Image Source: TVアニメ「鬼灯の冷徹」好評放送中 on Twitter

Hozuki’s Coolheadedness takes place in hell. Hell is considered a place of chaos. But there’s a system of order in this anime’s world, and it eerily resembles Japan’s governing system. And who’s making this place run? Hozuki, of course, who is basically a town hall employee.

In episode two of the anime, Hozuki, the assistant to Enma, the king of hell, hires demon idols Peach Maki and Miki to go around hell as “‘Hell’s Devils’ for a Day” as promotion for the profession so that the public will understand what kind of a job it is. The two go around hell and try out the same punishments used on the damned, and get pictures taken to be put on the website. In Japanese folklore, the Hell’s Devils (or gokusotsu) are the demons in charge of administering the torture given to sinners once they die and fall into the to the abyss of the afterlife.

The girls try their hand at sharpening butcher knives, punishing those who cheated in marathons while they were still alive by putting them through a giant bloody food processor, stir the cauldrons of hell in which sinners drown in, frying prisoners of hell on giant grills, and hitting sinners with sticks of sugar cane. But even the cute idol girls who are not usually exposed to this kind of torture don’t bat an eye when torturing the fallen souls. That’s because this thing is just an everyday occurrence that needs to be dealt with—usually by government employees.

Image Source: TVアニメ「鬼灯の冷徹」好評放送中 on Twitter

In the world of Hozuki’s Coolheadedness, the titular Hozuki keeps peace in the land of the afterlife by running it like a town hall employee in Japan would. These kind of events in which cute idols become police officers or firefighters or other representatives for the day are actually fairly common. These events are done in order to promote the town, as is the bureau the idol working as a devil for the day. For example, in the real world, members Minami Ishida and Miyuna Kadowaki of the idol group STU48 were given the job of “One-Day Ambassadors of the Inland Sea Environment Conservation Committee” just this year in order to raise awareness about conserving the beauty of the oceans.

In a later part of the same episode, we later see Hozuki going to check in on those who record the activities of every living person in Japan to make sure they don’t lie during the trial to decide their punishment. Of course, writing this many records can drive one crazy, even on a computer. However, the head of this department demands that his workers only hand-write their records, not type them, and with little to no rest. This sends his workers up the wall, driving some of them to insanity. Hozuki’s reaction? Get them a counselor to give the workers a mental rest and stop them from going insane.

This is also a problem in Japanese society that employees at Japanese companies deal with: overwork. Called “black companies,” these companies demand countless hours of overtime from their workers without compensation. This can lead to things like depression, and even worse, suicide. It is a problem that is discussed at length amongst members of the government, so it’s easy to see why Hozuki has to deal with this as basically a member of town hall.

Image Source: TVアニメ「鬼灯の冷徹」好評放送中 on Twitter

I’ve learned about many depictions of hell, but never have I see a demon so caring about his fellow demons’ welfare. With a system put in place to keep the demons of the underworld happy and healthy, they are able to continue punishing the sinners that have come to receive damnation.

Hozuki’s Coolheadedness is streaming on the HIDIVE streaming service.

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