|Anime Debut||From Beyond the Twilight|
|Japanese Voice Actors||Masaya Matsukaze|
|English Voice Actors||Todd Haberkorn|
Ren Ichimoku is one of the companions of Ai. He appears in all three seasons of Jigoku Shoujo. He is played by Kazuki Kato in the live-action television series.
Ren has the appearance of a young man, but in reality he is much older than that. His actual age is not known, but he is at least 200 years old. But since he used to be a tsukumogami, which usually requires an object to live for about 100 years before becoming one, he might actually be at least 300 years old.
Ren has black, medium length hair up to his chin. His hair is styled so that it always covers the left side of his face, so his left eye was never seen on his face. This poses the question of whether he has a left eye on his face in the first place or not. The left eye is the eye that he uses to see things far away, so the possible placement of it on his face remains a mystery. The colour of his single visible eye on his face is light olive. The colour of the eye that he uses to see things far away is the same.
Ren's normal attire is a white and green hooded jacket, which he wears over a black shirt. With this, he wears black track pants with an orange track running down on both sides of the pants. For his footwear, he wears a pair of black shoes. He also wears a pendant around his neck, which is square in shape and seems to be made of metal.
In Jigoku Shoujo Futakomori, his normal attire instead becomes a white and brown jacket with an orange track running through the brown parts, and a light blue gray design on the white part on the top-left. He wears this over a dark blue shirt. With it he wears black pants with a gray track running down on both sides of the pants. For his footwear, he wears a pair of orange sneakers. He also continues to wear his pendant around his neck.
In Jigoku Shoujo Mitsuganae, his normal attire changes again to a white cardigan, which he wears over a purple shirt with a light purple design on it. He wears this with brown pants. The pendant continues to be a part of his new appearance.
As a straw doll, he appears to be dark blue in colour, with a red string tied around his neck.
Ren is usually relaxed in personality. Most of the times, he has a smile on his face. He also seems to like joking around from time to time. He is usually the first to react to an unacceptable behaviour from any human being, and is usually more concerned for the good clients than the other companions of Ai. He has even taken a liking to some clients to such levels that he personally sympathises with them, and has even thought of interfering in a case once. This implies that he has a good sense of justice and kindness. These senses in turn clashes with his duties, as the duties are usually of a nature that even does injustice to provide the service. Like the other companions of Ai, he is very obedient of Ai's orders.
Ren has apparently grown quite fond of his human form over the years, and has even been shown displaying vanity a few times. He seems to like all of the companions of Ai, and Ai herself, but seems to dislike Kikuri most of the times. When asked by Hone Onna about what he thinks of her and Wanyūdō as, he softly replied that he thinks of them as a family, though the others couldn't hear him say that. This means that he feels he has grown a strong bond with others for the first time in his life. Despite this, he usually stays alone and detached even when he has the opportunity to be with the other companions.
Ren often doesn't understand some of the actions of humans. This is because he thinks logic is supposed to be present in any action, and so gets confused when he sees that someone is acting in an illogical or unacceptable way. He often thinks about a lot of things, including human behavior, and matters from his past from time to time. When he first met Ai, she said that he was searching for something, to which he replied that he indeed was. Afterward, he asked Ai if he will find it by being with her, to which Ai replied that whether he will find it or not depends on him. However, he never specified what it is that he is searching for, and from what it seems like, he didn't even know what it is himself.
As a katana, he has had more than one owner. He was usually used for personal benefits, and not for the good of others. No matter how he was used, it was always for hurting and killing others. In this form, he had no personal freedom, other than the ability to think and watch, and so he did. He was forced to be aware and watch whatever was done with him. He expressed his feelings about certain situations, specially when he was about to be used. He didn't want people to hurt and kill each other, and prayed that they didn't do so whenever he was about to be used. At one specific time, he was about to be used to kill a princess by a samurai who had broken into the castle of that princess and killed everyone else, to which he prayed that she try her best to live and do whatever it takes to save herself. Unfortunately, nobody could hear him think, and so people did what they would with him anyways, unaware that the katana has a soul in it.
After an unknown period of time, the katana Ren was left stabbed on a rock near a body of water. Around him lay dead bodies of the people who fought a battle to the death here. It is unknown if one of them was his last owner, and it is also unknown who stabbed him on the rock and abandoned him, and for what reasons. But nevertheless, soon after this battle, it was in this state that Ai found him, presumably after searching for him on purpose.
After Ai found him, she had a short conversation with Ren, where she invited Ren to come with her. To this, Ren asked her why she was inviting him to join her. Ai replied that he was searching for something, and Ren said that he was indeed searching for something, but also asked if he would find it by being with her. Ai said that whether he will find it or not depends on him. Finally, Ren said that it was getting boring for him to sit abandoned on the rock anyways, and so finally decided to join Ai. It was then that Ai gave him a new human form to his soul, which is his current form.
And thus, Ren became the second of Ai's companions. His age can also be understood from these events, as Wanyuudou is over 500 years old, and Hone Onna is over 200 years old, and he joined before Hone Onna and after Wanyuudou. Added with the fact that he must have been at least 100 years old by the time Ai found him because of being a tsukumogami means that he is at least 300 years old.
Ever since becoming one of Ai's companions, he also takes part in investigating the clients and their targets along with the other companions. At this, he proves to be especially helpful because of his ability to listen and watch people from a distance through walls and other obstacles, and also make them seen and heard by the other companions at will. When he investigates clients while undercover, he sometimes uses other aliases instead of his real name. These aliases are always a choice between the names 'Moku' and 'Ren Ishimoto'. One of the reasons for which he does this when he needs to mention his name somewhere and doesn't reveal his actual name because his actual name is unique and unheard of for a human name.
In Jigoku Shoujo Mitsuganae, after the death of Ai, Ren lived his life seemingly in peace as a janitor of a sentō for a while, until Yamawaro arrived to recruit him again at Kikuri's orders with the words that Ai is back. For the rest of Mitsuganae, he served as a science teacher at Yuzuki's school in Saigawara City. Near the end, he, along with Hone Onna refused to come to the aid of Yuzuki, who newly and temporarily became the Jigoku Shoujo. Both of them strayed off instead, probably in search of Tsugumi to find out the reason for which Tsugumi was moving out of Saigawara City at that specific day. They correctly suspected that Tsugumi was leaving because she came to Saigawara in the first place with the wish to do something to change the fate of Yuzuki, and her failure to do so meant that she had no reason to stay there anymore. Ren returned to being Ai's companion after she became the Jigoku Shoujo again.
While investigating the clients or antagonists of Ai's service, Ren has the ability to magically change his clothes. He can create an illusion in the minds of people when needed to make them think that he is someone specific or someone else, or to make them think that they know him for a long time already.
At the request of Ai, he can transform into a straw doll like the other companions. As a straw doll, he is dark blue in colour, with a red string tied around his neck. When told to transform into the straw doll, he usually kisses his pendant before transforming.
Ren has the ability to create a projection of a large eye into any surface. This eye seems just like a bigger version of his eye, but unlike his eye, it doesn't seem to be made of any physical material. Moreover, it may be his own single eye in a different form, because he always closes his eyes when projecting this eye somewhere. This may mean that it is his own single eye that he is sending to other places when he uses this ability.
Using this eye projection, he can watch and even hear anything from a distance, even through walls and other obstacles. He can also make them seen and heard by others at will. Moreover, he can use the projection of the eye to create intense flashes of light from it. He also often uses it to scare others when he feels like it.
He has also shown the ability to teleport from and to places by disappearing and appearing at will. This is apparently another power of the large eye projection that he can create, as he has only used his ability to teleport once, and the one time he did use it, he projected his large eye on his forehead and released an intense burst of light before teleporting. While disappearing from a place, and probably even while appearing in another place, he is enveloped by a small tornado or whirlwind, though it is more than large enough to cover himself.
Ren also seems to be very athletic, having good stamina and being able to run fast. But his athletic abilities can be elevated to levels greater than that of a normal human, so that he can run even faster, and jump great heights and distances at blinding speed. He was also shown to be good at hand-to-hand combat once, as he dispatched a man with a large build with a single kick.
- Ren's full name roughly translates to mean 'one glance company', or alternatively 'companionship of a glance'. This is a reference to his abilities relating to projecting his eye.
- Ren's full name in Japanese, "Ichimoku Ren" is a reference to a mythological one-eyed Japanese dragon yōkai named "Ichimokuren". It is very likely that Ren's character design and abilities drew inspiration from this yōkai, as other than being one-eyed, this yōkai was also regarded to be the god of wind, able to summon storm, wind and rain.