Reviews: Hell Girl

Hell Girl Season 1

Kick The Son Of A Bitch. That's the main appeal of this show in its simplest form. We have people, very bad people who are usually outside of punishment from those of us in the mortal realm. So what to do? Make a contract with Hell Girl, banish the bad person to hell, and try to get on with life. After watching a superb animated sequence where the damned soul has to face their own psychedelic demons.

Granted, building a good show off of this basic premise (particularly for 26 episodes) is a bit of a tall order. But what really surprised me about Hellgirl is that ther'es actually a lot of meat in here. Most of the time, we do get to see someone Kickthe Son Of A Bitch, and it feels good. But it's rarely that simple.

About a fourth of the way into the series, just when we start wondering how interesting it can be to just see bad people banished to hell every week, we get Hajime and Tsukiko. Hajime in particular doesn't believe in this "damn your enemy to hell for all eternity" stuff at all- and he doesn't even know what people have to give up in exchange for the contract. It's quite a treat to get a verbal challenge to revenge-fetishism in a show that explicitly appeals to fans of that genre

Mind you, the only reason this works is because the writing is great. This isn't just a new evil person doing something monstrous to a cardboard box every week. Everyone has their own reasons and it's not just revenge- oftentimes they may fear for their or someone else's lives, be trying to put one of their own regrets behind them, or are getting rid of an obstacle. Finding out what drives these characters is legitimately interesting, even though outside of Hell Girl's entourage, Hajime, and Tsukiko we never see any of these people more than once.

For tenseness and tone that show also does wonders by relying on music and visuals to indicate unease and fear with characters- it does a much better job than clunky dialogue would and shows a clear willingness on the part of the writers to trust that the animators will help spell things out for us.

In summary, if you're a fan of anthology shows, Hell Girl is one of your best bets. Don't even pay attention to the fact that it's under Anime. This is the kind of thing that can be appreciated by anyone who loves a good horror story.