Heavenbound }     for Yuzuki

Introduction

Yuzuki appears to be your average young girl. She attends Saigawara 4th Junior High, and though her parents do not live at home with her due to their jobs, Yuzuki has her best friend Akie to rely on and spend time with. Much to her disliking, the normal and peaceful life that she never thought she'd miss begins to slip out of her fingers. Yuzuki is able to see visions of the people who access Jigoku Tsuushin (Hell Correspondence); a website that people use in order to have Jigoku Shoujo send the recipient of their hatred to Hell. These visions deeply upset Yuzuki, who believes hate is a meaningless feeling. Unfortunately, she is more deeply involved with Jigoku Shoujo than she could ever imagine.


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Welcome to Heavenbound, a small dedication to Mikage Yuzuki from the series Jigoku Shoujo. As Yuzuki becomes the secondary main character in the third season, Jigoku Shoujo Mitsuganae, all information found on this site will be based on those 26 episodes. Her character is not completely delved into until towards the end of the season. Please be warned that there will be multiple spoilers in every section from here on out. If you have any comments, questions or concerns, feel free to shoot me an e-mail and I will do my best to respond promptly. I hope you enjoy your stay! Layout information can be found here.

Not Capable of Hatred

Because Yuzuki believes she is an average girl who has never witnessed anything terrible in her life, she is your typical good, innocent and quiet character. She doesn't want to start any trouble or get in trouble. Even when her friend Itsuko wants to frame their homeroom teacher because he is a jerk to all the students, she is still very unsure and reluctant to do anything. After she realizes that Ai is inside of her, she truly struggles with her new ability to witness people sending others to Hell. She absolutely cannot believe or understand it. Hatred running so deep is not a feeling she has ever had or wants to have. Yuzuki wants nothing to do with a process so "evil" and "corrupt." I can't blame her for being scared or wanting to run away, though. Yuzuki basically woke up one day and found herself in a horror movie. Considering her personality and her age, it would be normal for her to be scared and have nightmares after watching a movie like the situation she is in. She is living it. So, waking up in a panic after seeing the initial contact with Ai, hiding under her blankets like a little kid and crying hysterically after witnessing someone being sent to Hell is probably a more normal reaction than not.

The whole scene that occurs for the first few episodes until Ai gets her own body is a symbol of Yuzuki's struggle with Jigoku Shoujo. Now I know that Ai is coming out of her back, so I'm sure it does hurt anyway... but I think the reason they chose to present it that way was to symbolize Yuzuki's emotional pain. She doesn't want to harbor something that causes great suffering to others inside of her body, much less let her out to do just that. Even after the scene stops being used because Ai gets her own body, Yuzuki tries really hard to stop the whole process. She now actively tries to interfere with lives of the people instead of trying to stop Ai after the contract has been made. Despite it being incredibly obvious there is nothing she can do to erase hatred from the world, she desperately attempts to stop people from pulling the string. Yuzuki goes out of her way, even to an awkward extent sometimes, to get close to the ones she sees making contact with Ai. Even with Ai's warnings and displays that there is nothing she can do, she tries anyway. Sending people to Hell is just wrong to Yuzuki. She still cannot understand such hatred, and especially after seeing completely innocent people as victims, she cannot tolerate knowing but not doing anything.

Though Yuzuki has a good heart and doesn't want to sit back while watching people suffer, she is truthfully naive. Somewhere inside she believes that there is a chance for her to end what is going on. She believes that if she can get close enough to the person, she can just talk them out of their revenge. She doesn't understand what it means to hate. She doesn't understand how deep the hatred of these people runs. She truly doesn't understand that the cycle of hate will continue forever, no matter what attempts she makes to stop the entire process. Her naivety does not last forever, however. When Akie is sent to hell right in front of her face, her eyes flash red. This moment symbolizes the hatred that Yuzuki has buried inside of her. She may not have had access to it at that point in time, but it was there all along. All people have the capacity to harbor strong feelings of hatred; it just needs to be brought out. And losing Akie is only the beginning of Yuzuki's transformation...

Best Friend & Lost Hope

Akie is Yuzuki's best friend. Because her parents do not live at home, Akie is all that Yuzuki has to rely on. The two of them are almost always together when they are out and about. Akie is a bit more outgoing while Yuzuki is generally very quiet, but they get along well. Despite Akie's concern, Yuzuki does not disclose anything about her problems with Jigoku Shoujo to her. You can tell that she considers it a few times, and she probably even wants to, but her worry that Akie wouldn't believe her beats any other feelings out. Akie doesn't force the information out of Yuzuki and simply lets her know that she can tell her anything if she wants to. So, even though Yuzuki never actually tells her about Ai, she feels a bit relieved knowing she has Akie as a friend. Yuzuki truly appreciates and loves Akie.

In terms of story, however, Akie serves more than just playing the best friend role. After being deceived and betrayed by Azusa, she is sent to Hell right in front of Yuzuki's eyes. Yuzuki is in complete disbelief and despair, as she frantically tries to grasp out in front of her to convince herself that her eyes are simply playing tricks on her. Once she does realize Akie had to have been sent to Hell, her eyes flicker red; symbolizing the beginning of Yuzuki's transformation away from her naive self. Yuzuki remembers no hatred in her own life, but losing Akie gave her a glimpse into the hatred she didn't know she had. Yuzuki knew it was Azusa's doing. She knew that Akie didn't do anything wrong and that she had been betrayed by someone she had trusted and sent to Hell for no reason. How could someone do that? Knowing that no one would believe her, Yuzuki says nothing about Akie's sudden disappearance.

Yuzuki discovers that she has the ability to now sense who Ai's next clients are. She immediately decides to interfere and try to stop any person who uses Jigoku Tsuushin as a way to pay tribute to Akie. She doesn't want any more innocent people being sent to Hell like her best friend. What Yuzuki doesn't realize, however, is she hates Jigoku Tsuushin even more after losing Akie to it. She covers her hatred by saying she is doing everything for Akie's sake. Yuzuki still isn't ready to accept that she, too, is capable of such terrible feelings. She continues to deny her fate of becoming Jigoku Shoujo and fights to stop people using Jigoku Tsuushin. Yuzuki absolutely cannot become the figure of the process that sent her best friend to Hell for no reason. She cannot agree with that. She has more and more visions of Akie as she witnesses more and more people being sent to Hell. The more her subconscious realizes there is nothing she can do to stop the cycle of hate among people, the more she "sees" Akie. After her existence begins to disappear, her vision of Akie demands to know why Yuzuki didn't help her. Yuzuki brushes it off as something Ai is doing to her, but in reality, it is only the guilt that Yuzuki feels. She couldn't do anything to save Akie, just like she can't do anything to stop anyone who wants to use Jigoku Tsuushin. The person who once brought her joy and security becomes a symbol of guilt and anger.

Once Yuzuki remembers her past, she finds herself in front of the gate to Hell. Akie stands in front of her and puts her hand out. Without hesitation, Yuzuki takes Akie's hand and says that she finally realized Jigoku Shoujo is necessary. Yuzuki does not accept the job with the rules it comes with, however, as she says she will purify the world. Why? For Akie's sake. She will absolutely not send innocent people to Hell. With Wanyuudo and Akie at her side, Yuzuki prepares for their first job with her as the Jigoku Shoujo. Ironically, their case is Akie's father wanting to send Azusa to Hell, which Yuzuki eagerly accepts. What Yuzuki doesn't realize is that the spider purposely gave this case to her as a test. He knew that she would not be able to sit back if Akie's father declines the contract because her heart would get in the way. And he was right.

After going to see Azusa himself, Akie's father returns Wanyuudo to Yuzuki, saying he can't pull the string. Yuzuki does not find this acceptable, and despite Ai's warnings about the rules of being Jigoku Shoujo, she goes to send Azusa to Hell anyway. Yuzuki believes she is acting on un-biased justice. After being caught by the spider and realizing that the Akie with her is not actually her friend (she is simply a vessel designed to look like Akie), she is rescued by Ai. Yuzuki obviously still does not understand that everyone hates, and everyone's hatred is biased. Ai asks her why she thinks Akie's father didn't pull the string and tells her to take a look. Yuzuki sees Azusa caring for her father who can't move, and remembers caring for her own mother in a similar fashion. She finally realizes that she wasn't some being of justice. She wanted to send Azusa to Hell because she hated her for sending Akie to Hell. And Azusa sent Akie to Hell to get revenge on Akie's father who did nothing for her father's condition. Everyone hates. And even those people who hate have people they love, too. Yuzuki recognizes Azusa's hatred as similar to her own when she was a child and no one would help her mother. Yuzuki falls to the ground sobbing, realizing that she was no different than anyone else that she criticized before. She is no longer the naive, innocent, carefree girl that bought ice cream with her best friend. The reality is difficult for her, but her tears show that she has finally accepted everything thanks to Akie and the people involved in her death.

You Are Me; I Am You

One night as Yuzuki takes a bath, a blue butterfly slowly dissolves into the water. The lights flicker and Yuzuki sees a young girl with black hair in the water. She reaches up, her hair flowing towards Yuzuki as well. Yuzuki stands up, obviously scared, and the girl gets out of the water and hugs her. She simply says that it's cold, asks her to "open" and pulls Yuzuki down into the water with her. Falling down deeper than a bathtub obviously would go, the girl pulls her closer and kisses her. The next thing she knows, Yuzuki is sitting right where she was. Was she dreaming? She gets up and looks at the water, revealing to the camera that there is a blue butterfly on her back. She was not dreaming. Shortly afterwards, Yuzuki has a dream about her friend Itsuko talking to Enma Ai--the Jigoku Shoujo. She wakes up, deeply disturbed and wondering what that was about. Ai answers for her, much to her surprise. What Yuzuki saw was no dream. Ai is inside of her and therefore Yuzuki can see what she sees.

Yuzuki has a very hard time accepting that Ai is inside of her. Not the literal fact that she is within her, but the idea that someone who is the figurehead of such negative feelings and people is. She doesn't want to see when people want others to go to Hell, much less witness them actually being taken to Hell. She just wants Ai to leave her alone so she can go back to her regular life. Yuzuki strongly believes Ai, Jigoku Tsuushin and the people involved with them have nothing to do with her.

While Ai is inside of Yuzuki's body, there are many references of Ai being Yuzuki's reflection. When Yuzuki is near water or looking in mirrors, she sees Ai's face instead of her own. This brings up a question of her own identity. Sure, Ai is inside of her, so she should be the one in control. But she can't stop Ai from doing the "horrible" things that she does. She can't stop Ai from talking to people and sending other people to Hell. I'm sure that Yuzuki feels very frustrated that the one thing she wants to stop from happening is coming from inside of her, and she can't do anything about it. Why her? What did she do to deserve being connected to Ai? She never had any wish to send people to Hell. Hatred is meaningless! Yuzuki's heart is torn to pieces while she is left confused and wondering what to do next.

After the death of Akie, Ai getting her own body and Yuzuki's decision to actively try and stop people from pulling the string, Ai finally confronts her. The reason why Yuzuki's body was the one Ai used and why she has the ability to sense when people are planning on using Jigoku Tsuushin is because it is her destiny to replace Ai as the next Jigoku Shoujo. Of course, Yuzuki absolutely refuses. She is not Ai. She doesn't agree with who she thinks Ai is. To her, Ai just sends anyone to Hell without considering what they have done. Yuzuki cannot understand the concept of sending innocent people to Hell. She absolutely will not become the next Jigoku Shoujo. After this confrontation, Yuzuki is determined to ignore everything to do with Ai. She doesn't try to get involved with the people who she senses are going to use Jigoku Tsuushin anymore and concentrates heavily on her studies so she can go to high school and live a normal life. In reality, Yuzuki is running away. Ai confronts her again by asking how long she plans on running. Even though Yuzuki claims hatred has nothing to do with her, the truth is that she really hates Ai. Ai tells her that if she could, she would send Ai to Hell so she would not be in her life anymore. Yuzuki, no longer able to hide from the truth she turned a blind eye to constantly, runs away from her unable to handle it.

As if things couldn't possibly get any worse, Yuzuki's existence begins to disappear. She can't get a hold of her mother, she loses personal belongings like her exam ID card, her classmates don't recognize her and she is no longer on her homeroom list. Yuzuki no longer exists. She was truly melting into Ai's existence, no matter how hard she tried to fight her fate. Even after Tsugumi tells her that she died a long time ago, Yuzuki refuses to believe it. How could her entire life have been a lie? Honestly, besides for literally not being able to believe she was actually dead, I think she felt like she was seriously losing the battle for her own identity. She didn't want to become Ai and do the horrible things she had been fighting against for so long. She wanted to be herself. She wanted to go to high school, get a boyfriend and do all the other things normal girls do. She wanted to make her own memories and live her own life. I'm sure that being forced to be someone else while leaving no trace of who you were would be horribly scary to anyone; especially a middle schooler.

Once Ai shows Yuzuki her true past, she decides to become the Jigoku Shoujo after all. Even so, Yuzuki doesn't exactly plan on becoming Ai. She wants to use her powers to purify the world, rather than indiscriminately sending people to Hell like Ai did. Ai returns in order to warn Yuzuki that she can't do as she pleases, only to get blasted away by her. In a way, I think this scene represented Yuzuki's refusal to completely become Ai. If she had no choice but to become Jigoku Shoujo, she was going to do things her way. And Ai would be the last person to tell her otherwise.

Unfortunately, Hell doesn't need a Jigoku Shoujo with a heart, so Yuzuki has to be punished for trying to send someone to Hell based on her own whim. Ai ends up rescuing Yuzuki and taking her back to the entrance of Hell. Ai accepts Yuzuki's punishment and agrees to being the Jigoku Shoujo forever. Yuzuki doesn't understand why Ai saves her. To her, Ai had always been a monster with no compassion, simply killing people as a job without thinking twice about it. Once Ai accepts the punishment, Yuzuki begins to disappear. Ai hugs her to reassure her that everything will be all right and then kisses her in response to Yuzuki asking why. Yuzuki sees Ai's past and everything she has gone through and realizes that they are the same person. They smile at each other, sharing a silent moment of understanding. Ai wasn't the monster Yuzuki thought she was. She had been suffering tremendously, too. Ai has just become hardened to the situation after the hundreds of years of doing her job. Yuzuki gets her normal blue eyes back and completely disappears after saying "thank you." I think that because she disappeared slowly, thanked Ai for accepting her punishment and was not afraid anymore, Yuzuki was allowed to go to Heaven. The ending shows a blurred out image of what looks like Yuzuki looking in a mirror at herself in a high school uniform. I would like to believe that she ultimately got what she really wanted before she died as a little girl; to be able to go to high school and exist normally with both of her parents.

Bearing the Truth

When Yuzuki was still in elementary school, she lived happily with both of her parents. The last memory she had with all three of them together was one day she came home from shopping and found her father home. She excitedly puts the groceries on the floor and runs over to him; obviously happy to see him. Her father tells her that he has a surprise for her and brings out a giant present all wrapped up. Yuzuki finds a giant stuffed bear inside and is absolutely ecstatic. Her mother points out that she also got a bear, though hers was a tiny key chain. Yuzuki kisses her father on the cheek and goes back to happily hugging her new toy.

Unfortunately the family's happiness does not last long after that moment together. Yuzuki's dad was a bus driver, and one day the breaks didn't work. The bus crashes and multiple people are killed. Yuzuki's father does not die on the spot, but he does in the hospital in front of Yuzuki and her mother. Her mother drops the key chain in despair, when an angry crowd of people run in wanting to blame her father for the death of their daughter. Yuzuki tries to pick up the tiny bear, but the man breaks it by stepping on it. Yuzuki begins to cry and repeatedly screams "stupid!" at the man after realizing that her father is gone and won't be coming back. To make things worse, the bus company announces that the crash was a fabricated accident by the driver rather than faulty breaks on their part. With no one to take his side, Yuzuki's father becomes a "murderer."

Yuzuki's mother was sickly, and shortly after the death of her husband, she falls very ill. Yuzuki takes responsibility and does the shopping and cares for her mother. People tape nasty signs with phrases like "die" or "murderers" all over their apartment door, they avoid Yuzuki and her mother in the street, children make fun of her at school and are warned by their parents not to talk to her. Yuzuki's mother tries calling her family to help them out, but no one will come to their aid. Yuzuki's mother searches for a doctor to talk to about her illness, but even the hospitals refuse to see her. A mix of despair and worsening sickness eventually has her bedridden. Yuzuki stops leaving the house as well. Neither of them have eaten in days, but Yuzuki refuses to leave her mother's side.

Yuzuki's mother knows that they can't continue on the way they have been, so she takes Yuzuki to a shrine. They sit inside and she slowly brings her hand to Yuzuki's neck in order to end her suffering. She is interrupted by a couple of school girls that come and pray for their crush to kiss them. Yuzuki looks at them with wonder and happiness, obviously looking forward to the days where she will be in high school doing similar things. Having no more energy left, Yuzuki's mother tells her she is going to sleep for a while and closes her eyes. Knowing that her mother will never wake up again, Yuzuki brings her outside and buries her in the sakura petals falling from the tree nearby. Now with blood-red eyes, Yuzuki somehow manages to make her way home. She collapses out of exhaustion on the bear that her father gave her while holding onto a picture of her parents. There, Yuzuki died.

The rest of Yuzuki's life was not real. The people around her were, but she was never actually there interacting with them. Everything was an illusion while she was becoming mentally prepared to become the next Jigoku Shoujo. Her body was necessary for Ai's return. The apartment that she had been "living" in was actually almost falling apart; no one lived there anymore. After hearing from Tsugumi that she was no longer part of the living world, Yuzuki sees her room as it was on the day that she died. Everything in the room was worn and destroyed from the years that had gone by. The most disturbing thing in the room was her own little skeleton still clutching the bear on the floor. She had been thrown away by the world and no one had even noticed that she was dead in the apartment after all those years. No one remembered or cared that she had existed and was missing.

Blue Soul

Color is often used as symbolism in various works of art. I believe that Jigoku Shoujo is no exception. In contrast to the previous seasons of Jigoku Shoujo that accented red, blue is used more in Mitsuganae. While red was the color used to represent Ai, I think blue is used to represent Yuzuki. The color blue is associated with various things that can be possibly drawn back to Yuzuki's character:

calmness, tranquility, peace: The complete opposite of what Ai (and the color red) represent, as she symbolizes chaos, disorder and impulse. Yuzuki prefers things to be peaceful and worked out in a calm matter. She doesn't want trouble or for anyone to get hurt. She would rather people sit and talk through problems rather than act on impulse (which is what most people do when they pull the string). Jigoku Tsuushin truly disturbs Yuzuki because her core values are heavily in this domain. It bothers her when things are heated and chaotic because people do things they might regret in those circumstances. Yuzuki is basically a lover, not a fighter. Times of peace would be when she is happiest.

soothing, understanding, devotion: I feel that these words fit Yuzuki's personality well even though we really only see her interaction with people she cares about at a minimum. But because she gets so involved with the people using Jigoku Tsuushin, I think it is safe to say that it is in her nature to smooth down ruffled feathers and be the nonjudgmental person you could turn to for understanding. She doesn't want people to get angry, but to try and work things out. If Yuzuki didn't become so distant from people as a result of hiding her connection from Ai, I'm sure she would have been the "big sis" character that loved everyone for who they were. Yuzuki also demonstrates having devotion even when all the odds are stacked against her by continuing to try and stop people from using Ai as a method for revenge.

spirituality, intuition, coolness: Yuzuki has the ability to sense when others are going to use Jigoku Tsuushin, is connected heavily to spiritual beings (Ai and her companions), and is actually a spirit herself. Blue is also known as being one of the most "detached" colors, which could represent Yuzuki not actually being a part of the world she is "living" in. The color blue could also symbolize the problems Yuzuki has with the reserved/"cool" part of being Jigoku Shoujo. Her biggest discrepancy with Ai is that she doesn't understand how Ai can send people to Hell without thinking twice about it. Yuzuki does, however, eventually reach a point where she would send Azusa to Hell without considering all angles. Therefore we know she is capable of doing the same thing for a different reason.

water, sky, love: In contrast to red being fire, physical and pain. Ai being represented by red while Yuzuki is blue could symbolize that Yuzuki just isn't cut out to be the Jigoku Shoujo after all. It is not in her nature to continue a cycle of burning hatred by sending people to Hell. Yuzuki ultimately being fated to go to Heaven instead of Hell could also play a role in her relation to the color blue in terms of the sky. Even though Yuzuki has had feelings of hatred, I think it is more comfortable for her to love than to hate. She immediately feels horrible for wanting to send Azusa to Hell after seeing her situation, and I think that moment is when it is obvious she can't be Jigoku Shoujo. Yuzuki's heart is constantly overflowing; there is no way she could close it off.

REFERENCES:
1. Meaning of Blue Color Symbolism
2. Color Symbolism & Culture

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b a c k   .   c l e a r   .   f o r w a r d    Heavenbound and its contents are © Samantha, however Yuzuki and Jigoku Shoujo are © Aniplex, Studio Deen and other rightful owners. Heavenbound is a part of AFTER-DEATH.ORG.