- Titles: Jigokuraku, Hell’s Paradise
- Genre: Action, adventure, drama, supernatural, violent, fantasy
- Episodes: 13
- Studio: MAPPA
There is this island off the coast of Japan where worlds collide. Beasts and gods seem to coexist, beauty and life overflows from every corner. At first glance, one could think an island like this is paradise. And that is why the Shogun believes that the elixir of life is somewhere on that island. However, none have returned. Well that’s not quite true, one brave soldier did make his way back but what came back was no longer what you could consider “human”. What is a fearless leader who wants to live forever to do? Send a bunch of brutal convicts and motivate them by promising a pardon of course! And among those convicts is Gabimaru the Hollow. A man so empty he might not even have a soul. But things are not what they seem. Not the island and not Gabimaru.
A while ago I read the first volume of Hell’s Paradise and quite liked it. But as I was reading it, the anime adaptation got announced and I could tell right off the bat that this is a story I wanted t experience in animation. So I put the manga aside and patiently waited for the anime to be complete. Well the first season. I can’t believe I need to wait again for the second season. What is this!!!!
I read a lot of MAPPA hate online and I’m not entirely sure why. I mean they have their weak sots and I can’t say it’s my favourite studio when it comes to visuals but they also create some really great looking worlds. No really, if I want a show with distinctive environments, I think I would go to MAPPA. Dorohedoro instantly comes to mind when I think of a very unique looking universe. I mean have you ever seen a show look so…grimy. You can almost feel it
Similarly, Hell’s Paradise has an amazing sense of place.. The island is absolutely gorgeous. It really is exactly what you would think of as a paradise on earth. And yet it looks wrong. Even before the monsters show up, there’s something just a little off about the lush beauty of the place. It takes skill to create that feeling and atmosphere out of generally mundane imagery.
Moreover, the character designs in this one are really worth a look. Watching the Tensen fluidly go from female too male forms and sometimes something in the middle is both satisfying and just interesting from a design standpoint. And how did they manage to make flowers so menacing? I noticed that Chainsaw Man also used a plethora of pretty blue flowers in Ghost’s design and II found it personally so unsettling. That idea gets turned up to 11 in Hell’s Paradise and t makes for some of the most memorable and creepy monster designs I have seen in a long time.
Story & Characters
Guys, watch Hell’s Paradise if you haven’t. I’m serious, it’s a really really good show. I don’t understand how this didn’t become a mega hit of the season. It’s amazing. .kk., I’m being a little biased I guess. Let me be a bit more reasonable. If you enjoy action shonen with mystical elements and don’t mind violence…like a lot of it… then watch Hell’s Paradise. It’s one of the best examples of the genre I have seen in a long time.
I would say that it is aimed at a slightly older audience. Not only because of the lots and lots of violence mentioned above,, but because the characters are a bit older with preoccupations that will probably be more relatable to people with frustrations in their professional lives or strong feelings about marriage. This isn’t so much a coming of age epic as a settling in sort of story. It’s a look at folks that are a bit further down their own personal journeys and how they deal with extraordinary circumstances.
It’s also a lot about institutions. No, I’m serious. It’s not like a character is going to look straight at the camera and give you a long political speech or explain why there is no ethical consumption under capitalism or any such thing. However, there is a very strong political commentary weaved through the story both in the traditional government politics and the more slippery theological politics that shape people’s lives.
Now the story takes place in an analogue of our world, cause duh magic island and all, and is historical so parallels have to be drawn. But their not too subtle.
Then again, if you want to ignore that and watch ninjas kick fish monsters, you can totally do that too and have a ton of fun with Hell’s Paradise. Don’t want to make it sound like there’s anything preachy about this show.
Like most anime I tend to really like, Hell’s Paradise is a character driven story. Said characters are rich, varied and wonderfully developed. Even the ones we hardly get a chance to know feel like real and complete people with their own lives and minds. I don’t want to go into too much detail because discovering the characters is probably one of the best things about the show. However I do want to just touch a little on Gabimaru and Sagiri.
Gabimarru and Sagiri are the two main characters of the sow. A cursory look will tell you all you need to know. Gabimaru is small and inoffensive looking but you can just tell that he has this huge hidden power and you do not want to get on his bad side. He’s quiet and stoic but when push comes to shove, he can hold his own and then some. Sagiri is serious and diligent. She has worked hard to make it in a man’s world and live up t her family’s name and she still feels a constant need to prove herself. Yu know these characters, right? I mean you have seen them so often…except you haven’t.
The subtle subversion of highly recognizable archetypes make both of them unique and delightful. Gabimaru is a realist with a clear view of his limits. He thinks things through. And his motivations are mundane and simple. He wants t get back to his wife. That’s all. Nott avenge her, not save her not prove anything… just get back to someone he cares about and like have diner or something. How freakin sweet is that. And he often is actually just kind of a sweet guy. His upbringing turned him into somewhat of a monster but his nature is mild mannered and that just never completely goes away.
And Sagiri, well she’s a lady. What I mean by that is that she has the classic gender issues we see associated with the archetype but she also isn’t at war with her gender. Her more classically feminine traits are shown as a strength and mirrored in a way by Yuzuriha who also subverts the femme fatale stereotype by being a bit of a goof. The entre show is about finding balance and we see it mostly through Sagiri in a way that is still unusual in fiction. I liked it!
But let’s not forget about the island itself. It’s not exaggeration to say that the setting is treated almost like a character in and of itself. With a personality and mysterious backstory and development all of its own. I really can’t wait to find out what the deal is.
And that’s the thing, Hell’s Paradise is not a complete story. Not even close. And it’s not one of those shone that could go on forever. You can see in this first season that it’s meant to be a story with a conclusion. There ae a to of questions to be answered. But you don’t really get much answers in the first 13 episodes and that could be frustrating to some. I know I finished the last episode and then stared in disbelief as my autoplay just froze with nothing more to show me. How can it possibly end there, I thought. That’s a little mean… So like I HAVE to buy all the manga now. They can’t seriously expect me to wait…
In Hell’s Paradise’s defense, the second season has already been announced and I do think there’s a chance they wrap it up in two seasons. I’m not sure because like I said didn’t read the manga past volume 1 but it feels like there was a lot of progress made in 13 episodes ad so far the show hasn’t lingered on fights stretching them out for no reason. So it’s not like they plan on leaving us hanging or anything. It’s just that I’m not all that patient and it’s a really good story.
I mean it, watch Hell’s Paradise you guys!
You might like this anime if:
You enjoy action with supernatural elements and you don’t mind violence. Then you’ll like it a lot!
My favourite character:
You know, I really like the entire cast. I honestly do. I can’t pick
- Every time we see Gabimaru’s wife – take a sip
- Every time a person…blooms – switch to water
- Every time anyone gets beheaded – gulp
- Every time Gabimaru and Sagiri fight – take a sip
- Every time anyone blushes – awwwwww
- Every time we see Gabimaru’s childhood – take a sip
- Every time Gabimaru mentions his wife – take a sip
- Every time anyone patronizes Sagiri – take a sip
- Every time we see Gabimaru’s Ascetic Blaze – quick back to water
- Every time we see or hear about Tensen – switch to Hell
I save all my screencaps on my Pinterest and you can find more there if you are interested. But I still like to show you a few in the post. If you’re like me, screencaps are something that really helps you decide to watch an anime or not.