Mania Grade: B
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- Audio Rating: B
- Video Rating: B+
- Packaging Rating: A-
- Menus Rating: B
- Extras Rating: B-
- Age Rating: 16 and Up
- Region: 1 - North America
- Released By: Sentai Filmworks
- MSRP: 49.98
- Running time: 325
- Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
- Disc Resolution: 480i/p
- Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
- Series: Hell Girl
Hell Girl: Two Mirrors Collection 1
Hell Girl: Two Mirrors Collection 1 DVD Review
By Chris Beveridge
May 18, 2010
Release Date: May 25, 2010
Hell Girl: Two Mirrors Collection 1
© Sentai Filmworks
Curses come home to roost once again, at a different company.
What They Say
They call her Jigoku Tsushin - the Hell Girl. For endless years Ai Enma has served as the embodiment of revenge itself. If you desire to send another's soul to eternal torment, contact her via the internet and she'll come from her land of endless sunset to deliver your revenge' at the cost of sending your own soul, of course, but it's a price a surprising number of people are willing to pay. But things are changing with the Hell Girl. Once seemingly implacable and pitiless, glints of emotion now show through the cracks forming in her emotionless façade. And now there is a new girl with infernal connections who seems to be turning up with alarming regularity. Things are about to heat up in the damnation game in the first brimstone-blazing collection of HELL GIRL '" TWO MIRRORS!
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 2006 to early 2007, 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 manage well with only some basic noise to all of it. Cross coloration is non-existent and line noise is very minimal overall.
Done in a single sized keepcase, the cover artwork for this release is definitely a favorite in a long line of excellent Hell Girl covers. The front cover features Ai Enam with little on as her body is largely obscured by the various colorful flowers laying over her. With the pale skin and the deep red eyes looking over her shoulder, it’s an entirely creepy, haunting and beautiful cover that’s very eye-catching. The black framing around it and the logo all give it a very solid feel and I can’t help but to really like this cover since I first saw it. The back cover has a similar framing and it has a strip of red 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 Kikuri in the flowers that’s very haunting. 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 red with some black and white accents to it that gives it an ominous look. Behind it is the actual character animation, with the first volume featuring a really creepy piece with a close-up eye-shot of Ai while she’s also beside herself with more of her showing that adds to it. 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 had a positive run when it was released in single disc form from FUNimation, but it wasn't a show that performed well enough to merit picking up the second season. That show was one of the cusp series that came when FUNimation began switching to half season box sets and I've wondered how much that changing dynamic affected how well the show did, especially towards the end of the six volume run. After a hiatus with no real news for awhile, Sentai Filmworks stepped in and grabbed the second season, though much to the chagrin of many fans, it wasn't going to receive a dub. While I never listened to the dub on the first season, I still lament its loss for the fans of it.
The second season of Hell Girl in these first thirteen episodes are literally more of the same. The show has us following Ai Enma, a young girl who holds a supernatural office that involves fulfilling requests for vengeance from those who are truly serious about. Through a website that appears to select individuals at midnight, a name is entered for the one they want sent to Hell, and if they're found worth, Ai will meet with them over it. The meetings are invariably the same for the most part where she explains the covenant that they will enter together where if they untie the ribbon around the straw doll, the object of their vengeance will be sent to Hell straightaway. The person requesting this however has to pay the price of going to Hell themselves when they die someday. It's a difficult situation that seems to almost always draw people who are in such rough situations in their eyes that going to Hell someday is a welcome option to dealing with their issues for even a little bit longer.
Each of the stories on here is its own episode and it follows mostly what we saw in the second half of the first season where the covenant discussion is fairly abridged instead of being the full drawn out experience. And this is very welcome when watching this in a collected form as the repetitive areas really stand out. It doesn't grate as much when you watch them one at a time. One of the differences in this season, at least to my recollection, is the introduction of a character namd Kikuri. She's a very small young girl with deep purple eyes who seems to want to cause trouble by using a bit of violence. She's often seen saying cutting things here and there as well as cutting flowers. But she's a capricious girl as during one story, she helps to revive someone that's been in a coma for an age when nobody thought that she would ever recover. I don't recall this character from the first season and there's little said about who or why about her in this season but she has very little impact overall.
Hell Girl follows a very familiar structure, one that is admittedly a little frustrating at times. Most of the stories involve high school kids and almost always girls when it comes to that. Very few stories involved adults making the request for Ai but those that do tend to be a little more involved. One such story has a truck driver who wants to have revenge of sorts on an elderly man whose residence has caused numerous accidents over the years and was the cause of his younger brother's death. The old man won't move and give up where his house is so that it can be reworked to be safer. So he makes the request and spends time driving with Wanyuduu for awhile. What's intriguing about it is that Wanyuduu used to ride these same roads hundreds of years ago when he was a living being and there are some nice parallel moments where we see what he went through.
Bullying of various levels are often the main theme of the episodes as young girls are finding themselves being taken advantage of by other girls in the class. Their thirst for vengeance is obviously quite strong. One interesting story has a young girl who is in love with the guy who lives next door to her but he's dating another girl so he just treats her as a friend. She actively encourages all of it because she wants him to be happy, even if it's not with her. And even if his actual girlfriend two-timing him, she still won't tell him. Another story, one that involves adult characters, has a brother and sister who are affectionate with each other but has a definite creepy factor. She can't hold onto boyfriends because he supposedly intimidates them. But he's such an effeminate model that it's hard to believe until you realize he's dressing up as a woman and seducing them away from her. Sibling love goes too far in the wrong direction.
Hell Girl has a very strong visual design, one that I think is even better defined in the second season. While the primary characters have been distinctive, especially Ai and now Kikuri with their eyes, the “guest characters” for each episode are really well designed also. They're fairly unique and you don't see a lot of repetition across the set where you think you've seen that character before. The look of the world is a big favorite as well with some really beautiful background designs and a whole lot of variety since each episode takes place sometime now. And it was good to get some more personal stories from Wanyuduu and Onme as it got to show something a little different as well with the settings.
I like Hell Girl a whole lot even though it's a very episodic show that plays to a structure with little deviation outside of every few episodes. It's not a show to go and watch all thirteen episodes at once like I did since the repetition of certain structural elements are much more obvious. It's a show that's better savored piecemeal over a few days at the least. I like the stories of revenge and seeing what situations people are in. I'm also both interested and frustrated by watching people who are in situations where a little patience and a little endurance would help them survive it without consigning themselves to Hell. I'm definitely glad that Sentai picked this up and I hope it does well enough for them to grab the third season as well as I want to see many more people consigned to Hell.
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.