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Thursday, October 25, 2007

Hell Girl, Volume 1 - Butterfly
Your grievance shall be avenged.

Tonight, I watched the first disc of the Hell Girl series, so I decided I'd put down some of my thoughts about it.

First off: WOW! I'm very picky about the anime I buy, so I only purchase shows I know will entertain me. And I have to say, this was very entertaining.

The design and animation were well-executed, no problems there.

The things that stood out to me the most were the performances and the music.

I'm not normally all gaga (yes, gaga) for OSTs. I own three, two of which I actually bought. But the music of Hell Girl really stood out to me, so much that I would easily purchase the soundtrack if I can find it.
It starts with the tune picked to loop for the menu screen. It sounds like it could have come from any of the symphonic/gothic/power metal bands I love: a mix of heavy guitar, fast drums, string instruments and gothic choral voices. What's nice is that this is actually a song from the anime itself.
The rest of the music was suitibly dramatic or creepy, befitting the mood of whatever scene was playing.

I watched the dub, and It was very well-acted. I haven't heard the original Japanese audiotrack, so I can't really do a comparison.
Enma Ai, the Hell Girl, had a wonderfully chilling monotone to her voice. Her three assistants were also well done.

There was an unfortunate repetative nature, though it didn't dampen my enjoyment of the show. Some scenes are replayed (mostly when Ai travels from Hell to the Earth in her flame-wheeled, flying carrige), and her dialogue deviated little from episode to episode.
So at the moment, the show is very episodic and "vengenace of the week" oriented, although I am aware that elements of backstory and an overarching plot will come into play somewhere down the road. The 5th episode did relieve this somewhat by delving into a slightly more complex story, so except for Ai's usual speech when she's about to harvest a soul, the repetative aspects were not present.

I don't think there'll be too many comparisons to Death Note. The horror elements come into play after each episode's protagonist asks Ai to send their tormentor to Hell. Ai's assitants - Ren, Onna, & Wanyudo - create scenarios to mentally torture their victims, driving them to confess their crimes, after which Ai takes their souls, ferrying them to Hell on a barge.
It's this dark, disturbing playfulness that really is the essence of the series.

With Higurashi on hold for the forseeable future, I'm really looking forward to the next installment of Hell Girl.

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