How are your death pools looking, everyone?
This week’s Hell’s Paradise episode “Student and Master” turns the gaze away from the main characters instead of focusing on the ensemble cast; and that makes all the difference. Through this new focus, we finally learn details about Tenza and are introduced to another Tensen member. Not only that, we get an emotionally charged episode that’s jam packed with action from the get-go.
The main highlight of “Student and Master” is that we get to meet another Tensen member. Sticking with the title of the episode, this member is definitely the master of the island and Asaemon Tenza and Nurugai are the students. Appearing once again as a woman, this Tensen surprises Tenza and Nurugai while on the beach. Right away we learn that this Tensen is just as powerful, if not more so, than the others we’ve met. It’s terrifying to see that the amount of power behind a flick of their wrist is enough to harm anyone it’s pointed at. The fight between the Asaemon and Tensen is brutal, spanning the entire episode to leave the characters and audience reeling from it.
True to Hell’s Paradise, there is another “Student and Master” in this episode. The relationship between Tenza and Asaemon Shion is mainly told through flashbacks, a bold choice that allows the story to unfold at the correct times. When Shion is introduced, these flashbacks seem clouded with nostalgia, almost as if Tenza has rewritten them in his mind because the Shion on the island is so much different. But, as his motivations are explained, it’s exposed exactly why Tenza trusts him – even if we only learn the true weight of their relationship as the credits begin to roll on screen.
The way MAPPA builds up the emotional journey we go on through this episode is magnificent. From the very start of “Student and Master,” the narrative focuses on the importance of believing in someone – something that all of us can relate to. We connect to Tenza’s past with Shion because we all had someone who saw our potential. It’s a universal experience that is almost familiar as it unfolds. On top of that, Tenza’s own self-deprecating feelings about himself are something that I could relate to and made his story that much more relatable for me. It’s another thing that makes Tenza that much more human.
At the end of it all, a character that we learn so much about is ripped away from us. The impact of Tenza’s death leaves us reeling from a loss we didn’t expect to go through.
“Student and Master” is another perfect addition to the worldbuilding Hell’s Paradise has been doing in the last couple of episodes. It not only expands the plot itself, but teaches us more about both the world and the ensemble cast. We also get a look into the bond between an Asaemon teacher and his student that’s much different than the experience Sagiri had. It’s a well-rounded episode that is easily one of my favorites of the entire season. The emotional damage that I was left with was well worth it.
Hell’s Paradise airs Saturdays on Crunchyroll during the Spring 2023 anime season.
Featured image ©YUJI SHAKA/SHUEISHA, TWIN ENGINE, MAPPA
‘Hell’s Paradise’ - “Student and Master” - 9.5/10