Hell’s Paradise is back after a small break with a banger of an episode in “Gods and People.” Filled with a spectacular boss battle, unsettling lore, and the reminder that things are never quite as they seem on Shinsenkyo, the episode returns to our main cast, with a focus on Gabimaru. It’s a perfect start to the second half of the season and a great return to one of our main characters.
A major portion of this episode is the battle between Gabimaru and Zhu Jin, the same Tensen we met in “Student and Master.” This battle is the first time we see Gabimaru truly struggle despite his confidence that all monsters can be killed. If you thought Zhu Jin was tough in his face off with Tenza, you’re in for a ride this week. Zhu Jin’s final form is revealed, the result so revolting that even Gabimaru is taken aback at first. Not only does the reveal work perfectly with how the fight choreography lead up to it, but the ensuing fight is even better. We get to see how horrifically beautiful the Tensen become when they push themselves beyond their limits
The highlight of this episode is the focus on the Tensen. After weeks of watching, their actual names and appearances are finally revealed to the audience. After being starved of information on the gods for so long, it almost feels as if we’re getting too much — but in the best way possible. At long last, we get a peek at the wizard(s) behind the curtain and what their personalities are like. We also learn how the Tensen consume tao. By drinking iridescent liquid, their powers return, regenerating their strength in mere seconds.
Through Hoko, we once again learn about the island. He reveals the horrifying fate the people in his village suffer through , explaining that they all eventually transform from humans into trees regardless of age. Once they begin to turn, they will eventually go to the area surrounding Horai in the hopes that praying before the Tensen will allow them to enter once they have passed on. This revelation begs the question of how long Hoko has until he joins his family and the rest of his village. Earlier in the episode, Gabimaru makes his way through the same area and notes their forms being in that of prayer, an unsettling foreshadowing that further sets the tone for Hoko’s fate.
“Gods and People” is another beautiful episode from MAPPA, packing a necessary punch after a small breather from a season filled with so many intense moments. Hell’s Paradise throws us straight into the reality of how strong the Tensen are while we continue to learn about the eerie Shinsenkyo. With the way the episode ends, I can’t wait to see what the rest of the season has in store for us. Make sure to buckle up because we’re in for a ride.
Hell’s Paradise Episode 9 - 9/10