Writer/Artist: Miyuki Eto
Translation: Gemma Collinge
Adaptation: Gemma Collinge
What They Say
Though someone has created a fake Hell Correspondence webpage, folks are still adding the names of school bullies and animal abusers to Ai's site -- and she is dutifully ferrying the cursed to eternal torment. There's a catch, though : Those who seek revenge (and Ai's services) must pay witrh their own souls... deliverable upon death!
Hell Girl is one of the only times I remember thinking that the anime version was better that the manga… with the exception of Gravitation, because the anime didn’t put giant robotic pandas into my boy’s love parade. To be honest, I flipped through previous volumes of Hell Girl and didn’t really care to read any of it because of the art, and when I finally sat down to read a volume I was a bit disappointed. Every story was the same; wide-eyed girl gets screwed over by the guy she likes and instead of dealing with the situation, she cries and goes to the website and has him sent to hell by a very un-intimidating Ai who comes equipped with huge shoujo eyes and a school girl‘s uniform. Granted, it sucks to have the boy you’re dating so intimidated by your grades that he starts to sabotage you, but this is Hell Girl! You should have a damn good reason to send someone to hell, ESPECIALLY when it means that you are, essentially, sacrificing your soul as well.
Don’t get me wrong the anime was pretty formulaic, and by the first dvd you could guess what would happen in a majority of the series until the BIG REVEAL happened, but at least the anime offered more than a cute, heartbroken maiden who “just so happened” to remember “that one time” she heard of “that website,” you know, “THAT website!” But I decided to read this volume anyway, because despite all my complaints I still do like the series. I’m always curious as to who is going to be sent to hell and why, and I think Ai is an interesting character and I want to know what‘s going to happen to her.
This volume follows the same formula of cute girls being stabbed in the back then logging onto the website, but unlike the last volume there is a real diversity with the stories. In fact, there isn’t a single girl calling on Hell Girl to get rid of the evil boy who broke her heart. And each person who is sent to hell most definitely deserves it, a thousand times over, whereas in the previous volume some of the situations felt a bit overdramatic on the weeping girl’s part. A cheating boyfriend should most definitely be punished, though I’m not sure if sending his soul to hell is worth losing your own soul when you die. Maybe slash his tires, or pour sugar in his gas tank, or burn his clothes and car via “Waiting to Exhale” which in reality would get you sent to jail but hey, at least you‘re not going to spend eternity in hell after you die… maybe?
The first story shows a deceptively happy relationship between Yui and her step-father, whose like a father to her because her real father disappeared when she was three years old. I actually found the art very attractive in this story since it sort of gives it a “Daddy’s Little Girl” feel as Yui watches her step-father change into a completely different person. When he threatens to cut a couple of her fingers with a butcher-knife… yeah, the scared little girl I saw is going to stick in my head for a while. The second story immediately got my attention because it featured a puppy, and who doesn’t love a puppy! And who, especially, wouldn’t hate a person who abuses puppies?! The woman whose known for caring for stray dogs actually mistreats all of them. A group of young girls discovers this, but no one believes them because the media has painted such a holy image of “kind old woman who rescues strays.” The revenge taken in this story is definitely the most creative and fits the crime perfectly. The three-headed dog is kinda cute… in a scary “I’m going to eat you now” sort of way.
The last two stories have some amazing plot twists that really took me my surprise. It’s not Ai or hell or revenge that make these stories great, but it’s the characters themselves and watching them stab each other in the back. I really don’t want to spoil anything too much because I think that fans of Hell Girl will be very happy with these stories and the direction they take. The third story has a girl whose a complete outsider in her class because she’s always chatting online and reading manga… hahaha, no that‘s not me at all, honest! The story isn’t really about her, it’s about another classmate named Makoto who stands up to the other girls in class who give Tomita a hard time. When she does that Makoto is immediately shunned by her peers and loses the friends she has, and to make matters worse Tomita isn’t at all thankful to have someone who defended her. Makoto learns about the website and has to decide if its worth it or not, and just when she decides to just fix her own problems and not call on Ai the decision is made for her. In the final story, Akiko Hayashi is the “old hag” of the school who is very strict on her students, and every single one of them would love to see her gone, some of them even wishing that she would just go to hell. Sanae, one of the students who argues with Akiko a lot, gets a message about Hell Correspondence on her phone. But when she tries to send the message all she gets back is an error message. Unknown to her, the website is a fake, but that isn’t stopping someone from hurting Akiko and the next day everyone finds out that she “fell” down the stairs. Unfortunately for Sanae, she’s blamed for the crime because she was the most vocal about her hate towards Akiko. Luckily for her she’s got Ochiai-sensei, one of the nicer teachers, on her side. But Ochiai-sensei seems to have her own motives with Sanae and Hell Correspondence.
Perhaps this volume of Hell Girl was so great to me because I went in with low expectations, having lost faith in it after the schoolgirl crushes and the cute, heartbroken damsels of volume 3--though the art wasn‘t nearly as bad this time and seemed to fit with the stories, especially the first one… maybe I‘ve grown use to the cute? I had made a silent ultimatum with the manga and told myself that this was its last change to impress me, because sometimes you have to threaten your fandom so it can see that you mean business and turn its act around. You know it figures. Just when I say that I’m only giving something one more chance it decides to make itself interesting so that I can keep going with it. Onward to volume 5!