(閻魔 あい, Enma Ai?)
Voiced by: Mamiko Noto (Japanese), Brina Palencia (English)
The primary protagonist of the series, Hell Girl
or Jigoku Shoujo: Girl from Hell
. With long, flowing hair and red eyes, she is a spiritual entity with a tragic past, who lives in a world of eternal twilight with her grandmother, and is the one who receives and delivers vengeance on her clients' behalf.
She normally wears a black seifuku, or sailor uniform (which is usually worn during winter months), but always wears a kimono with floral (or egg) designs when delivering the vengeance of a client. Ai started her career as the Hell Girl by her own act of vengeance on the villagers who sentenced her to a sacrificial death. Her eyes turned red arguably at the point where Sentarou (her childhood soul mate who gave in under the villagers' pressure to bury her alive) gave the first shovel of soil onto her face. She broke out of her grave after a while, and took revenge on the entire village with her wrath, burning it to the ground. Her task of fulfilling other people's vengeance and ferrying people to Hell is her punishment, a task which she has performed for the better part of 400 years. Although this task is presented as atonement, it is unknown whether she will ever be freed of it. Since she has done this for so long, she initially seemed to have become emotionless, numbed, as is shown by her expressionless face. Wanyūdō noted she still had feelings, though, although she did not express them strongly, and it was later revealed that Ai had been ordered to close her heart by the Spider. The experiences she has with the Shibatas reawakened her discontent with her terrible fate and later apparently reawakened other emotions, or at least Ai's ability to express them. When enraged, Ai demonstrates the ability to hurl great blasts of energy, as well as the power to create elaborate illusions and the ability to teleport.
In the second season, Ai becomes more expressive and shows more emotions, being more willing to interact with others and with her "clients". In fact, in one scene, she puts up a "V for Victory" sign in front of her target as a way of mockery and torture before sending him to hell; in another, she is seen reading from a fashion magazine while her compatriots watch over their client; and she even showed concern towards a mother who willingly ended her life so that her daughter doesn't have to send her to Hell. Also, her emotions and memories are once again released by the suffering of Takuma Kurebayashi, similar to her own situation in the past. This leads Ai to defy her 'employer', who is the Lord of Hell, causing her to be restored to human life — and killed shortly thereafter, when saving Takuma from his tormentors. After Ai's self-sacrifice, her body dissolves into sakura petals and drifts into the sky.
In the third season, we see Ai's return to the series after she was presumed dead. In the beginning of the season, she transports another girl, Yuzuki, to a strange illusion and dream state, where Ai makes the girl her new "vessel". The relationship between Yuzuki and Ai can be compared to the bond that she shared with Tsugumi in the first season, albeit much closer. Also, when she is kicked by a hatred in the hip, she is shown to feel small pain.
It is ironic that Ai's name actually translates as: Ai (love) and Enma (the Judge of the Underworld). A second translation of Ai, however, is accomplice, denoting Ai's role as Enma's assistant. Because her first name is never written in kanji, its meaning remains ambiguous.
For more information, visit the series library entry here