The latest Hell’s Paradise episode “Weak and Strong” premiered over the weekend and it was one of the biggest lore drops in the entire season. Not only do we get to learn about the nature of tao, we also learn all about Mei and how she came to be in Hoko’s care. We also get a glimpse at how the Aza brothers are faring after being thrown into the pit to turn into tan. It’s an episode that finally answers the questions that anime-only fans have been eagerly waiting for since the beginning of the series. If you ask me, this was one of the top episodes of the season.
We can’t talk about “Weak and Strong” without talking about Mei. After meeting her several episodes ago now, we finally get the history of her character – and I couldn’t be more excited. At long last the truth about Mei being one of the Tensen is revealed, shocking Gantetsusai and Asaemon Fuchi while Gabimaru finally has his suspicions confirmed that Mei isn’t just a little girl on the island. During this reveal, it’s important to note what else the Doshi says about Mei; unlike the other Tensen, Mei only possesses yin qi and cannot switch between genders. Because of this, Ren saw her as inferior compared to the rest of them. Not only that, the Doshi use Mei to perform “Bochu Jitsu” in order to refine their yang qi – something that Mei does not want to engage in, and when given the option, she chose to be banished from Horai.
On another part of the island, the Aza brothers are once again in conflict but this time, they have the upperhand. What’s interesting about their battle with another Doshi, is the change that Chobei goes through while fighting. Not only do new scars bloom on his neck, but his tao changed – which completely changes his own strength and abilities. Chobei is no longer a regular human, but is undergoing the modification to become a Tensen. The wildest thing in the scene is when Chobei is asked by the Doshi if he cares that he’ll no longer be human and he simply replies that no, he doesn’t care.
It’s the perfect setup for Chobei’s future plot that we’ll get to see in the next season.
Meanwhile, we must recognize how much Gabimaru has grown throughout the past 11 episodes. Compared to episode one, Gabimaru now knows he’s no longer emotionally hollow and willingly helps the other people he has come to rely on. This improvement over what is only a handful of days in the canon proves just how effortlessly that change was. Between flashbacks of his wife, choice phrases from Sagiri, and the entire situation at hand, the idea that Gabimaru wants to change comes to life in various ways. It’s something that would make his wife proud.
“Weak and Strong” is another in a long line of strong episodes for the first season of Hell’s Paradise. As the season begins to come to a close, it’s clear that some of our earlier questions are finally being answered. Even if this episode wasn’t as jam-packed with action as some fans might have wanted, I think it was the perfect lore drop that was needed. With the way things left off with Mu Dan, next week’s episode is sure to be just as great.
Hell’s Paradise airs Saturdays on Crunchyroll during the Spring 2023 anime season.
Featured image ©YUJI SHAKA/SHUEISHA, TWIN ENGINE, MAPPA