designs are kind of interesting, and it has some themes I like – bullying and revenge and that sort of thing. I wonder how things will go down from there? Will she meet another person with the same mark? Will she be able to undo it? By the end of the show will we see her going to Hell too?

    wao
  7. Just a pet peeve of mine:
    “The character designs are actually somewhat shoujoish, though the series is far from it.”
    Dunno, so far the story is playing out pretty much like a typical shoujo horror story. Shoujo != pink pastel hearts and romance. There was a time when shoujo manga actually dominated the horror market.

    Anyway, I expected more from Jigoku shoujo, at least in the art department. It’s okay, I guess, and the character designs are rather good, and it’s stylish, but not as much as I expected from the trailer. I was also disappointed to see that they did use non-moving patterns, a la Gankutsuou. I loved these in Gankutsuou, but I don’t think it’s a style that I want to see anywhere else.

    The story is interesting enough, but I couldn’t find myself caring for any of the characters which is, for me, a huge drawback. Ah well, we’ll see.

    kuromitsu
  8. I think the show is very interesting. I would like to know the history behind Jigoku Shoujo.
    The clothes r nice and stylish, especially the hell girls kimono. The song for this show is very nice in a creepy and sad kind of way. I wonder how hell girl got the job of taking people to hell….the characters are very well drawn for the show. I wonder how the show will turn out….

    Charlotte

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