For such an original and intriguing premise, I found myself a little
disappointed with how Hell Girl turned out throughout much of its run.
This is a series with signs of a grey moral line through the actions of
Ai and her companions as they use their Hell Correspondence site to send
those tormenting the main character of an episode to hell. This raises
some questions on whether or not there is justification in exacting
vengeance on someone who causes you to suffer.
The series mostly
runs in an episodic format where we are introduced to a random
character suffering from the actions of an antagonist and Hell Girl
gives said central character the choice of banishing the subject of
their misery to hell at the cost of being sent there themselves at the
end of their life. Said character ponders over the decision until they
get to a breaking point and then sicks Ai and her group on the
antagonist of the episode. This is what ultimately contributes to one of
the show's major flaws. While there are twists in some of the episodic
stories and two characters (Hajime and Tsugumi) later become entangled
in the affairs of Hell Correspondence, the developments essentially play
out the same in nearly each episode and they can get repetitious. Also
many of the targets of vengeance by a central character in each episode
come across as so shallowly evil, that the show forces you not to care
for them as they get tormented by Ai's companions before being banished
Pushing through such repetitious developments does have
its rewards though. The connection with the two characters introduced to
Ai is slowly unveiled throughout the show as they become more familiar
with the affairs of Hell Correspondence. Hints are dropped about Ai's
past which are eventually fully revealed later in the series to give the
viewer enough sense as to why she exacts vengeance for those desiring
it, the same also in the case of Hajime and Tsugumi. Some episodes even
cast aside the black and white morality setup from most of the show's
other episodes reflecting on characters victims of their own tragic
circumstances which Ai is shown to have regrets over casting into hell.
There isn't any background mentioned about Ai's three companions in the
Hell Correspondence, but I guess that is what sequels
Girl features gorgeous looking clean visuals with bright colors, vast
scenery and plenty of detail with settings and character designs.
Animation is mostly consistent shown particularly well with settings as
wind is blowing around branches and Ai's group are using their powers to
torment the sufferers they are recruited to banish to hell, though some
animation frames appeared to be reused kudos to the repetitious plot
developments and repeated use of flashbacks hinting to the pasts of Ai
and the Shibatas.
Overall, I did enjoy Hell Girl, despite
running into its major flaws, as the hinted focus on Ai and the Shibatas
combined with the grey morality that comes up with the job of Hell
Correspondence makes it a decent romp if you can press through the
repetitious developments of the earlier episodes.