Alright, so I feel a little skeevy using that screen as my image for the post, but it honestly was a beautiful scene, and although I felt like Studio Deen had Ai kiss Yuzuki in the first episode and in the OP solely as a cheap fanservice grab, here it did not come off as such – like I said, it was a beautiful scene.
Anyway, the third season of Jigoku Shoujo has come to a close, and I really enjoyed it. Although it was a bit rocky toward the beginning, and I feared it was going to be an entire season of kids sending other kids to hell for dumb reasons, it ended up being a very solid season. Having been somewhat disappointed by the last ten or so episode of Futakomori, I was thrilled that this didn’t devolve into the melodramatic antics that Futakomori did at the end. Yuzuki’s story was cruel and heart-breaking in part because it was very believable; Takuma’s tale simply wasn’t, as it was far too over-the-top. While some of the storylines in Jigoku Shoujo have been over-the-top, it could manage to get away with those since they lasted but an episode – Takuma’s arc, though, lasted several, and it just flat-out didn’t work as a result. (Granted, there is also the fact that Takuma had a ‘happy’, alive ending, but even so his story never resonated like Yuzuki’s did.)
I was somewhat annoyed that they didn’t leave Yuzuki as the new Jigoku Shoujo and roll into a fourth season with her as our protagonist, but at the same time I like how they closed out her story. I just sort of feel that this means the entire franchise really is over, since Ai is now guaranteed to by the Jigoku Shoujo forever, what with what the spider said to her. So I don’t really see what they could possibly do with a new season, other than just have revenge stories the whole way. I’m still hoping for a fourth season, nevertheless, but I feel that it couldn’t work. Ah, well, we’ll see – I wonder what they would call it? Jigoku Shoujo Yonpashira? Yonsatsu? Yonkyoku? There was something sort of lyrical about the words ‘futakomori’ and ‘mitsuganae’, so it would have to preserve that… my Japanese isn’t good enough for me to think of what could possibly work.
The OP, in retrospect, was great. While I still like the Futakomori OP best, the planning that went into this one was striking. Specifically, see the shot below:
Honestly, from episode one the OP felt very sad, because I figured Yuzuki was going to end up becoming Jigoku Shoujo, so seeing her as a child and having fun with her friends struck a sad chord. However, this shot in particular became very, really, heart-breaking after we saw Yuzuki’s past – go look at the shot of her in the apartment after burying her mother in cherryblossom petals and compare it with this one. They’re basically the same shot.
To backtrack to the AixYuzuki kiss scene… it really was a lovely scene. The kiss worked because it came off as Ai saying good-bye to Yuzuki; it was an acknowledgment of their parting in addition to allowing Yuzuki to fully understand why Ai acted as she had in saving her from being condemned to hell. Some losers will try to paint it as yuri, but doing so profoundly misunderstands the scene and undermines its poignancy.
I suppose I’d tell people who liked Jigoku Shoujo to watch this season, and those who don’t like it not to. Honestly, at this point, that’s what is going to happen anyway. But I also think this season was accessible for those who haven’t seen prior seasons, although I do think it’s nice to have the character development for Ai and her followers from previous seasons if not necessary.
Well, knocking on wood for a fourth go-round.