Episode 26 of Jigoku Mitsuganae, “Locus of the Soul” and the final episode, begins with a review of the case of Mayama Azusa, the first intended target for Yuzuki as the new Jigoku Shoujo, which Yuzuki finds to be appropriate. The client is unsurprisingly Akie’s father. Meanwhile, having failed to keep Yuzuki from becoming the Jigoku Shoujo, Shibata Tsugumi leaves the city as she is seen off by Ichimokuren and Hone Onna, who are still hanging around the area. Apparently whatever happened to Hajime subconsciously prevented her from helping Yuzuki out much, though. Tsugumi thinks that she will not be seeing the Jigoku Tsushin gang again: for someone who has previously been so fatalistic, she is being very optimistic …
Akie’s father had correctly guessed that Azusa was responsible for Akie’s disappearance, but for a while his investigations turned up nothing even after quitting the police to focus on searching for Akie. He eventually heard rumors about the Jigoku Tsushin, and he finally figured out what had happened when he discovered the Jigoku Tsushin mark on Azusa’s chest. Yuzuki does a pretty good job at giving the Jigoku Shoujo spiel, having witnessed Ai giving it so many times, although she is more polite. But there’s a glaring difference from Ai: Yuzuki actually encourages Akie’s father to send Azusa to hell. Akie’s father plans to see Azusa being sent to hell in person. Elsewhere, Kikuri’s forehead itches like hell, which shortly reveals a third eye, and Kikuri’s head falls off and turns into the spider.
Akie’s father is all fired up to send Azusa to hell, but when he actually arrives outside Azusa’s home and looks into the room, he has a change of heart. I strongly suspect that he realized what he had done to Azusa’s father, and perhaps that he is ultimately responsible for Akie’s disappearance. But he says nothing of the sort to Yuzuki, only saying that Azusa would eventually end up in hell anyways, and gives back the voodoo doll. Back from being a voodoo doll, Wanyuudo is ready to head back to home base, but Yuzuki drops a bombshell and reveals her intention to send Azusa to hell anyways, her personal emotions getting the better of her job requirements.
Ai then appears to convince Yuzuki otherwise, saying that it is against the rules. Yuzuki thinks that Ai is just uncaring and cannot understand the grudge held by those that have been unjustly wronged and are powerless to do anything about it, something she herself understands all too well: Yuzuki is just too predisposed to think ill of Ai that she can’t imagine Ai having gone through anything like she did. Yuzuki just blasts Ai and goes on her own way to send Azusa to hell. When Wanyuudo goes to Ai to check whether she’s OK, she asks him to gather everyone. Soon after, Yuzuki is standing over a sleeping Azusa, ready to send her to hell.
But it’s a trap: when Azusa begins to wake up, she turns into Akie, and the spider climbs out of her eye. Taking Yuzuki outside the real world, the spider tells Yuzuki that the Jigoku Shoujo has no right to judge people, that the Jigoku Shoujo should merely accept requests and fulfill them. Yuzuki is unpersuaded, to which the spider replies that the Jigoku Shoujo needs no heart, which prompts Yuzuki to try to blast the spider. But with Yuzuki’s power coming from being the Jigoku Shoujo, this is like trying to cast a magic attack against a demon lord against that very same demon lord and is utterly ineffective. This just ends up with Yuzuki being ensnared by the spider’s web, who intends to send Yuzuki to hell for her failure, but the Jigoku Tsushin gang manage a daring rescue of Yuzuki, leaving the spider to wonder what Ai is up to.
Having made their escape, Yuzuki finds herself facing Ai in front of the gate to hell and wonders what is going on, why Ai would help her when it could mean that Ai herself might end up in hell. Ai takes Yuzuki to the past when Yuzuki was dying, with no one coming to help. Ai points out that humans are weak, that they always try to protect themselves, which is why they pretend to not see certain things that are quite clearly visible. Yuzuki isn’t quite sure what Ai is getting at, so she is shown all the times that Yuzuki tried to stop the Jigoku Tsushin but failed. The implication is that it’s the same for Yuzuki, to which she vehemently denies doing nothing, that she did what she could but it couldn’t have been helped. Ai emphasizes what Yuzuki said,
It couldn’t be helped.
This could be taken as Ai pointing out that it’s the most common excuse for people letting bad things happen. But I don’t think so: it could be a partial explanation for why no one had helped Yuzuki when she was dying. In particular, it might be Ai trying to explain why she couldn’t help Yuzuki even when she wanted to, either because her actions were constrained by being the Jigoku Shoujo, or because she was powerless to do anything after her second death at the end of Futakomori. Whatever the case may be, Ai does something that might never be seen again: she cries. Ai cries for Yuzuki, and as her tears fall on the Yuzuki of the past, the Yuzuki of the present might be remembering feeling someone’s tears as she was dying, that someone did come for her. Or Yuzuki might be crying simply because someone cares about what happened to her.
Back at the gate to hell, Ai shows why Akie’s father ended up not sending Azusa to hell: he had seen her take care of her invalid father, which reminds Yuzuki how she had also took care of her mother and sends her crying. But the spider soon shows up, ready to send Yuzuki to hell, although at least it respects Yuzuki’s wishes not to speak to it through the form of Akie. However, Ai offers to sacrifice herself in Yuzuki’s stead, even though this would mean that Ai would have to be the Jigoku Shoujo forever as long as there is hate among people. And the spider accepts her offer.
Yuzuki and Ai then find themselves in a field of blue flowers, and Yuzuki starts to disappear to her fright. Ai hugs Yuzuki to reassure her that it is OK: Yuzuki isn’t going to hell but rather heaven, whatever it may be in the Jigoku Shoujo world (for that matter, I don’t even know what hell is). With Yuzuki wondering why Ai did what she did, Ai kisses Yuzuki and shows memories of her past, how Yuzuki was just like herself. Yuzuki jokingly mentions being a little envious of Ai having had a boyfriend and disappears in gratitude to Ai, leaving behind a sad Ai, who is once again the Jigoku Shoujo.
As the ending credits roll, Ai rejoins the gang in a scene reminiscent of the scene in episode 13, where this time Yamawaro is also present. They must have mixed feelings about Ai being back: they’re happy about her being back, but they must know what being the Jigoku Shoujo again means to Ai. Of course, Kikuri complains about not getting the job again (I wonder if she got a new body: it’s not clear if she still has a wind-up key on her back). At the very end of the episode, Azusa’s father has died, and Azusa herself shows up at the airport to tie a loose end, killing the young man directly responsible for what had happened to her father, before getting sent to hell herself by Akie’s old housekeeper, with Ai calmly walking among the panicking crowd.
The last episode did not go into plot points that I thought it would go into: the coverup in the investigation into the accident that killed Yuzuki’s father, how Akie’s father might be involved, how Yamawaro might have been involved with Yuzuki, or even how Azusa would react to the new Jigoku Shoujo. And we still have no definitive answer as to what has happened to Shibata Hajime. Yet I found the ending to be one of the more emotional and sad endings to a story I have encountered: I must be an emotional sap, not to mention having become too much attached to Yuzuki and Ai. I must admit that as a fan of the show it’s nice to see Ai continue to be the Jigoku Shoujo, even if it is a personal tragedy for her. There was only one thing missing that I really wanted to see: Yuzuki saying
I am Enma Yuzuki, the Jigoku Shoujo.
I’m still not sure why Ai had come back as the Jigoku Shoujo with Yuzuki as the vessel and showed her all the things related to the Jigoku Tsushin. But it’s now clear that she never wanted Yuzuki to be the Jigoku Shoujo, and with being the Jigoku Shoujo a sort of hell for Ai herself, she may have been forced into coming back to prepare Yuzuki to be the Jigoku Shoujo. That would explain why she only said that it was Yuzuki’s destiny to be the Jigoku Shoujo (which was fulfilled, even if Yuzuki never sent a soul to hell), never anything about how Yuzuki could avoid her fate. But showing Yuzuki how unjust the Jigoku Tsushin system often was may have been within her powers: it certainly had Yuzuki feeling strongly against becoming the Jigoku Shoujo and almost worked to prevent Yuzuki from becoming the Jigoku Shoujo willingly, although I’m not sure what happened once Yuzuki became the Jigoku Shoujo was planned or a last-minute effort to save her from hell …
It’s too bad that Yuzuki and Ai could never get the chance to become friends, with them knowing intimately what the other has gone through, even if they parted lovingly at the end. (Lovingly as in very, very close friends or sisters, but I’m sure it would be fodder for girly love fan gossip.) With Ai being the Jigoku Shoujo most of the season, Yuzuki being one this episode, and with no time to relax after emotionally connecting, they never had the chance.
With this season of Jigoku Shoujo over, I’m going to miss the series. Maybe there will be a sequel, in which case I have a feeling that Ai will act out what’s on her mind much more than she had so far. I do wonder if the scene in this episode with Ai standing over a dying Yuzuki in the past was the actual past or just a recreation: if the former, it could imply something about the nature of time in the Jigoku Shoujo world, not to mention a crazy way to potentially intertwine grudges and their motivating events in sequels.