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|The Girl in the Dark||Beloved Kei|
"Bubbles" is the 2nd episode of the season "Two Mirrors" and the 28th episode from total.
The episode opens with a short monologue by the episode's protagonist, Yayoi Kurayoshi, about her visions; visions of something that cannot rise to the surface, something in the shadow of bubbles. We then see Yayoi and her grief-stricken parents handing out fliers of their missing daughter and sister, Sumire. While being inconsiderately hit on by one passer-by, Yayoi receives another vision, accompanied by the sound of bubbles. That night, Yayoi is woken by the bubbles and gets up and goes to her missing sister's empty room. As the clock strikes midnight Sumire's computer starts itself, all the while the flashes of the bubbles and water increasing in Yayoi's vision. Suddenly, Ai Enma is standing behind her. "Who are you?" Yayoi asks. Ai explains that Yayoi summoned her with the computer, but of course Yayoi knows nothing of this. Starting to suspect that it is Sumire co-ordinating these events, Yayoi asks Ai who she is, but she is gone. The Three Straws have set up a fruit and vegetable stall in Yayoi's street as headquarters and Ai walks here to inform them that the request was not from Yayoi, hence her departure. Wanyudo informs the other two Straws that it is, in fact, Sumire who is accessing the Hell Correspondence as she has become a miserable soul who cannot rest in peace. Yayoi meets with a friend who tells her all about Hell Girl and the Hell Correspondence, slowly the pieces are falling into position and then Yayoi has another vision. This time she can hear Sumire's voice saying how cold it is where she is. Yayoi finally realises that it has been Sumire making her access the Hell Correspondence and that she is, in fact, very much dead. This makes handing out the fliers even harder for her and her parents send her home. She tries going to the police station but cannot even enter realising how frivolous her evidence is. Wanyudo and Hone Onna decide to investigate further, taking a flier from Yayoi's parents while Ren Ichimoku trails Yayoi. Wanyudo manages to find a witness from the day of Sumire's disappearance, however, it is a puppy and only Ai has the power to extract the dog's memory of that day. It turns out that it was following a fight between Yayoi and Sumire that Sumire was walking home alone on that fateful day. We see that Sumire was indeed kidnapped and taken in the boot of a man's car but we are left behind as Ai, Wanyudo and Hone Onna witness the final moments of the girls life. Yayoi blames herself that it was her fault. She shouldn't had a fight with Sumire in the first place and none of this would have happen if Sumire couldn't have gone missing.
As hard as Yayoi tries she cannot access the Hell Correspondence due to the fact that, as explained by the Three Straws, feeling remorse or blaming oneself for something is far removed from the bitterness required to access the Hell Correspondence and exact revenge. As Yayoi comes to terms with the death of her sister she tries to convince her parents that it may be pointless continuing to look for Sumire but they will hear none of it, convinced their daughter is still alive. Yayoi apologises to Sumire's spirit for not being able avenge her but she feels that there is nothing more she can do. All this changes when Yayoi falls into a fountain during another of her visions. She finally sees her sister's last moments; her abduction, her rape, her murder by sword and her final indignity, being stuffed into a suitcase and being thrown into the lake. This knowledge changes Yayoi remorse into extreme bitterness and a strong need for revenge, the two things needed to access the Hell Correspondence. Unlike other episodes, instead of being whisked into Ai's sunset world, the contract is laid before Yayoi in Sumire's bedroom, Ren Ichimoku serving as the straw doll, kissing his pendant as he transforms. Ai offers Yayoi Sumire's murderer's swift transportation to the very pits of Hell in return for Yayoi's damnation when she dies. Yayoi's hesitation is very brief, being one the few clients of Hell Girl who immediately unties the red thread, regardless of the consequences. As usual, the murderer, who turns out to be a monstrous entity in human form, is instantly transported to that mysterious in-between world, where they have a chance to admit their sins before being taken to Hell on the ferry. This time he is trailing Sumire again in his car, yelling from the window. The girl turns revealing that it is in fact Ai Enma, her red eyes aglow. As she ignores him he tries to run her over. As he hits her he is all of a sudden hitting the surface of the lake he threw Sumire into. As the car sinks he sees Hone Onna in her skeletal form in the back seat and as she embraces him in her death grip he awakens in shallow water near a water wheel. The wheel is, of course, Wanyudo and suddenly the dress Sumire was wearing when she was murdered is in the water, one sleeve caught in the water wheel and the other sleeve around the murderer's ankle, violently dragging him into the turning wheel. He reawakens once more, this time in front of a traditional Japanese stage with a masked Kabuki actor on the left and Ren Ichimoku kneeling on the right playing the drum. The actor asks for the murderer to repent for his sins, pointing to the dress and asking for remembrance. Of course, the murderer denies it all, claiming they have no evidence. This is the last straw, the mask drops and the actor is Ai Enma. She says her piece, condemning the monster to his fate and he awakes in the ferry on his way to Hell, where he fattens up with water until he explodes.
We are left with the scene of Yayoi and her parents once again handing out flyers at the train station, however, this time Yayoi seems to be somehow at peace with her duty. She has the fire symbol tattoo on her chest but we are left with the feeling that by handing out the flyers she is honoring her sister, and she is no longer having visions of bubbles.