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.
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.
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.
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 …