The 3rd season of Jigoku shoujo has wrapped up, and I'm currently 4 episodes in. It's a strange series in that it has some very ordinary and normal ideas yet manages to tweak them into something bizarre. I rated the first season a 6, the second season a 7, and I believe I may rate this third season an 8 or even 9 (out of 10). I do believe this is one series that has improved over time, but even more than that I believe my understanding of what the series is really about improved as well.
I didn't quite "Get" the first season. The show's had a highly repetitive nature nature which can quickly wear out and bore viewers. Most episodes have at least a large portion of self contained plot where you are introduced to a victim and an aggressor, watch their story unfold, and their see the ending of whether the "aggressor" is sent to hell or not and how. There is a element of overarching plot, but it often happens in the background of these self contained plots. As repetitive as it was, something captivated me about the first season, and so I watched the second. Then I began to understand.
Jigoku Shoujo is interesting because of all the different types of people and reasons for accessing the Hell Hotline. Sometimes people are sent to hell (mostly) and sometimes they are not. Bad people go to hell. Good people go to hell. They could have been a bully. They could have broken someone's heart. It could be jealousy. They could not even know the "victim." Heck sometimes the victim is the one being sent to hell. There aren't really victims and aggressors, just those being sent and those doing the sending.
Then I got it. Jigoku Shoujo is a show about why people hate. That's the only ingredient necessary to send someone to hell. People hate for many reasons, and Jigoku Shoujo explores many of them. Hate knows neither good nor evil, knows no justice or fairness, it simply is. Hate arises for many reasons, but like the repetitive elements of Jigoku Shoujo, it always takes the same form.
It also has a somewhat unique, though largely subtle, art style.
Jigoku Shoujo definitely is not a series everyone will like. I also don't believe it is a series that you can truly appreciate after just the first season. It might be likened to Revolutionary Girl: Utena, with a very ordinary veneer hiding a degree of depth beyond and the strong theme of repetition. If you have the time to indulge in it fully and like seeing people destroy others and themselves, then Jigoku Shoujo just might interest you.
Intros 1 2 and 3.
Edited, Jul 18th 2009 6:02am by Allegory