Anime & Manga, Reviews

Hell's Paradise Volume 1 Review: A World of Breathtaking Beauty and Horror

Discover the beautifully twisted world of Hell's Paradise and how it stands above other dark fantasy mangas.

Hell's Paradise: Jigokuraku by Yuji Kaku
Image: VIZ
By: Javier ReyesFeb 23, 2024, 2:06 AM

Hell's Paradise: Jigokuraku Vol. 1 TP

Review
Rating
9
Good
Hell's Paradise Vol 1

Writer: Yuji Kaku

Artist: Yuji Kaku

Publisher: VIZ

Release Date: March 10, 2020

Page Count: 208

Format: Manga

The world of Hell's Paradise is equally horrific and beautiful. Amidst all the violence and demon blood is an emotional story of a forsaken ninja fighting for his life and freedom.

By its title already, Hell’s Paradise is a manga that loves to toy with the juxtaposition of beauty and horror. Characters of the story are capable of some of the most gruesome acts imaginable while also having it in them to be beacons of love, compassion, and loyalty.  Throughout this dark tale, readers explore a world that's filled with hellish monsters set against the backdrop of beautiful scenery. The constant interplay between light and dark is what makes Hell's Paradise such a joyfully frightening read.

Created by the incredibly talented Yuji Kaku, Hell's Paradise has captivated readers around the world with its unique blend of fast-paced, shonen-style action and grisly dark fantasy. This review will explore the manga's enthralling story, memorable characters, and captivating artwork that make Hell's Paradise a must-read for lovers of the supernatural and the macabre.

Hell's Paradise Chapter 1

The Story:

Gabimaru is the most notorious assassin in feudal Japan. He is known as “Gabimaru the Hollow” for his complete lack of emotion when he performs brutal and violent tasks. The story opens with Gabimaru being sentenced to death for his crimes, but nothing seems to be able to kill him. Whether it's execution through fire or decapitation, the young ninja’s supernatural body and abilities make him near-impervious to damage. This irks Gabimaru himself because he, true to his nickname, is so devoid of emotion that he has no problem with dying. That’s what he tells himself, at least. The truth is, Gabimaru has a wife he deeply cares for and so he is instinctively resisting death in hopes of seeing her again.

Regardless of the young ninja’s internal conflict, the Shogunate has other plans for Gabimaru. Sagiri, a master swordswoman from the Yamada Asaemon line of executioners, offers Gabimaru a full pardon for crimes if he can find the Elixer of Life that’s rumored to be on Jigokuraku Island. After many of the Shogun's search parties returned from the mysterious island as mangled corpses covered in flowers, the Shogunate decided to send a group of Japan’s worst criminals to Jigokuraku instead. From mass murderers to seductive cannibals, these criminals are the perfect candidates for the expedition because their lives are expendable for the good of society. Think of it like a twisted version of the Suicide Squad set in feudal-era Japan.

Hell's Paradise Chapter 2

Driven to see his wife again, Gabimaru accepts the mission under the condition placed by the government that Sagiri keeps a watchful eye on the emotionless killer. These criminals are all on death row, after all. So if any of the criminals try to step out of line, the Yamada executioner assigned to them has permission to kill them on sight. That’s if the island and its inhabitants don’t kill the group of explorers first. Contrary to the lush landscapes that spread throughout Jigokuraku, the island is home to nightmares beyond anyone could ever imagine. That island is where the beautiful and horrific story of Hell’s Paradise takes off.

Art:

The art of manga blooms once the story hits the shores of Jigokuraku. The island brimming with beautifully illustrated flowers that burst straight out of the page. While the demons that walk through the forest look like they stepped out of your worst nightmares. With their grotesque mix of human body horror and mangled animal parts, the demon designs throughout Hell’s Paradise are comparable to the nightmare fuel you can find in Berserk by Kentaro Miura. The intricate illustrations expertly depict an eerie, otherworldly atmosphere that readers can easily immerse themselves in. Kaku's talent for flipping between intense action sequences and bone-chilling horror is truly remarkable, and you’ll find yourself equally disgusted and in awe by what’s being showcased on the page.

Hell's Paradise Chapter 6

Characters

While the art of the manga is a sight to behold, it’s the characters truly draw you into this twisted world. The complexities of the different characters lie in their internal conflicts. Sagiri strives to be the best Yamada executioner there is but hesitates because of the slivers of guilt she feels from taking another life. Sagiri believed she could perfect her craft by finding the one criminal she'd feel zero regrets about killing. As much as she assumed that criminal to be Gabimaru, she finds herself inspired by his strife. Gabimaru on the other hand raised to be an emotionless killing machine but is driven to keep on surviving in hopes of being reunited with his wife. It's that interplay again between one's light and dark side that makes them interesting to see develop.

Themes 

Despite half the cast of characters throughout Hell’s Paradise being convicted felons, the story blurs the line between what is “good” and “evil.” Gabimaru seeks to leave his life as an assassin behind but will still kill anyone that gets in the way of reuniting with his wife. Sagiri has all the tools to be the greatest samurai alive but is held back by her emotions. As the story progresses, you meet characters that have similar internal conflicts, yet they all feel distinct. The manga depicts a world where neither black nor white exist. And as they face unimaginable nightmares throughout the island, the journey forces them to examine their humanity and question the true meaning of life and death.

Hell's Paradise Chapter 3

Hell's Paradise masterfully weaves together elements of dark fantasy, action, and horror to create a thrilling and intense reading experience. The story is filled with heart-stopping action sequences, unnerving supernatural elements, and shocking plot twists that will terrify you but also keep you glued to what you're reading. With its gripping story, unforgettable characters, and stunning artwork, it is no wonder that this manga has captured the hearts and minds of fans all over. If you're someone who loves to get lost in dark fantasies with incredible action, then Hell's Paradise: Jigokuraku is an absolute must-read.

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