OP: 「逆さまの蝶」 by SNoW
I haven’t heard of SNoW before, but I really like this song. The use of guitar and bass here really feels like it fits with this series. Plus it’s just a good song. The opening sequence shows a lot of Ai and her companions, but mostly shots of Ai looking isolated.
Someone is stalking Takamura Ryouko, and so, desperate for help, she turns to the Jigoku Tsushin. After her parents scare away the stalker that night, Ryouko gets a confirmation message from the Jigoku Shoujo. The next day, her father talks with one detective, Kisaragi, who casts some suspicion on another, Akimoto. At school, Ryouko follows a woman into a classroom that takes her to the alternate red world. Enma Ai and her three companions appear before her, and after listening to her story, Ai offers her a doll with the same conditions as last week. Waiting for his Ryouko at school, her father spots Akimoto standing nearby. When he goes to confront the detective, he finds him already dead. He turns around just in time to see the detective Kisaragi’s shovel coming down on his head. Kisaragi takes his car and kidnaps Ryouko, taking her to an abandoned building. Ryouko becomes really scared when he starts threatening her and swinging the shovel, so she pulls the string. A police officer appears and scares away Kisaragi. The cop reveals himself to be one of Ai’s companions, and he points out the symbol that’s now on Ryouko’s chest. That night, as Ryouko and her mother watch over her hospitalized father, Kisaragi comes for revenge. However, he falls into the trap set by Ai and her companions. As Ai is taking him to hell, the bone woman appears and starts torturing him. In the real world, Ryouko seems to be enjoying life again, but can’t help be reminded of her eventual fate.
This episode reveals a lot more about the workings of Enma Ai and her group. For starters, apparently the website doesn’t require your full name, unlike Death Note, because Ryouko certainly didn’t know the detective’s name when she was typing it in. During the red world scene, Wanyuudo turns into the black doll, and Ai picks it up and gives it to Ryouko. We also see all three dolls propped against a wall near the beginning of the episode, when Ryouko first submits the name. I guess they stay in doll form until they’re needed, and each doll might represents a different type of grudge, sin, or sitauation. The official site has names for all of Ai’s companions: Ichimoku Ren – the information gatherer and the blue doll, Hone Onna (Bone Woman) – seductress who is a master of disguise and the red doll, and Wanyuudo – becomes the flaming stagecoach that Ai rides when she’s on her way to send someone to hell and is also the black doll.
This is another solid episode of Jigoku Shoujo, though I am growing a little worried about the episodic feel. Hopefully most of the show won’t just be Ai sending people to hell; hopefully there’ll be some overall plot tying each encounter together. Or maybe there already is and we just haven’t noticed it yet – it’s still too early to tell. One theme that is developing is the ultimate price one. Both Mayumi and Ryouko were victims, but to get rid of their suffering now, they offer up their souls once they die. Both have shown that they are happy once their source of suffering disappears, but both have also shown signs that they are constantly aware of their eventual fate (the marking on their chest being the reminder). It’ll be interesting to see how they further weave this element into the plot (and I’m sure they will somehow). Next week looks to be another story about kids and a baseball team, but the protagonist seems to be a male.
Closing Thought: I didn’t recognize that Shimizu Ai voices Ryouko until about halfway through the episode. But then again, she didn’t get many lines until then.