As episode 10 of Jigoku Shoujo Mitsuganae, “Goldfish in the Mirror”, starts, we see a teenage boy, Kazuya, running around town delivering newspapers. He eventually arrives at the apartment building that Yuzuki lives in, and seeing him approaching, Yuzuki gathers her resolve to go down and talk to him. They make some small talk, but what Yuzuki probably really wanted was to find out what’s wrong with him and maybe even dissuade Kazuya from his course, as she had seen him contact the Jigoku Tsushin. It doesn’t work, but at least she is finally getting the resolve to do something about her visions.
After the opening credits, we get an implicit but pretty clear picture of just how dysfunctional Kazuya’s family is, as the father only pays attention to Kazuya, the mother only pays attention to the father, and Kazuya is torn between his estranged parents. Even Yuzuki gets a taste of something being dreadfully wrong with the mother, as she and Akie pass by Kazuya’s home on their way to school. I’m not sure if it’s due to Yuzuki’s own perception or whether she’s getting something from Enma Ai. And despite how dysfunctional his family is, I didn’t get the feeling that Kazuya hated his parents, making me wonder who his target might be.
It soon becomes apparent what Kazuya thinks the problem is. The mother, in her attempts to attract the attention of her husband, has become addicted to buying beautiful kimonos, and a kimono salesman has been selling them to her with sweet words. He even convinces the mother to take on loans to buy the expensive clothes. Too bad the mother doesn’t realize that her expensive purchases are only backfiring on her.
And Kazuya blames the kimono salesman for the family’s problems, not realizing that even with that particular salesman gone, the underlying problems would still be there, and that his mother could easily become exploited by another salesman. It is also apparent that Kazuya delivered newspapers to earn money that could help pay for the kimono purchases, but I think it only enabled her mother as his secretly delivered money only made his mother think that the father inwardly approved, believing the money was from her husband.
Thinking that if only the kimono salesman were to disappear that his family would get happier, Kazuya had received the voodoo doll from Ai quite a while ago. But he couldn’t bring himself to pull the red string, probably because he half-realizes that the salesman is just doing his job, and definitely because he is afraid of the price of pulling the red string.
However, during the school marathon where he is considered the most likely to finish in first place, he encounters the kimono salesman talking on the phone while he was running alone far ahead of the pack. What he hears incenses him so much, as the salesman talks about taking advantage of her mother and that all of his sweet words to her were just an empty sales pitch, that he quits the marathon and runs home to pull off the red string from the voodoo doll. Oddly enough, the goldfish in his room dies when he pulls the string. I have no idea what this is supposed to mean.
After the kimono salesman was sent to hell, however, nothing changed for Kazuya’s family. His parents are still estranged, and his mother just moved on to another kimono salesman. The only things different are that Kazuya has sent someone to hell and that he himself is now bound to the same place.
While the plot of the episode was not out of the ordinary by itself, it seems to signal a change to the overall story as Yuzuki has finally decided to do something about her visions from Ai. Possibly in order to emphasize the coming change, parts of the episode with Yuzuki were beautifully animated. How will Yuzuki try to take a more active role in future episodes?