Hell’s Paradise episode 5 aired on Saturday giving us possibly the weakest episode of the series so far. And if that was the weakest the series has to offer at this point then Hell’s Paradise really is a league above the majority of series this season. With more Sagiri character development and minor action, episode 5 really put the series title to the test.
Hell vs Paradise
Sitting back and watching what fans have talked about with Hell’s Paradise so far either seems to be a general enjoyment of the series or they’re part of the community that wants to put its production under a microscope. But in my little viewership of the back and forth within and outside the fandom, I’ve noticed one common theme that everyone seems to be missing — nobody is talking about how this series is constantly feeding us the hellish parts right alongside the paradise ones of Shinsenkyo.
Episode 5 did a marvelous job of showing viewers how much of a living hell Shinsekyo really is while simultaneously pointing out its paradise features. Take for example Tenza’s and Nurugai’s moments. They were enduring a greyish hell on the open water while death was banging on their door. Then once they come back to the island covered in blood, they’re shined by a beautiful sunset on a beach that, at the moment, feels like they really are in paradise. The two smiling and joking during this moment only added to that allure.
Then we head to Gabimaru and Sagiri’s camp. They’re surrounded by the colorful forest of Shinsekyo and have established a brief campsite. Yuzuriha even set up her own hammock between two trees to sleep which further showed there are no dangers in this moment. Then BOOM! Right at the end of the episode, we’re back in hell again. Production fanatics can say what they want about the composition and camera work in this episode, but the truth of the matter is this episode did a phenomenal job of showing why this series is called Hell’s Paradise in the first place, possibly better than the previous episodes.
An Annoying, Yet Satisfying Cycle
At this point, it’s established that Sagiri is looked down upon by every single other Asaemon simply for being a woman. Even Senta gave her a condescending speech in episode 5 about why the others were right for what they told her. It’s tiring hearing about it as a viewer just as it is for Sagiri as a character. But oh the pure joy that overcomes me when I see those who talked down to her just to end up a mutated bed of flowers or minced meat never gets old. However, I’d say it is a flaw in the writing of Hell’s Paradise that turns me off a little.
Look, I understand that the rock and the hard place Sagiri is stuck between since birth is because of her simply being a woman. She even reiterates in episode 5 that it’s been a huge part of how people look at her and that no matter which path she chooses, she’ll be looked down upon regardless. But it’s the fact that every single Asaemon she’s talked with since the series started all hash out what is basically the same insult to her. It wouldn’t kill the series to have an Asaemon actually side with her or simply be indifferent to whether she stays or goes and why.
There’s consistency, then there’s just recycling something in a story over and over. If you create an adventure story where the main character is met with people at every checkpoint that wants to kill him/her, it still gives way to creating different scenarios while maintaining the consistency of threats at every checkpoint. But with Sagiri being called a woman as an insult just for her to end up saying “No, I’m not just a woman. I’m a true samurai and I’ll prove it”, that’s where it drifts off into the realm of recycling the same annoying dialogue
Sagiri is my second favorite character in the series behind Shion (you’ll see why soon enough, anime-only’s). I love her development and her struggle between two sides that don’t want anything to do with her. And. frankly, she’s just a phenomenal character from top to bottom in terms of writing on a subjective and objective level. Plus, her character design is one of the best in the series. The heart-to-heart talk with Gabimaru in this episode was definitely the highlight for me and that’s a true consistency I love between those two. They’re both peeling back each other’s layers at a steady pace in the best way possible and that’s a place where Hell’s Paradise shines.
Hell’s Paradise Episode 5 Wrap-Up
As I said, episode 5 of Hell’s Paradise was definitely the weakest so far and even then it was still a great episode. We got to learn a lot about Nurugai which was a nice little touch and gives perspective that she really isn’t like the other criminals on the island. She’s a survivor, not a killer. Nurugai gives us a new unique character going forward whom I’m excited to see more moments with.
The series does a great job of consistently establishing the different groups on the island and what they’re all about. It’s undoubtedly one of Hell’s Paradise’s strong suits and the anime is doing a wonderful job of maintaining that part of the story, the great voice acting alone amplifies it. I think anime-only fans of the series are in for a treat next episode. If you enjoyed episode 5 of Hell’s Paradise then make sure to vote for it in our weekly poll!
Episode 5 rating: 8/10
Screenshots via Crunchyroll
©YUJI KAKU/SHUEISHA, TWIN ENGINE, MAPPA