Hajime and Tsugumi are driving along a road in the middle of a forest filled with fog when they start to hear a music box. Suddenly, a figure appears in the middle of the road and forces Hajime to brake. But when he gets out to check, there’s no one there. He drives up to the sanatorium nearby, but finds the place empty save for a girl’s laughter. As the two go further in, Tsugumi says that she heard a girl’s voice calling for help. They then start to hear a music box again, and this time they find it sitting by a windowsill. A girl with long blonde hair and blue eyes appears behind Tsugumi and leads them outside where she introduces herself as Nina. When Tsugumi introduces Hajime as her father, Nina comments that she doesn’t have a father. While Nina and Tsugumi get acquainted, Hajime chases after a nurse, but she disappears. He instead finds a doctor hunched over his desk extracting blood from a caterpillar. Upon going back, Nina asks him and Tsugumi to stay, but when Hajime tries to turn her down, Nina tells them that the fog makes it impossible to return.
Away from Nina, Hajime and Tsugumi discuss the girl and how she has to be the one who accessed the Jigoku Tsuushin. Tsugumi gets scared and wants to go home, so Hajime promises that they will as soon as the fog clears up. Outside, Ai’s companions comment about how they don’t understand Ai these days. Ai has gone inside to tell Nina that she can’t clear her grudge. Hajime and Tsugumi find Nina pounding against the wall where Ai disappeared, but upon seeing them, Nina them that it’s ok. She takes them to dinner, where a meal has mysteriously appeared. Nina tells Hajime that she used the Jigoku Tsuushin on her father for leaving her alone. But Nina reiterates that it’s ok now because she now has Hajime and Tsugumi as her family, and they’ll always be together. Scared, Tsugumi pulls away from Nina, which causes her to cut off the lights and break the glass above them. Hajime tries to run away with Tsugumi, but the girl whose hand he’s holding turns out to be a plant that wraps him up and tries to choke him. It’s only a volley of daggers from Hone Onna that saves him from being killed.
Meanwhile, Tsugumi is running through the forest when she spots Hajime. But when she sees that his face is actually plant vines, she faints. Before Nina and plant-Hajime can pick her up, Ichimoku Ren jumps in and takes her. He is unable to escape the deadly vines, however, and has to use one of his powers – a flash of light from an eye on his head – to free himself. The real Hajime finds Tsugumi and tries to escape in their car. But with vines entangled around the wheels, they are unable to go anywhere. Nina reaches through the car window and starts to choke Tsugumi while more vines choke Hajime. It is Enma Ai herself who has to step in and tell Nina to stop. She reveals that the girl in front of her is not Nina and asks this girl to remember. It seems that the real Nina, this girl’s master, was sick and died a long time ago.
Hajime and Tsugumi wake up the next morning to find the sanatorium vacant and in ruin. In one of the rooms, they find the music box, a doll that looked exactly like Nina, and a photograph of Nina and the doll. The doll had apparently watched on as Nina had cried tears, longing for her father because she was lonely. As the music box song ends, the entire doll turns to dust in Tsugumi’s hands. The only remaining pieces roll onto the floor: its two large blue eyes.
Another amazing episode of Jigoku Shoujo. For once, no one went to hell! I would assume that Nina’s father was already dead, and that might be the reason Ai denied doll-Nina’s request (the other being that she’s a doll). I thought it was a nice touch, if not a bit creepy, that the only things left of the doll were the eyes. Overall, this plot wasn’t the most original, but I felt that it was very well executed.
And Ai and her helpers actually saved Hajime and Tsugumi! Ichimoku Ren and Hone Onna have some pretty impressive and useful powers, but they didn’t seem too happy to be using them. Perhaps we’re in store for a revolt from them towards Ai or from Ai towards the system. As we’re now well into the latter half of this series, I hope that they’ll continue to change up each episode so that it’s not send-someone-to-hell each week.