Jigoku Shoujo (Hell Girl, if you will) has blossomed into a very popular franchise in Japan. Multiple seasons of the animation, manga, and even a live action show have come out since the first show aired in 2005. To say it has been a success would be an understatement, and here in the States the series has garnered its own audience as well.
The first season is licensed by FUNimation, though for some reason the second wound up in the hands of Sentai Filmworks. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, mind you, but fans of the first release may be disappointed with the lack of an English dub, as is standard from Sentai Filmworks. No matter what dub you enjoy listening to, Hell Girl is a very entertaining series, and I'm pleased to say that the second season, Two Mirrors meets expectations.
Hell Girl's basic premise follows a mysterious website that people can only access at midnight. Have someone who pissed you off? Did an enemy do you wrong in a major way? Type the person's name in on the site and revenge will be yours. By logging on and doing such a thing you not only guarantee that the person in question will have a bad day but that they'll receive a one way ticket to hell. It's a comforting thought to keep in mind if you feel like really smiting someone; of course this comes at a price. The fine print within this contract is that even though you'll be dooming your tormentor you'll also be dooming yourself. By entering into the agreement you also condemn yourself to an eternity in hell when you die. Revenge doesn't look so great now does it?
This theme ran through the entire first season and the 26 episodes proved to be very episodic. Each episode provided a similar setting and theme, and really it was the direction each plot took that set them apart from each other. The main character in the series is a young (looking) girl named Enma, who is really the one in charge of everything. Shortly after the first season began we were introduced to Hajime, a tabloid journalist, and his daughter. These two got involved with Enma and found themselves in the mix of things they couldn't possibly comprehend.
Sentai Filmworks has released the first 13 episodes of Hell Girl: Two Mirrors on 2 DVDs. This first half of the second season doesn't waste any time getting viewers back into the swing of things. Each of the 13 episodes here features a different story with new characters and a tale of revenge to get to know. Enma and her associates do their damndest to help people get that which they desired, and as usually there's a hefty cost associated with that.
The stories here range in content considerably from a girl who is bullied in school to a bizarre story about a girl with a brother who keeps stealing her boyfriends by dressing up as a girl. There are some episodes that rise above the rest and really stand out for their uniqueness, or creepiness. For instance there's a tale about a girl whose sister was raped and murdered, another features a woman in a hospital who suffers an interesting fate, and one with an old man who doesn't want to lose his house to a new road. The volume ends on a strong note with a string of mysterious murders happening around the city.
All in all Hell Girl: Two Mirrors is everything one would want in a sequel. The 13 episodes here are every bit as enticing as the ones found in the first season, and in some ways I'd almost say the second season is off to a much better start. Newcomers should definitely check out FUNimation's release first, and then come to this second season, however, anyone with this girl already in their collection shouldn't wait to dig in. Revenge is quite a dish indeed.
Hell Girl is presented on DVD with a 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen aspect ratio. Side by side the comparisons between the transfer for the second season and the first show remarkable similarities. Both offer vibrant colors, striking contrast, and powerful animation thanks to Studio Deen. The art style here is unlike any other, and it's hauntingly beautiful. Black levels aren't as rich as one might hope for, and there's some grain, but pound for pound this release is solid looking.
As stated, this release for the second season of Hell Girl comes with Japanese audio only. It's presented in the form of a rather flat 2.0 stereo output, and it leaves something to be desired compared to the originals 5.1 English dub. Dialogue, music, and effects are crystal clear, but the soundstage just lacks dynamism. English subtitles are included.
Clean animations and some trailers are all you're going to find on this release of Hell Girl: Two Mirrors.
The first season of Hell Girl was dark, mysterious, and enticing. Each episode was self-contained and it really relied on unique stories and characters to draw viewers in. Thankfully that formula returns for the second season, Two Mirrors, and what we have with this release from Sentai Filmworks is a collection of 13 episodes that do justice to the concept of revenge. If you enjoyed the original consider this one a no-brainer, however, if you're new to the series you'll want to check out the first season before starting with this one.
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