Written and Illustrated by Miyuki Eto
Created by The Jigoku Shoujo Project
Del Rey Manga; $10.95
I gotta admit: I didn’t get all the way through Hell Girl. I don’t know if that means this isn’t a “real” review or whatever, but that’s for someone else to decide. I gave it a shot, read the first two chapters, then skimmed through to the end.
Hell Girl, Volume 1 is divided into five “chapters,” but they’re really more independent short stories than connected parts of a greater whole. The first one is about a girl named Mari who gets caught shoplifting and is blackmailed by one of the mean, popular girls from school. The blackmail gets out of control and Mari can’t handle it any more. When she hears about a website called Hell Correspondence where you can enter an enemies name and they’ll be immediately taken to Hell, she decides that’s her way out. The only catch is that you have to also give Hell your soul when you die, but like these stories always go, Mari doesn’t care about that in the face of relieving her immediate trouble.
There are lots of problems with this story. First, it’s never really clear whether or not Mari actually stole what she was accused of stealing. From the rest of the story, she doesn’t act like a thief and she certainly never admits to having done it. Apparently, her actual guilt or innocence is supposed to be secondary to her concern over the very accusation of having shoplifted. So, when the girls from school threaten to tell on her if she doesn’t do all their homework and buy them things, she caves easily.