|Relatives||Unnamed Father and Mother|
Sentarou Shibata (Cousin)
Hajime Shibata (Distant Relative)
Tsugumi Shibata (Distant Relative)
|Anime Debut||From Beyond the Twilight|
|Japanese V.A||Mamiko Noto|
|English V.A||Brina Palencia|
Ai Enma (閻魔 あい Enma Ai) is the main protagonist of the series and the one known as the "Jigoku Shoujo"--地獄少女--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 "Hell Girl Three Vessels." Sayuri Iwata plays her in the live-action television series.
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 rarely 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. She is the first Hell Girl.
Ai is a pale-skinned young girl with long, straight black hair styled in a hime cut that she keeps untied, red eyes (although they were initially brown before she was buried alive), and 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 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 season 3, it carries pictures of fans and toy air balloons, the patterns of which appear to be moving. In season 4, it is black but mostly covered with flowers, butterflies, strings, and roses, it's obi's color is golden and is decorated with flowers.
Although not initially 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 directly for the sake of it. If 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 Hell Girl.
As the series went on, Ai did become slightly more expressive, and a tad less cold, solemn, and silent. However, the difference is 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 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 feelings, 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 Sentarou Shibata's actions upon his descendants 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 Sentarou had built for her centuries before, suggesting that she refuses to accept repentance. 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.
Ai was born in the early 1600's in the small Japanese town known as Mutsumi Village. The children of the village teased and bullied Ai because they believed she was an evil spirit. They claimed she had special powers and even said they had seen her bring a dead butterfly back to life. Ai says the butterfly just wasn't dead. Ai's cousin, Sentarou Shibata, was always sticking up for her, fighting with the village children.
When Ai was seven, she was chosen by the village elders to become the latest in a long line of child sacrifices meant to appease the mountain god and secure a bountiful harvest. The ritual was known as the "Seven Sending", every seven years, a seven-year-old girl was offered up to the mountain. Ai's parents defied the will of the village elders and secretly arranged for Sentarou to keep Ai alive in the woods, bringing her food, clothes and keeping her company. Ai and Sentarou's relationship developed, and both of them became romantically attracted to one another, although neither admits it to the other. Ai will start to confess her feelings just before the tragic events that seal her fate.
It was then that Ai's long black locks grew. Although isolated and alone, Ai remembers this time as the happiest of her life; if she could have, she'd have had things stay that way forever. Before long, the village's crops started to fail and wither when they expected a bountiful harvest, adding to this phenomena are heard rumors of Sentarou sneaking off into the woods alone at night. They followed him one night and found Ai. After a short pursuit, they punished Ai by burying her alive, forcing Sentarou to shovel the first spadefuls of dirt onto his cousin's face. Seeing that the one person who supposedly cared for her the most betray her caused Ai great pain. 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.
She broke out of her grave later in the night, carrying hatred towards the entire village. In revenge, she destroys the whole town along with the villagers, except for Sentarou, because he was already leaving. He watched Ai burn the entire village and curiously laughed, possibly because he was happy that she was alive and because she had gained her revenge on the town.
A short time afterward, Ai emerged from the grave as a vengeful entity. She gleefully exacted her revenge by burning the entire village, and inhabitants save Sentarou to the ground. As explained in the first episode of the second season, her vengeance attracted Master of Hell's attention, 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. To serve these tasks, the Master of Hell demanded that Ai forget her 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 took the appointment as Hell Girl.
Through the centuries, Ai traveled around Japan, becoming the messenger of vengeance to those with intense hatred in their hearts. It started when a client contacted 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. Ai inhabits the house 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 process was the Ema Tablets, 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 Hell Link, a website where the recipient's name can be written. Whatever the means, they share a similarity in that they are only valid at midnight and will only work for those who have an intense 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 even led to innocent 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 Ichimokuren, 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 earth. 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 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.
Four hundred 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 hatred and burying the painful memories of her past. Meanwhile, the Hell Link 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 establishes a telepathic link with Tsugumi, although she does not know why this happened. Whatever the reason, the connection 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 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 Gilles de L'Enfer. Gilles uses his powers on her and manages to give her a glimpse of her forgotten past. Ai manages to send Gilles to Hell as the client pulled the string, but when she returns to the Realm, she sees Sentarou 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 link: Hajime is a descendant of Sentarou. Unable to gain retribution from Sentarou, she focuses 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 request to allow them to start again on a rainy night. When she leaves, her car crashes.
This sets up an apparent parallel between Ai and Hajime's inability to forgive. The comparisons are not perfect: Hajime neglected his wife while Ai protests to the Master of Hell. She had done nothing to deserve her sacrifice. Nevertheless, Ai blames Hajime, 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 also 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. Ai's Grandmother asks Hajime for a favor in exchange for freeing him from the Realm. Precisely 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 shows both of them the scene of Ayumi's death. Her attempt proved to be unsuccessful because Hajime arrives to accept his responsibility in his wife's death. As he confesses, it was his refusal to forgive her for her betrayal, primarily caused by his actions that led to her death. Tsugumi admits she does not blame her father and refuses to take revenge. They return to the ridge where Ai reflects in her memories. Tsugumi returns the Wanyūdō straw doll to her, saying she does not need it. Tsugumi states further that Sentarou loved her and regretted 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 forgiven him. 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 hatred, Ai once again becomes worthy of the mantle of Hell Girl and continues to deliver souls to Hell.
In season 2, 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 Ai by making her a mortal for not fulfilling her task. Later on, Takuma saw Hotaru on the lakeside. 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 misunderstood that Ai has come back to send one of them to Hell, out of fear, they went to try to kill Ai. Takuma shouted to stop hitting Ai. He swiftly went near Ai, and he held Ai's hand. Ai said to Takuma that "It's all over".
In season 3, Ai possessed Yuzuki Mikage's body. Yuzuki is a 9th grader schoolgirl who studies at Saigawara 4th Junior High School. Later in the season, Ai was able to get back her body. She reveals to Yuzuki that she would be the next Hell Girl. Unable to accept her fate, Ai shows Yuzuki her past. In the end, she is seen taking her future. However, she lets her emotions act for her, forcing the spider to stop Yuzuki, discharge her as Hell Girl, and send her to Hell as punishment. Yuzuki is saved from being sent to Hell by Ai, who then accepts to replace Yuzuki as Hell Girl. While Yuzuki disappears, Ai shows her past to her, claiming that they are equal.
Season 4 to be added.
Dark Energy: Ai has shown the ability to hurl massive, 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.
Teleportation: She can teleport from one place to another. Throughout the series, Ai appears out of nowhere, therefore startling her clients.
Taking People to Hell: 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 takes them aboard her boat on the Sanzu River for transportation into Hell.
Possession: She seems to have the ability to possess others, but because 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 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.
Illusion Manipulation: 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.
Showing Someone the Future of a Grudge: Ai has displayed the ability to show someone the future of a grudge, as she showed Yuzuki Mikage, in Episode 16 of Three Vessels.
Resurrection: As shown when she was buried, she managed to rise from the dead to destroy her village. 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.
Fire Manipulation: 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.
Seeing Past: She can show someone the past of a person, which Ai has performed on multiple occasions, first in the first season, and second in Two Mirrors.
- The name Ai is written in hiragana (あい) in the manga-- a popular girl's first name meaning "love, affection".
- Ai's surname Enma means "village gate, good looking" (閻) (en) and "devil" (魔) (ma) in the manga.
- It is a name for the "Yama King" and "judge of the dead".
- It can also mean "Yamarāja" in Japanese.
- It is a name for the "Yama King" and "judge of the dead".
- Ai is similar to the ferryman Charon from Greek mythology, who carried the souls of the dead across the river Styx to the Underworld.
- Ai's reincarnation immediately after her death and her act of burning her village down makes her, at that stage, similar to an Onryō from Japanese mythology, which is a ghost believed to be capable of causing harm in the world of the living, injuring or killing enemies, or even causing natural disasters to exact vengeance to redress the wrongs it received while alive, then taking their spirits from their dying bodies.
- Her appearance also has similarities to most exemplary Onryō, who also commonly have pale white skin and long black hair.
- Ai was physically injured every season, once in Two Mirrors, and twice in Three Vessels, 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 Gilles de L'Enfer's telekinetic abilities in the episode Hell Girl vs. Hell Boy. However, she showed no sign of pain or resistance.
- In Two Mirrors, she was beaten to death again by some of the individuals of Lovely Hills.
- In Three Vessels, she was kicked in the stomach in the episode My Teacher.
- Furthermore, in Three Vessels, Ai was hit in the stomach with a dark bolt of energy fired by Yuzuki Mikage.
- Ai and Sentarou have been hinted to have had romantic feelings for each other multiple times.
- Ai can 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.
- Unlike Michiru Sagae, Ai's flames are blue, which is a more potent form of yellow fire.