Episode 25 of Jigoku Shoujo Mitsuganae, “Yuzuki”, begins from the end of the previous episode where Yuzuki finds her own skeletal body in her room. Yuzuki thinks this is all just an illusion cast by Ai, although I strongly suspect that Ai had nothing to do with Yuzuki’s disappearing existence, at least not directly. However, Ai may have something to do with Yuzuki starting to remember things immersively from when she was much smaller.
Yuzuki’s family used to be a very happy one, and we get to see a scene where the father gives a huge teddy bear to Yuzuki as an early birthday present (and a small bear keychain to the mother, Sayoko, as an extra). This all changes when the father gets into a traffic accident. The father was a bus driver, and the brakes didn’t work on that fateful day. The father did everything he could have reasonably done, but a bus is too heavy to stop easily without working brakes, and an incoming truck hit the bus at an intersection.
At least Yuzuki and her mother got to see the father before he died at the hospital, even if he never regained consciousness. But seeing the father die is not made any easier by family members of other victims blaming him for the crash, with Sayoko’s bear keychain being crushed in the process. At least the immediate reactions of the other family members are understandable given the situation, but what comes after is not. The official investigation into the bus crash concludes that there were no problems with the maintenance of the bus and puts all the responsibility of the bus crash on Yuzuki’s father, and the public laps it up and starts shunning Yuzuki and her mother. It’s made pretty clear that it wasn’t genuine sloppiness on the part of the investigators: the bus company made sure that they would not end up being blamed for the crash.
Almost no one is in any way friendly to Yuzuki and her mother Sayoko anymore, and in fact are downright hostile. There was one person who remained friendly, going as far as providing Sayoko with a part-time job, but even this ends when he reveals an ulterior motive and tries to seduce her. And her efforts to move away from the region are stymied as none of the relatives allow Yuzuki and her mother to stay with them. Things are not made any easier with Sayoko having a steadily worsening cough. The hospitals won’t even look at what’s wrong with her, and things get even worse when she starts coughing up blood. And no matter how much Yuzuki tries, she can’t get any help from anyone. The only person to show pure kindness to Yuzuki during the entire time was Akie, who gave Yuzuki a piece of candy when she found Yuzuki depressed by the riverbank. It made enough of an impression that Yuzuki kept the candy with the picture of her father.
Yuzuki and Sayako now spend days together in bed without even getting up to eat, with Yuzuki not going to school because of the constant bullying and her mother too sick to get out of bed. The situation is so bleak that Sayoko gathers the strength for her and Yuzuki to go to a temple, where she intends them to die together. She would have strangled Yuzuki to death if it were not for a couple of girls that appeared outside the building Yuzuki and herself were hiding in, but after the girls go away, Sayoko is too tired and dies on the spot. A nearby sakura tree suddenly blooms and drops a whole lot of petals, and Yuzuki buries her mother in a grave of sakura petals. Yuzuki’s eyes are now red, and with nothing else to do, Yuzuki heads home and goes to sleep, hugging the giant teddy bear from her father, never to wake up again.
Back in the present, Yuzuki now remembers what really happened and knows it’s not something made up by Ai. She soon finds herself and the Jigoku Tsushin gang transported to the gate to hell, where Yuzuki sees Akie with an outreached hand on the other side. Yuzuki is aware that it is only a shadow of Akie, but she still grabs Akie’s hand. The moment their hands touch, Ai disappears and Yuzuki becomes the new Jigoku Shoujo. Yuzuki is now fully accepting of what the Jigoku Shoujo does, thinking that the Jigoku Tsushin is needed for people like herself and her mother who has no one else to turn to. She also declares that she won’t be like Ai, that she would see to it that only justified grudges will be fulfilled.
Unlike Ai who had no choice but to be the Jigoku Shoujo, her assistants were always volunteers who may have had different motivations for helping Ai at the beginning but are now loyal to her. This is shown when only Wanyuudo decides to stick with the new Jigoku Shoujo. I suspect that Yuzuki’s condemnation of Ai is the reason Ichimokuren and Hone Onna decided not to stick around. Yamawaro would have stayed behind, being sympathetic to what had happened to Yuzuki and her mother (especially the mother, given what was revealed about Yamawaro in episode 17), but he was dragged away by Kikuri, who I think is very upset about not having become the new Jigoku Shoujo. At least Yuzuki gets another attendant in the form of Akie.
As Yuzuki eases into her new role as the Jigoku Shoujo, her first job starts soon enough, where the target is interestingly Mayama Azusa. I think the look on Azusa’s face is something to look forward to, when she discovers that there is now a different Jigoku Shoujo and who she is, not to mention who is by her side. It might not happen, but it would be a huge irony if she were to be taken to hell by Yuzuki and Akie.
Throughout the episode we saw Ai and Yamawaro watching what had happened to Yuzuki in the past. An obvious explanation would be that they were just watching Yuzuki relive her memories, but it could also be the case that they had actually travelled back in time. Or it could be that they had been watching Yuzuki in the past in the first place in anticipation of what would happen to Yuzuki. It does seem that Yamawaro may have been responsible for the sakura to have bloomed out of season, instead of just watching her memories: perhaps there is a more significant story to how Yamawaro recently joined up with Ai beyond him just being another supernatural entity that Ai managed to recruit.
As for Yuzuki, I suspect she will soon find out that she has no choice over which grudges get to be fulfilled, that Ai wasn’t simply taking requests mechanically out of her own choice. And her first job could get pretty messy: it might be the case that Akie’s father was also involved with the coverup in the bus crash investigation, putting all the blame on Yuzuki’s father, similar to what had happened to Mayama Azusa’s father as explained in episode 13. In fact, it was probably Akie’s father who was talking to the company chairman earlier in the episode about covering it up. I’m also pretty sure we haven’t seen the last of Enma Ai. On a side note, is Mikage Yuzuki now supposed to be Enma Yuzuki?