Otaku USA Magazine
Hell Girl, Volume 1 Review

Publisher: Del Rey
Story and Art: Miyuki Etoo
Rating: 16+

One day, at a record store, Mari Shimizu gets busted for shoplifting that she didn’t really commit. As luck would have it, one of her classmates shows up and bails her out, but it turns out to be much less fortunate than it originally appeared. Mari’s “savior,” Satsuki Hayase, begins lording her deed over her head, blackmailing her into getting food for her and her friends, buying them all gifts she can’t afford, and eventually driving her to steal again just so she won’t be outed.

Well, enough is enough. Turns out there’s this wacked out website called Hell Correspondence, and it’s only accessible at midnight. All you have to do is enter the name of the person you wish to send to Hell, and POOF, Hell Girl appears to seek out the damned. Surely there’s a catch; there’s always a catch. In this case, taking revenge forfeits the user’s soul, guaranteeing them a spot in Hell when their final day arrives. Sounds like a big price to pay, but could vengeance be worth it in the long run?

That’s the setup for Miyuki Eto’s manga adaptation of 2005’s anime of the same name, originally directed by Takahiro Omori (Koi Kaze, Power Stone) with animation by Studio DEEN. The chapters are presented in a stand-alone manner, each telling the story of someone being wronged in some way, and eventually going to the extreme of summoning Hell Girl to punish those that have caused them pain. Though it’s a predictable formula, I’ll admit I’m a sucker for isolated short stories like these. It becomes less about the fact that someone’s going to be sentenced to eternal damnation (because you’re already well aware of that from the get go), and more about discovering what gets the characters to that point.

Eto has a pretty strong style, even if most of the people involved in separate stories tend to look sort of similar to one another. While the chapters in volume one are entertaining on their own, it will be interesting to see how it all holds up in subsequent tales. If the stories remain unique enough, it might be worth following, but some semblance of a grander overarching narrative might be essential to captivating readers in the long run.