Hell’s Paradise Episode 8 aired on Saturday giving fans arguably the most heartbreaking episode so far. While last week’s episode focused on the theme of trust, this week’s episode tugged at the heartstrings in a much more powerful way. The story of Tenza isn’t unique in many ways of storytelling. However, it’s specifically the lesson that his story conveyed that is unique in this day and age of anime.
Tenza’s Traumatic End
What I can respect about this episode is that it didn’t waste much time or effort in talking about Tenza’s past with his family. Keeping the focus on him and his journey was vital to the emotional climax of the episode so I feel like anything more than him saying they were deadbeats would’ve been too drawn out for the story and his character’s sake. It made it feel like the episode was saying “Tenza is more than just his cruddy family relationship and here’s how,” making it a perfect intro.
Focusing primarily on his relationship with Shion was important due to many underlying messages. The theme of potential was huge in this episode. Much like the cherry blossom bud yet to bloom, nobody knows what could become of it. And I think that’s what plays into the trauma of Tenza’s story. Shion did everything he could to take care of Tenza, steer him on the right path, and become a good man. However, it wasn’t so much that build-up that hit a chord with me. It’s the fact Tenza’s potential will forever be lost to the hell he succumbed to.
His death was expected early on in the fight, but when the cherry blossom petal fell on his headband at the end of the episode, that’s what caused the tears to flow. His death had a beautiful brutality to it once again reminding us why the series is called Hell’s Paradise. Regardless of the symbolic imagery, it’s what Shion taught him that came around full circle. Young Tenza wouldn’t have hesitated to leave Shion and Nurugai to die. But in the end, he became the man that Shion always knew he could be. Tenza is the product of what happens when you have at least one person who always believes in you. That one person can be the difference between potential fulfilled or potential wasted. For Shion, Tenza was the former while his first student was the former and that’s reflective of himself.
While Tenza’s story has come to an end, Shion’s will continue in a painful way. From having to take the life of his first student who he failed to living with the trauma of seeing his next student sacrifice his own life so Shion can live on is heartbreaking. It felt like watching a father witness his own son being murdered in the most gruesome ways possible. No parent should ever have to bury their child. And the brief moment of Shion wanting to save Tenza but knowing what he was doing at that moment to save him cut through deeper than any blade would’ve.
In a way, Tenza is a symbol of Shion’s own growth. Shion didn’t treat his former student properly and it led Shion to commit an act he’d have to live with for the rest of his life. So Shion did one thing differently, yet so simple. And that one thing helped grow Tenza into a respectable man and it was all thanks to Shion’s care and guidance. See, the thing I love about Shion is that he represents three ideas—believe in the good in others, live to see your own potential, and live to see your loved one’s potential.
Sometimes we’re growing in ways we don’t even know ourselves. And I think seeing the man that Tenza became was reflective of how Shion himself grew as a person as well. Despite being blind, Shion saw this clear as day. But with Tenza now gone, Shion won’t be able to witness Tenza’s full growth and neither will Tenza himself. That thought of Tenza never even being able to see his own true potential now can only inflict an indescribable type of pain. But above all else, I think their relationship proves that even a rose that grows from the concrete can become beautiful with the proper care and love.
Shion now carries on Tenza’s resolve to see Nurugai through to the very end and get her off of the island alive—creating a new duo for the series going forward. Unlike the others that were paired—Sagiri/Gabimaru, Senta/Yuzuriha, Fuchi/Gantetsusai—there’s a backstory to this one. There’s an emotional connection to the characters you won’t get with any of the other pairs. Shion dodged a fatal blow from a literal god. Tenza knew when he looked back at them with one last smile that Nurugai is in good hands.
Hell’s Paradise Episode 8 Wrap-Up
Hell’s Paradise episode 8 was emotionally brutal. Sure, the violence was there. But the emotions felt in this episode were unlike any from the previous seven. As I said, the connection between Shion and Nurugai won’t be found with any other pair on this island from here on out. It gives Hell’s Paradise something new and special that adds a little more character to the series besides ruthless killers and merciless gods.
There were some very noticeable production hiccups in this episode that even the most casual of anime fans could point out but once again, the writing and voice acting for Hell’s Paradise trumps the production. This isn’t an end, it’s a beginning. Shion and Nurugai are going to continue to diverge from how the others act and will more than likely become a fan-favorite pairing at this point.
Episode 8 rating: 9/10
Make sure to vote for Hell’s Paradise in our weekly poll! Episode 9 will not be airing on Saturday, May 27 due to the World Table Tennis Finals airing during the series’ original TV time slot. The episode has been pushed back to Saturday, June 3. Crunchyroll will be streaming the episode with English subtitles.
Screenshots via Crunchyroll
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