Sentarou Shibata (Cousin, Love Interest)
Hajime Shibata (Distant Relative)
Tsugumi Shibata (Distant Relative)
|Anime Debut||From Beyond the Twilight|
|Japanese Voice Actors||Mamiko Noto|
|English Voice Actors||Brina Palencia|
Ai Enma is the main protagonist of the series, and is the one known as the "Jigoku Shoujo"--地獄少女--literally translated into English version as "Hell Girl." As such, she makes a regular appearance in the series, although her appearance is smaller and less frequent in "Jigoku Shoujo Mitsuganae". She is played by Sayuri Iwata in the live-action television series.
Her first name Ai--written in hiragana あい in the manga--is a popular girl's first name meaning "love." Her last name Enma--written in kanji 閻魔 in the manga--actually is a name for the "Yama King" or judge of the dead.
Due to the nature of the duties which she is required to carry out, Ai can also be claimed to be the anti-heroine of the series. She also almost never exposes signs of being moralistic or idealistic, and occasionally opposes even those who are attempting to stop her from carrying out her job for a good cause.
Ai has long, straight black hair in a "hime" cut that she keeps untied. Her skin is significantly pale(fair), and she has red eyes, although they were originally brown before she was buried alive. Ai also has light pink lips. She maintains a thirteen-year old girl's physical appearance, which was how old she was at the time of her death, and has remained as such for well over four-hundred years.
Her usual attire consists of a dominantly black seifuku, similar to Japanese school uniforms, with some parts colored white and red. However, while performing the act of taking someone to Hell, Ai always wears a kimono instead, which is dominantly black, with either temari, which are hand-woven thread balls, or floral designs. Both patterns alternate back and forth throughout the series.
Although not originally this way, Ai has a cold personality. Even in emotion-evoking situations, she doesn't appear moved in the least. Additionally, Ai is oddly silent and serious. She seems to only talk when the need arises, rarely speaking simply for the sake of it. In the event that Ai does talk out of ordinary circumstances, it is about something which she believes is necessary for someone to know, or to correct somebody where needed. The main reason for her introverted personality is due to her emotions being locked up when she was made into the Jigoku Shoujo.
As the series went on, Ai did become slightly more expressive, and a tad less cold, serious, and silent. However, the difference is extremely minor. Interactions from her side are a little more varied, and less grim later on, especially toward her clients and victims. In some scenarios, Ai actually goes to the lengths of mocking clients a bit like her servants before sending them to hell. She has also increased her attention and shown concern toward the more innocent clients and victims. An example of this would include the time when she reassured a lady who was requesting her to have Ren, one of Ai's companions, watch over her daughter after she willingly ended her life so that her daughter didn't have to be sent to Hell.
Later on it is revealed that the Master of Hell ordered Ai to close off her emotions; however, in rare instances Ai defies that order to use her emotions, especially hatred, to guide her actions, as opposed to only following the duties given to her. The first of such occurs near the end of the first season when she tries to take revenge for Sentarō Shibata's actions upon his descendents Tsugumi Shibata and Hajime Shibata. In many forms, Ai unsuccessfully urges Tsugumi to ask her to send her father, Hajime, to Hell. Nevertheless, she burns down the temple which the adult Sentarō had built for her centuries before, suggesting that she refuses to accept contrition. In another example, Hone Onna reveals that when Ai was forced to send an innocent person to Hell, Ai silently screamed in her heart for having to do it, but she was unable to express or act on those emotions. There are other brief glimpses of Ai's emotions throughout the three seasons of the anime, including the welling of tears in her eyes.
More than 400 years ago, the very young human Ai Enma lived in a remote village near the mountains. Other kids frequently bullied her for her strange personality, and the only friend she had was her cousin, Sentarou. At the age of seven, Ai was selected by the village leaders to be the sacrifice for the Seven Sendings, a rite where a seven year-old girl is sacrificed to the Mountain God so that the village can achieve a good harvest. This involves exposing her to the elements in the mountains. However, her parents secretly asked Sentarō to care for her as she lived in the mountains. Thanks to her parents and Sentarō, Ai managed to survive a number of years hiding in a waterfall known as Mutsumi Ridge. Only Sentarō would visit her to bring her food and changes of clothes. During six years, Ai and Sentarō's relationship developed and both of them became romantically attracted to one another, although neither admit it to the other. Ai will start to confess her feelings just prior to the tragic events that seal her fate.
Meanwhile, the famine in the village persisted, and suspicions arise amongst the villagers as to why the Mountain God refused to grant successful harvests. One night, a group of boys suspiciously follow Sentarō into the mountains and discover Ai. She and her parents are captured, bound, and blindfolded. As punishment, all three of them will become the sacrifice to the Mountain God. After the priest sanctified Ai's parents, the villagers swiftly beat them with shovels and toss them into a grave. Ai, however, is to be buried alive. The villagers then force Sentarō to be the first one to shovel dirt into the hole to atone for his sins. While Sentarō caved in to their demands, Ai begged for his help She manages to shake off part of her blindfold enough to see with one eye. What she see, however, is Sentarō shoveling the dirt over her. His betrayal brought forth an immense hatred, and as the villagers finished burying her and her dead parents in a wild frenzy, she vowed to hate them forever even in death.
A short time afterwards, Ai emerged from the grave as a vengeful entity. She gleefully exacted her revenge by burning the entire village and inhabitants save Sentarō to the ground. As explained in the first episode of the second season, her vengeance attracted the attention of the Master of Hell, who punishes her. He revealed that he holds the souls of her parents hostage and offered to make a pact with her: in exchange for her parents not being sent to Hell, Ai must act as the messenger of people's hatred and vengeance. In order to serve these tasks, the Master of Hell demanded that Ai forget her own hatred, numbing herself to the sufferings of others, and become a mere observer. If she did not accept this punishment, the souls of her parents would forever wander Hell. Having no other choice, Ai accepted the appointment as Jigoku Shōjo.
Through the centuries, Ai traveled around Japan becoming the messenger of vengeance to those with a strong hatred in their hearts. It started when a client contacted with her. Ai explained her services to a client, who has someone they hate and will be the recipient of the vengeance. She will give them a straw doll with a red string tied to it's neck. If he or she wishes to take revenge, the client may pull the red string. However, Ai always warns her clients that a mark will appear on them and their souls will also go to Hell when they die. If the client pulls the string, Ai puts on her kimono and goes to work. She shows the recipients a series of illusions, usually relating to their sins, and then sends them away as she ends them away in a dialog. As she does this, patterns of her kimono appear to come forth. Ai will then ferry that person's soul to Hell.
She teleports back and forth between the human world and an alternate dimension known as the Realm of Eternal Twilight, where a house exists as her base of operations. The house is inhabited by her and her grandmother Sometimes, the Master of Hell will check in on her in the guise of a spider.
As time passes, so did the method of contacting Ai. The earliest known method was the Jigoku Ema, a stone in which the recipient's name is written and then put in the chest. In the early 20th century, Ai used a blank newspaper ad to advertise her services. With the arrival of modern technology, Ai would use the most well-known method of contact in the series: the Jigoku Tsūshin, a website where the recipient's name can be written. Whatever the methods, they share a similarity in that they are only effective at midnight and will only work for those who have a strong hatred in them. However, this means that the recipient's actual guilt in the matter is not a factor so long as the client hates him/her, and has led to innocent also people being sent to Hell.
While performing her duties, Ai recruited three beings as her companions. The first was Wanyuudou, the left wheel of a carriage that became a yokai. Ai encountered him when he tried to scare her. She convinced him to stop frightening people and he accompanied her as she met a client. After the mission, he decides to accompany her in her travels, becoming "her feet". The second companion is Ren Ichimoku, another yokai in the form of a katana. Ai meets him on the remains of a battlefield, stuck to the ground. He agrees to travel with her and Ai pulls him out of the ground. As she does this, Ren transforms into a human form. The third companion is Hone Onna, a former prostitute that was killed and dumped into a river. Ai met her as she unwillingly scared people in her skeleton form. Becoming her assistants, the three would act as investigators, monitoring a client's situation and investigating more about the client and/or the recipient if necessary.They hold great respect for their Mistress, and during their time together formed close relationships with each other and Ai, whom they care for deeply.
400 years have passed since Ai first became the Hell Girl. In that time, Ai has delivered the hatred of countless people. In doing so, she has succeeded in suppressing her own hatred and burying the painful memories of her past. Meanwhile, the Jigoku Tsūshin becomes a popular topic due to the quicker spread of information in the modern age, particularly amongst teenagers.
One day, Ai encounters Tsugumi Shibata on a train crossing. After the encounter, she estabilishes a telepathic link with Tsugumi, although she herself does not know why this happened. Whatever the reason, the link between them draws the attention of Tsugumi's father, Hajime Shibata. The link allows Tsugumi to see through Ai's eyes and identify the next client and/or the recipient of hate. Both of them would try to stop the revenge from being taken. Ai and her companions notice this, although she appears indifferent towards them, perhaps knowing they can't stop the cycle of hatred.
This changed however, when Ai received a client's request only to find it was a trap set by Jiru Du Ronfēru. During their confrontation, he uses his powers on her and manages to give her a glimpse of her forgotten past. Ai manages to send Jiru to Hell as the client pulled the string, but when she returns to the Realm, she sees Sentarō in the distance, indicating her past was beginning to resurface. She pieces back her memories and uses her link with Tsugumi to relay a message to Hajime. As both of them travel to Mutsumi Ridge, she maintains contact with Tsugumi as she realizes both of them have a connection to her past. She finally finds out the connection: Hajime is a descendant of Sentarō. Unable to gain retribution from Sentarō she focusses on Hajime. As is revealed over a few episodes in the first season, Hajime neglected his wife by burying himself in work. When Tsugumi is born, Hajime works even harder thinking he must provide for his family. His neglected and lonely wife ultimately engages in an affair with a public figure that Hajime just so happens to be following. Hajime refuses to accept her apologies and entreaty to allow them to start again on a rainy night. When she leaves, her car crashes.
This sets up an obvious parallel between Ai and Hajime's inability to forgive. The comparisons are not perfect: Hajime neglected his wife while as Ai protests to the Master of Hell she had done nothing to deserve her sacrifice. Nevertheless, Ai blames Hajiime and she attacks Hajime and Tsugumi at the ridge. Her companions arrive and try to stop her, warning her acting on her emotions will send her to Hell. Consumed by hatred, Ai ignores their warnings and manages to hit Hajime and Tsugumi with her dark energy projectiles. Even after her companions tried to convince her not to do something like this, Ai Enma then proceeded to try to send Hajime and Tsugumi to hell. However, before she could do that, she was sent to hell herself.
Ai awakens on the boat on the way to Hell, piloted by the Master of Hell himself. The Master of Hell tells her because of her actions, she will be damned to Hell. Ai refuses, saying she cannot go yet. The Master of Hell tries to stop her by shooting webbing at her, but she breaks through them and escapes. Meanwhile, Tsugumi and Hajime are teleported back to the temple. Ai sends Hajime away to the Realm while she sends Tsugumi back to their apartment and tries to convince her to take revenge on her father. Ai shows her the truth about her mother's death and Hajime's involvement in it. Meanwhile, Hone and Ren explain their relationship with Ai. They further state that they sought to protect her from him rather than wished anything ill against Hajime. However, they further confess they lack any power to influence her. At that point, Ai's Grandmother calls out to Hajime from behind the door of her room. Ai's companions note that they have never heard her address anyone but Ai. Ail Grandmother asks Hajime for a favor in exchange for freeing him from the Realm. Exactly what he agrees to do is never revealed.
Hajime, Hone, and Ren arrive at the apartment. Her companions try to talk Ai out of her hate, but she knocks them unconscious. In a final attempt to make Tsugumi pull the string, Ai both of them to the scene of Ayumi's death. Her attempt proved to be unsuccessful, because Hagime arrives to accept his responsibility in his wife's death. As he confesses, it was his refusal to forgive her for her betrayal largely caused by his own actions that led to her death. Tsugumi confesses she does not blame her father and refuses to take revenge. They return to the ridge where Ai reflects in her own memories. Tsugumi returns the Wanyūdō straw doll to her, saying she does not need it. Tsugumi states further that Sentarō loved her and regreted the actions he did back then, even building the temple as a sign of his remorse. The four of them (including Wanyūdō) teleport back to the temple. In a final release of her emotions, Ai destroys the Seven Child temple indicating she still has not really forgiven him, but she will no longer seek retribution from his descendants. Ai and her companions leave the temple, while Tsugumi and Hajime return home. As she had put aside her own hatred, Ai once again becomes worthy of the mantle of Hell Girl and continues to deliver souls to Hell.
In the second season "Jigoku Shōjo Futakomori", Ai encountered Takuma Kurebayashi. He captured the attention of Ai because they both had a very similar fate. During episode 26, Ai showed empathy to Takuma because she knew that Takuma is innocent and had nothing to do with the accident related to his father. Ai decided not to bring Takuma in Hell. Suddenly, Kikuri was possessed by the Master of Hell and punished and made Ai a mortal for not fulfulling her task. Later on, Takuma saw Hotaru on the lake side. Because of that, he became angry and chose to take revenge for what he thought was Hotaru's death. He burned his own house down. Then, he was punished by the villagers for what he had done but Ai suddenly appeared and saved him. Unfortunately, when the villagers found out that Ai lost her powers and she became a mortal human, the villagers took revenge and they tried to kill Ai. Takuma shouted to stop hurting Ai. He swiftly went near Ai and he held Ai's hand. Ai said to Takuma that "It's all over".
- Ai has shown the ability to hurl large, deadly blasts of black-colored energy. This is first demonstrated when she meets face-to-face with the Shibatas, having remembered her past and hatred.
- She can teleport from one place to another. Throughout the series, Ai appears out of nowhere, therefore startling her clients.
- Able to take the lives of her clients' tormentors, Ai can do so without necessarily making any physical contact with them, or damaging them physically. After terrorizing them with her illusions, she takes their lives away as the floral designs in her kimono washes over her victims. The victim appears to dissipate, afterward.
- By taking the lives of her clients' tormentors, she personally takes them aboard her boat on the Sanzu River for transportation into Hell. In this regard, she is similar to the ferryman Charon from Greek mythology, who carried the souls of the dead across the river Styx to the Underworld.
- Ai appears to be invulnerable to harm to some degree, as shown when Jiru Du Ronfēru telekinetically hurls her around, and throws her against the walls, and later on, also sets her on fire, but Ai doesn't reveal any feelings of pain. However, this could easily be because Jiru was actually giving off illusions, and she instead has the ability to not be affected by illusions. This is further supported by the fact that when she got kicked in the stomach by Yuuna Serizawa, she was injured, and continued to feel the pain for a while after that. This, however, can be counter-argued that this could simply have been happening because she was using Yuzuki's body at the moment rather than her own.
- She seems to have the ability to possess others, but considering the fact that there has only been one case to argue this, it is difficult to say for sure whether it is her ability or not. The only event where Ai displayed this was when she was physically dead for some time and she possessed the body of Yuzuki Mikage in order to have a vessel to perform her duties as the "Hell Girl". Later on, after the Gate to Hell was opened for a while during the Six-Mon Lantern festival, she left Yuzuki's body, and retrieved control of her own physical body, as if she was resurrected.
- Ai is capable of creating large, intricate illusions, in which she often does to frighten her victims before taking them to Hell. She also creates illusions at other times, like when trying to convince Tsugumi Shibata to send her father to hell.
- At one point, Ai has displayed the ability to show someone the future of a grudge, as she showed Yuzuki Mikage, in Episode 16 of Mitsuganae. She also has the ability to show someone the past of a person, which Ai has performed on multiple occasions, first in the first season, and second in Futakomori. These abilities may be limited to some degree though, as Ai was unable to predict her confrontation with Jiru Du Ronfēru.
- Resurrection itself is an ability of Ai, as shown when she was buried by the villagers, and managed to rise from the dead to set her village on fire. Also, during the Six-Mon Lantern festival, she may have resurrected herself, though then the question would remain as to why she didn't revive herself until that point.
- Ai also has the power to create fire, which she has only used on two occasions. The first time it was shown, she burned her home village down to the ground with a wave of her hand. The other time, a similar ability was shown was when she created a ball of energy or fire, and used it to create a blast of fire to destroy the temple that Sentarou built. It seems that she creates fire, or perhaps she maintains the ability to create fire only when she gets emotionally-evoked, usually with anger.
- Ai was physically injured every season, once in Futakomori, and twice in Mitsuganae, and the first season each:
- In the first season, she was beaten up by the villagers of her village when she was alive.
- Later on, in the first season, she was thrown around through Jiru Du Ronfēru's telekinetic abilities in the episode Jigoku Shoujo versus Jigoku Shounen. However, she showed no sign of pain or resistance.
- In Futakomori, she was beaten to death again by some of the individuals of Lovely Hills.
- In Mitsuganae, she was kicked in the stomach in the episode My Teacher.
- Furthermore, in Mitsuganae, Ai was hit in the stomach with a dark bolt of energy fired by Yuzuki Mikage.
- Ai and Sentarou has been hinted to have had romantic feelings for each other multiple times.
- Ai has been shown to be able to play flutes, though their only use which happened before sending someone to Hell raises doubts as to whether it was just an illusion or not.
- Ai's kimono changes motifs every season. In season 1, it was a black kimono with large flower patterns. It is also shown as the first kimono Ai was given when she became the Hell Girl. In season 2, the kimono has flowery petals covering most of it, save in flashback scenes where Ai was still wearing her first kimono. In the final season, it carries pictures of fans and toy air balloons, the patterns of which appear to be moving.