Jigoku Shoujo Mitsuganae 22


yuzuki-missing-her-mother

In episode 22 of Jigoku Shoujo Mitsuganae, “Flower and Moon”, entrance exam season is approaching, which means that it’s time for students to think about their future. It’s a thorny issue for Yuzuki, whose future is supposedly determined already. It would have been funny to see her claiming that she didn’t need to study and advance in school because she’s supposed to become a magical girl, though (not that she has the inclination). Further proof of how Yuzuki’s (possibly) manufactured identity is unraveling becomes apparent as the teacher can’t find her documents during the private session discussing her future. And it really bugs Yuzuki that she can’t reach her mother as she watches many of the other students greeting their mothers for the private discussions with the teachers: in fact, it bugs her so much that she collapses.

Yuzuki wakes up in the school infirmary, where she does not get any emotional support from the fatalistic Tsugumi. Now feeling better and on her way home, Yuzuki encounters a Misono Sumika, who is burning stuff in her yard. The stuff that Sumika is burning are photographs and other material with her and her sister Yuika, who is an up and coming model mentioned earlier in the episode. As an alumni of the same school Yuzuki is going to, Sumika offers to help out Yuzuki decide what she’s going to do after graduating from middle school. Elsewhere, we get to see Yuika, Sumika’s twin sister, modeling and hanging out with her boyfriend, but Sumika also seems to have feelings for Yuika’s boyfriend Masato, which Yuzuki gets to see as a vision.

yuika-and-sumika

At some later date, Yuzuki arrives at Sumika’s home, where she also encounters Yuika going out, who Yuzuki mistook to be Sumika at first. Sumika and Yuika are twin sisters, who are completely identical in appearance except for a birthmark on Sumika’s back. However, Sumika is the one who does all the academic work while they go to university, doing Yuika’s coursework for her. In fact, Sumika even took Yuika’s entrance exam for her for the same university, made possible because Sumika got a recommendation-based acceptance without requiring an exam. The resentment must really be brimming within Sumika to tell someone she barely knows about something like that.

When Sumika asks Yuzuki what she wanted to be when she was smaller, Yuzuki remembers a voice of a little girl asking for help, and Yuzuki answers that she doesn’t know what sort of child she was, nor what she would like to become when she grows up. Sumika might have interpreted this as Yuzuki being unable to think of anything special about her childhood, but I suspect Yuzuki meant it literally: I have a feeling that Yuzuki literally had no childhood. And of course, the looming destiny of becoming the next Jigoku Shoujo would put a crimp in any plans for the future.

yuika-dresses-up-sumika

Then one day a drunken Yuika gets into a car accident while she carelessly tries to walk across the street. She only is slightly injured, but it’s enough to prevent her from working the next day. But she doesn’t want to skip work when it’s her chance to be in the movies, so she dresses up Sumika and sends her to work instead. Yuika should have thought of the possibility that Sumika could be as good or even better than herself in modeling and acting, and that once Sumika starts doing the same sort of stuff she does, Sumika may not want to stop. But of course Yuika doesn’t think long-term enough, nor does she ever consider the possibility of both the twins working in the same jobs to share the workload and the benefits.

As Sumika works in Yuika’s place, it’s apparent that Sumika is not at all bad at it, which causes resentment in Yuika. It only gets worse when Sumika seduces her boyfriend, initially where Sumika pretended to be Yuika although the pretense doesn’t last long because of the birthmark. And when Yuika recovers from her injuries, the twin sisters get really antagonistic about who should be the actress. In the rest of the episode, it is deliberately left vague on which sister is which. One of them accesses the Jigoku Tsushin, with the given name appropriately blurred, and the next day when Yuzuki tries to stop it, she can’t figure out which sister to follow when they go in opposite directions. And one of them gets dumped by Masato, who then pulls out a voodoo doll to pull off the red string.

strategically-covered-name

To the end it’s unclear which sister got sent to hell. The only hint is that the sister did not have a birthmark during the press conference for the movie she appeared in, but it’s no clear proof that it’s Yuika since it could have easily been covered up by makeup. The Jigoku Tsushin mark on her chest may have not been covered up, but that may be just because it would have been concealed by her dress. Even the name on the candle marking the grudge holder is covered over in the the appropriate place by a trail of candle wax. I don’t think it matters much: sometimes there’s no real difference between a grudge holder and a grudge inflicter. Too bad the sisters couldn’t think in terms of “double lights” instead of “light and shadow”.

The real interesting parts in this episode were the not so subtle hints that “Mikage Yuzuki” may indeed be a manufactured identity. Yuzuki is no longer able to reach her mother, whom she had used to talk on the phone regularly, and even her official documentation seems to be disappearing. I have a strong feeling that Akie may have been involved somehow in Yuzuki becoming a normal human being: in fact, I think Yuzuki may have been the previous Jigoku Shoujo before Ai had to come back, and is supposed to become the Jigoku Shoujo again. But I don’t think that Ai is merely trying to get Yuzuki to become the Jigoku Shoujo again …

  1. #1 by RoW2 on March 12, 2009 - 3:26 pm

    Ai was sentenced for massacre in village. Yuzuki must commit (or already commited) something similar to be the next Hell Girl. But Yuzuki looks like angel compared with Ai. I can’t imagine her anger. Could she kill her own parents?

  2. #2 by Roberto Marin on March 13, 2009 - 1:24 am

    You know… one thing does bother me. I re-watched chapter 2 out of a hunch. There is a short section where Yuzuki is on the phone, speaking to her father, and asking him about her mom. Watch it and check it out.

    As for a childhood, during the opening, there is a picture of Yuzuki which is obviously from when she was a child (then again, it is the opening, and that doesn’t always count).

    Make no mistake. It can all be fabricated still. I mean, no one has said she’s not adopted, right?

    Ai had “parents” on her village too. Remember the whole “born as an evil spirit” thing around her. She was an innocent child that would not hurt a fly, yet her eyes did happen to turn red on the very instant they started to bury her alive and she cast her curse on the villagers.

    So yes, maybe Yuzuki is yet another “evil spirit” waiting to awaken, and maybe her parents are as “real” as Ai’s where. I mean, who says Ai was not adopted too?

  3. #3 by RoW2 on March 13, 2009 - 1:00 pm

    Ai learned about her own fate only after village fire, but Yuzuki already knows where she will work next 400-500 years. It means what Yuzuki already commited something. I think what call to father isn’t convincing argument – Yuzuki can only imagine conversation. It’s too suspicious – we know almost nothing about her parents and past during all the season. She collapsed when she hears word “mother”. I think she has some problems with memory – phenomenon when murderer’s mind refuses to reproduce recollection about the murder. Anyway, vision of sakura promises bright flashback in the last chapters – good tradition from the first season.

  4. #4 by Roberto Marin on March 13, 2009 - 9:35 pm

    I don’t think Yuzuki has done anything yet. I agree that she could have done something she is blocking out, but that somehow does not click. I mean, Ai was punished pretty much right after her actions. If Yuzuki already did something, what’s the point of waiting? Ai was out of the picture before any of us met Yuzuki, so there was no active Hell Girl for a while. Why let Ai return if there was already another Jigoku Shoujo ready to rock?

    I think that if the call to her father (chapter 2) was imaginary and she was deluding herself, the writers would have made more of that happen. It is her mother that does not answer (or, maybe the writers slipped on that chapter?)

  5. #5 by Shounen A on March 14, 2009 - 2:20 am

    My own theory is that Yuzuki was the Jigoku Shoujo who started to appear immediately after the retirement of Ai, hinted at the end of the previous season. I don’t believe she was ever human, that she was a supernatural entity created from the start to be the Jigoku Shoujo (for that matter, Yuzuki may have been the Jigoku Shoujo before the role was forced upon Ai as punishment), but something happened with Akie years ago to make her quit and set up an identity as a normal girl (hinted at by the flashback in episode 13). Yuzuki had set up false memories in herself and others, not to mention the supporting documentation, but now that the possibility of becoming the Jigoku Shoujo is being forced upon her, Yuzuki’s manufactured identity is crumbling around her as she subconsciously remembers that she is supposed to be the Jigoku Shoujo.

    I don’t think the phone calls were imaginary: the writers made a point to emphasize Yuzuki calling her mother in episode 20, and in the very next episode Yuzuki can no longer contact her. And in this episode even Yuzuki’s school documents are disappearing. I suspect that soon enough her classmates and close friends won’t be remembering Yuzuki anymore.

    This is all just speculation, of course, but I do get the sense that it might not be too far off the mark (except for Yuzuki having been the Jigoku Shoujo part). What really has me puzzled is what Ai is trying to accomplish. Did she return just as Yuzuki’s life is about to crumble, or did she return to make Yuzuki’s life crumble? Is Ai trying to make Yuzuki do something that would not be fitting for a Jigoku Shoujo, or is she just familiarizing Yuzuki on what a Jigoku Shoujo is supposed to do? Etc., etc. I just have no sense of which speculation may be hotter or colder.

    • #6 by Roberto Marin on March 15, 2009 - 7:54 am

      Good observation. So who granted that grudge on the last episode?

      Call it wishful thinking, but somehow I don’t see Yuzuki fitting in that spot. Your theory does make sense, but I feel it wouldn’t quite click with the whole “awakening” concept, which implies something dormant rather than something willingly hidden.

      Here is a cruel theory to ponder: what if Yuzuki is human and real, and both parents are real, and the forces of hell are conspiring to make another hell girl out of her? What if she’s been “baking in the oven” since the end of the last season? After all, hell did loose her last disobedient girl, so another one had to be made from scratch. Not that anyone has mentioned any ages, but if you compare Tsugumi’s appearance from the second versus how old she looks on this one, wouldn’t the age difference seem to be about as many years as Yuzuki’s age? Could it be that Yuzuki was born the very moment Ai went “poof”?

      If I was the devil and wanted to replace little disobedient Ai, why wouldn’t I bestow the curse upon some other girl, then set things up around her to crack her into doing something unforgivable? When the time is right, why not take her closest friend to hell, then erase her from the memories of people around her? Maybe (JUST MAYBE) Ai is there to try and soften the inevitable blow, or maybe she is trying to get her job back (opening lyrics do suggest a crazy bird that wants to be in the cage despite the fact that the lock is broken).

      As for who fills the grudge-granting void in the meantime, think of the ending sequence. It kinda feels like there have been several other hell girls before, or maybe even simultaneously… why would hell have any business with just a small population rather than the whole world?.

      On that point, The ending also hints Yuzuki could be the one that actually escapes that fate (closing lyrics do end in “one has escaped” when she vanishes from Ai’s side, and the red thread of fate in their fingers breaks, which is symbolic of escaping your destiny). Maybe they’re telling us Ai keeps the job for another season!

      • #7 by Shounen A on March 17, 2009 - 3:12 am

        We’ll just have to wait and see how things unfold about the rest, but I’m sure there is only one Jigoku Shoujo since Jigoku Tsushin activities tend to cluster in one single region at a time, as Dr. Mizorogi revealed in episode 20.

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