Hell Girl: Fourth Twilight
Six episodes of people sending horrible people to Hell (or people they THINK are horrible anyway) with the help of Ai Enma (and at the cost of their own souls), plus a wraparound story involving a girl named Michiru who inexplicably has appeared among Ai's group, and that's it. Though there are TWELVE episodes...
Presumably the last, and DEFINITELY the least, of the Hell Girls.
In following this series from the beginning, I've been struck by the fact that it's been its best when, for whatever reason, things DIDN'T go exactly by its repetitive formula, but the show has used up all the obvious variations, it seems. The SIX original episodes here are thin on anything new- well, OK, the reason for the straw-dolling in Episode 2 was a bit unusual; but Episode 3's orders-of-magnitude doubling down on the brutality (about which I'll say more later) hardly constitutes originality. I wondered if these were mainly story ideas not considered good enough, for whatever reason, for the previous seasons of the show. The wraparound DOES finally bring us to the place that the show has been aspiring to reach all along, but it's done in such a perfunctory style that it seems pretty much anticlimactic.
But all this could have been done in a couple of OVAs. Instead, it's padded out to a full "season" of twelve episodes by an abomination possibly more horrifying than any of the events depicted in the show: the OTHER six episodes are called "Reminiscences" and consist of (and I WISH I were joking here) Ai and compatriots, "animated" by jostling paper cutouts, finding some connection between Kikuri's antics and the events of some episode from the previous three seasons, thus giving a pretext for a rerun. (Grampa might be remembering this wrong, but I believe the "paper cutouts" thing was once used as a cost-cutting measure in an infamous episode of His and Her Circumstances.) If they were going to DO repeats, I would have made a different selection, though I thought the one with the truck driver was OK, for the reason I mentioned earlier- it didn't play out strictly according to the show's formula.
But as for the show's six episodes of original material, I was absolutely mortified by Episode Three, which features a family of psychopaths and sociopaths- except for, conveniently (and unbelievably) the youngest two kids, who are gentle souls. You already know where this is going, don't you? Certainly it's clear (WAY too clear) who the good guys and bad guys are- at least until the straw dolls are whipped out, along with their attendant nihilism- but in the end this episode was as ethically challenged as a torture-porn show like Saw. I just can't find the entertainment in innocence being brutally defiled; granted, you won't actually SEE the rape of a minor, but you'll see the prelude and, oh yes, you'll see the aftermath. I've seen a lot of "one-upmanship" in horror and violence in anime of late, but yes this is memorable... and NOT in good way AT ALL. (A more minor annoyance, in another episode, is the SECOND instance of the series' self-consciously ironic use of "Lovely" to describe something that's anything BUT.)
So is there anything decent in this "season" of the show? As I said, the reason for the cursing in Episode 2 was a bit unusual, and I HAVE liked it when one of Ai's posse get to personally interact with one of the persons either cursing (or BEING cursed), and it's Wanyuudou's turn again in another of the original episodes, fine with me since he's a bit closer to my demographic.
But the show is six reruns, presented in what we'll graciously call an awkward style, along with an original that's an absolute horror in the least entertaining way imaginable, and those facts cancel out any virtue here, making this a pathetically weak end to a show that has, at times, been at least intriguing, even occasionally imaginative. If you have any interest in the show at all- I won't say "affection for" the show, affection has never been precisely what Hell Girl is about- then PLEASE skip Episode 3, at least. Oh, by the way, it's the weirdest thing- I was SURE I'd long parted with at least some of the DVDs in my collection of this show, but they're all HERE now, somehow. Some real-life weirdness for a review being written near Halloween. — Allen Moody
Recommended Audience: Audience: 18+, mainly for Episode 3's implied rape of a child. The ending of that episode is not pretty either; it will make you hate the show's characters, its creators, life in general, and most likely ALL of the human race in the end. It's that messed up.
Version(s) Viewed: Streaming on Crunchyroll.
Review Status: Full (12/12)
Hell Girl: Fourth Twilight © 2017 Studio Deen
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