Hell Girl Vol. #02 (Mania.com)

By:Greg Hackmann
Review Date: Friday, August 22, 2008
Release Date: Tuesday, May 06, 2008

 Creative Talent
Writer/Artist: Miyuki Eto
Translated by: Gemma Collinge
Adapted by: Gemma Collinge

What They Say

The Hell Girl is the ultimate avenger. Go to her website at midnight, enter the name of your tormentor, and the Hell Girl will destroy your enemy. Some who turn to the Hell Girl are evil (the figure skater who'll stop at nothing to win); others are good people at the end of their rope (the girl who saves her sister from an abusive nanny). But the price of revenge is the same for all: eternal torment in hell!

The Review
Volume 2 of  Hell Girl  doesn't stray far from the formula established in Volume 1.  We again get five stories of girls pushed to the edge by classmates and authority figures, with the only narrative link among them being when Ai Enma whisks each of the perpetrators away to hell -- all for the low, low price of the girls' eternal souls.  There's a little more variety in the reasons these girls call on Enma -- ranging from child abuse to down to bickering among friends -- but otherwise these five new stories play out basically the same way as in the last volume.

In other words, Volume 2 of  Hell Girl  shares basically the same complaints I had with Volume 1: the writing is weak, and there's way too little variation among the five stories here.  If anything, the increased variety in the girls' motives just weakens the narrative even further, since a couple of the girls here call on Hell Girl for awfully stupid and petty reasons.  I'm willing to suspend my disbelief when someone sacrifices their eternal soul to save a sibling from abuse, but seriously ... a <b>figure skating championship</b> is the going price for souls nowadays?  Granted, the last chapter is kind of interesting, in part because it condemns the lead character for relying on Enma instead of resolving her own problems; but one decent story out of five isn't enough to keep my interest.

Actually, there's one other addition to the formula, but it's integrated into the story in a really sloppy way.  Enma now hands her customers dolls that they use to finalize the contract, which Eto notes was a part of the  Hell Girl  anime that she skipped over in Volume 1.  However, she doesn't then add anything to the storyline to explain why the girls in this volume get a doll and the ones before didn't -- starting with Chapter 7, the doll's just retroactively part of the Hell Girl ritual.  She never gives an explicit motivation for suddenly making this change, either, but I have my guesses.  (Namely, the last chapter is directly adapted from the anime, and it uses the doll as a plot device that would have been inconvenient to write around.)

If you liked Volume 1 of  Hell Girl , it's likely you'll like the second one too -- except for a couple of minor tweaks, Volume 2 is basically just Volume 1 redux.  Personally, I see this as a big strike against the title instead, since Volume 1 of  Hell Girl  needed improvement in a lot of ways that Volume 2 doesn't address.

Mania Grade: C-
Art Rating: B-
Packaging Rating: A-
Text/Translatin Rating: A-
Age Rating: 16 & Up
Released By: Del Rey
MSRP: 10.99
Pages: 208
ISBN: 978-0-345-50416-6
Size: B6
Orientation: Right to Left
Series: Hell Girl