Hell’s Paradise episode 7 aired on Saturday leaving production purists with their heads in their hands and fans of the series thrilled. Filled to the brim with exposition and absurdity, the series is reaching its next layer before eventually reaching the center, just as our favorite characters are as they continue to endure the island of Shinsekyo.
The Theme of Trust
If there’s any singular theme that could define episode 7 of Hell’s Paradise it’s trust. The writing for this part of the story does a wonderful job of reminding the viewers that you really can’t fully trust anyone on this island not named Sagiri. From the moment they found the hidden village, Gabimaru’s immediate thoughts weren’t whether there was anyone or not, it was whether they are trustworthy or not. But this occurs numerous times in the episode and it’s interesting about their placements.
We see a lack of trust from Yuzuriha as well after fighting Hoko, aka Grandpa Groot. She doesn’t trust following him back to the village but playfully brushes it off when she hears they have a bath. Then when Hoko tells everyone about any human that ever comes to Shinsekyo dying, she immediately draws her kunai and points it at Hoko alongside Gabimaru and his sword. It’s only telling that Gabimaru, the ninja, and Yuzuriha, the kunoichi, are both one edge even more than Sagiri and Senta. It really puts their ninja instincts on full display. Even Sagiri had to tell Gabimaru to stop pointing his sword at Mei. That old instinct is still showing itself with Gabimaru and it isn’t going away, which leads to my next point — Sagiri’s view on everything is crucial.
Even Sagiri herself dealt with trust throughout this episode in numerous ways but differently from Gabimaru and Yuzuriha. Her lack of trust in this episode subtly started with Yuzuriha bathing by herself. Fans can play into the fanservice all they want but the truth is she didn’t trust Yuzuriha enough to be by herself, same with Gabimaru when he went to the bath as well. Yet, Sagiri was also the only one trying her best to establish trust — specifically with Mei.
Yuzuriha didn’t. Senta didn’t. And Gabimaru sure as hell didn’t until Mei learned to trust him herself. In an episode shrouded in doubt, Sagiri building her trust with Mei throughout the episode in the most wholesome, adorable ways also led to Mei trusting everyone else. For someone that’s been alive for centuries with a talking tree, that’s a huge step for her with Sagiri being the bridge between two parties. But it’s the end of the episode with Sagiri’s trust that interested me and here’s why.
Up until this point, Sagiri has kind of taken things as they come. She’s never really questioned anything on a level as deep as trust unless it dealt with Gabimaru, But this episode was her first time really questioning what, more specifically who, to trust. Is the elixer really here? Should they trust Hako? Are these “Tensen” some sort of gods? All of her doubts about what Hoko told her piled it. But the very end of the episode was one of its biggest moments for me. Right after Sagiri says to herself, “Gabimaru isn’t a bad person after all. Perhaps he’s beginning to change little by little,” the shot pans to Gabimaru making this bizarre, bug-eyed, almost zombie-like, face as if he’s slowly losing his mind. It ended the episode with a feeling of uneasiness that almost put a pin in the bubble of trust this episode was surrounded by.
It’s The Little Things
The best part of the episode was undoubtedly the flashbacks of Gabimaru and his wife. There weren’t any insane animations or facial expressions. There wasn’t any jaw-dropping compositing or composition in the scene. But fantastic dialogue amplified x10 by the voice acting from Mamiko Noto as Yui was so damn good it brought tears to my eyes. That gentle nature of hers and that overwhelming happiness is one of my favorite scenes in the series so far overall.
But one little thing I loved about this entire scene wasn’t the humor or Gabimaru becoming a teddy bear for his wife. It was how Yui knew how to speak to Gabimaru nobody else does. She knows how to reach him in a language he understands while also showing him a new side of life — her side and her perspective. But one, very brief moment was the best part of the best of it all and that is the detail Yui’s scar was, for the most part, covered by her hair up until the very end.
When Gabimaru tells her not to hide her scar with her hair, he doesn’t say it as a demand with aggression. He doesn’t mention it in a way to pressure her. He says it in a gentle way he was even embarrassed by. That line of “I know you have your reasons, but I don’t mind it. You don’t have to do that,” over the emotional music and camera focused on her lip quivering hit like a ton of bricks. Then having the camera cut to her face smile, her eyes shut with glee, tears of happiness in her eyes, and the scar in plain view was really a beautiful moment. We don’t get that kinda stuff in other mediums nowadays… We just don’t. It was a moment in time, during a series of hell, that showed even the simplest words can begin to create someone else’s own slice of heaven.
The Other Stuff
I know the introduction of the Tensen is a big deal to the series of Hell’s Paradise as a whole. But honestly, I forgot any and all about that for the most part in this episode. Senta is becoming annoying to the point his book-warm attitude is a nuisance and only wants to provide logical insight at random. Even Gabimaru was almost like his master telling him when and when he can’t eat. Then being told how the island is organized with three layers was useful information and important to the story, but it’s not something that made the episode stand out in any way.
The story of Mei and Hoko is a lot more captivating to me. You have a tree that can talk, isn’t there to harm them, and is a guardian of this little girl who has the capabilities to really harm Gabimaru, the strongest human on the island. Plus, the fact that Mei and Hoko live in a village that seems like something out of a Stephen King novel has me begging for the series to tell us more. Plus, there’s one thing with Gabimaru that really intrigued me after watching this episode.
Gabimaru is currently undergoing development due to external influence. Sagiri is constantly reminding him of his way. Not that she sees Sagiri as Yui, but more so how she acts reminds him he has someone special he needs to get home to. Sagiri repeating words that Yui has told Gabimaru herself again in this episode almost comes across as a driving force for Gabimaru. Almost as if Sagiri’s words are what bring him back down to earth whenever he starts slipping into his wild nature.
Hell’s Paradise Episode 7 Wrap Up
Episode 7 of Hell’s Paradise had many wonderful aspects to it and was a step up from the previous ones in terms of writing. At this point, all I see on Twitter is how the compositing and composition for the series aren’t necessarily the greatest. But if it isn’t bad enough to turn people away from watching it, why even talk about it at all? The episode was fantastic in so many ways I’ll never understand the need to point out split-second shots and call the entire episode average at best.
This episode delivered emotional and heartwarming moments, comedic moments, wonderful exposition of extremely intriguing characters, possible foreshadowing, and even a solid cliffhanger as well. All of this wrapped around the theme of trust, Yuji Kaku’s stellar writing, Junichi Suwabe’s series debut, and Kento Aratani’s fantastic episode directing.
Episode 7 rating: 9/10
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Screenshots via Crunchyroll
©YUJI KAKU/SHUEISHA, TWIN ENGINE, MAPPA