|Relatives||Ai Enma (Granddaughter)|
Ai's Father (Son/Son-in-law)
Ai's Mother (Daughter/Daughter-in-law)
|Anime Debut||The Possessed Girl|
|Japanese Voice Actors||Eriko Matsushima|
|English Voice Actors||Juli Erickson|
Ai's Grandmother is an apparently elderly woman only seen by the view in silhouette. One character who does see her recoils in horror, while the other, Kikuri, does not. Ai calls her an affectionate "grandmother" or "granny"--祖母ちやん--obāchan--though no indication is given that she is her actual grandmother. She appears in all three seasons of Jigoku Shoujo. She is played by Eriko Matsushima in the live-action television series, who also happens to be her anime voice actress.
Ai's grandmother is never actually shown. Only her silhouette is shown through the shōji door of her small room inside Ai's home. For this reason, nothing is known about her appearance other than the fact that her silhouette appears to look like one belonging to a woman.
However, there are other people who have seen her, namely Ai, Kikuri, Hotaru Meshiai, and presumably Hajime Shibata. Among these people, Hotaru screamed and ran away out of fright from Ai's house after she saw Ai's grandmother, which implies that her appearance might be far from that of a human. Kikuri, however, tries to play with her wheel and shows no indication that she finds her at all horrifying.
Ai's grandmother doesn't normally talk to anybody except Ai. She has spoken to someone else other than Ai only four times - the first time with Hajime to tell him that she can let him out of the realm of eternal twilight for something in exchange, after that with Kikuri to tell her to stop trying to touch the spinning wheel that she spins, then with Hotaru in a wondering tone when Hotaru tried to speak to her, and finally with the first three companions of Ai to pass on Ai's message of thanks to them.
From the little amount of talking that she does, it seems that she is a nice person. She occasionally comments on some things like some specific cases that Ai takes up. She also seems to care for Ai, asking Ai if she is okay whenever she thinks Ai is troubled, and she also seems to understand when there is something that is troubling Ai without Ai making it clear.
The anime does not clarify who she is or was. The title "grandmother" could merely be a polite greeting to an elderly woman, even an Onibaba as described in the Trivia. If she is Ai's actual grandmother, she is the only apparently alive relative of Ai, though it is hard to tell to what extent she is alive. The difficulty with that interpretation comes from the visons of Ai's past where her parents are shown, but not her grandmother. The villagers execute both parents and place them in the hole they bury Ai alive in. Master of Hell holds the souls of her parents as hostage to compel Ai to comply with her role as Jigoku Shōjo. If she is Ai's actual grandmother, she passed away prior to the events shown of Ai's past.
Ai's grandmother always spins a spinning wheel in her room, which is presumably for spinning thread, though it is never made clear. She almost never stops spinning this wheel, and has stopped only two times - the first time when telling Hajime that she can let him escape on a condition, and the second time when passing on Ai's message of thanks to the first three companions of Ai.
She occasionally notifies Ai when Ai's computer receives a request from any client. Whenever Ai is about to set out to the normal world to take someone to hell after washing herself in her ritualistic purification process, Ai's grandmother always prepares her nagajuban and lays it somewhere near for her.
In Jigoku Shoujo Mitsuganae, Ai's grandmother doesn't appear until about midway through. This seems to be because Ai is not the Jigoku Shoujo for some time in the middle, and neither does she have her own body until that time. During this time, Ai's companions resided in the normal world instead, and Ai possessed Yuzuki while already wearing her kimono all the time, not needing the help that her grandmother used to provide to her. Therefore, Ai's grandmother, along with the realm of eternal twilight was not even visited in the middle. It is therefore unknown if either the realm or Ai's grandmother continued to exist during that time.
When Yuzuki Mikage became the Jigoku Shoujo for a short while, her best friend Akie served a similar role to Ai's grandmother for her - the role of a helper or guide. A notable thing is that Akie was already sent to hell earlier by someone using Ai's service. To this, Ai's companions had commented that Akie is merely a guide for Yuzuki, as her soul has actually fallen into hell. This might mean that Ai's grandmother is in a similar situation as Akie, which means that she might also be a soul who had previously fallen into hell, and is merely a guide summoned by the Master of Hell for Ai in the form of somebody that Ai may feel more comfortable with, just as Akie is for Yuzuki.
If the above information is indeed true, it would be safe to say that she isn't actually human. It would explain why Ai's grandmother seems to have no problem not leaving her room, let alone the realm, as she is in a state where she might have no needs that need to be fulfilled. Furthermore, she may not even have the ability to leave either in the first place, which could be because her current state causes her to be trapped in that specific place by the master of hell.
Near the end of the first season of Jigoku Shoujo, Ai had trapped Hajime in the realm of eternal twilight. It was then that Ai's grandmother spoke to Hajime and told him that she can let him out of the realm of eternal twilight for something in exchange. She said that it is something that she wants him to do. Later on, Hajime did come back to the normal world, which most probably means that he must have done what Ai's grandmother wanted him to do. However, to this day, it is not known what that something is that Ai's grandmother wanted him to do.
Though this may not be a supernatural characteristic of Ai's grandmother, it is worth noting that Ai's grandmother never seems to get tired of spinning the spinning wheel in her room, though there is always the possibility that she might stop at times when she is not being shown.
Ai's grandmother has been shown to be able to tell if there is anyone outside her room, and even seems to know who they are. She also seems to know when Ai's computer receives a request from any client. She is even aware of the location of Ai as long as Ai is near her house. Her ability to sense and detect presences around her may be limited to a certain radius.
She also seems to be able to tell if Ai is troubled, as long as Ai is present near her house, even if Ai doesn't openly express it. However, this could simply be because she knows and understands Ai to a good extent.
She is one of the beings that has the ability to bring people in or out the realm of eternal twilight.
- It is a mystery how she prepares and sets Ai's nagajuban outside, when she seems to never even leave her room.
- The figure is a folklore reference to an Onibaba, a Demon-Hag. They are usually seen at a spinning wheel, and appear as a shriveled old woman with a disheveled, maniacal appearance, wild-looking hair, and an over-sized mouth.