Kurenai Ayaka is the adopted daughter of Kurenai Midori, who is the director of the Kurenai Theatrical Institute. All is not well as practice and her mother are harsh on her, and so she turns to the Jigoku Tsuushin. Ai gives her the usual speech, and Ayaka doesn’t pull the string because of the hell-after-death stipulation. Instead, Ayaka decides to use two of her thug friends, who had approached her to borrow money, to assault her mother. However, her mother defeats one of them and Ayaka steps in with an umbrella and then winks to let them know to leave. The next day, her mother announces the lead role to their play, and, much to Ayaka’s surprise, it goes to an outsider – the well known TV actress Kurushima Kaoruko. Ayaka is furious and confronts her mother about why she didn’t get the role, which her mother confirms was because of her lack of acting ability, specifically pointing out the incident the night before (since she had realized Ayaka was faking it). Ayaka’s anger then becomes directed at the girl who took her role, so she first plants tacks in Kaoruko’s shoes, and then pretends to be horrified and angry when it happens. She takes Kaoruko out to have some fun, and has her thug friends take the girl and give her something to drink – something that damages Kaoruko’s throat. The next day, as word spreads that Kaoruko lost her voice, Ayaka’s mother tells her that she has an important announcements to make: she’s dissolving the troupe. Her mother faults her, so Ayaka tries to play the loving daughter, but fails. When Ayaka starts to curse her mother, Midori tells her that everything was for Ayaka’s sake. Midori even offers Ayaka another chance in an acquaintance’s troupe, if Ayaka admits what she did. But Ayaka is only filled with hatred, and goes to pull the doll’s string. Much to her surprise, the string is gone! Ai tells her that someone else already used the Jigoku Tsuushin on her. Ayaka is transported to and tortured in a hellish theater before Ai takes her to hell. Back in the real world, Kaoruko now has a marking on her chest, underneath her bandaged neck.
I didn’t quite see this one coming…I thought that because Ayaka was so evil herself, that maybe Ai and company would interfere and not let her kill her mother, who was more or less innocent. But in the end, someone has to go to hell and it turns out to be Kaoruko. I find it interesting that when Ayaka saw the doll without the string, it had turned into a regular straw doll, instead of the black color it had when Ai originally gave it to her. Plus, we learned one of the (what I call) what-if situations: a person can block the request of another by doing their own Jigoku Tsuushin request.
The actual story about Ayaka, Midori, and acting didn’t excite me too much, but the plot twists with the Jigoku Shoujo system did. Since this is going to be a 26 episode series, I imagine there’s going to be plenty more stories where we are shown more of those what-if situations (for example: what if someone wants to stop a death, what if someone else accidentally pulls your string, etc). Of course, I’m still waiting for actual plot/backstory about Ai and her companions. I’ve got my fingers crossed for episode 13 to be an Ai story since it’s called “Purgatory Girl”, but that’s still a ways off.
Closing Thought: Jigoku Shoujo Hats!
I think this has to be one of the top 3 episodes so far IMHO (yes, even though we’re only at the 7th one). A nice role reversal of sorts of who the punisher-punishee are, which was good change of pace from the normal cycle.
Satsuki Yukino nailed it as Kurenai Ayaka with her two-face personality. It was great how on the outside, Ayaka was all nice but when we hear her inner thoughts and true personality, she’s as “evil” as angered teens come by! I doubt there are many voice actresses that could have done so well as Satsuki Yukino played it. Then again, I might be a bit biased since all her roles usually kick so much arse 😉
oh yea, Ai in plain street clothes (even with the crappy animation) was without an doubt *the* highlight of the episode! We need more Ai and her crew scouting out the real world in such disguises… please!
Combos and interrupts like that could make a great trading card game. 😉
What I appriciate here is the honesty about the entertainment industry and bullying in general – shit like this happens constantly, and especially here in Japan, it’s not talked about much. Especially when people here are wondering why children are killing each other out of revenge (see the story lately about the girl Yua being killed by a former classmate?), or suiciding because they were bullied. I may be making too much of this episode, but especially where we are now where we’ve had two famous murder cases by teenagers in the last month alone, it seems like either good timing or subtle societal commentary by the JS staff.
Man, I really like this seires a lot. I’m hoping the subbing of it sorta picks up so I can see the end at least relatively close to the time when it airs. ^.^;