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Anime / Hell Girl

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When one soul is damned, two graves are dug.

"It’s said life's encounters are governed by fate. Within the tangled threads of destiny cursed flowers bloom – pitiful and frail; lost in their anger, their sorrow, their tears. Beyond midnight's veil lies the revenge you could not exact alone."
Opening Narration

Schoolrooms all over Japan are abuzz with the rumor of the "Hell Correspondence" (Jigoku Tsushin), a mysterious website that can only be accessed at midnight. If you submit the name of someone you hold a grudge against, you will be visited by Enma Ai, the Hell Girl (Jigoku Shoujo), who will give to you the means to carry out your revenge — a black straw doll with a red string tied around its neck. To take vengeance, all you need to do is pull the red string off the doll, and Ai and her associates will send the target of your grudge immediately to Hell. However, this service is not without a price; as the old saying goes "when seeking revenge, first dig two graves" — by sending someone to Hell, you will have bound yourself into a covenant with Ai, and when you die, you will also go to Hell, as signified by the black fire symbol that appears on your chest once vengeance is served.

Such is the premise of Hell Girl, a Genre-Busting, Victim of the Week, Magical Girl-defying, social commentary series with a Japanese horror edge. Originally broadcast in 2005, followed in 2006 by a second season Hell Girl: Two Mirrorsnote . This was followed two years later by Hell Girl: Three Vessels note .

The first season introduces Ai Enma, the Hell Correspondence, and the series' episodic format. Each episode introduces a victim and an antagonist, and the circumstances surrounding them. As each story unfolds, the antagonists' actions push their victim further into despair, and it's only through the use of the Hell Correspondence that their victim can overcome their circumstances and send their tormentor to Hell. After the formula has been established, the series introduces a complication into the mix; single father and reporter Hajime Shibata notices the increase in the site's popularity and starts a personal investigation. Aided by his young daughter, Tsugumi, who has a mysterious connection to Ai, he tries to convince users of the Hell Correspondence not to complete the contract, generally making bad situations worse through his meddling.

The second season picks up a few years after the conclusion of the first season, and continues the established formula (minus Hajime and co.), this time telling each story from the side of Ai and her associates as they investigate and influence the circumstances in each case. This season swaps out the Black-and-White Morality found in most of the first season cases for a Black-and-Gray Morality, in which neither antagonist nor victim is really in the right.

The third season switches up the formula a third time, introducing a new third angle to the standard format, this time in the form of Yuzuki Mikage, who, through interactions with the victims and Ai's associates, is given the rare opportunity to watch her hometown and her entire life crumble around her courtesy of the Hell Correspondence. Amazingly enough, it goes further downhill from there.

The series as a whole is mainly a social commentary, using the Hell Correspondence as a tool to analyze and deconstruct the less appealing aspects of Japanese culture and society (there's even a Nice Boat-inspired episode in Mitsuganae). While many themes are universal, Values Dissonance means some storylines (like Mitsuganae's Wham Episode) are inevitably lost in translation.

The first season holds the distinction of being the only one aired on American television; IFC held the broadcast rights and showed episodes in varying timeslots.

There is also a manga adaptation, which shares the premise and core characters but follows its own storyline. The first series ran for 9 volumes, New Hell Girl for 3 volumes, Hell Girl R for 11 volumes, and Hell Girl: Enma Ai Selection, Super Scary Story for 13 volumes. A Live-Action Adaptation also exists, in series form; set within the timeline of the first anime season, retaining the anthology format while notably averting the anime storyline. At a mere 12 episodes, there wasn't much room for them anyway. Finally, the series spawned two video games, for the Nintendo DS (Jigoku Shoujo Akekazura) and the PS2 (Jigoku Shoujo Mioyosuga) respectively, as well as a puzzle game on the Konami-Net DX service for i-mode compatible mobile phones.

Eight years after the third season aired, a fourth was announced, entitled Hell Girl: Fourth Twilight note . Premiering in July 2017, this season features six new episodes and six episodes pulled from the previous three seasons. A live-action movie directed by Kôji Shiraishi was also anounced in 2018 and was released in November of 2019.

No connection to Hellboy.

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    General Tropes 
  • Affably Evil: Chief of this is Ai and her assistants. They have a fairly even-minded opinion of humankind, and happily support their co-workers, students, and friends in their many, many jobs. It almost makes you forget what their real job is.
  • Afterlife Antechamber: The Hell banishments take place in one that is tailored to the target's crimes.
  • Alpha Bitch: Many of the female victims are this or embody the traits, most famously Aya Kuroda, the first on-screen target of vengeance.
  • Arc Villain: Each season has one for the central Myth Arc.
    • Ai herself serves as the main antagonist to the Shibata story arc in season one.
    • Yasushi Tsuyuki of the Lovely Hills story in Futakomori.
    • Azusa Mayama is Yuzuki's prime grievance in Mitsuganae and a recurring antagonist in a subplot involving her best friend Akie.
  • Apathetic Citizens: If they're not complicit in whatever abuse is happening, the background characters tend to be portrayed as apathetic to the plight of the main characters of the episode's plot. This is especially prevalent in episodes about bullying.
  • Are You Sure You Want to Do That?: Entering the name to Hell Correspondence doesn't damn the victim, Ai first needs to validate the request, then to give the client the straw doll that activates when it's unsealed. For all intents and purposes, releasing the red string is as bad as killing the target yourself without leaving a trace, and Ai subtly suggests the client to reconsider, though almost always it's only a matter of time. Later it's shown that the string can even be pulled accidentally.
  • Asshole Victim: A whole page could easily exist for this alone. This series is, on average, not subtle in dehumanizing its victims as the vilest or pettiest monsters humanity has to offer. However, while as a whole most victims are this, as the series gradually becomes more complex and morally ambiguous, the number of evil victims is balanced out by innocents or people guilty of minor offenses unfairly sent to Hell.
  • Bait-and-Switch: Sometimes, an episode leads the viewer to think one person will be sent to Hell, but the target actually turns out to be someone else. A most infamous example is episode 16; The client is a little girl in the circus named Yumi, who is repeatedly locked up and whipped by the ringmaster, while her twin sister, Yuki, is pampered and doted over. At first, it seems obvious that Yumi contacted Hell Girl to send the abusive ringmaster to hell. However, it turns out the target is actually Yuki, who knew about the abuse and never did anything to stop it - and in fact was implied to have done something to cause it in the first place. After she's sent to Hell, the ringmaster begins doting on Yumi and the abuse is stopped.
  • Bittersweet Ending: It should be said this is as good as it gets for this series. The best episodes often end with the object of Ai's client's torment banished to Hell and the client coming to terms with the fact that once they die they're bound for Hell too. The truly rare few examples can be said to be exempt from that fate suffer no short amount of losses or hardships along the way.
  • Black-and-White Morality: A recurring theme, notably in season one, is that the person contacting the Hell Correspondence was almost always an innocent soul pushed to their limits and the person they were condemning was almost always an irredeemable monster. As the series becomes more nuanced, this trope is deconstructed and heavily downplayed.
  • Body Horror: Happens quite a bit during the Mind Rape sequences. A notable example is Episode 19 of Season 1, where the victim, Kyougetsu Ujiie, is gradually turned into a life-size ball-jointed doll.
  • Brand X: Everybody uses the Deegle search engine. Mahoo also appears a few times.
  • Break the Haughty: Many of the smug or self-assured asshole victims are reduced to begging or crying when Ai comes knocking.
  • Beware the Quiet Ones: Done a lot, especially in Mitsuganae. Many of the quiet, shy, characters end up being evil or not what they seem.
  • Brother–Sister Incest: A staple. One of the more infamousSquicky episodes revolves around a pair of siblings, one of whom, Maho, contacts the Hell Correspondence to take revenge on her brother, Mikio, who she feels is deliberately sabotaging her relationships out of spite by dressing up as a woman and hitting on her boyfriends. It's eventually revealed that the real reason he is doing it is that he lusts after her sexually and wants to have her all to himself, even trying to impulsively rape her when his ruse is unveiled.
  • Cain and Abel: Many siblings seen are clients at odds with one another. Murderously so.
  • Calculator Spelling: The series premiered in Animax Asia at October 2006 at 11:34 PM ("HELL" upside-down on a calculator).
  • Character Catchphrase:
    • No doubt Enma Ai's "O pitiful shadow bound in darkness, looking down upon people and causing them pain, a soul drowned in sinful karma... Would you like to see your death once?" (Yami ni madoishi awarena kage yo, hito o kizutsuke otoshimete tsumi ni oboreshi gou no tama... Ippen shinde miru?)
    • Also her "This grudge will send you to hell." (Kono urami, jigoku e nagashimasu.)
    • Both of these are rendered in the official dub as "O pitiful shadow, lost in the darkness, bringing torment and pain to others. O damned soul, wallowing in your sin. Perhaps... it is time to die?" and "This is vengeance, so I am to ferry you to Hell" respectively.
    • "I hear and grant this revenge." (Urami kikitodoketari), dubbed as "Your grievance shall be avenged."
    • Hone Onna often says some variation of "So, have you learned your lesson yet?" to whoever's getting banished to Hell in a given episode.
  • Claimed by the Supernatural: Every person who makes a Deal with the Devil by using Enma Ai's revenge service is marked with a black flame tattoo on their chest once they've pulled the red string and sent someone to Hell; there is nothing they can do about it, and it is a sign that upon death, they will also go to Hell, no matter how they live their lives.
  • Color-Coded Characters: Barring Kikuri, Ai's assistant's straw doll forms are different colors.
    • Wanyuudo: Black.
    • Hone Onna: Red.
    • Ichimoku Ren: Blue.
    • Yamawaro: Yellow.
  • Crapsack World: Hell Girl is an absurdly dark work with an equally dark universe to complement its nihilistic themes of fate and hopelessness. Even without taking the existence of the Hell Correspondence and otherwordly terrors into account, most of the humans seen in the series are deeply flawed or absolutely despicable. It gets even worse in Mitsuganae, where allusions are made to the Hell Correspondence being created by the Lord of Hell to cater to humanity's deep-seated malevolence, creating a systematic cycle of hate to satisfy its craving for desires like revenge and murder. And as the audience observes, even without any further nudging from the devil itself, humanity simply cannot overcome hate; optimistic figures such as the Shibata family have come and gone over the centuries in a vain attempt at dissolving the Hell Correspondence only to find it's not Ai and her companions that are the real problem. Overall, it's about as grim as it gets for fiction.
  • Creepy Child: Again, Enma Ai. Her unnaturally red eyes and white, expressionless face only add to her eeriness. Kikuri, an otherworldly child introduced in the second season, is — thanks to her purple-sclera eyes and her childish sadism — perhaps the only character in the series even creepier than Enma Ai. This is understandable, seeing as how she's actually an avatar to the Lord of Hell, Enma Ai's boss (although, judging from her reaction when she was being taken over by the Lord of Hell in the ending of the third season, she isn't aware of that).
  • Dark Magical Girl: Enma Ai often wears a red-and-black Sailor Fuku and even gets a transformation sequence for much of season three to invoke the aesthetic of one, but she averts it in pretty much every other way.
  • Dark World: The Afterlife Antechamber that the antagonist of the week is taken to before being ferried to Hell proper often takes the form of the place where they wronged Ai's client or a place that either the antagonist or the client frequents, but twisted in a way to reflect the antagonist's wrongdoings. These differences often include the place in question having a red or purple sky or some alteration to facilitate a Death by Irony.
  • Deal with the Devil: The driving premise behind the series - enter a name into the Hell Correspondence at midnight and the Hell Girl will offer you a straw doll with a red string around its neck. Pull the string, and the person whose name you entered into the Hell Correspondence will be Dragged Off to Hell, but when you die, you too will be damned to hell, no matter how you live the rest of your life.
  • Demon Head: Wanyuudou has the ability to turn into a flaming carriage with one of these on the side and serves as Ai's primary form of transportation. He often just turns into a giant wheel with his face on it as well. During one banishment, he also turned into the target's car.
  • Demon of Human Origin:
    • Ai Enma. During her dying breath, she cursed the villagers that sacrificed her and her parents to their mountain gods. That same night, she came back to life and burned the whole village down, killing everyone in it. After that, she was sent to hell, and the Lord of Hell forced her to take the job of Hell Girl, or else she and her loved ones would suffer in hell eternally. The job comes with a powerful set of powers, and over the course of 400 years, she gains enough mastery of it to be able to confront the Lord of Hell, as seen at the end of Season 1. She manages to get off the job at the end of Season 2... and after a complicated set of events, takes the job back at the end of Season 3.
    • Michiru becomes a second Hell Girl at the end of Season 4 for broadly similar reasons to Ai's.
    • Hone Onna became this upon her death by absorbing the hatred of other women who were betrayed and killed the same way she was.
  • Despair Event Horizon: Virtually every character who calls on Ai crosses this line. Specifically in regards to the exact moment when they pull the doll's string.
  • Devil, but No God: We don't get to see if there is a benevolent god or heaven, though Ai and/or her entourage mention that their client will never know the joys of Heaven if they pull the thread. In season 4, when Michiru is ferrying her first soul to hell, she laments the fact the woman who did the deed will never go to heaven, and Ai reacts with confusion at the idea of there being heaven at all.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: As the show evolves from stock Black-and-White Morality, much of the drama comes from clients misusing the Hell Correspondence this way. Naturally doubles with Misplaced Retribution.
  • Domestic Abuse: Another staple of the series is an enormous gallery of domestic abusers of all kinds.
  • Downer Ending: At best for the series, Bittersweet Ending is in effect. For the most part, though, even the client will come out feeling worse than before or, worse yet, reaping karma themselves.
  • Dragged Off to Hell: This is pretty much the premise of the series in general. By making a deal with Ai, you can have someone sent to Hell, the price being Hell for yourself when you die.
  • Dying Candle: Invoked when one makes a bargain with Enma she lights a candle with their name on it that burns for the rest of their life. When it goes out she knows it's time to collect their soul.
  • Easy Road to Hell: All that's needed is for someone to be willing to sell their soul to send you there. It doesn't matter what you did either, it could be for anything as petty as spilling coffee on someone, or worse, for nothing at all. One episode shows that you can be sent to Hell before even being born..
  • Emotionless Girl: Enma Ai is a subversion. She does feel, but because of her job, she isn't allowed to express them. Wanyuudo says he can "hear her heart breaking" in one episode, where an innocent was sent to Hell, and although she herself isn't shown crying, her face painted in a wall by one of the older clients that made a contract with her starts to shed tears when he is about to die, indicating that she was probably crying at that moment too.
  • Equivalent Exchange: The user can type in a tormentor's name on the website, and Ai will take them to Hell. But in exchange, the user will also go to Hell when they die.
  • Even the Girls Want Her: Ai's companion Honne-Onna. Les Yay with Enma Ai aside, she's so admired and wanted by a bunch of girls of a school where she works at during the Mitsuganae season that one of these girls named Yuna tried to send another of Ai's employés, Ichimoku Ren, to Hell out of jealousy, after mistaking them for a couple.
  • Everybody Hates Hades: The spider is the lord of hell, making Ai similar to Charon in her duties.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: A variety of standards apply to Ai and her entourage, given that apart from their lot in life, they are not necessarily evil.
  • Evil Is Not a Toy: In differing aspects, both played straight and averted.
    • Averted, in that contracting with Ai is straightforward and works exactly as promised with the exact stated cost, no more and no less. Ai and her companions will make no effort to make your life any worse or shorter for summoning her and entering into a contract or even interfere after their end of the deal is done (unless, of course, they are contracted by someone else to take their former client to Hell).
    • Played straight in that, when various characters attempt to control or capture Ai or avoid paying the cost (eg. by making someone else summon Ai and enter the contract instead), it never ends well for them.
  • Evil Matriarch: Many abusive mothers and grandmothers in this series, victim or not, can fall into this.
  • Evil Versus Evil: Although by season 2 the series went for Grey-and-Gray Morality, episode 5 is notable for both Ai's client and the banished are equally despicable persons.
  • "Facing the Bullets" One-Liner: Sometimes the companions will ask whether the target is sorry for what they've done. Their answer is almost invariably, "No."
  • Failure Is the Only Option: Somebody always gets sent to Hell, despite any attempts to prevent it (there are exceptions to the rule, but they're very far and few between).
  • Fanservice: A lot within the boundaries of a dark social commentary, such as frequent bathing scenes. The most overt fanservice is the insane homoerotic subtext between Ai and Yuzuki in Mitsuganae.
  • Fire and Brimstone Hell: What little of Hell proper is seen when Ai's clients are given a warning of what they're signing up for indicates that Hell (in contrast to the banishments the clients' tormentors are subjected to) is generally of the fire and brimstone and spikes variety and generally rather non-ironic.
  • For Doom the Bell Tolls: Whenever Ai whisks a victim off to hell, she extends an arm outwards with a bracelet with bells on them, which let out a sharp ring. They ring again when she ferries the victim through the gate to Hell. In season 4, when Michiru becomes the next Hell Girl, the sound is changed to the ringing of a windchime.
  • For the Evulz: A common trait of many, many horrible tormentors in the series onto their victims, making it all the more satisfying when Ai exacts vengeance. However, when this extends to the clients themselves, it isn't fun or satisfying and becomes more dramatic.
  • Genre-Busting: A fusion of suspense, drama, and horror, with some slice of life and social commentary about the least appealing aspects of the Japanese society thrown in for good measure.
  • Gone Horribly Right: Sending the person who made your life a living hell to hell does not solve everything.
  • Graying Morality: The first episodes follow a Strictly Formula of the client having their entire life ruined by the target and it's only going downhill. It's subverted in Episode 7 where the client is an Entitled Bitch and believes since she can't get what she wants she may as well pull the Taking You with Me on a fairly innocent person, only for her victim to damn her first. Later, some cases of Disproportionate Retribution occasionally show up and Ai claims people regardless if they deserve it or not.
  • Hate Sink: Moreso than Asshole Victim could this fill up an entire page. Most of the antagonistic characters in this series are the worst humanity has to offer.
  • Haunted Technology: Hell Correspondence used to be a BBS forum (and before then an address in a newspaper) where certain people can curse someone to get Dragged Off to Hell, and in the present is a fairly standard website that shows up in a search engine, if the conditions are met. Ai also sends SMS confirmation to her client, which turns their phone screen red.
  • He Who Must Not Be Seen: Enma Ai's "grandmother". All we ever see of her is her silhouette. The only human character that sees her runs away from the house, screaming in sheer terror.
  • Holy Ground: Averted. Ai and her minions can enter shrines, temples, and churches with no ill effects.
  • Hooker with a Heart of Gold: Hone-Onna. She was once a human girl named Tsuyu who was sold to work at a brothel.
  • Human Sacrifice: Hell demands the soul of whoever uses it as payment.
  • Humans Are the Real Monsters: The humans in this series are often much worse than Ai and her friends, who often lament or marvel at how awful humanity is. This becomes a major plot point in the third season, where allusions are made to evil being the very essence of humanity.
  • Iconic Outfit: Hone Onna often wears a reddish business suit while in the world of the living. Ai wears it during one of Futakomori's Hell banishments.
  • Ironic Hell: The "banishments" prior to actually being sent to Hell are generally ironic punishments if they were sent for tormenting others, but there is a little indication whether Hell itself deals in ironic punishments or not, or indeed, about any real specifics of Hell. When someone innocent is sent, punishment is often skipped over to the boat ride.
    • Being Hell Girl is an ironic punishment for Ai, who sought vengeance on her murderers from beyond the grave.
  • Kick the Dog: Most of Ai's targets are monstrously unrepentant dog kickers, driving their victims to seek vengeance through the Hell Correspondence.
  • Last-Second Chance: Maybe. Ai's companions often ask the target of the week if they regret what they've done to the client and, if the person is unrepentant, tell Ai something along the lines of "You heard what s/he said" before she sends them to hell, but it's never elaborated upon if genuine regret would actually save them or not. Most people are unrepentant or insist that they are not to blame, a few act repentant but only to save their own hides (which never works), and benevolent people who are targeted by jerkasses never even get the question asked. Then there's also the factor that Ai and her companions are tied by their own contracts to carry out their duties.
  • Little Miss Badass: Enma Ai herself, who has the form of a vulnerable young girl clad in either a kimono or a black and red fuku.
  • Logging onto the Fourth Wall: The visibly featured isn't real and likely never was. But it's simplistic design has spawned a lot of fan imitations.
  • Magic A Is Magic A: The series is full of rules surrounding the Hell Correspondence that may come out of nowhere but are otherwise consistent within the universe's lore:
    • You have to know the first and last name of the target you want to send to Hell.
    • You can only send one person to Hell at a time.
    • "Repenting" during the banishment doesn't actually do anything. Ai will ferry the target to Hell regardless of whether they feel remorse for their actions.
    • Ai will ferry souls, even if they're innocent. The difference is that she may occasionally feel bad for an innocent person being sent to Hell.
    • It has to be someone you really hate (usually, though some episodes break this rule for plot reasons).
    • A person that is already Hell-bound can still be sent to Hell using the Hell Correspondence (though this rarely happens due to a lack of recurring Hell-bound characters).
    • If a person already has a target on them, another person can't enter their name into the Hell Correspondence.
    • Once you're Hell-bound, there's nothing you can do to avoid your fate of being ferried to Hell. Being a good person up until your death changes nothing.
    • Once you're ferried to Hell, it's irreversible. The only way one can avoid this fate is by Ai turning the boat around before she can cross the gate, which she's only done once in the entire series.
    • Ai's companions can't be cursed using the Hell Correspondence even if the curser really hates them. If their names are entered, Ai will reject the request as an error.
    • Straw dolls can change ownership at any time, and with the ownership, the grudge placed on it will change.
    • If the target of the grudge dies or the straw dolls owner lets go of their grudge, the straw doll returns to Ai.
    • Accidental string pulls still count.
  • Mark of the Beast: The black sigil that marks clients as having sold their soul for vengeance and thus damned themselves to Hell for all eternity.
  • Meaningful Name: Genius Bonus for those that can read Japanese. Most of the named characters in this series are named in correlation to their circumstances, often ironically.
  • Mind Rape: Before the actual sending-the-target-to-hell segment, this is the form the "banishments" take. The target is first made to go through an inverse illusion of his/her own crime, with other supernatural horrors thrown in to make it worse. For example, Aya, the target of episode one, has a series of pranks pulled on her by other classmates (including faceless-demons-as-classmates) inside a school that rapidly switches from day to night, mirroring the way Aya threw Mayumi's life into chaos. For another example, the target of episode 2, a stalker who almost murdered the girl who sent him to hell, is forced to wander through a hospital where he's first pinned to the floor by skeletons, and then has to watch the girl he stalked cry over her father...who turns into a skeleton that attacks the stalker, all of this mirroring how the stalker had trapped the girl in a sick life and murdered anyone who got in his way.
  • Mistaken for Murderer: A few different cases involve both targets and clients who are either implied or stated to be this. Makes for a real downer ending if the target is the one and the thread still gets pulled.
  • Mundane Made Awesome: Untying strings requires dramatic music!
  • Musical Nod: Sakasama no Chou, the opening theme from the first season is used as a ringtone, bowling alley music and on a billboard for the single (in which the music video is shown) in both Futakomori and Mitsuganae. NightmaRe, from Futakomori, gets used in Mitsuganae as well.
  • Never My Fault: A lot of the more repulsive targets refuse to admit to their crimes and will even blame things on the people they wronged when questioned by Enma and company. This makes it all the more satisfying when they're dragged screaming into hell with a good dose of Laser-Guided Karma.
  • New Job as the Plot Demands: Ai and her companions frequently take up different identities in the human world in order to keep up with their next client. For instance, they become part of the faculty in Yuzuki's school to keep an eye on her in Mitsuganae.
  • No Ontological Inertia: Often the villain getting sent to Hell also makes whatever trouble they caused their victim to be mostly fixed. This gets less and less common as the series goes more into a Grey-and-Gray Morality.
  • No Sympathy: There are some rather jarring examples in this series, and not even from the targets the clients have grudges against, either; in several episodes, the client would not have felt the need to send the target to hell if everyone else involved, including the client's loved ones and friends, weren't so quick to assume the worst about the client. Some especially egregious examples include:
    • The client of Episode 1, who is manipulated into having a photograph of her and a male escort taken in town and the principal's first assumption is that the client is a slut, and he calls her to the office to scream at her about this without giving the client a chance to explain herself
    • The client of Episode 3, who's framed for murder merely on the hearsay of the target since everyone else in town is apparently willing to quickly assume guilt without evidence
    • The client of Episode 6, whose mother is raped because of blackmail by the target and the client's father's first assumption is that the client's mother was cheating on him (as opposed to showing concern for his wife who is obviously miserable and crying)
    • The twin clients of Episode 9, since after their secret recipe shows up on TV at the same time as they were trying to show it off in their bakery, the first assumption of the citizens is that the fraud lies with the clients, without even giving the clients a chance to explain their side of the story
    • The client of Episode 11, whose father was framed for corruption by an editor who was really convinced the father was guilty, but the son ends up losing his education, his money, and his home on top of that, and all his supposed "friends" dump him the second he no longer has money. Really, sometimes one wonders why the clients even bother sending the targets to hell, given that the average Japanese citizens as depicted in this show can be so cruel and/or unloving that the client would just be victimized by another target anyway, only without the ability to make a contract since they already used up their chance.
    • The icing on the cake, though, was Ai herself in her backstory: After being tormented for years and eventually Buried Alive to death along with her parents by an entire Jerkass village, she understandably snapped as a spirit and invoked Roaring Rampage of Revenge. And then the Master of Hell came along and decided to punish... her and her innocent parents — instead of, you know, the Asshole Victim villagers — via either eternal damnation or her servitude as a Psychopomp. Blue-and-Orange Morality 101.
  • No Sympathy for Grudgeholders: Downplayed. While the series never really makes forgiveness a major Aesop and never lets wrongdoers off the hook morally, a central theme is that revenge is never worth it in the long run. People who take revenge through supernatural means are damned for it and those who seek revenge through mundane means tend to set off a Cycle of Revenge that usually gets them killed even when they don't wind up in Hell in the end.Those who take revenge from beyond the grave or with their dying breath are still punished by being conscripted as agents of Hell.
  • Once per Episode: Someone goes to Hell. Most of the time.
  • One-Woman Wail: The soundtrack uses these a lot to evoke a lot of different emotions. "Ake Ni Somaru" uses both a woman's voice and a child's voice seemingly to mock characters as they finally teeter over the Despair Event Horizon while "Mangetsu" plays over some of the few genuinely happy moments in the series to heartwarming effect. "Kumo To Rouba To Shoujo" is a sad mix of strings and female vocals that is used to evoke sympathy both for the Victim of the Week and for Ai and her minions depending on when it plays. And those are just from the first season's soundtrack.
  • Our Ghosts Are Different:
    • After Ai Enma died, but before she became the Hell Girl she was an Onryo.
    • Wanyuudo and Hone Onna both became Youkai after they died.
    • In season two, Kiyo, Hone Onna's friend from that episode's Troubled Backstory Flashback, is revealed to be an Ubume. Season three gives us Yuzuki, who thinks she is alive, but actually died years before.
  • Perspective Flip: Of the urban legend horror genre like The Ring or The Grudge except we see from the monster's point of view.
  • Pet the Dog: While Ai needs to do her job as a Hell Girl indiscriminately, it doesn't mean she can't stall before giving the doll, showing the client the details behind their problem, or trying to scare them from going through with it. If the client hasn't done anything wrong, their trouble gets fixed offscreen as well, though the curse remains. In Episode 10 when the straw doll gets stolen, Ai decides it's better this way if it's used improperly, but the target later gives it to the client herself and is promtly banished away.
  • Pocket Dimension: The space where Ai and her associates take the "offender" before they are formally sent to Hell. Has to be this, since 1) Ai still hasn't ferried them through the gate to Hell, and 2) it can't just be a Mind Rape illusion, since we've seen the offender be physically removed from our dimension (easiest to see in the first season due to the Shibatas' involvements)
    • Also, the place where Ai keeps the candles with the names of everyone that made a contract with her that are still alive. You can go there by entering a vase inside Ai's home.
    • The sunset world with Ai's hut is also one.
  • Poor Communication Kills: Many clients' problems could be solved if they talked about it (like the very first: "Sorry everybody, I lost the money but I'll work hard to pay it back." might be shameful but beats being blackmailed or going to hell), or found the right person to talk about it, or talked with the person they did it for (what level of not communicating did she do to miss "like mother, like son" that badly?).
    • Futakomori features an episode where a young woman is tormented by her neighbor after adopting a stray cat. Things escalate after she sends a letter, begging the neighbor to be patient a little longer while she works on moving to another apartment that allows pets. The problem? The neighbor actually loved the cat, and considered it her Only Friend. During the boat ride to Hell, Ai asks the woman why she didn't simply talk to her victim. The woman admits it just never occurred to her. The client later stumbles into the neighbor's empty apartment, and discovers walls covered in photos of the cat, realizing the unwillingness of the two women to just talk to each other has doomed them both to Hell.
  • Power at a Price: Ai will grant you a black straw doll with a red string tied around its neck, and explain to you that you can send whoever wronged you directly to Hell by pulling the string off. Once your intended victim's damnation is finalized, however, you will be branded and condemned to Hell when you die.
  • The Power of Hate: Anyone who truly hates another person can access Hell Correspondence and sell their soul for revenge, but to anyone without a grudge the website won't work. Mitsuganae shows that this works even if the hatred is induced through hypnosis. Another version of this trope is part of Hone Onna's backstory: she became a Youkai after dying by absorbing the resentment and bitterness of other betrayed women.
  • Punch-Clock Villain: Ai and her companions are the epitome of this, with the former being forced into her job lest her parents be damned, and the latter all following her out of Undying Loyalty.
  • Pyrrhic Victory: No matter how much better your life becomes after you send someone to Hell, you will be joining them eventually.
  • Reality Warper: Ai seems to be able to do this, as seen when she's sending people to hell and during the season one finale, when she's bullying Tsugumi to make her send her father to hell. Although maybe she was just mind raping her, it's not very clear.
  • Really 700 Years Old: Ai, who is over 400 years.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: The hell banishments are usually a form of this. There have been exceptions, however. The most obvious ones are in season three.
  • Red and Black and Evil All Over: Ai Enma has this twice: She has black hair with red eyes and her standard costume is a black sailor uniform with a red collar. She also happens to be a Villain Protagonist.
  • Ret-Gone: Ai and her companions have the ability to invoke this upon themselves to mortals. They do this all the time to avoid recognition, and it's all but implied this extends to the Hell Correspondence itself when it attracts too much attention such as with Lovely Hills.
  • Revenge Before Reason: Many clients will throw their souls or lives away to get their revenge even when there is no longer really any meaning to it.
  • The Sociopath: A whole world of them.
  • Screw Destiny: Defied. It is nigh impossible to do this despite the efforts of some, such as Yuzuki (see You Can't Fight Fate.)
  • Shout-Out:
    • The show's concept of a team accepting to end the lives of their clients' grudges for a price is an homage to the Hissatsu series. Made explicit in the intro, which is a tribute to the earliest entries' opening sequence.
    • Episode 21 of season two. A guy named Makoto coldly rejects the woman pregnant with his child. Sound familiar?
    • To Initial D of all things, in episode 10 of season two.
  • Sins of Our Fathers:
    • When Ai discovers that Hajime and Tsugumi are distant relatives to a childhood friend who ended up helping bury her alive, she decides to try and Mind Rape Tsugumi into sending her father to Hell.
    • In Mitsuganae, Yuzuki's best friend Akie becomes the target of a woman who wants to make Akie's father, the chief of police, suffer for covering up a crime in which the woman's own father was injured.
  • Spoiler Opening: Subverted. Mitsuganae's opening credits set it up as the same stand-alone episodic fare of the first two seasons, but this is only to avoid drawing attention to Yuzuki before she's established as an important character, after which it changes to reflect the series's new direction.
  • Stock Footage: When the string is pulled, the same sequence of Ai getting dressed up is shown, with diferent parts spliced up depending on the episode.
  • Stringy-Haired Ghost Girl: Ai was once an onryo before being conscripted into her duties as the Hell Girl, complete with the disheveled white robes and hair. As Hell Girl, while she somewhat evokes the image, she is much more cute and well-adjusted.
  • Taking You with Me: Many clients that have formed a contract with Ai have no problem going to Hell, so long the person they hate were also sent there.
  • They Look Just Like Everyone Else!: Ai and her cohort sometimes spend their time as disguised humans and manage to take jobs close to the client without raising suspision, if they feel there's something worth investigating.
  • Transformation Sequence: Ai has a variation of this as a spin on the classic magical girl sequence; when the contract is invoked per episode, we typically see a recycled sequence of her ritualistically dressing up and Wanyuudo escorting her off to their victim. In Mitsuganae, as Ai is physically dead until she reincarnates properly halfway through, we see a gruesome sequence of her emerging from Yuzuki in a sequence more traditional of the magical girl transformation, albeit very very dark and gross by comparison.
  • True Companions: Ai and her group of assistants, all of whom are bound by loyalty and love to one another. Later, this even extends to Kikuri.
  • Unmoving Plaid: When Ai wears her flower-patterned black kimono, they look like they're green-screened on. This is likely deliberate, to show the magical nature of her kimono, as the flower pattern on it is used to induce death in victims.
    • The second season's credits showed Ai in a red-patterned kimono, blending it with a swarm of butterflies with the same pattern and the same effect applied. This kimono is eventually worn by Yuzuki as Hell Girl.
    • Ai's kimono in Mitsuganae has an animated pattern, with some of the objects at the edges moving in and out of view even while she stands still.
  • Victim of the Week: Every episode has a different client, and many of them have been abused in a certain way.
  • Villain Protagonist: Regardless of how sympathetic and noble she is Ai's duty is to send people to Hell, whether or not they actually deserve it. When the one who makes the contract with her finally dies, she would also be the one to carry them there.
    • As the series progresses from conventional good vs bad morality, many newer clients introduced are either evil or gravely immoral.
  • When the Clock Strikes Twelve: People can only access the Hell Correspondence website at midnight (although they need to have a real desire for revenge for it to work).
  • You Can't Fight Fate: The central theme of the series, as cruel as it is, one simply cannot outrun what fate is destined for them or the world itself - no matter how much they struggle.

Main Works

    Hell Girl (Season One) 
  • The Ace: Yumi is the talented performer of a pair of circus twins, but her sis Yuki started sabotaging her to make it look otherwise.
  • Alas, Poor Villain: Shiori Akasaka is the first of these. She's definitely a bad person, but she is considerably less wicked than the previous targets of the Hell Correspondence, especially compared to those around the same age group as her. Her being sent to Hell is almost entirely her own fault, and Minami grieves heavily for her death while Ai looks on in disappointment.
  • Ambition Is Evil: Ayaka's whole wretched life has been driven by a relentless pursuit of fame and fortune.
  • Anger Born of Worry: When Tsugumi runs off after a fierce argument with Hajime, he is furious when he finds her, but it is revealed to purely be anger born of worry as he embraces her.
  • And Now for Someone Completely Different: The client of the 17th episode: A Youkai-possessed doll believing it is its long-deceased owner, Nina. It has cursed a decaying, abandoned sanatorium to appear as though it is simply abandoned but well maintained. The doll entered Nina's father's name into the Hell Correspondence hoping Ai will take revenge, but she refused that request. Instead, Ai out of the kindness of her heart hopes to help the entity find peace for itself
  • Anti-Hero: Hajime Shibata is a paparazzi; during his introduction we see him blackmail a celebrity for money. It's all but stated he used to be an Immoral Journalist like his colleague, Takashi Inagaki, but somewhat turned over a new leaf. Hajime also leads a troubled home life as a single parent to his daughter Tsugumi. When we learn more of his story, he's even more flawed and hurting than he seems at a glance. Overall, though, what stops him from being a Nominal Hero is he is genuinely trying to do right by stopping innocents from using the Hell Correspondence out of empathy.
  • Ax-Crazy: When initially returning as a revenant, Ai was joyfully burning down her village and singing at the death and destruction all around her. As the Lord of Hell reeled her in after her rampage, she completely mellowed out to become the aloof entity she is now. She lapses into this upon realizing the Shibatas descend from Sentaro, going on a rampage until she's (briefly) sent to Hell as punishment.
  • Awful Truth: Kirino's father was a desperate man that discovered Ryouzo's dealings with the mob and tried to blackmail him over it for large sums of cash. Ryouzo simply chased him off, only to later discover some overzealous underling likely murdered him. He never forgave himself for it escalating to that.
  • Bad Boss: Towards the end, Ai attacks Ren and Hone Onna for trying to defuse her wrath at the Shibata family.
  • Bait the Dog:
    • When the seventh episode starts, the viewer is treated to Ayaka stumbling on stage and being repeatedly berated harshly by her mother. With the way Midori is shown to be abusive, we're led to believe Ayaka is a victim of some form of extreme parental abuse. Unlike in previous episodes, she's anything but a victim despite being a client of the Hell Correspondence.
    • Throughout most of the episode, Minami Shibuya is portrayed as overtly malicious and Shiori a poor victim of a stalker. In truth, Shiori is the worse of the two, but Minami is in an interesting twist, not exactly a good person herself.
  • Beneath the Mask: Yoshiki Fukasawa is outwardly a cheerful and hardworking teacher respected by his colleagues. This is a facade masking a depressed man who has next to no will left to live anymore. He feels Akane Sawai is a kindred spirit in their anguish.
  • Broken Bird: We don't see what exactly happened, but based on her reactions to her sister and daughter attempting to leave her, it seems Fujie Minato suffers from some extreme trauma based on familial abandonment or loss. Unlike Kisaragi, who was genuinely evil and relatively lucid despite being crazy, Fujie is a deeply hurting woman who has long completely lost her mind to grief. While being rowed off to Hell, Wannyudo laments how pitiable she is in her delusion of still talking to her late sister.
  • Bilingual Bonus: The song Kisaragi hums is "Doggy Policeman," a Japanese children's song. It's also used as the intro for the video game Frogger.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Ayaka. As an actress, she is a master at hiding her true malicious self. Unfortunately for her, the only person that sees right through it is her own mother, who condemns her for the act.
  • Crippling the Competition: Ayaka gets her thuggish posse to force-feed her stage rival Kaoruki a dangerous tonic, rendering her mute.
  • Corrupt Politician: Downplayed with Ryouzo Kusunoki. He was forced to make concessions to the local mob but is otherwise a great man. One of his subordinates (heavily implied to be his son) is suggested to have murdered Kirino's father, and he deeply regrets this happening.
  • Crowd Chant: Ironically, Hanagasae's banishment starts with the cheering of his name that slowly becomes chants of "Murderer!".
  • The Cracker: Misato is skilled at cracking computers, which Riho exploits her for. The Hell Correspondence, unfortunately, has supernatural security and can apparently strike back, leaving cracking it off the table.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: More than 400 years ago, Ai was a human girl living in a remote village near the mountains. She was frequently bullied by other kids, and her only friend was her cousin Sentaro. At the age of seven, Ai was selected to be the Human Sacrifice. However, her parents secretly asked Sentaro to care for her as she lived in the mountains. A few years later, Ai was discovered when a group of boys followed Sentarou into the mountains. Ai and her parents were captured and Buried Alive as punishment. The villagers forced Sentaro to be the first one to shovel ground to the hole. Sentaro's betrayal brought forth an immense hatred in Ai. As the villagers buried her, she vowed to hate them forever even if she dies. A short time later, Ai returned as a vengeful spirit to exact her revenge by burning the entire village to the ground in her wrath. The Master of Hell then captured her parents and made a pact with her: in exchange for her parents not being sent to Hell, Ai should become the Hell Girl to carry out others' revenge as a punishment for her own revenge.
  • Dead All Along: The real Nina died a long time ago and the "Nina" we see, is really her doll brought alive by her tormented emotions.
  • Dead Hat Shot: Fukumoto's cap falls to the ground as he dies.
  • Deaths Hour Glass: Fukumoto has a candle just like all of Ai's previous clients, only his has nearly burned all the way down with him on death's door. It goes out when he dies and Ai claims his soul.
  • Didn't Think This Through: Yoshiki actually makes Ai upset enough to somberly scold him on the recklessness of begging Sawai to send him to Hell. Firstly, he didn't consider he was leaving her all alone, and that he could have kept helping her out in life towards happiness. Secondly, he didn't consider the well-known consequence of her being damned to Hell with him. Ai is disgusted by how his self-loathing and desire to die overtook his judgment despite claiming to love Sawai.
  • Dirty Old Man: Shinya Morisaki is a slimy plagiarist that's ruined the lives of two young women that trusted him like family. As if that's not evil enough, he goes out of his way to hurt them further in the hopes they'll turn to whores out of desperation so he himself can have his way with them.
  • Dysfunctional Family: The Ujiie household is run by an Evil Matriarch that treats her servants and children like living dolls. Naturally, her birth son is insane and her adopted daughter is traumatized.
  • Empty Shell: Hone Onna speculates that, at her core, Ayaka has no identity or true self, her life being one of constant deceptive acting and lying to satisfy her insatiable greed.
  • Endless Corridor: Riho runs through an endless version of her old apartment building to escape murderous copies of herself as Ai banishes her to Hell.
  • Driven to Suicide: Yoshiki has Akane invoke the contract on him so he can end his miserable life and be in Hell with her. She obliges.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness:
    • During Aya's punishment, her posse is clearly sent to Hell with her, indicating multiple grievances can be avenged in one request. Such a thing is never mentioned or alluded to again. For instance, when the episode was imported to the TV drama, her friends are not punished or involved in Aya's sending.
    • There is a strong emphasis on having the victim repent or recognize their mistakes before going to Hell, giving a strong implication they can be redeemed. This is dropped entirely after this season.
  • Evil Counterpart: Takashi Inagaki, a colleague of Hajime's, is an Immoral Journalist that fabricates sensationalist stories against politicians to line up his pockets. It's implied the former was once as bad as him but turned over a new leaf. Inagaki hates him for having grown "soft."
  • Face Death with Dignity: About the only good thing that can be said about Ayaka is she takes her fate in stride while being rowed off, being silently grateful when Ai admits her last "performance" as an actress was spectacular.
  • Failure Hero: Hajime may have only had one success in the whole time he tries to keep people from using the Hell Correspondence with Yuuko. In the vast majority of cases, he's either too late or says the wrong things that end up ticking off the clients by coming across as preachy or insensitive.
  • False Friend: Shiori is a deceptive girl who feigns friendship to others when it's convenient for her, like with her supposed BFF Minami.
  • Fat Bitch: Meiko Shimono, one of the evilest victims in the entire franchise. To wit, she is a reclusive psychopath that has taken a little girl hostage under the threat of killing her dogs, extorting her parents for money under the pretense of tutoring her for an alibi. However, as the viewer learns, there's even worse to her than meets the eye: she murdered her infant son and parents to hoard inheritance money.
  • Foil: Kirino draws great parallels to Kataoka and her crisis is a twisted inversion of his feud with Inagaki; both demanded vengeance on someone politically influential responsible for their father's deaths and they were also among the people who Hajime tried to talk down from vengeance. However, while Saki was more willing to listen to reason compared to Kataoka, a key difference between him and her is Inagaki was a bastard and had everything coming, whereas Ryouzo is almost unapologetically good and tried all he could to make peace with Kirino. Kirino sending him to Hell, knowing this and the consequences that would entail from his death, purely out of spite makes her a straight-up Villain Protagonist by the credits.
  • Four Eyes, Zero Soul: Okochi wore square glasses and was a vile rapist.
  • The Gambling Addict: Fukumoto mentions he once became obsessed with gambling to forget his sorrows, but it did him no good.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Ayaka is intensely resentful and jealous of Kaoruki taking away her mother's attention, which culminates in her rendering her mute through poisoning.
  • The Hedonist: Riho, who lives by her motto "Life is ultimately just a game, after all. Whoever enjoys themselves the most before the game's over wins." Misato later takes on her philosophy, inheriting the company after Riho's banishment to hell.
  • Hikkikomori: Akane Sawai feels trapped in a monotonous, torturous life where no one understands her and the people around her are cruel liars hiding behind facades. She's regressed into this trope as a result of her depression.
  • Informed Ability: Ayaka is constantly vouched for as a Master Actor by Midori - and her talents are seen as genuine by her peers, but throughout the episode, her grand deception against Midori is very unconvincing to the viewer.
  • Karma Houdini: The circus ringmaster that sadistically abuses his daughters for disappointing him infuriatingly receives no comeuppance.
  • Knight of Cerebus: The unnamed drug addict that is the 23rd on-screen client marks the turning point in the series by illustrating how clients can very well be pure evil and how the Hell Correspondence can be severely misused past merely getting revenge.
  • Mad Artist:
    • Fukumoto spends his twilight years in seclusion obsessively painting artworks of Enma Ai all over his walls. Although it's played with in that while this isn't healthy, Fukumoto is not insane or evil, but simply a tired and tragic old man.
    • Played straight with Kyougetsu Ujiie, a deranged dollmaker that treats living people - namely her servants and children, as literal living dolls.
  • Missing Mom: Ayumi Shibata. The truth is she started cheating on Hajime due to his Workaholic nature, for which Hajime chased her out of the house when he caught her in the act. When she tried to return to the household, he rebuked her again, causing her to likely commit suicide or accidentally crash her vehicle. Coming to terms with his sorrow is the main focus of Hajime's character arc, and he does so in the end.
  • My Greatest Failure: When he's being ferried off to Hell, Ryouzo only laments he could not make amends with Kirino.
  • Mummies at the Dinner Table: Fujie keeps her sister's dead body in the storage cellar and holds "conversations" with it imitating Satsuki's voice.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: Unlike many victims, we don't actually see Shiori's punishment. The viewer, however, does actually hear her screaming and begging for Minami to help her from the other side as Hajime races to her location in vain.
  • No-Sell: At first, Masaya just tries to kill Inagaki in an alley by running him through with a broken bottle. Given the bastard has a black belt in karate, he effortlessly manhandles him.
  • Peaceful in Death: Fukumoto is grateful he can see Ai again before going to Hell. His only grievance is possibly meeting Okochi in Hell, to which Ai comforts him by saying Hell is a vast place.
  • Please, Don't Leave Me: Said verbatim by Fujie to Satsuki and Mina. More than anything else, she fears losing her remaining family.
  • Rape and Revenge: A variation. Fukumoto's wife was raped and Fukumoto was the one who avenged her.
  • Rape as Drama: Namiko's evil actions against Keiko eventually escalate to having her raped, causing her to almost successfully commit suicide and spurring her daughter into finally sending her to Hell.
  • Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: As seen with the thug Namiko sics on Keiko, but most notably with Okochi raping Fukumoto's wife.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Several unique to the first season, as later ones would not emphasize repentance or self-realization upon the victim all that much.
    • Hanagasawa's
    Ichimoku Ren: Have you forgotten already? You beat a kid to death and blamed another for his murder. Don't you feel any guilt over what you did to them?
    Wanyuudo: Just because you have some skill throwing a ball and playing a game, you think you're special and should have the privilege to get away with anything. What a remarkable level of conceit!
    • Honjo
    Hone Onna: To you, the animals in your care might just be a means to a financial end, but to those who love them, pets are cherished members of the family.
  • Properly Paranoid: Fukomoto raped his friend's wife and evidently never showed remorse for it either given he was always prepared to kill Fukumoto afterward. Given he was always plotting to kill him afterward, he's right to be paranoid though. Fukumoto noted Okochi never went without a gun after his wife committed suicide, making it impossible for him to get revenge on him in any way other than using the Hell Correspondence.
  • Rivers of Blood: One of the torments that Ai shows to Iwashita is a river of boiling blood.
  • Shower of Angst: Of all the clients up to this point, Haruka contemplates the deepest on her actions, being burdened with great doubt and being uncertain of whether she'll truly live a happy life while taking a shower.
  • Smug Snake: One of the episodes centers around an allegedly psychic named Gil de L'enfer, who tries to prove he's better than Ai Enma and challenges her to a fight. Needless to say, it doesn't work out well for him in the end.
  • Shut Up, Kirk!: Hajime is rebuked by multiple clients with this for scolding them on using the Hell Correspondence.
  • Sins of Our Fathers: Granted, Masaya's father didn't actually do anything wrong; the scandal story was fabricated by Inagaki. Regardless, it's ruined his life and has him the subject of savage bullying.
  • Strapped to an Operating Table: Happens to Honjō on top of being put in a cage to show him how his neglected pets felt before dying.
  • Taken for Granite: Happens to Hanagasa's arm before it gets shattered. It gets better, not that that helps him in any way.
  • Teacher/Student Romance: Yoshiki and Akane.
  • Too Good for This Sinful Earth: Kanako Sakuragi first on-screen victim of the Hell Correspondence to be 100%, unapologetically good and faultless; even Ryouzo had his dark secrets and regrets. As if to emphasize this trope, Ren and Wanyuudo note occasional cases like Sakuragi's tear away at Ai's heart under her emotionless facade.
  • Unreliable Narrator: It's left vague as to whether or not anything that comes from Gil's mouth is true, but the demonstration of his powers leaves strong implications he is, at the least, a supernatural entity, and that he may simply be beneath Ai in the hierarchy. Decades later, the 2020 pachinko game confirms he is not lying and it is the latter case.
  • Vengeance Feels Empty: Fukomoto got his revenge, but it did nothing to relieve him of his trauma and brought new fears with him knowing he is condemned to Hell.
  • You Killed My Father:
    • Masaya to Inagaki, for which he gets his revenge.
    • Saki believes Ryouzo did this to hide some gang connections, although the truth is much different and more complicated.
  • We Hardly Knew Ye: Goro Ishizhu's character is substantially less fleshed out than the previous victims, likely as a hangover of his story running concurrently with the introductions of major supporting characters Hajime and Tsugumi Shibata.
    Two Mirrors (Futakomori
    Three Vessels (Mitsuganae

  • Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence: In the season finale, Ai sacrifices her freedom and resumes her place as Hell Girl, allowing Yuzuki's soul to ascend to heaven.
  • Bait-and-Switch: This trope comes into play several times this season, whether it be a different person than we thought being sent to Hell or the villain of the episode being someone different:
    • In "This Mundane World," Despite setting up the grandmother to be the antagonist, it's revealed toward the very end of the episode that the real antagonist was the soft-spoken Ririka, whose lies and manipulations of both the grandmother and the protagonist were the direct causes of the episode's plot.
    • In "The Midsummer Chart," the protagonist of the episode Nobuo is sent to Hell by Kokoro, who is revealed to be a Bitch in Sheep's Clothing.
    • In "Right In Front Behind You," the child protagonist Kaito is being abused by his pregnant stepmother, and his father ignores his abuse in order to keep his wife with him. In a normal Hell Girl episode, it wouldn't be out of the ordinary for the protagonist to send the problematic parent away, but then it's revealed that the one Kaito hates most is his unborn sister, since his relationship with his stepmother was actually rather close before she had gotten pregnant. It's the only episode in the series in which an unborn baby is sent to Hell.
    • In "My Teacher," not only does the protagonist get sent to Hell, but she also turns out to be more villainous than the girl that was set up to be The Bully.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Usagi from "The Rabbit and the Turtle" sends her older brother to Hell because he forgot the Childhood Marriage Promise he made to her. What's worse is that it happens right after they reconciled their differences.
  • Hellgate: A torii on the river in Saigawara is stated by Wanyuudo to briefly open into Hell during a local festival. When Yuzuki first goes up to it that night, she sees herself as Hell Girl. When the lantern Yuzuki used to send Ai off drifts through the gate, a miniature boat comes through the other way, allowing Ai to fully return.
  • "Shaggy Dog" Story: Happens a few times across the season, and then the season finale reveals that the entire Yuzuki subplot is one. Nearly the entire season is spent setting up Yuzuki to become the next Hell Girl; every time she tries to reject or deny this fate, Yuzuki is reminded that it can't be avoided because You Can't Fight Fate. Come to the season finale, after Yuzuki finally accepts her fate and succeeds Ai, she's Hell Girl for all of a few hours before she breaks one of the rules, forcing Ai to rescue her from the Lord of Hell and resume her position as Hell Girl.
  • You Can't Fight Fate: A recurring theme in this season. Like Tsumugi and Hajime before her, no matter what Yuzuki does, the straw doll thread will be pulled and someone will be banished to Hell.
    The Fourth Twilight (Yoi no Togi
  • Abusive Offspring: Episode 3 has a Asuka, who feels comfortable slapping her grandmother around for ruining dinner. She also sits idly by as Yoshinori beats her father.
  • Abusive Parents: In episode 3, the mother is abusive to all three of her children, even hitting her younger daughter for simply asking if she was okay after being stabbed in the hand. Meanwhile, the father has mentally checked out of the family and is unconcerned about what happens to them. By the end of the episode, both parents abandon Akira and Arina with their abusive older cousin to live their own lives.
  • Boke and Tsukkomi Routine: Haru and Nanako perform this act as a comedy duo and when they're around other people, but in reality their personalities are reversed, with Nanako being the Bokke and Haru being the Tsukkomi.
  • The Bully: In the first episode, Yukawa is revealed to be the one who turned the entire class against the protagonist solely because they bumped into each other once and it pissed her off. She even devised a plan to pretend to befriend her just so she can leak their chat logs to the entire class, Or so Shizuka thought, as it turns out the one who leaked the chat logs really was Yokota, just not the one Shizuka thought it was.
  • Bully Hunter: After sending Yoshinori to Hell, and by having his sisters victim send her to Hell, Akira becomes this with him to the extreme, as they kidnap, torture, and kill people who victimize others, rationalizing that since they're going to Hell anyway, it won't matter what they do if they can save others from going through what they had to gone through.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: It is Hell, but Yukawa gets one of the series' worst punishments: she has to watch as Ai's goons delete her internal organs, feeling the pain of each one as they're deleted from her.
  • Death of a Child: Episode 5 shows the mangled, bloodied bodies of three children after a car accident that one of them accidentally caused.
  • Downer Ending: Shizuka sends Yukawa to Hell at the end of Episode 1, believing Yukawa was the one who leaked their chat logs after she confesses to being the one who initially turned the class against her. The next day, however, it is revealed that Yokota, the third person in the chat and the one Shizuka suspected of leaking the chat logs in the first place, did exist and was most likely the one who leaked their chats; Shizuka simply confronted the wrong Yokota when she went to their class since there were two of them. While Yukawa deserved her punishment for turning the entire class against Shizuka for no real reason, the way she's reduced to a sobbing mess while being ferried to Hell almost makes you feel sorry for her.
  • Disproportionate Retribution:
    • The first episode begins with Shizuka wishing to damn her classmates to Hell because they laughed at her. Ai and even Kikuri questioned her irrational decision-making, with Ai leaving without giving her the doll and Kikuri telling her to calm down before calling back.
    • Yukawa devised a plot to turn the entire class against Shizuka solely because they bumped into each other and it irritated her. Worse, Yukawa is the one who ran into her and wasn't even the one who dropped her phone during the collision.
  • Domestic Abuse:
    • Haru was beaten by her partner in the past. She would unintentionally continue this cycle by lashing out at Nanako when she would start to get clingy in a stalker-like way.
    • Episode 3 has a whole family that engages in this: The daughter abuses everyone in the family, the grandmother abuses the mother, the mother is abusive toward her children, and no one except their son cares.
  • Elder Abuse: Episode 4 is dedicated to this. Only one of the perpetrators goes to Hell, and it’s unclear what happened to the others.
  • Ironic Hell: Since Yukawa was addicted to her phone in life, her head is turned into a giant phone in the afterlife.
  • Karma Houdini: Akira and Arina's parents get away with being abusive and neglectful to their children, and are last seen living out their lives care freely.
  • Kissing Cousins: Yoshinori and Asuka in episode 3, who are cousins but act more like a couple. Yoshinori also tries to molest Arina, his younger cousin, and is heavily implied to have raped her at the end of the episode.
  • Mean Character, Nice Actor: Nanako puts on a mature, bossy, straight woman front when people are around her and Haru, but is sweet, and people-pleasing and crazy when they're alone.
  • Phoneaholic Teenager: Yukawa in the first episode. She's on her phone so much that it's difficult to have an in-person conversation with her. She even talks on the phone in class. When she starts a group chat for them, she gets Shizuka addicted to her phone in the same way, which only makes things worse for Shizuka when their gossipy chat log is leaked. Shizuka becomes the next Yukawa after sending her to Hell.
  • Stalker with a Crush: Nanako in episode 2, who becomes obsessed with her partner Haru. She even sends her to Hell so they can be together for eternity, although Haru accepts this.
  • Too Dumb to Live: In episode 5, Masahiro and his friends decide to hang out of the windows of a moving car after being told to put on their seatbelts. This results in their violent deaths when the car flips after colliding with an oncoming truck.
  • You Are Fat: The girl in the first episode is bullied by her classmates because of her weight, with the other students calling her a "gasball" due to her roundness.


A murder mystery Visual Novel released for the PS2. It was envisioned as a wholesale superior successor to the DS game, Akekazura, which had a very troubled production and did not live up to Compile Heart's expectations. Chronologically taking place within the first half of Mitsuganae, it follows Yuzuki enjoying summer break in the mountain village of Himamura, a religious residential said to be protected by a Hell Girl unaffiliated with Ai Enma.
  • Been There, Shaped History: Himamura was once a poor village oppressed by a warlord in the Azuchi-Momoyama period. A man invoked the contract against the warlord, saving the town. A shrine was erected in tribute to Ai Enma, raising the question of who Rui Rukudo is for her to overtake the former's myth in the present day.
  • Continuity Nod: Hajime Shibata's book on his adventures is at the center of debunking Himamura's myths on Hell Girl and Rui Rokudo.
  • Multiple Endings:
    • If Yuzuki does not intervene in Tomohiko pulling the string during her first premonition, Haruto is sent to Hell to ostensibly avenge his murdered sister and father. Yuzuki goes home the day after, leaving behind a despondent but hopeful Ayumi. Days later, Haruto's missing father is found dead with Tomohiko, the latter's head having been gorily caved in by a crowbar.
    • Haruto grows resentful and suspicious of Ayumi being Rui Rokudo, the Serial Killer and village Hell Girl, after she lets it on she clearly knows much more of what's going on. Should he be successful in sending her to Hell, Tomohiko will confront him the next day and suspect he's behind everything up to Ayumi's disappearance, invoking his own contract against him and killing him. A day later, a bloodied Misaki approaches Asuka's house, claiming she murdered Tomohiko but she passes out. Yuzuki is sent home by authorities the day after and Asuka was never found, but the murders at least stopped...
    • Ayumi comes to the conclusion Asuka is Rui Rokudo after doing her own research. Not intervening is the correct choice and will lead to three options of who Rokudo will attack next: Ayumi, Misaki, and Haruto. Ayumi is the correct answer and leads to some exposition on the killer's motives; picking the other two will result in Rokudo attacking Ayumi and her sending her to Hell in self-defense. As Yuzuki leaves the day after, Ai will relay some parting words from Rokudo, warning her of a tragic fate in store for her and to not end up like her. Attempting to intervene in Ayumi pulling the thread will lead to a brief struggle between her and Yuzuki where the contract is inadvertently invoked and leads to mostly the same outcome but the two girls parting on bitter terms.
  • Serial Killer: A string of mysterious murders has been occurring in Himamura. The victims notably die with a black straw doll at hand, but as Ai isn't involved, she and the villagers speculate another Hell Girl may be on the loose enacting vengeance. The supposed Hell Girl in question is named Rui Rokudo.

Alternative Title(s): Jigoku Shoujo