It never seems to occur to any of Ai's clients that each of their victimizers would most likely be sent to the fire down below in their own due time, anyway. "You hurt others," Ai tells the greedy vet just before she sends him to the underworld, "and now you have tainted your mortal soul." What matters is the sense of satisfaction each aggrieved heroine feels as the engineers of each villain's destruction. They've taken justice into their own hands – even if it ruins their own afterlife.
In terms of its central gimmick, the aged 16-plus rated manga can perhaps be viewed as a distaff version of Death Note. Though where that pulpish horror noir ruthlessly charted the moral disintegration of its note-bearing protagonist, Hell Girl leaves its consequences in an unseen future. This oh well, I'm goin' to Hell someday theme makes it truer to its readership's own adolescent fantasies, I suspect, though its repeated use adds a sense of incompleteness to the proceedings. Perhaps future volumes (or the animé series?) portray at least one character who manages to turn away from the temptation that the Hell Girl offers, but I wouldn't be surprised if they didn't. "People are such sad creatures," Ai tells us more than once in the first volume.
Eto's art is true to shoujo manga conventions, which won't be surprising to readers familiar with other distaff-focused horror manga (Pet Shop of Horrors, for instance), but may be a bit off-putting to newcomers. When a demon rips off his face to freak out that blackmailing schoolgirl, the overall effect is more cute than anything. When Ai sends her assignments to eternal damnation, the panel fills with flat floral shapes like something out of a kitschy sixties bathroom pattern: not very frightening, but the design is interesting.
Hmm, I think I just found my critical tagline for this series. Feel free to use it on the back cover of future volumes, Del Rey.