Hell’s Paradise

Hell’s Paradise

Hell's Paradise anime series cover art
Hell’s Paradise

Searching for the Elixer of Life

Hell’s Paradise (Jigokuraku / 地獄楽) is one of the hot new shounen battle anime series. It’s up there with the likes of Demon Slayer and Jujutsu Kaisen. Well, maybe it’s not as popular as those two. But, it has its fans.

The series is about the search for the Elixer of Life that’s said to grant immortality. Supposedly, the Elixer can be found on the legendary island of Shinsenkyo. And to get his hands on the Elixer, the shogun sends his best samurai and worst criminals to the island.

That’s right, a combination of samurai and criminals is who the shogun sends. He took a bunch of condemned criminals and told them he’d pardon whoever brings the Elixer back. And to make sure the criminals don’t attempt to flee, he paired them each with a samurai.

Gabimaru using his ascetic blaze jutsu from the anime series Hell's Paradise
Gabimaru using his ascetic blaze jutsu

If a criminal attempts to flee the island, their assigned samurai is to cut them down. But, the island itself does a pretty good job of not letting anyone escape. And it’s not long before the criminals and samurai are working together simply to survive.

You see, this island isn’t the paradise Shinsenkyo is in the legends. It’s full of dangerous plants, animals, and monsters of all kinds. And ruling over the island with an iron grip are the Tensen — a group of immortals with magical powers.

Sure, finding the Elixer of Life is still the ultimate goal for our unlikely heroes. However, the series is actually more about uncovering the mystery of the island. How could an island like this exist? Did the Elixer of Life cause the island to become this way? Or, is it the other way around? Did the island create the Elixer of Life?

There’s only one way to find out.

Criminals and Executioners

There are a decent number of criminals and executioners. But, I’m only going to be going over the ones that matter. So, that means this section is going to contain spoilers. There’s your warning.

The main pair is Gabimaru and Sagiri. Gabimaru is a criminal who’s a former shinobi of Iwagakure. He’s known as Gabimaru the Hollow because of his ruthlessness. But, he actually has a sweet spot for his wife. Sagiri is the only female samurai of the Yamada Asaemon clan. As such, she struggles to prove she’s as strong as the men.

Yuzuriha and Senta are the next pair. Yuzuriha is a kunoichi, which is a female shinobi. But, she’s not affiliated with Iwagakure. She’s dangerous because she only cares about protecting herself. Senta is a portly samurai who, it turns out, never wanted to be a samurai. He’s boring.

Sagiri Yamada Asaemon holding her sword from the anime series Hell's Paradise
Sagiri Yamada Asaemon holding her sword

Choubei and Touma Aza are brothers who are also a criminal and samurai pair. Choubei is the leader of the two (and the criminal). But, don’t think that Touma became a samurai to bring his brother to justice. He actually became one to break his brother out of jail.

Gantetsusai Tamiya and Fuchi are next. Gantetsusai is a criminal who wants to make his mark on history as the greatest swordsman. He doesn’t really care about anything other than that. Fuchi is a samurai who’s interested in dissection. He’s fascinated by how living creatures work.

And lastly, we have the trio of Nurugai, Tenza, and Shion. Nurugai is a young girl from the mountains who was branded a criminal by the shogunate. Tenza and Shion are both samurai who watch over her at different points. Shion is the more interesting of the two because he’s also blind. Though, I like Tenza.

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The Next Big Shounen Battle Anime?

So, I hinted at this at the start of the review. But, is Hell’s Paradise really the next big shounen battle anime? I’m going to say no. It’s a pretty popular series. But, it’s not nearly as popular as some of the other big series in the space.

Only about 500,000 MyAnimeList users have watched Hell’s Paradise to date. For context, here are the numbers for some other series. Demon Slayer (Season 1) has 2.8 million viewers and Jujutsu Kaisen (Season 1) has 2.3 million viewers. Even Chainsaw Man has more than double Hell’s Paradise with 1.3 million.

Sure, those series have been around longer. Demon Slayer is four years old now. So, Hell’s Paradise is going to bump up its numbers over time, as well. But, think back to how massively popular those series were when they aired. Hell’s Paradise wasn’t like that.

Yuzuriha from the anime series Hell's Paradise
Yuzuriha

Why isn’t Hell’s Paradise as popular as those series, though? There are likely many reasons. But, one that I noticed while watching the series is the power system. The power system in Hell’s Paradise still wasn’t defined well by the end of the first season.

We know some generic information about how Tao works. But, it’s not like how in Demon Slayer we know how every breathing technique is related. It’s not like in JJK or CSM where everyone’s abilities get explained. In Hell’s Paradise, Tao is very ambiguous and there aren’t any set rules yet.

Why is that a problem? When you have a battle series without a defined power system, fights aren’t as much fun. You can’t theorize about how matchups will play out. And it’s far easier for a character to pull some random attack out of nowhere that ruins the fight.

Conclusion

I ended up giving Hell’s Paradise a 7/10. It was a good anime in some regards. I had a good time watching it and Yuzuriha is literally my wife. But, it’s also not a series I’d have any desire to rewatch. If a second season comes out, I’ll watch that.

To end this review on a positive note, though, I’ll say that the OP for the series is great. WORK by millennium parade and Sheena Ringo is a very good song. I actually like the TV-size version better than the full version. Also, the OP has good visuals, so that’s a plus.

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Finally, I’d like to thank Roman and JasonHK for supporting DoubleSama.com at the Heika tier this month. To learn more about how you can become a supporter of this blog, check out Patreon.com/DoubleSama.

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