Hell’s Paradise (2023): Watch Or Drop

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Hell’s Paradise boasts an exciting first three episodes, introducing audiences to the brutal blood-soaked world of the show.

The spring season has a lot to offer anime watchers, but unfortunately, with our jobs, hobbies, and other stuff that can’t be ignored, it can be really hard to sit down and check them out. It’s even harder to commit to a show when the prospect of it being utter trash looms in your mind. So, that’s where I come in; I’ll do the hard work so you don’t have to. Today we will be focusing on Hell’s Paradise to see if it’s worth your time. 

The last of the fan-named Dark Trio, Chainsaw Man, Jujutsu Kaisen and Hell’s Paradise, has finally been animated. This is MAPPA’s latest dive into the trio, developing all three cult classic mangas. MAPPA’s got a number of cult shows, like Attack on Titan, Yuri on Ice and Kakegurui, under their belt, so the company alone is enough to get a lot of people excited about what Hell’s Paradise will bring to the table.

With this Watch or Drop article, we’ll focus on the first three episodes of Hell’s Paradise. Usually, that’s how long it takes to figure out if a show is worth it. A minor spoiler warning is needed for this, but nothing major since it’s really only the first episode. 

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We start off Hell’s Paradise with the execution of our main character, Shinobi Gabimaru. Well, to be fair, it’s an attempted execution, with the blade not even making a slice into his neck and breaking in half after a couple of wacks. The audience slowly gets a taste of the world, and our hero, while a woman is watching from the background, recording the execution in her notebook.

“Hell’s Paradise’s initial three episodes establish a violent and ruthless world, featuring gore, repulsive bugs, and well-executed action.”

The first half of the episode is between Gabimaru and the mysterious woman, giving insight into his past while the authorities try in vain to execute him. The magistrate tries to burn him at the stake, pull him apart with bulls—that one had me pretty grossed out—and boil him alive in a pot of oil. It’s pretty fun to watch because he keeps brushing it off like nothing more than a mosquito bite.

This first episode is dialogue-heavy but never veers into boring territory due to the brutal execution attempts on screen for fans to enjoy, and it works to set the stage for the rest of the series. MAPPA also spends the episode flexing their fire animation skills, and not fire as in ‘oh, that’s fire animation’ but fire as in hot flame, like it looks like it’d burn if I touched it. It’s expertly animated, and we’re only in the first episode, and we’re going to be seeing a lot more of it, too, since Gabimaru’s Shinobi technique is fire based.

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The series boasts impressive visuals, with MAPPA skillfully showcasing its prowess through breathtaking action sequences. This is particularly evident early on, as the intensity heightens during Gabimaru’s final execution. He confronts a formidable adversary in the sword-wielding woman and begins to fight back, recognizing the peril he faces. Their expertly animated skirmish unfolds, leaving viewers enthralled.

Once Gabimaru demonstrates his resolve to survive, the woman, Yamada Asaemon Sagari—whom we’ll refer to as Sagari, or “best girl”—produces a pardon from the Shogunate and details her mission to identify death row criminals with a strong will to live. The crux of her mission revolves around Shinsenkyo, a mythical location said to contain the elixir of life. The Shogun has sent numerous expeditions to uncover its secrets, yet none have found success. Most of the expeditions never returned, and those that did brought back something unimaginably terrifying.

In my view, this segment of the episode stands out for its visual brilliance. A lone boat, enshrouded by thick fog, approaches the dock. Bursting with luminous flowers, the vessel adds a vivid touch of colour to an otherwise bleak and blood-soaked episode. When two onlookers examine the vibrant blossoms, they come across the desiccated body of an expedition member, eerily adorned with those same brilliantly coloured flowers.

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The episode concludes at this point, and the story truly begins. The remaining criminal characters and Yamada escorts are introduced in the subsequent episode. We also witness MAPPA showcasing their animation prowess with a total bloodbath midway through the episode. I am genuinely impressed with MAPPA’s animation thus far; they have effectively captured Kaku’s distinctive style from the manga, which has captivated numerous fans, including myself, and made them obsessed with the series.

“If you’re a fan of the other two shows in the dark trio or any action or horror series, Hell’s Paradise is worth a watch.”

In episode three, the characters reach the island, arriving at a stunning beach adorned with vibrant flowers and various unfamiliar flora. This lush and vivid jungle setting will comprise the remainder of the season, which is thrilling to anticipate. As chaos erupts and criminals attempt to kill one another and their escorts, we are introduced to some eerie and bizarre creatures. The first creatures we encounter are bugs with human limbs and faces, rendered using CGI, which makes their designs even more unnerving. If you’re a fan of grotesque creature designs, this is definitely a series you should follow, as Kaku consistently outdoes their previous creations.

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I must mention how impressive the opening sequence is. You may have already seen it on TikTok, where people are going wild for it. It’s a visually striking opener accompanied by an energetic song, “Work,” by Shiina Ringo and Millennium Parade. Ringo’s vocals gratify my eardrums in just the right way; I’ve been listening on repeat since I first heard it.

Hell’s Paradise‘s initial three episodes establish a violent and ruthless world, featuring gore, repulsive bugs, and well-executed action. If you’re a fan of the other two shows in the dark trio or any action or horror series, Hell’s Paradise is worth a watch. For those who have read this review and remain uninterested, this season offers plenty beyond Hell’s Paradise. For idol fans, there’s Oshi No Ko, which premiered with a stellar 60-minute episode that propelled it to the top of MyAnimeList. Demon Slayer‘s third season is currently airing, as is Ousama Ranking‘s second season. All in all, I wish you a fruitful spring anime season, best of luck.

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