Hell’s Paradise episode 11 aired on Saturday giving us one of the best episodes of the season for a number of reasons. While the past few episodes may be considered lackluster for one or two reasons, mainly just slower pacing, this episode gave us wonderful action, story development, and balanced screen time for most of the characters involved in the fighting. But my favorite part above all is that episode 11 of Hell’s Paradise gives us a chance to choose who to root for as the race to the Elixir of Life heats up.
The Race to the Elixir of Life
I love the layers in every Hell’s Paradise episode that are sort of glossed over to give way to the action and angst between the characters. While we have four parties right now to currently focus on, I loved how Gabimaru’s party with Gantestusai, Fushi, and Mei are in a battle against two Doshi while Chobi and his brother are also in a similar fight. Then there’s Sagiri’s group with Yuzuriha, Houka, and Senta just casually taking a no-conflict stroll right up to the Horai gates with no fighting at all. Meanwhile, Shion and Nurugai are nowhere close to Horai.
In the midst of battle, we tend to forget where everyone is and how this entire premise really is a race to the elixir. What I love the most is that while Sagiri’s group didn’t endure any conflict getting to the gates, they’re up against a bigger threat than any other one that other parties are currently facing. Almost as if the story is playing on the popular saying “the second mouse gets the cheese”, alluding to the first one being caught in the trap — in this case, Horai.
Gabimaru’s Revelation, Chobei’s New Strenght
Gabimaru has proven to be one of the best characters from any anime this season. The layers that are constantly being peeled back with each passing episode leave viewers clamoring for more and this week was no different. Now that he developed a general understanding of Tao, the most fearsome fighter of those that arrived on Shinsekyo Island just became that much more of a threat. But it’s how he came to develop a firm grasp of Tao is what stood out to me.
Remembering the words that Sagiri told him about how his soft nature isn’t a weak spot, it’s “a seed for strength” rang like church bells on a Sunday afternoon. Then having learned what the Doshi did to Mei, his protective instincts kicked in at the moment he remembered his wife and her scar — creating a bone-chilling aura that brought a whole new meaning to the word “hell” that the Doshi were about to experience for the first time. The blurring effect around him to show off his Tao was a neat little detail during the moment below.
On the opposite of Gabimaru, Chobei presents a nice contrast. Having just learned he can use Tao in the heat of battle, Chobei turns more into an enforcer rather than a protector. While Gabimaru’s use of Tao was more precise, Chobei’s was a lot more brutal and it emphasized the sheer force of its use. Think of Bakugo from My Hero Academia, but he’s a lot more deranged.
I hate to make the comparison but the two are alike in a lot of ways besides the voice. Much like Bakugo, Chobei’s ability to read the fight and adapt to the situation is overshadowed by his desire to fight. Chobei was analyzing the Doshi he was fighting the entire time and quickly adapted even before then when he was in the pit a couple of episodes ago — much like Bakugo, who many forget is one of the smartest characters in his class. Chobei shouldn’t be overlooked just because he’s developed a new profound strength.
It felt like the episode was the beginning of the development of two paths that will cross one another at some point later in the story. Two characters who are known for their strength have now just leveled up at the same exact time in pursuit of the Elixir of Life. But what happens to Gabimaru and Chobei next on their journeys could be a deciding factor on who gets to Horai first and what lies in wait for them.
Who To Root For – Gabimaru’s Group, Sagiri’s Group, The Aza Brothers, Shion and Nurugai
Let’s start with the first group that was one of the primary focuses of the episode — Gabimaru, Gentestusai, Fushi, and Mei. After learning Mei’s past and understanding just who she is and what she’s capable of, it’s easy to cheer her on as she rebels against the rest of the Tensen’s ideals. Even if she’s not after the Elixir of Life, you were rooting against the Doshi after knowing what they wanted to do with her.
As for Gabimaru, how could you not root for him at this point? His humor has been there since episode 1 when he was sentenced to death and now he’s developing a more righteous sense of justice — he’s not Gabimaru The Hollow anymore. His willingness to risk his life in order to protect Mei, despite having the option of completely giving in to his former ninja instincts of just leaving her and going towards Horai, shows that he is anything but hollow. He’s a badass character whose development is rooted in growing a bigger heart.
And who can forget about our surgery-obsessed Asaemon in Fushi? The threat of being able to fight with his swords while also having the knowledge of a doctor, along with his quick wit, just adds to the interesting group he’s a part of. And while we haven’t seen him necessarily fight anyone, that tease of him drawing his sword at Gabimaru in episode 10 definitely gave us a hint he’s more than capable. It’s almost as if this group was meant to keep fans interested.
Gentetstusai has also grown to become a likable character. For only being sentenced to death for destroying property rather than human lives, Gentestusai is one of the guys who has become quicker development of becoming a fan favorite. His paternal instincts towards Mei straight out of the gate were super wholesome and even funny, especially when he scolded “Chibimaru” (Gabimaru) for making Mei cry. His resolve to also be a world-renowned swordsman who will be written on the walls of history is also admirable, especially now that he’s even more amped up with just one arm.
Shion and Nurugai, Sagiri’s Group
While we have come to understand Shion and Nurugai are probably the purest on the island along Sagiri and Mei, they’re currently in “last place” for the elixir. Neither provides a reason to obtain the elixir rather than just fulfilling what they were there to do and to get off of the island. However, proper development in the story can definitely skyrocket them to being a “party fan favorite” despite their good natures and Shion being the best swordsman left on the island alongside Sagiri. They’re like that last-place, underdog team you wouldn’t mind seeing win the big game even if you aren’t a fan of them.
While many are focused on Yuzuriha and Sagiri, and rightfully so, the rest of the group doesn’t leave much to root for at this given moment. Sagiri has no desire for the Elixir of Life in the general sense, Yuzuriha still hasn’t flat out shown her true intent, Tenza is the weakest of all the Asaemon, and Houka, Mei’s guardian, has no sentimental attachment. So out of their group, my hope is that Sagiri makes it out alive and nothing more. In comparison to the other groups, it’s pretty weak to jump on this bandwagon at the moment. They’re more like a team you root for because you like one or two of their players and nothing more.
They make a compelling argument to root for. The only thing holding me back is Chobei’s goal. While, up until this point, obtaining the elixir to receive the pardon may seem like Chobei’s end goal, there’s a touch of mystery from this episode that leads me to believe Chobei’s motives are a lot different than what he’s let on up until this point.
Touma isn’t much to root for. He’s just riding his brother’s coattails at this point and playing sidekick. His determination to become an Asaemon may be respectable to some degree, there’s no attachment to his character at this point. And with Chobei taking that giant leap forward and giving into his predator-like personality, it’s hard to root for the brothers since we still don’t know if they’re necessarily good or not.
However, with Chobei’s almost-maniacal mindset gives viewers that “crazy” character to enjoy. While I may not be “rooting” for him, Chobei himself definitely leaves me with the impression of “I want to see what happens next with him.” For being a side character, he’s had one of the most interesting developments since the series started.
Hell’s Paradise Episode 11 Wrap-Up
All in all, episode 11 of Hell’s Paradise was one of its best. While there were some shots that were questionable in both art and composition, it was very brief and it never detered the episode for me. This episode contained proper character development and story development with intense moments and fight scenes that left me with chills at times. And with a perfect cliffhanger, as Sagiri’s group is the first to enter the gates of Horai, the anticipation for the season finale next week only became greater than it already was.
Episode 11 rating: 10/10
Make sure to vote for Hell’s Paradise episode 11 in our weekly poll! Episode 12 will be airing on Saturday, June 24. Crunchyroll will be streaming the episode with English subtitles.