Quick Review: Jigoku Shoujo Mitsuganae

After meandering on this series for about 2 months (admittedly, a visitor who stayed for 2 weeks prevented me from watching anything apart from an episode of Bakemonogatari), I finally marathoned it whilst studying, just to get it off the backlog.

Ai returns?? but how? and why???

Ai returns?? but how? and why???

Mitsuganae is framed by a new character, Mikage Yuzuki, whom Ai initially uses as a replacement for the body she lost at the end of the last season. But why has Ai come back – what does Yuzuki have to do with it?

The answer lies within the concept and the reason for the “Hell Correspondence” (地獄通信). When Ai was released at the end of Futakomori, the position of the Jigoku Shoujo was left open. For Ai to be truly set free, a replacement is needed…and that is the fate that awaits Yuzuki. (NB – there is an inconsistency there, because Ai became Jigoku Shoujo as penance for her sins that resulted in the destruction of her village. Going into it in any more detail will give away a crucial point in Yuzuki’s story, but what did she do to deserve the fate of Jigoku Shoujo?) But why doesn’t the Hell Correspondence just end?

Possibly the only good thing about Mitsuganae – besides the music, which is mostly awesome, as usual – is that it provides the answer to that question, through an older Shibata Tsugumi. Just like Yuzuki, Tsugumi once tried very hard to stop people from sending others to hell, but she has since come to believe that the service is necessary. Not for the people who actually use it, but rather for those who don’t, as it gives them hope that their “hell-on-earth” can end. Whilst the Jigoku Shoujo can and often does feel sorry for those who do not necessarily deserve a fate in hell, she must not let her emotions prevent her from carrying out her task. For the sake of everyone who hopes, it “cannot be helped”.

However, Mitsuganae suffers from the same pacing problems that plagued Futakomori. Yuzuki spends the first half of the series lamenting that Ai has taken over her body, giving both her and the viewer the excruciating pain of having Ai emerge from her like a butterfly from a chrysalis at the end of each story. I was sooooo glad when that ended! except that Yuzuki then continued trying to stop everyone from pulling the string, much like Tsugumi did in the first series. She might have even given one of the characters the idea of sending her ‘tormentor’ to hell. The first hints of Yuzuki’s problem/story really start appearing only around episode 21/22, which is far too late. Whilst most of the cases have a lesson about human behaviour – e.g. we might be hurting others without realising it; or that we need to tackle the source of a problem rather than its external symptions – the moral impact of each individual story has steadily diminished in an inverse relation to their increasing number. I normally can’t watch anything whilst studying: that this series was an exception shows just how forgettable it is.

Jigoku Shoujo Mitsuganae is pretty much just more of the same – week after week of people who, for one reason or another, send someone they hate to hell. At least Futakomori had some variety, what with several people saving loved ones from hell, or joining loved ones there. They could have combined Futakomori and Mitsuganae into one season, or simply had two seasons of 13 episodes each, which would have made for tighter storytelling and perhaps more people actually watching and appreciating the message, but alas, someone had too much time and money on their hands. Or maybe not – for much of the animation really doesn’t live up to current standards, with too many still frames in some of the action scenes…

But the fault for my dissatisfaction also lies with me. I was only watching it for completion, since I’d watched both the original and Futakomori. But never again. I’ve finally learnt my lesson. 4/10

About karice
MAG fan, freelance translator and political scientist-in-training. I also love musicals, travel and figure skating!

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