We start with a girl in the yard of a rundown mansion, clutching the mark on her chest. Flashback to when this girl, named Sawai Akane, is in her room with her teacher Fukasawa Yoshiki banging on the door asking her to go to school. Apparently he comes every day, rain or shine, but all she does is stay in her room and talk to her internet buddy, whom she confides in. This person, who goes by the screen-name cheppo, agrees that Akane should use the Jigoku Tsuushin. After a day of thought, the constant noise of banging on her door – in her mind even when he’s not there – causes her to input the name.
The next day, Hajime is a guest speaker in Fukasawa’s class, but the teacher seems to have no control over his students. At the end of the day, he’s even scolded by a superior about Akane’s absence. As a result, he goes to Akane’s house and actually manages to have a talk with her, convincing her with his honest feelings to show up the next day. While talking with him in the teacher’s work room, Akane is momentarily left alone when Fukasawa gets called out. She decides to message cheppo, but is surprised when her teacher’s phone starts to vibrate. After sending another one just to make sure, she opens it and sees her screen-name, anemone, on it. She feels angry and betrayed, but after returning, he calms her down and later explains that he didn’t know that it was her. She tells him that their talks saved her, and she apologizes for putting his name into the Jigoku Tsuushin. After Fukasawa expresses interest, Akane tells him that the Jigoku Shoujo seemed lonely. Feeling tired of life himself, he then asks her to send him to hell. For the next several days, she thinks about it, noticing ever more the unhappy life her teacher is leading. Of course, she also remembers Ai’s conditions.
She finally does the deed and pulls the string one afternoon. Fukasawa wakes up on Ai’s boat, and realizes that he’s going to Hell. Ai shows him a vision of Akane and says that because of him, she’ll also be going to hell. After he hears Akane telling him to wait for her in Hell, Fukasawa starts to cry. Back in the real world, Hajime learns about the disappearance, but doesn’t think too much of it. More importantly, after he gets back into his car, Tsugumi starts to channel Ai again, repeating Ai’s words asking her grandmother if Hell is becoming paradise. What they don’t hear is Ai’s grandmother replying that it’s ok if the people involved are ok with it, and how it isn’t necessary to think about it any more than that. Meanwhile, alone, Akane feels strangely at ease standing by the abandoned mansion where she and her teacher talked.
Wow, just wow. This series continues to impress me when I least expect it. The art and animation for this episode is almost movie like, and they used several BGMs that I haven’t heard before. But the main draw is the plot and there’s so many themes going on in this episode. We start with a girl who has basically gone hikikomori, and a teacher who has trouble controlling his students. Fukasawa manages to redeem Akane, and then the themes change. When Fukasawa asks Akane to send him to hell, we’re confronted with a suicide/assisted suicide theme, and maybe even group suicide if you consider Akane to be killing her own soul’s future, since Akane knows all along that there’s a price to pay. But she willingly pays it because she can understand how her teacher feels. In his own selfish thoughts, Fukasawa didn’t know about that price, which makes him regret his request after the fact.
And then there’s the conversation Ai and her grandmother have at the end of the episode. They sent an innocent man to hell, but her grandmother justifies it by basically saying that he wanted it. Ai’s grandmother’s statements have been growing increasingly alarming, making me wonder if there’s not something greater at work here. As for Hajime, unlike previous episodes, he doesn’t catch on about what’s happening, despite having spoken about the Jigoku Shoujo with Fukusawa. And next episode does indeed look like it will be devoted to Ai and/or her past. Maybe it’ll be the first episode where no one goes to hell, except maybe Ai herself.