DVD Talk
Release List Reviews Shop Newsletter Forum DVD Giveaways Blu-Ray Advertise
Reviews & Columns
Reviews
DVD
TV on DVD
Blu-ray
International DVDs
Theatrical
Adult
Video Games

Features
Collector Series DVDs
Easter Egg Database
Interviews
DVD Talk Radio
Feature Articles

Columns
Anime Talk
XCritic.com
DVD Stalk
DVD Savant
High-Def Revolution
Silent DVD

discussion forum
DVD Talk Forum
Resources
DVD Price Search
Customer Service #'s
RCE Info
Links

DVDTalk Info
Review Staff
About DVD Talk
Advertise
Newsletter Subscribe
Join DVD Talk Forum
DVD Talk Feeds


Special Offer

Search: For:
Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Hell Girl: The Complete First Season
Hell Girl: The Complete First Season
FUNimation // Unrated // January 6, 2009
List Price: $69.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by John Sinnott | posted March 18, 2009 | E-mail the Author
Buy from Amazon.com
C O N T E N T
V I D E O
A U D I O
E X T R A S
R E P L A Y
A D V I C E
Rent It
E - M A I L
this review to a friend
P R I N T
Printer Friendly
The Series:
 
What if you could easily get revenge on someone who wronged you?  Not just even the score, but make sure that they paid for their transgressions for eternity by burning in Hell?  Would you do it?  What if you had to pay a price for this vengeance that's nearly as high as the price that your victim is paying?  That's the premise of Hell Girl a creepy and mysterious anime that FUNimation has recently released in a complete first season set.  While the show starts off strong, after three or four episodes it gets very repetitive and even the introduction of a couple of new characters 1/3 of the way through the show can bring it out of its rut.
 
There's a rumor going around school about a supernatural web site.  It is said that if you go to a certain address at exactly midnight, you'll be able to get revenge on anyone who has wronged you, just by typing their name into a box and clicking "Send."  Most people don't believe it, and a lot of those that do can't access the site.  It's only available if you have a serious grievance against someone.  If you do, and you complete to simple form on the site, you'll meet Ai Enma.
 
Ai is the Hell Girl, a demon who gives those that visit her web site a crude straw doll with a red string tied around the neck.  She informs her clients that if they untie the string, their tormentor will be instantly transported to Hell.  There's a price however, there always has to be a cost.  When the person who pulls the string dies, they'll be sent to Hell too.
 
Each episode viewers are introduced to another person (most often a young school girl) who is being abused, neglected, teased, stalked, or somehow tormented by someone.  After showing exactly how horrible their life is, they visit the Hell Girl site, meet Ai, and get the doll.  The second half of the show illustrates the girls being pushed over the edge by the bully until they pull the string.  It wraps up with the aggressor being psychically attacked by Ai and then ferried into Hell.
 
While the first few episodes were creepy in a fun way, the show soon got incredibly repetitive.  I mean really repetitive.  It turned into a cookie cutter show with little variation on the theme and the final conclusion easy to see two minutes after the theme song faded. 
 
The creators must have realized that they took an interesting idea but didn't know what to do with it, so they added two new characters about a third of the way through the run.  They introduced Hajime, a free lance reporter, and his young daughter Tsugumi. Hajime starts tracking down the Hell Girl story, and he becomes even more obsessed with finding the mysterious girl when Tsugumi reveals that she sometimes gets visions of what Hell Girl sees or what she's going to do.  Haijime doesn't think the trade off is worth it, and tries to track down the person with the doll before they can pull the string, with very little sucsess.
 
When Hajime and Tsugumi were introduced I thought the series was going to pick up.  Unfortunately I was wrong.  Though they do add a little bit of continuity to the series, it's still basically stand alone shows the follow the same formula. 
 
In addition to basically telling the exact same story over and over and over, the show has very few gray areas (unless you wonder about the morality of letting a 10 year old girl sentence a classmate, and eventually herself, to an eternity in Hell) and the situations are sometimes so calculated to pull on your heart strings that it's almost laughable.  One episode focuses on a young orphan has only one friend in the whole world, her dog, who is allowed to die by a thoughtless vet.  What's more pitiful than that?  Or more trite.  I think that I would have enjoyed this show more if they had made some of the 'crimes' a little less black and white and therefore more realistic.
 
The DVD:  


Audio:
 
This disc offers the viewer the option of the original Japanese track in stereo or an English dub in both stereo and 5.1.  I alternated between the 5.1 and stereo Japanese track and enjoyed them both.  The English cast does a good job bringing their characters to life and they didn't resort to phony accents or overacting.  The female characters don't talk in irritating squeaky high-pitched voices either.  There really isn't much action in the show, even in the conclusions where Ai takes people to Hell, so the 5.1 wasn't as effective as it often is on anime shows.
 
Video:
 
The video looked very good on this disc.  The widescreen anamorphic image was crisp with sharp lines and fine detail.  The colors are solid and bright and the palate is fairly wide.  On the digital side things also look very good.  There is only the most minor aliasing present in a couple of parts.  Cross colorization, blocking, and posterization aren't present.  This is a very good looking disc.
 
Extras:
 
This set also has some nice bonus material.  First there is a video character profile of Ai that's pretty enigmatic.  It was used to promote the series.  There's also a roundtable discussion with the actors who voice the characters in Japanese.  They talk about the show, reveal that it has been picked up for a second season, and discuss what they'd like to see happen in the future.
 
The bonus section is rounded out with a live action music video, a making-of featurette on the music video, and a textless opening and closing. 
 
Final Thoughts:
 
This could have been an interesting series, but they just didn't develop the premise sufficiently.  The program is very repetitive, with the same plot being used for every episode.  That makes getting through the whole series a bit difficult, and marathon viewing (as I had to do) is strongly discouraged.  Taken in small doses it would probably play a bit better.  As it is, this would be a great rental.
 
Popular Reviews
1. Snowpiercer
2. Nightbreed: The Director's Cut
3. The Purge: Anarchy
4. The Vanishing
5. La dolce vita
6. Pee-wee's Playhouse: The Complete Series
7. Deliver Us From Evil
8. Married to the Mob
9. WKRP In Cincinnati: The Complete Series
10. Kingpin


Special Offers
DVD Blowouts
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
Alien [Blu-ray]
Buy: $19.99 $9.99
8.
9.
10.
Special Offers
Release List Reviews Shop Newsletter Forum DVD Giveaways Blu-Ray Advertise
Copyright 2014 DVDTalk.com All Rights Reserved. Legal Info, Privacy Policy, Terms of Use