Hell Girl: Three Vessels Collection 2 (of 2) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Release Date: Tuesday, November 30, 2010
With Ai's return to the real world instead of in the shadows of Yuzuki, new twists and ghost of the past now haunt the present.
What They Say
Possessed by the spirit of Ai Enma and pulled into the fate of the Hell Girl, Yuzuki has struggled to cope with the terrifying burden. But even as she desperately attempts to maintain her own humanity, she finds the world around her slowly shattering into a terrifying series of riddles. Why has she been drawn into the world of the Hell Correspondence? What is her relationship to Ai? And has her ultimate destiny already been predetermined? As the powers of the Hell Girl continue to grow inside her, Yuzuki's very existence is now at stake. Who and what is she, really? The shocking secrets of Yuzuki's past are unlocked, the tragedies of Ai's are revealed; and the torch of the Hell Girl is passed in the shocking final collection of HELL GIRL - THREE VESSELS.
This release contains only the Japanese language track which is in stereo and encoded at 224kbps. Like most shows of this nature, it’s almost entirely dialogue driven with a fair amount of music that blends into the background and isn’t overwhelming. The ambiance of the music utilizes a good full sound which adds a lot to numerous scenes while the dialogue itself is well placed when required, though often it's just a single character talking that's usually near the center of the screen. Overall, while there isn't anything that stands out here, this is a very solid track that represents the source material well that's free of problems. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and placement is spot on when required.
Originally airing in from late 2008 to early 2009, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. The release has thirteen episodes spread across two discs in a six/seven format. Hell Girl has a very strong visual design at times in each episode while the bulk of it plays in a real world setting. There's a lot of detail to be had here in the backgrounds which holds up well with little in the way of breakup or problems. Outside of a few areas where there's some line noise and some visible gradients, the transfer here looks really good. Colors are lush and vibrant when needed and dark scenes have the expected amount of noise to it that's pretty noticeable. Cross coloration is non-existent and line noise is very minimal overall.
Done up in a single sized keepcase, the cover artwork for this release is solid and it mirrors the previous season in its overall layout with the borders and logo placement. Whereas the previous volume was a much brighter affair, the dark and moody look here works really well as we get both Ai and Yuzuki together in kimono's with the moon in the background with a lot of floral pieces floating around them. It's darkly elegant and really appealing. The black framing around it and the logo all give it a very solid feel overall though. The back cover has a similar framing and it has a strip of green through the middle where we get the listing that it’s the second season and the overall summary of what the show is about. The top half has a really neat piece of character artwork with Ai and her servants against a different type of flowery background. The bottom has several shots from the show of different sizes that highlights the creepy factor. The remainder is given over to the usual production credit and a good clean technical grid that covers everything in an easy to read fashion.
The menus are fairly decent but they come across as a little misplaced by the somewhat upbeat and pop oriented vocal tracks associated with them. It conveys the wrong atmosphere after the first couple of seconds once it gets to the vocals themselves. The menu layout is decent with a strip through the middle similar to the logo on the front cover where it has a grid with the episodes that can be selected while the special features are accessible through a submenu below it. The strip is done in some nice shades of green with some black and white accents to it that gives it an ominous look. Behind it is the actual character animation that varies with each volume featuring different pieces. With this being a monolingual release, there’s little issue here with the player presets obviously. Everything is quick to access and the layout, while simple, is well laid out and easy to use.
The only extras included in this release are on the second volume with the clean opening and closing sequences.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Hell Girl has certainly been a more difficult show to get into with this season for a couple of reasons. The first was that Ai herself was largely absent from events for awhile as they went through the idea of her watching events through Yuzuki's eyes and then coming out of her like a cocoon to do the deed that needs to be done. The other is that, as covered in the previous review, the stories told here are much darker and far less sympathetic as people go through requests that are being granted when you feel they shouldn't be. It's hard to be alright with a lot of them because so many innocents are being hurt and taken out in such cruel ways. Some of them make out a bit better by just being ferried, but a lot go through things in a bad way.
A lot of this set focuses on these kinds of stories but there's also a recurrent theme. Revenge by those who were wronged by other acts of revenge. As we've seen before, the Hell Link is a vicious circle that causes a whole lot of other acts of anger and banishments visited upon those that were affected by it. When someone is banished, there is a good chance that because of the well known nature of the Hell Link that someone can put two and two together to figure out who may have caused it to happen. It all becomes more tragic, similar to the incident where the entire town was sucked up into the Link because of it.
The mix of stories that make up a good part of this set can be cruel and twisted when you get down to the core of what's going on. One episode focuses on a young man at a small factory who gets ribbed by his coworkers because he doesn't go out with the guys often and spends a lot of his free time playing with a little girl, something the child's mother is fine with. It looks bad from an outside view though, but peoples perceptions change a bit when a woman comes to work alongside him in the factory and they get close. It has some interesting twists as it goes along and you can understand all sides in it, which makes it harder, because in a way nobody is actually in the wrong. This feeling permeates many of the stories here though they're almost all standalone pieces.
What becomes fascinating about this part of the season is that once Ai is out of Yuzuki's body, we start to learn more about Yuzuki herself. Her past doesn't come out for awhile, but she's had such strong interactions with the damned for awhile now that there is definitely something more about her. It actually turns into what I think is the most engaging part of the series as a whole as it starts to change a fundamental part of it. The idea of changing out the Hell Girl herself is one that should not come as a surprise, as Ai herself was not the first, but doing it within the series itself, or even as an ending piece to the animated franchise itself, is something that really shakes things up. That they follow through with it is really a high point as it gives you a new way of looking at things, reminding me of the Incarnations of Immortality series where new holders of the office come in and things change in how the office is handled. Hell Girl shows us a lot of changes in how the Hell Link works over the centuries and this is just another facet of it, one that really needs to be explored further.
Hell Girl has quite the road to travel with this set and it's been a very dark and cruel one. The stories told here end up dealing out a lot of pain to people that don't deserve it as it once against works mostly in the world of the fickle high school heart, both of boys and girls. The older characters aren't exempt but their stories are a bit more interesting since there's a little more nuance to what's involved. Watching it as Yuzuki does her best to try and stop events, similar to how Tsugumi did in the first season, brings everything full circle. And that is definitely one of the biggest things to take away here is that everything does come back around but not always in the way you expect. While we may never another season of it, what we have here is the culmination of a lot of themes executed very well. It may be oppressive and frustrating to watch in some ways, but it manages once again to weave together a fascinating show when all the pieces are in place and you see the connections. Very, very recommended.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening, Clean Closing
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.
Mania Grade: B
Audio Rating: B
Video Rating: B+
Packaging Rating: B+
Menus Rating: B
Extras Rating: B-
Age Rating: 16 and Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Running time: 325
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Disc Resolution: 480i/p
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Hell Girl