Hell’s Paradise episode 3 aired on Saturday giving fans a smorgasbord of things to be excited about. Whether it’s half of the criminals already being killed off, some not even stepping foot on the island yet, the bout between Gabimaru and Sagiri, or the cliffhanger it left off on, Hell’s Paradise is shaping up to be a serious contender for anime of the season.
Anyone in the small minority that was immediately turned away from the idea that Gabimaru The Hollow has a deeply-rooted internal emotional conflict should probably just drop the series right now. This is what will prove that Gabimaru is one of the best shonen main characters in recent anime history. It’s a tug-of-war of emotions inside of him and that’s why Sagiri is the perfect main character to pull on one side of that war.
Gabimaru has always held the notion that killing is a sign of strength while Sagiri reminds him that it’s the opposite and that not wanting to kill is a seed of strength. Our two wonderful protagonists are at opposite ends but both are on a journey to hone their true emotions together. That’s not corny, that’s fantastic writing for a dark shonen. The thumbnail image and the one above with Sagiri comforting him in the present with the feeling of his wife supporting him from behind was literally picture-perfect.
Gabimaru is the strongest fighter in the series and made his name off of emotionless killing. Now he’s on a path of mental instability where he wants to do right by his wife while fighting his demons from the past, which was also represented very well in this episode with visual storytelling. His wife is his strength and that’s something I can relate to myself. “I just want to get back to my wife. I don’t care about anything else.” Name me a shonen protagonist with that goal…I’ll wait. Again, that’s not corny. It’s different yet simple in the best ways possible. Save the world? Become the next Shogunate? Be the leader of Iwagakure village? Nope, he just wants to be in the comfort of his home with his wife.
Just three episodes in, there are bound to be moments where the emotional war in Gabimaru’s head is sure to erupt on the opposite side of what we saw in this episode. We all know that he could’ve killed Sagiri in their fight together. He didn’t because Sagiri has many ideals that his own wife does, going from calling Sagiri dead weight to relying on her to awaken those true emotions he feels to the very core. Gabimaru is the embodiment of showcasing one’s strength without relying on physical prowess.
Within minutes of arriving at the island, Hell’s Paradise‘s brutality is already unfolding as everyone arrives at Shinsenkyo Island. Five of the 10 criminals have already been killed with one of the potential deaths already proven to be a setup — Yuzuriha’s. She’s one of the few criminals shown in the opening. Do you think one of the popular female side characters will be offed on the third episode? Not a chance. So let’s just narrow it down to the four deaths that are definite.
But it’s not just the criminals’ deaths that were surprising, we’re already down one Asaemon in Eizen as well (pictured above). Thanks to Rokurota The Giant turning Eizen’s head into a bloody pancake with a side of bacon brains, we now have the most physically terrifying criminal besides Gabimaru on the loose without an Asaemon guard — creating an enticing external conflict. But what I enjoy about the ruthless death brought on with a lot of sinister smiles in this episode is that it was all expected and happening in real-time too.
It’s not like the story set up a fun treasure hunt on this island and these deaths are unexpected. They were all happening simultaneously with some more messed up than the next. The series has done its job of reminding us that these people are the worst of the worst and they’re going to an island that’s even more messed up than they are. I warned before that the series was going to become darker from here on out but I bet nobody expected butterflies that have human faces and stingers that are the size of one of Shaquille O’Neal’s hands.
We’re also shown two more external conflicts brewing up before the episode ends as well besides Rokurota eating another human being. One is that the Iwagakure ninja are on their way to Shinsenkyo to also find the Elixer of Life. The second is the threat of human-faced bugs and giants with arms and hands for eyes. So in just one episode, character development was at the forefront, fighting animation sequences were solid, we see all the criminals with “half” of them wiped out, three external conflicts were created, and we leave off of an exciting cliffhanger.
Hell’s Paradise Episode 3 Wrap-Up
Hell’s Paradise episode 3 showed us the glorious brutality that gives way to the series name in the first place. This is a series with flowers and pretty colors that are drenched in blood and some of the darkest lore a shonen audience has experienced in recent years. This isn’t built for those that want smiles and cliche love interests that’ll do well in social media polls. Hell’s Paradise is built for those that want to endure a wicked narrative to see how it all ends and episode 3 gave us a deeper look into such. Oh, and we got our first glimpse of Shion — the most badass Asaemon next to Sagiri.
Episode 3 rating: 9.5/10
Screenshots via Crunchyroll
©YUJI KAKU/SHUEISHA, TWIN ENGINE, MAPPA