Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations
The internet truly is a blessing…in some ways, that is. It would have been hard to imagine series like Blue Flag, Chainsaw Man, or Spy x Family to be housed under the Shonen Jump library just 10 years ago, and yet, with the advent of Shonen Jump’s online service Jump+, artists have been given a lot more creative freedom and control over the content they put out. The same could definitely be said of Hell’s Paradise, another “dark” shonen that has added to the popularity of the service.
Hell’s Paradise follows Gabimaru, a man raised in a village of assassins in which no one is allowed to leave. After realizing just how deeply he cares for his wife, the daughter of the village leader, he plans on retiring and leaving with her. However, he is betrayed and sentenced to death by the chief for his crimes. While getting ready to die, he meets a woman, Sagiri, who offers him another chance by finding the elixir of life and getting a pardon from the shogunate, an offer he gladly excepts.
To be completely honest, kind of thought this would be a harder sell on my end. Outside of Chainsaw Man, none of the edgier shonen properties have necessarily resonated with me all that well. I enjoyed what I saw of Jujutsu Kaisen, but never ended up finishing it. The Ichinose Family’s Deadly Sins has been a decently enjoyable read, but nothing that could really be called great, at least not yet.
Still, to say I am not hooked yet would be a lie. To start, the anime has a beautiful aesthetic, especially when it comes to the scenes involving the island. The unnatural beauty combined with the stark reality of just how much danger lurks further in is genuinely chilling at times, especially as of episode three, where we see some of those dangers firsthand.
Though definitely not my favorite Shonen mc, Gabimaru does offer a nice change of pace. Despite probably being stronger than every random isekai protag that spawns in each season with enough magic bullshit to destroy the planet, his character is written in a way that it feels earned. Though, maybe suffering through is a better way to phrase it. His battle between the labels others have put on him versus the authentic feelings he has for his wife is also a narrative worth getting behind.
Weirdly enough, a lot of that also applies to Gabimaru’s partner in adventure, Sagiri. Sagiri also has a lot of problems stemming from self-identity, specifically when it comes to her father’s respect and her existence as a woman trying to be an executioner. Her investment in trying to help Gabimaru can be seen as stemming from her relating to Gabimaru in his quest for self-acceptance.
There are, of course, the other criminals who are racing against Gabimaru for the chance at a pardon. However, no one who has been implied to have any importance has really gotten the chance to show off their personality to any significant degree. At least, not beyond a few scenes during the third episode where the show gives a glimpse into their murder methods.
Given that the manga has thirteen volumes in total, amounting to around 127 chapters, it seems fair to say that this first arc is not likely to be the only major one. In that regard, it will be interesting to see where the show develops from here and what elements it chooses to emphasize. As of right now, though, it feels as though the source material is being well-represented.
How do you feel about Hell’s Paradise? Let me know in the comments below.
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