Review of Hell Girl (2005)

Moving picture

Somewhere on the outskirts of Hell, there’s a web server. If you access the server at midnight, you see a field where you can enter the name of a person you think deserves a terrible revenge. An old lady notices your request and sends out a 400-year-old young girl with three minions—one of whom is a flaming wagon wheel—to examine your grudge. If they think it’s valid, you get a straw puppet with a red string around its neck. This occurs in almost every episode, always with the same explanation: Pull the string and the person you named immediately goes to Hell without a trace, but you will be branded and taken to Hell when you die. “The rest is up to you.”

Despite occasional screaming demonstrations of what a second in Hell feels like, almost everyone pulls the string. The girl and her team proceed to give the named grudgee a campy ironic scare and then ferry the soul away. A reporter eventually starts tracing the phenomenon with the help of his seven-year-old psychic daughter.

Supposedly horror. Very repetitive, with many unfathomably stupid scenarios and a few thin scraps of actual unease. It is interesting only as an example of some populist horror tropes: A bit of religion, stylized pretty people, highly improbable soul-crushing misfortune, fear of the Internet (ten years later than one would expect), a rumour fetish and a strong sense of ritual.

References here: Black Museum (2017).

moving picture Japanese production animation fiction series