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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Hell Girl, Vol. 6 - Pinwheel
Hell Girl, Vol. 6 - Pinwheel
FUNimation // Unrated // May 20, 2008
List Price: $29.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Todd Douglass Jr. | posted May 20, 2008 | E-mail the Author
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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
Highly Recommended
E - M A I L
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P R I N T
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The Show:

How far would you go for revenge? That's a question that FUNimation's latest series Hell Girl puts out there, front and center. You may have heard of it before if you have kept your finger on the pulse of what's popular in Japan. Known as Jigoku Shoujo in its original form, Hell Girl has gone on to garner a second season, manga, and live action version. That speaks volumes to how well it was received in Japan but how will it fair with the American audience?

With 26 episodes in its first season Hell Girl originally aired between 2005 and 2006. It's unfortunate that it took so long for the show to make its way here to the States but the wait was well worth it in my opinion. Studio Deen did a fantastic job on this show as the first volume showed. The writing was sharp, the sense of drama was a cut above, and throughout it all the creepy atmosphere really made the hairs on the back of your neck stand up at times.

The 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?

Throughout the show the tone has shifted back and forth between a program that is rather episodic to one that offers a lot of depth. The last time around the batch of episodes was very formulaic and the deeper plot was only touched upon a few times. In case you were wondering I'm talking about the subplot with Hajime and his daughter Tsugumi. Both characters added an interesting dynamic to the show as Hajime was attempting to unravel the mystery surrounding Ai Enma and Tsugumi was connected to her in some way. Right up to the end of the fifth volume very little had been revealed about the relationship between those two and Hell Girl but that's all about to change.

As the sixth and final volume of the first season draws to a close Hell Girl once again hits us up with a one-shot storyline about vengeance and hell. What transpires after that is what truly makes this installment great. For three episodes right up until the dramatic conclusion we are given a rare glimpse at what makes Ai Enma tick. It is revealed through some bit of plot exposition that she is connected to Hajime and Tsugumi's ancestors and that's where their bonds lie. To say that all of this comes about as a more elaborate method of vengeance would be an understatement and right up to the end you will be guessing the inevitable fate of the characters.

While the season goes out with a bang, Hell Girl has been a frustrating show to review at times. The episodic nature of the program left many volumes oddly paced as they felt like they were dragging. This was mostly due to watching formulaic episodes back to back to back but the nugget of curiosity dropped in enough as though to dangle a carrot in front of you to keep you watching. If you can control the way you view this show and only sit through one episode at a time you'll undoubtedly enjoy the whole series much more than I did.

With that being said I had a good time with Hell Girl and though there were a few sore spots here and there, my overall impression is positive. The characters are intriguing, the world is well-developed, and the plot will keep you guess right up to the end. If you can stand some spotty vengeance of the week moments you'll find that sitting through this program is very rewarding. I can't wait to see what comes of the second season and hopefully FUNimation will license the live action version of the show.

The DVD:

Video:

Hell Girl is presented on DVD with a 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen aspect ratio and features a marvelous transfer. FUNimation did a fantastic job of bringing this show to DVD and though some of the typical problems like grain and compression appear is little to complain about. Colors in the show appear vibrant though I must admit that some of the gradients looked kind of funny in some scenes. This third volume continues the unique look of Hell Girl and promotes Studio Deen's prowess as far as producing anime is concerned. The art direction is second to none and as subdued as many scenes are the contrast helps to craft a fascinating atmosphere.

Audio:

Like most current releases from FUNimation Hell Girl comes with Japanese and English 2.0 as well as a 5.1 English track. The dubbing quality for both languages is superb and I can honestly say that I didn't have a preference either way. The English track in particular impressed me with spot on emotion and pitch that matched what I expected it should. Technically speaking the 2.0 selections are competent for stereo inclusions but the 5.1's greater presence definitely impressed me. The directionality on the soundstage for effects was slightly more subdued than I would have liked but the overall quality of the audio was very pleasing.

Extras:

Closing out Hell Girl's first season is a familiar batch of bonus features that range from textless songs and trailers to a new short video with the production cast. Like we've seen in other volumes this eleven minute or so "feature" is entitled "Office Kitchenette of Hell" and it brandishes a funny sense of humor which makes light of the show's darker tone. While this video may seem out of place it is at least a good way to see the production crew in a unique element with their personalities outside of the series.

Final Thoughts:

Hell Girl is original, intriguing, and empowering all at the same time. For six volumes the atmosphere and concept have been no less than dazzling. Sure there have been a few bumps in the road along the way but in the end this show pays off big. If you're even remotely interested in the background of the series then you should check it out. Few tales of vengeance are as thought-provoking and captivating as this one. Just keep in mind that some episodic content drags the show's pacing down but if you stick with it you'll be pleasantly surprised.


Check out more of my reviews here. Head on over to my anime blog as well for random musings and reviews of anime, manga, and stuff from Japan!

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