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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
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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?style=""> 
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.style="">  She informs her clients that if they untie
the string, their tormentor will be instantly transported to Hell.style="">  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.style="">  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.style="">  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.


 
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