Adult Swim: Diving into Hell

>> Saturday, March 11, 2017

Well, not really. In fact, this is a favorite manga and we're talking Buddhist hell which is a whole different story.

Which is part of the charm.

I won't lie. I love mythology and, though I grew up on Western mythology (Greek, Roman, Nordic), I always love to learn more. One of the many many reasons I enjoy manga so much is that they tend to enjoy injecting their mythology/religion into their stories as if it's perfectly reasonable. Maybe it even is.

Jigoku Miguri by Kuju Siam is a wonderful sort of story wrapped up in the Eastern view of Hell and, naturally, government servants who have to come in to straighten up the filing. In this story, a government worker comes to help out in Hell a few days a week and is coveted (sexually - it is yaoi) by the leader of this corner of hell, Enma-sama, a demon who was once a human being. Takimura Ono is an apparently normal human being but seems to have no trouble fitting it with the ruthlessness required of Hell.

However, as a nice aside, Enma doesn't use any sort of force or coercion and Ono has no trouble holding him off. Both Enma and Ono are rather popular with the demons about the place, all of which are part of the natural order of business (a nice way of looking at it, one I favor).

I'll have to note that I was as interested in the mythology/religious aspect and the bits and pieces of that as any part of the story. The crystal mirror (Jouharinokagami) that tells the truth and shows your deeds and deepest wishes. The levels of hell that vary in length and intensity depending on your crimes (after which, back into the cycle of rebirth). Fascinating.

But, hey, maybe you don't care about mythology or Buddhism. Well, the good news is the story is interesting as well.

Enma floated on their river of death after committing suicide from a rather tragic and short life and was put to work as a demon, still riddled by guilt (not going to spoil you as the story, but his sin is pretty tiny compared to some). Enter Ono who he's drawn to, suffering from his own unrequited love and the guilt from an affair he had with a married professor. Naturally, some of the mystique and magic of hell follows him into the human realm and Ono is tempted to use his new insight to help, even in small ways. That's a no-no that earns him some laps on the field of nails. And ends up getting him an affair with Enma. But, when the professor Ono loved finds his way into Hell to be judged, Ono interferes again, for selfish reasons, and their relationship is threatened.

And we still get the kind of sappy happy ending people like me still love. It's complex and convoluted with two sets of star-crossed lovers, but, in the end, ultimately satisfying.


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