This is without a doubt the most anticipated series of the season for me. I thoroughly enjoyed the first two seasons of Jigoku Shoujo, even with its faults (quick and episodic, not enough character development, got boring after a while). The storyline to me is really unique, and while it doesn’t have a certain terror factor you find in other series like Higurashi no Naku Koro ni, there’s plenty of dark undertones to be found here.
Of course, I didn’t expect a third season at all. After the end of the second season, I assumed the main character was dead and would not return. Naturally when the third season was announced, I was quite excited; at the same time, however, I do have some reservations. How do they integrate a supposedly dead character back into the storyline? The first episode doesn’t really address the situation, but I feel that with Mitsuganae, there’s a lot of potential to make one hell of a series. No pun intended.
Following the demise of their Princess, Wanyuudo, Ichimoku Ren, and Hone-Onna go their separate ways. However, a series of events brings them together once more. Ren, working at a bathhouse, finds himself face to face with a naked young boy who appears of out nowhere. Wanyuudo is called for by Kikuri, who has possessed a toy and is scooting around town on a tricycle. Hone-Onna finds herself in a hostess bar with no customers except for a certain neon blue butterfly. In the mirror, Enma Ai looks to be enjoying herself a little.
At a high school, three girls aren’t paying attention to their math class at all, instead passing notes on how terrible the teacher is. That is, until they find out and are severely reprimanded. One girl, Itsuka, asks Akie, another student, to get her father to do something about Tange, the teacher they all hate so much. Akie says that she will ask but makes no guarantees. The three part ways, hopeful for better days ahead.
Back in a familiar setting, the servants of Hell have reassembled, along with a newcomer: Yamawaro, the boy who approached Ren in the bathhouse. Apparently, Kikuri has made a servant out of him, as he follows her orders without question. Still, the group is yet unsure of how the Hell Girl, Enma Ai, has suddenly returned, or why she called them.
One of the three high school students, Yuzuki, remains in the bath to calm down after a long day. However, the neon blue butterfly disintegrates and falls to the water, leaving an image of Enma Ai on the water. With hands that reach out from the water, Yuzuki is dragged down with Ai, and after sharing a (fan-servicey) kiss, Yuzuki awakens from her dream. However, she fails to see the humongous butterfly symbol on her back.
At school the next day, Akie apoligizes that her father can do nothing, since there is no proof that Tange is a bad teacher. She dismisses herself from the group, believing that the teacher really isn’t that bad. However, Itsuka is adamant, and drags Yuzuki along to expose Tange for an evil person. While hoping to bait Tange into going to a love hotel with a minor, Itsuka is surprised to find her parents instead. In rage, Itsuka enters the name of her most hated teacher into the Hell Hotline, and Enma arrives to give her speech.
The next day, Tange takes away Itsuka’s MP3 player after she blatantly refused to pay attention in class. Itsuka, believing that the teacher had really thrown it away, loses control and sends Tange to hell. Ai emerges from Yuzuki’s body, and delivers her “Ippen shindemiru” speech. After some (decidedly comical) torture, he is shipped off to Hell in a familiar boat. Afterwards, Akie finds Itsuka to give her MP3 player back; after lookign through the teacher’s handbook, which was full of doodles, it seems he wasn’t a bad person afer all.
I really am thrilled to see this back for another season, and I’m also quite glad that it lived up to most of my expectations. I’m going to be keeping tabs on this for its entire run, and hopefully we get to see something good out of it. Some comments about the episode, though:
- Where did Yamawaro come out of? It’s like how Kikuri appeared out of nowhere in the second season. I really would like a little bit of backstory this time around, but it remains to be seen if we’ll get any. I don’t think we have a good story for how Kikuri ended up being there yet either.
- That bathhouse scene was nostalgic, then went to “Oh wow what” almost instantaneously. It was interesting that Ren sings “Karinui”, or the ED from the first season of Jigoku Shoujo. However…what’s with the naked boy looking at Ren like that? That’s just creepy.
- If Wanyuudo could do that with construction vehicles, why isn’t he a racecar driver XD
- This is the first episode, so I didn’t expect a huge story yet. However, there is so much potential in this Yuzuki x Ai pairing (not THAT kind of pairing!). I think that if the story sticks to its main points and doesn’t get to bogged down into the “revenge du jour” of the first season, this could really be something. I think that it could rival the end of Futakomori in terms of its effectiveness. Also, Ai’s coming out party is one of the most horrifying things you’ll see in this series.
- There is going to be two crowds for this one. One side will be the “OMG WHERE DID SNoW GO FOR MY OP”, and the other will say that “KITADE NANA ROCKS”. Personally, I really like Kitade Nana’s work for the OP. It’s not nearly as repetitive as SNoW was, and it’s quite melodic. Besides, let SNoW go back to school, she needs to learn! 😛 However, I do miss some of the artwork found in the previous two seasons’ OPs. This one seems pretty lame in comparison.
In all, I certainly enjoyed myself watching this. As long as we don’t get too many of the one-shot “you’re going to hell” episodes, and we get some good development out of Yuzuki and her…uhm…relationship with Ai, this could be really something. Ippen, shindemiru?
Another episode, another soul taken to Hell? Lather, rinse, repeat? Throw some story in too, please!