Hell Girl V1 (2005)
By: J.R. McNamara on October 10, 2008  |  Comments  |  Bookmark and Share
Madman (Australia). Region 4, PAL. 1.78:1 (16:9 emhanced). English DD 5.1, Japanese DD 2.0. English subtitles. 124 minutes
The Movie
Creator: Hiroshi Watanabe
External Links
Purchase IMDB YouTube
What is it about the Japanese and spooky little girls? Ringu, Dark Water etc… those scary little girls are everywhere. In fact, I am getting so creeped out by them, I don't even like to drive past schools anymore!!!

But seriously…

The Japanese were really onto something when the idea of the 'creepy little girl' first emerged; the combination of evil in a pre-pubescent female form seems to be something that, upon initial viewing, is an excellent way to activate the 'chill-o-meter' that makes the little hairs on the back of our neck stand on end. The problem for Hell Girl is that it really only works in a live action scenario, and not in the form of a cute, wide-eyed anime girl, and no matter how red you make her eyes, it just isn't the same.

Hell Girl aka Jigoku Shoujo is similar to the live action TV show Freddy's Nightmares - basically an anthology series with the evil creature being the only recurring character, the difference is that even though Freddy's Nightmares was pretty stupid, Robert Englund was charismatic enough to carry the show through its silliness. Hell Girl unfortunately doesn't have this luxury, and quickly becomes tiresome and repetitive.

The premise is thus: on the stroke of midnight, one can gain access to a mysterious website known as hellcorrespondence.com, and once there, a person can enter the name of their torturer who will be taken to Hell by the enigmatic being known as Ai Enma, who mans the boat that crosses the river that takes ones soul there. The conditions of this deal though are that when the person asking Hell Girl to destroy their tormenter dies, their soul will be taken to Hell as well.

This disc is disc one of the series, and features 5 tales of Hell Girl and her website, all of which are basically the same story but with different set ups.

Essentially, it's Hellraiser, but animated. Now while that might sound like a good idea, I'll just add that all the sadomasochistic designs are dumped for traditional cute characters. You could even describe Hell Girl as the bizarre love-child of a three-way involving Hideshi Hino, Ringu and kids cartoon Ruby Gloom, which sounds like a good idea… and is a good idea that seems to me to be executed badly. The animation and character design aren't the greatest; in actual fact on several occasions the characters were so similar that I mixed characters up, and wondered what the hell was going on!
Hell Girl is presented in a nice vibrant anamorphic 16:9 transfer, with no apparent problems.
The English audio track is presented in Dolby 5.1, while the original Japanese soundtrack is only presented in 2.0.
Extra Features
Some boring extras from our friends at Madman this time:

Promotional Video: This is a music video of a song called 'Ephemeral' which is based around the anime of Hell Girl, and is sung by Mamiko Noto, who plays Ai Enma in the Japanese language. It is a soft, Enya type song which at the end of the day is pretty boring.

Making of Ephemeral: Weirdest extra ever: the making of the promotional music video of a song based on an anime. Featuring interviews with Mamiko Noto… dull!

Main Character Profiles: Fantastically, character turnarounds and design sheets that aren't in a stills gallery… hurrah!! This has footage from the episodes and incidental music with descriptions of characters and their motivations.

Textless Songs: The bane of anime DVDs. This is just the credits of episodes but with all text removed so you can see the beginning without any writing on it. I don't see them doing this for The SuperFriends or The Transformers!!! I think these are a waste of disc space.

Trailers: The usual trailers of other Madman product, this time featuring Death Note Vol 1, Witchblade Vol 1, Lain Perfect Collection and Le Portrait de Petite Cossette.
The Verdict
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score
Firstly, I have to say it is nice to watch an anime that is not based on some short series from Shonen Jump from ten years ago that has a cult following of rabid fans ready to send emails of hate just for misspelling a Japanese manga artists name. Unfortunately, that's where the happy stops. The premise is great, and as an anthology series it seems like a good idea, but after the fourth episode it just seemed a bit same-y to me: antagonist hurts protagonist, protagonist summons Hell Girl, Hell Girl dispatches antagonist, protagonist continues life knowing that they will go to Hell… ho-hum! That's not to say there isn't some nice imagery and interesting ideas, but they just weren't engaging enough! In its defense though, this is the first disc, so maybe improvements are on the rise. Shame I won't be there to see it!

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