Sagiri says it best in “Hell and Paradise,” everything has changed within the first hours of the expedition’s arrival to the island. In the fourth episode of Hell’s Paradise, we see the truth of the island and just how violent it can be toward outsiders. The condemned get their first real taste of these stakes and power dynamics between the characters are explored a bit more. This is a jam packed episode that flies by before you even realize how much time has past.
Last week, Gabimaru had realized that he’s more than just a killing machine. This week we get to see how his body acts in response to this realization. Right away, the audience gets to witness such an important change in Gabimaru that will follow him throughout the rest of the series. Instead of leaving Sagiri to get killed by a monster, he instead saves her from it. At the same time, we witness Sagiri’s self deprecating mindset and the physical toll that it is taking on her body. Toward the end of the episode, the audience is left to wonder how she might pull herself out from the proverbial hole she has found herself in.
“Hell and Paradise” finally directs the viewer’s attention more toward the other prisoners. Yuzuriha was previously introduced, but we get to see her kunoichi skills in action – even if Gabimaru shuts them down each and every time. Even with him shutting her down, we get to see exactly how deadly she is despite how she appears. Yuzuriha is followed by not only one, but two Asaemon due to her actions on the island itself and she offers their services to Gabimaru and Sagiri: more information about the island for more swords to keep her alive. She explains how she used another condemned as a test subject to gain the information she has and offers it to Gabimaru.
It’s safe to say that Yuzuriha is one of my favorite characters in the manga, so seeing her mannerisms animated makes me love her that much more. She tries her best to flirt with Gabimaru to convince him to team up time and time again despite knowing where it’ll end up. Her showmanship when Asaemon Senta is showing off their notebooks proves that the two of them have a specific dynamic and that they work well together. We also witness just how cunning she is when she talks about the experiments she put Moro Makiya through in order to gain that information.
One of the highlights of “Hell and Paradise”was learning about Chobe Aza and Asaemon Toma. Told solely through Toma’s perspective, we learn that the two are brothers who were originally sons of a samurai. Not only does he tell exactly how Chobe’s ability to change depending on the situation allowed him to become the bandit king, but also how he himself became a part of the Yamada clan. The way MAPPA tells their story really pulls the audience in and feels for the brothers in a way that makes you want to care for them despite their scamming of the system. It makes you want to root for them even though you know what they’re up to.
“Hell and Paradise” continues to build on the strengths of Hell’s Paradise. The audience gets a look at the other characters in context that aren’t our leads. The way the story unfolds doesn’t bog down the action and the action doesn’t feel like it’s overwhelming the plot progression. It strikes a balance that some studios have a hard time dealing with when it comes to shows like this. At its core, the show proves that pacing and intentional revelations later down the line make the plot worth paying attention to. These payoffs make waiting for the next episode very worthwhile.
Hell’s Paradise airs Saturdays on Crunchyroll during the Spring 2023 anime season.
Featured image ©YUJI SHAKA/SHUEISHA, TWIN ENGINE, MAPPA
‘Hell’s Paradise’ - “Hell and Paradise” - 9.5/10