The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

Jigoku Shoujo Futakomori

Title: Jigoku Shoujo Futakomori aka Hell Girl – The Two Prisoners aka Hell Girl Second Cage
Genre: Horror/Drama
Company: Aniplex/Studio DEEN
Format: 26 episodes
Dates: 7 Oct 2006 – 7 Apr 2007

Synopsis: Enma Ai returns to her duties as the Hell Girl, exacting vengeance by sending people to Hell if one unties the red string on the straw doll she gives you. Even with the caveat that the sender will also go to Hell upon death, the Hotline to Hell is as busy as ever. Joining Ai’s hodge-podge crew of lackeys is the enigmatic, mischevious and occasionally downright malicious Kikuri.

The Highlights
Writing Quality: Generally improved from Jigoku Shoujo.
Characters: Wanyuudo, Hone Onna, and Ichimoku Ren’s backgrounds are revealed; cast shows more personality.
Ending: A rollercoaster ride that will turn your stomach.
Tone: Still genuinely creepy.

I’m not sure why I decided to watch Jigoku Shoujo Futakomori. Its predecessor, Jigoku Shoujo, was an awesome concept that was never fully realized, and I had no reason to believe that things would be any different the second time around. As expected, the “vengeance of the week” continued, yet I found myself enjoying each episode more and more, until it hit me. The creators learned from their mistakes and figured out what Jigoku Shoujo should have been from the beginning: character driven social commentary. That is what Jigoku Shoujo Futakomori has in droves and I loved every moment of it.

Rather than simple tales of cruelty and revenge, Jigoku Shoujo Futakomori’s individual episodes tend to go far deeper. There is real social commentary in almost every episode, sometimes about Japanese society, sometimes about humanity as a whole. Occasionally, this commentary can be a little preachy and heavy-handed, such as in one episode where the characters sing a song detailing the episode’s theme, but the delicate balance between being too vague and being too blunt is usually maintained. The potential uses and misuses of the Hotline to Hell are also explored; one episode consists of a situation in which one individual uses the straw doll for the contract simply to threaten another person. The short stories and “what if?” scenarios are good in their own ways, but the ending is suspense horror at its finest. It manages to nicely wrap up the series, while evoking genuine emotion from the viewer.

Commentary and good writing are only half of the formula that makes Jigoku Shoujo Futakomori fun to watch. All of the characters, especially Enma Ai’s servants, shed their “doll-like” demeanors from the first season and show some real personality. Different contracts bother certain characters more than others, and through this we learn what their lives were like before they decided to work for Ai. Ironically, though perhaps not surprisingly, their backgrounds are more interesting than Enma Ai’s and the side characters sort of steal the show with their personalities. At the end of some of the episodes, the characters ruminate about the situations that lead people to send others to Hell, making them far more than the mindless servants they were in Jigoku Shoujo. It really comes through that (most of) the main characters were once human and even though they are forced to do the most inhuman of deeds, they still retain some of that humanity.

Bone chilling horror, and provocative commentary about society come together to create a unique experience in Jigoku Shoujo Futakomori. Rare, in that it is both genuinely creepy and genuinely intelligent, few horror anime can hold a candle to this exemplar of the genre. If you didn’t like Jigoku Shoujo’s execution, but did like the idea, watch Jigoku Shoujo Futakomori. You won’t be disappointed

The Rating: 7
7/10

Reviewed by: Kuma

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