Image source: TVアニメ「地獄少女 宵伽」公式‏ on Twitter

A secret system where you can instantly erase anyone from existence at the cost of your soul? No, I don’t see any way that this could go horribly, horribly wrong.

In the world of Hell Girl, there exists a system whereby if one accesses a certain website at midnight and typing in the name of an individual that have a grudge against, they can summon the Hell Girl. By entering into a one-time contract with her, the summoner is given the ability to immediately send the one they have a grudge against to Hell. The caveat being that if the summoner does send someone to Hell, they themselves will be forever damned. Apparently, this isn’t a deal-breaker for some people, and in the case of episode three, it’s the doorway to something much worse.

[Note: This article contains major spoilers for episode three of Hell Girl: Fourth Twilight.]

The Hell Girl series, is, for the most part, an episodic series where each episode can pretty much be viewed on its own. The current fourth series, Hell Girl: Fourth Twilight, is no different. While there is an underlying plot thread throughout the series, each episode features a different situation with a different main character and their making a deal with the Hell Girl.

Episode three was by far the darkest episode of any anime I’ve seen in a while. The story revolves around a horribly abusive family of abominations: A horrible grandmother who does nothing but criticize her daughter-in-law; a horrible father who finds family life a burden and cheats on his wife; a horrible mother who similarly cheats on her husband; a horrible older sister who is part of a bullying group at school that regularly tortures other students; and a good younger brother and sister who live in terror of the rest of their family.

Image source: TVアニメ「地獄少女 宵伽」公式‏ on Twitter

Things take a turn one night when the good younger brother happens to witness his horrible mother using a black straw doll—the tool used to send someone to Hell. The following morning, the family discovers that the horrible grandmother has disappeared. The mother has a black mark on her chest, leading the good younger brother to conclude that his mother had made a deal with the Hell Girl—something that the good younger brother had assumed was just an urban myth.

Realizing that Hell Girl really exists, and feeling that, aside from his younger sister, the rest of his family is beyond redemption, the good younger brother hatches a plan to send his horrible father and mother and older sister to Hell. He enlists the aid of a group of strangers who have each been wronged by his family members: a woman whose husband the horrible mother is having an affair with; a man who is in love with a woman the horrible father is having an affair with; and a young boy who is the constant target of the horrible sister and her horrible boyfriend’s bullying. He asks the three to send his family to Hell, but they refuse, due to the fact that the good younger brother is unwilling to damn his own soul.

Image source: TVアニメ「地獄少女 宵伽」公式‏ on Twitter

Without revealing too much, eventually tragedy occurs and the good younger brother, along with the young boy who is bullied by the horrible sister, decide that it’s worth damning their own souls than to allow the cruelty of the horrible family to continue.

One would assume that the story would have a somber-yet-happy ending—i.e., the good younger brother accepts his own damnation and lives in peace, knowing that he’s made the world a better place. Nope.

The good younger brother and the young boy who helped him, secure in the knowledge that they are destined for Hell regardless of their further actions in life, decide to punish anyone and everyone they believe are evildoers by brutally murdering and dismembering them. In short, they become vigilante serial killers.

Hell Girl is an incredibly dark series. It delves straight into the cruelty that humans are capable of inflicting against each other. Despite its ominous title, the Hell Girl herself isn’t all that evil or cruel. She’s merely a catalyst. She doesn’t force herself onto anyone. She merely exists as an option. But if human nature has taught me anything, it’s that if people are given an option to do something, sooner or later, someone will take it.

Usually, I hate it when a show will revel in its misery or gore, but the conclusion of episode three felt more of an understandable exploration into the consequences of the Hell Girl system itself. The results, while supremely disturbing, seemed quite natural instead of my usual upset frustration I feel at overly dark and self-congratulatory violence, I found myself feeling depressed approval/resignation. I could see how freeing the knowledge of one’s eventual fate could be in a situation like that. The absolution of knowing that one is destined for Hell means that, while there’s nothing you can do to save your soul, there’s nothing that will make it worse either. It’s a dark and foreboding thought… I think I need a drink now.

Hell Girl: Fourth Twilight can be viewed with English subtitles on Amazon Anime Strike in the US and on Crunchyroll.

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