Well hello anime vice its M here for another review. First off sorry for the long wait, I kept getting distracted and not spending time on my anime review work. Putting that aside however I finally finished the series I’ve had my eyes on for quiet I while, Hell girl. Although a bit on the older side, Hellgirl has been a long loved franchise. Enough to have gained three seasons, and popular enough to be recommended to me multiple times from multiple people.
The Series itself is kind of in two parts. The first is series of short stories about the Hell correspondence. A site that will give you contact with a young demon girl named Enma Ai, the hell girl. She in turn gives the user a straw doll with a red string around its neck. Once you pull the red string whoever you wish vengeance on will be ferried to hell usually though a horrifying and dramatic way. However the down side is once you’ve pulled the red string the day you die your soul will also be ferried to hell by the hell girl.
The second part is the added adventures of bad dad and washed up journalist Hajime Shibata whom after discovering his daughter has the ability to “see what Hell girl sees” to both investigate and try to stop her. Now he gets involved somehow with every case as the new protagonist. This switches Enma Ai from the protagonist of the series to the “sympathetic” antagonist.
The short story episodic aspect of the show is ranges from enjoyable to incredibly unimpressive, usually based around how convinced you, the viewer, are that the blight of the hell correspondence user really requires or deserves the user also going to hell to solve it. More often than not the show brings to life exactly why this episodes villain certainly deserves to get his or her shit rocked. I can definitely admit to have more the one smile as I watched them get theirs. All that before always being reminded at the end how bad a deal it really was, and how it was probably the wrong decision, even while the I wanted somewhere in my heart nothing more than the user to pull the red string and get his or her vengeance.
The issues more come up when the Hajime elements are brought in. This is no slight to Hajime as a character; he’s actually a really good character incredibly likeable while flawed in just the right ways and I personally completely agree with his view on everything to do with Hellgirl. The issue is what he does and the new tone that comes from it. Constantly trying to stop it, save the user without them having to resort to using hellgirl, and always, always failing. He acts as a constant reminder that this is all a bad idea sucking away the same drive and twisted joy I felt come of hell girl. This is even more a problem when Hajime comes up with or uses and alternate solution to the user’s problem and the user still sacrifices their sole to get vengeance, just because the plot says so. The mystery aspect of the Hajime parts would work if the viewer didn’t already understand the dynamics of the hell correspondence from their perspectives. No mystery is fun when you already know most of the answers.
On the positive side, the music is not super great but is perfectly used and applied to the scenes in such a way that makes it just really shine. The art design while not shaft good is really well designed . I like the very traditional Japanese elements constantly being placed throughout the show and its dialogue and character are definitely a strong positive. Hajime and his interactions with his daughter feel very real and emotional and Hellgirls familiars while not making me laugh aloud they were funny enough to be likeable.
To make my feelings clear, Hellgirl is to me, a collection of individually really interesting elements executed well that when combined form a bafflingly underwhelming package. While ever one part of Hellgirl is good combined it just comes off as a flop and while not bad, not exactly fun to watch or interesting to experience. Each of the Duel narratives are well written and enjoyable in their own way, but when strung together they take away what was good about the narratives. At the end of the day, even if I liked the individual episodes of hell girl, if it wasn’t my wish to finish it for review I would have dropped hellgirl several times. That says exactly why hell girl gets 3 flaming cart faces out of 5