At her wedding into the Ujiie family, a girl name Inori is gazed upon by her new mother-in-law who says that she looks just like a doll. The mother-in-law seems to care about her new daughter, but Inori becomes incredibly frightened of her eyes. That fright grows even more after Inori is punished for having gained weight. She cries to her husband because she’s scared, but he calms her down and tells Inori that his mother doesn’t hate her. What his mother, a famous doll maker, does care about is appearance, which is exemplified by how she destroys a doll for being ugly. Wanting to do something, Inori takes her husband’s suggestion and makes breakfast the next morning. But she finds her husband already eating by the time she brings the food, and her mother-in-law says that she doesn’t want Inori doing housework. What’s more, a different meal is served to Inori because of her weight gain.
Both the mother-in-law’s eyes and her repeated assertion that she wants Inori to be beautiful and graceful like a doll cause Inori to once again go crying to her husband. This time, she’s overheard by the mother-in-law and is punished again. All of this leads to her contacting the Jigoku Shoujo while at the same time praying and thinking about how she wants to see everyone at the orphanage that she’s from. Out of the corner of her eye, she sees Ai peering from her closet. She opens the door and gets transported to the alternate world where Ai hands her the doll and tells her of the deal. Because of her mother-in-law, Inori is initially scared of the straw doll, but takes it because she wants to be thought of as a person instead of a doll.
Tsugumi, who had another vision, leads Hajime to the Ujiie home where the two see Inori staring out a window. They call her down and she tells them of the situation. Even though the nun at the orphanage had told her that she was welcome back if something ever happened, Inori can’t go back or run away because the orphanage depends on the Ujiie family. Instead, she’s relying on the Jigoku Shoujo as her “emergency exit”. Hajime brings up the topic of them helping her, but before she can respond, the house servants arrive to take her home. The mother-in-law once again punishes Inori in the bath, and continues to drill it into her head that she’s a doll. After that experience, Inori finally decides to pull the string. Her mother-in-law is turned into a doll limb-by-limb until she’s completely transformed. Even on Ai’s boat, she continues to be obsessed with dolls and comments on how much Ai is like one. Back in the real world, Inori is happy to finally be alone with her husband. However, she’s horrified to hear him call her a doll just like his mother did.
It’s been a while since Hajime and Tsugumi played fairly minor parts in the story like they did this episode. The two do have another argument about what Hajime is doing, but even though they come in contact with Inori, they really don’t have much impact on the outcome (though I guess you can consider her final punishment to be their fault for having called her out). The plot for this episode is fairly straight forward, though there are undertones that maybe the mother-in-law didn’t need to die. She isn’t as much evil as she is just crazy in the head, traits which her son apparently inherits. Ai looks especially sad in the very end, as if she had known that Inori wouldn’t be able to escape just by killing the mother.
What’s this? A Jigoku Shounen? I doubt he’s related to the Jigoku system, but I expect next week’s episode to be quite entertaining. The scene in the preview of the man rolling around on the ground looks very uncharacteristically humorous for the show. I’m personally hoping to see more of Hone Onna and Ichimoku Ren’s powers à la episode 17.