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Hell Girl Volume 3: Cherry

01/08/2009. Contributed by Neale Monks

Buy Hell Girl Volume 3 Cherry in the USA - or Buy Hell Girl Volume 3 Cherry in the UK

author pic

region2 DVD: pub: Revelation Films. FUN72603. 1 DVD 110 minutes 4 episodes plus extras. Price: 15.99 (UK).

check out website: www.revfilms.com and www.funimation.com/hellgirl

With this third collection of 'Hell Girl' episodes there's a shift from the standalone stories that characterised the preceding volumes towards a more serialised format. Although each episode is built around a single act of retribution, the Hell Girl is now being opposed by the journalist Hajime Shibata. His daughter Tsugumi has some sort of psychic connection with the Hell Girl and Shibata uses the clues he picks up from her to try and find out where the Hell Girl is going to act next.

Although his attempts at preventing the Hell Girl from carrying out her act of vengeance are not particularly successful, the character of Shibata does shine an interesting light on the otherwise difficult to fathom Hell Girl. Shibata isn't a crusading journalist by temperament. Indeed, in the second volume of episodes it was made clear he operated more at the paparazzi-end of the market but he does at least realise that the briefly satisfying taste of revenge doesn't justify ruining one's life or losing one's soul.





All four episodes on the disc are entertaining in a disturbing sort of way, but the second episode, 'Spilled Bits' probably stands out as being especially powerful and troubling. It focuses on the intense relationship between a young girl and her schoolteacher, although the precise nature of the relationship isn't revealed in detail, the implication is that it goes rather further than a strictly professional one. Whatever else, the waste of a child's life and the improper actions of the teacher make this episode both poignant and unsettling at the same time.

Although not as disturbing, the third episode reveals much more of the background to the 'Hell Girl' story than has hitherto been shown in the series. An older generation made their contracts with the Hell Girl not through a website but via a newspaper advertisement that only the truly vengeful could see. As Shibata learns more about one particular episode in the past, he finds out how people live their lives knowing that the Hell Girl is waiting to ferry them away to Hell once their time is up.

It's also revealed that the Hell Girl has been doing her dark work for a very long time, at least back to the Edo Period and perhaps as far back as the Warring States Period. We also get hints that the Hell Girl isn't entirely without feelings and while she can't alter the bargains struck, she's not without pity for the condemned.

The animation is, as ever, exquisite. The flashback sequences used in the third episode are especially attractive, mixing traditional anime with a grainy, old movie style in a very effective way. Bonus features are minimal, apart from the music video versions of the theme songs, there's also a discussion with the voice actors who talk about their roles and the 'Hell Girl' series generally.

Taken as a piece, the four episodes presented here pull 'Hell Girl' up from being a repetitive, highly formulaic monster-of-the-week type show into something with more depth. Shibata and his daughter make interesting foils for the Hell Girl, who starts to come across as a more rounded, even sympathetic character. Whether these threads get developed in the rest of the series remains to be seen, but for those who enjoyed earlier instalments of the 'Hell Girl' series, volume three is an essential purchase.

Neale Monks

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