From the preview, it looks like episode 12 of Jigoku Shoujo Mitsuganae, “Graph in the Middle of the Summer”, will be the silly episode of the season. However, it doesn’t start out that way, as Yuzuki and her friends are at the pool eating snacks at a vendor a friend is helping out with. Everyone except Yuzuki ordered yakisoba, or fried noodles, but decided to eat popsicles instead after seeing how delicious and cool Yuzuki seems to be eating her own popsicle. It’s ominous in that a part-time worker for the vendor is enraged as the girls throw away the yakisoba they had ordered and he had prepared. Will this force Yuzuki to take direct action as he takes out a grudge against a close friend of hers? Or will he suffer outrageous setbacks as he tries to take out a grudge on Yuzuki?
Unlike the first scenes, but like the preview, it’s soon apparent that this is not so much an ominous episode for Yuzuki or her friends. Nomura, the focus of this episode, is an introvert who is quite a pushover in front of others but holds quite a grudge inside. He’s not bad at drawing manga, and he draws out his fantasies of people he hates suffering in hell. He also has a sticker-based tally board with a pin-up girl as a background: starting from her feet, he intends to send the first person whose tally reaches her chest through the Jigoku Tsushin. Initially, there are two main contenders for first place, one being a bully from school and another being a woman he competes over their bicycle parking space, although another strong contender soon appears when he finds the boy going out with a girl he likes.
The rest of the amusing first half of the episode is devoted to how Nomura gets pissed off and increases the tally for each contender with every trivial and non-trivial insult against himself, with accompanying manga being drawn that illustrates his fantasies. He also finally notices how cute Ito Nozomi, Yuzuki’s friend who works at the same vendor, is, although no one notices despite his starting to draw glasses over the cute girls he draws. Not to mention the fact that he still seems to hold a torch to the same girl he had a crush on at the beginning, given how the tally continues to rise against her boyfriend. Ai’s gang finds Nomura’s selection process amusing, with Kikuri having a one-sided bet with Yamawaro on who will win first place in Nomura’s tally board.
Then one day, Nomura finally finishes drawing the manga where he drew out his fantasies of his nemeses suffering in hell, although I wouldn’t even have guessed he was actually drawing anything more than a collection of 4-panel comics. But as he eagerly heads out to submit his manga to “Comic DEEN” (which should be a familiar name to those who know which studio produces Jigoku Shoujo), he finds his bicycle placed among the nearby trash. It turns out that there was a new policy of discarding bikes without a seal from the apartment building management because of the lack of bicycle parking space, and the woman he competed for parking space knew it and didn’t tell him. This makes him really pissed off that he adds about ten stickers to the woman’s tally, but this causes her tally to reach the pin-up girl’s chest, which means it’s finally time for Nomura to send someone to hell. This also lets Kikuri win her unilateral bet with Yamawaro with a bit of revisionist history.
Or at least it would have, if Nomura didn’t chicken out at the prospect of actually sending someone to hell and withdrew some of the added tallies for the woman. By now the three main contenders have nearly reached the goal, and in an ironic twist, it seems to help with Nomura’s anger management as he starts letting trivial things flow over him. It also helps that he won an award for his manga, which greatly improves his mood. In fact, he finally asks Nozomi out for a movie, which has her rather nervous and excited about the prospect of a date. It does annoy Kikuri that the bet is now effectively off, which she takes out on poor Yamawaro.
However, one day when he’s returning home, he discovers a girl about to jump off a bridge. Never mind that the bridge is too low for a probable success in a suicide jump, but anyways Nomura manages to stop the girl from jumping. To his surprise, it’s Kokoro, the girl Nomura had a crush on in the beginning and still has. The reason she wanted to kill herself was because she found out that her boyfriend was cheating on her. In fact, he had three other girlfriends he was cheating on. Nomura cheers her up by saying that killing herself would be pointless, that it would be much better if she got a much better boyfriend. I suspect that Nomura might have been hoping the new boyfriend could be himself.
Anyways, Nomura finds what Kokoro’s ex-boyfriend had done to be unforgivable and adds a sticker to his tally for each girl he cheated on. This time the tally reaches the goal and Nomura does not turn back in contacting the Jigoku Tsushin. However, Nomura doesn’t really hate the ex-boyfriend enough to connect to the Jigoku Tsushin, but Enma Ai shows up anyways. To his surprise, she had come because someone is about to send Nomura to hell.
I was half-expecting Nomura to be the one sent to hell this episode, but it was a complete surprise on who sent him. It’s Kokoro, who in a twisted maze of crappy logic rationalizes her hate against Nomura by making herself believe he would blab to everyone what had happened that night. Quite ridiculous in that Nomura showed no indication that he might do so, not to mention that she should have realized Nomura didn’t have anyone to blab it to and that it really shouldn’t have mattered even if it did become gossip, but who knows what goes on in the head of a person like her. As Nomura is sent to hell, he becomes a cut-out manga figure and goes through the suffering he had fantasized his nemeses going through.
About a week later, Nozomi is crying over the disappearance of Nomura. While her friends try to cheer her up by saying that he was just a terrible sort of guy, Nozomi defends him by saying that he must have run away from home for some justifiably important reason. Yuzuki can’t say anything despite knowing exactly what happened, although she might have actually done something if it didn’t happen so fast with scant minutes between Kokoro’s contacting the Jigoku Tsushin and pulling the red string. Kokoro, on the other hand, just shows how shallow she is as she worries more about how her Jigoku Tsushin mark looks on her rather than what it implies.
From the preview for the next episode, it’s mentioned that the town is the closest location to hell and that someone is going to send Ai something from hell. Things might finally start happening concerning the overall plot, and we might finally get hints of why Ai returned if we’re lucky.