Jigokuraku (Hell’s Paradise) Season 1 Review

Yuzuriha with a weapon

The Spring Anime season has come to an end and in retrospect, there were some solid titles and a lot of filler in the mix. While I’m not fully done with every entry of the season I can safely say that so far that anime of the season award goes to Hell’s Paradise also known as Jigokuraku (地獄楽) in Japanese. The Author Yuuji Kaku worked with Tatsuki Fujimoto whose known for the Chainsaw Man manga that’s quite popular and you can see some same gore influences here.

SynopsisSentenced to death, the hollow ninja known as Gabimaru embraces apathy. Having lived a life drenched in blood, he believes his demise is justifiable. Yet, inexplicably, every attempt to execute him proves futile. In a twist of fate, Sagiri Yamada Asaemon, a novice from a renowned clan of executioners, is assigned the task of ending Gabimaru’s life.

Surprisingly, Sagiri defies the order and refrains from killing him. Insisting that Gabimaru’s love for his wife renders him unkillable, Sagiri proposes a different path: a chance for Gabimaru to secure a full pardon for his crimes. The condition is to journey to the treacherous island of Shinsekyo, rumored to hold the fabled Elixir of Life, granting immortality. If Gabimaru can retrieve the elixir and deliver it to the shogun, his freedom will be granted.

Gonna try to keep spoilers at the minimum here both in the written and the video version below, because I want people to experience the mystery and story of the series in the fullest way. You can find the series at Crunchyroll and to my understanding it will be available at some point on Netflix too.

Battle Royale on an Island

There are multiple influences you can tell in this series such as the original Battle Royale film, Attack on Titan, Chainsaw Man, and religious philosophies of Taoism and Buddhism. Also adventuring to Shinsekyo Island can be viewed as somewhat familiar to the experience of LOST throwing you into a new environment with odd monsters and nobody knows what is exactly going on there.

The first half of the season has a lot more questions and mysteries revolving around the Island and after that everyone seems to be more on the same page about what is exactly happening here and everyone’s allegiances are put to different framing. Despite being only 13 episodes, there is a fair amount of flashbacks and backstories to most of our major characters in the show in a balanced way.

While I wish certain characters would have stayed around a bit longer and not gotten killed super early on, I would say pacing in that sense is fair. Looking at the work of Yuuji Kaku, he doesn’t seem to do very long-running manga, to begin with (averaging ~2 years per manga) so I guess season 2 or cour 2 will have an end to this series, which likely airs at end of the year or early next year.

Solid Action from start to finish

Even though there is time being spent on flashbacks and characters having a moment or two, each episode still has a lot of blood flowing and monsters/people dying. The studio behind Hell’s Paradise is MAPPA which is among people’s Top 5 studios usually, now visually it’s great and definitely above average. Also, I would like to add that the studio is staying truthful to the original manga artwork, but slightly perhaps uses less shadowing.

We also have to praise the Opening song W●RKby Millenium Parade and Sheena, which has already racked up 10M plays on YouTube already, I really recommend checking out the music video it’s quite a banger. This has to go probably down as my favorite Anime track of the year and there wasn’t probably anything as good last year either. I can’t go saying that this Anime’s OST is anything special, frankly, I do not remember anything of it.

But to wrap up my thoughts, its a great anime and definitely refreshing in its story in some ways while still reminding me of titles like Basilisk a bit, but I recommend checking it out and making your own verdict out of it.