Hell Girl, Volume One (Mania.com)

By:Nadia Oxford, Columnist
Review Date: Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Hell Girl reads like a cross between Death Note and maybe The Ring, though it won't really intrigue or scare you. In fact, Eto's horror manga is pretty silly, but in an endearing way, like a favourite cousin who dresses up in a sheet on Halloween.

The first volume of Hell Girl is broken up into short stories that all revolve around a shared theme: A nice character is screwed over in the worst possible way by a mean character. Reeling, the nice character hears in passing about the Hell Correspondence, a night-stalking website that allows the vengeful to type in the name of a person they wish to go to hell. The dark-eyed "Hell Girl" invariably appears to grant the request if certain conditions are agreed upon--namely, the user of Hell Correspondence must pledge their soul as property of the Realm of the Damned.

The basic premise of Hell Girl sounds a bit monotonous, but the scenarios for each story are interesting because each bad person who is dragged off to hell suffers in an ironic way (one can only hope that if there is a Devil whose job is to torment the dead, he can at least come up with something more interesting than burning for eternity--unless the damned was a fireman in his mortal life, which would make it the perfect ironic punishment). In one story, a bright-eyed baker opens a new store and suffers poor sales when the jealous baker she apprenticed to spreads rumours about stolen recipes and dirty kitchens. When his name is entered in Hell Correspondence, he's trapped in an illusion where the very same is turned on him over and over. In another story, a corrupt veterinarian gives shoddy care to a little girl's dog, and it dies as a result. When the vet's name shows up in the Hell Correspondence, he's savagely operated on by anthromorphic dogs and cats, a punishment that's just really ridiculous and awesome at the same time.

It remains to be seen if Hell Girl can keep up the Hell Correspondence / ironic punishment angle for more than a volume or two before it gets old. It would be interesting if later volumes focused on the lives of the people who used Hell Correspondence in the first place: All of them find peace after their revenge has been carried out, even though they're fully aware they're destined for a hot place when they die. Great stuff for horrifying your local priest. Volume one of Hell Girl retails for $10.95.



Mania Grade: B
Title: Hell Girl, Volume One
Author: Miyuki Eto
Artist: Miyuki Eto
Rated: Teen (16+)
Publisher: Del Ray
Price: $10.95