Hell's Paradise: Jigokuraku - Reviews

Alt title: Jigokuraku

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ThatAnimeSnob's avatar
Jun 5, 2023

We’ve seen the same story play out so many times in the past. Edgy trash gets animated, it has a famous studio behind it, it has flower symbolism that makes it seem deep, and everyone acts like it’s the second coming of Christ. This season’s popular edgy trash award goes to Hell’s Paradise.

This is a show with an MC who can’t die no matter what, so there is no tension. They try to make it seem like everything is super deadly and everyone dies before you know it, but then they have a guy who begs to be killed and nobody can kill him. What a way to ruin your premise right away. And don’t give me that shit about he’s the main character so he can’t die. You are still supposed to make it seem like he can die so there can be stakes. He can’t die, they gave him ultra durability that renders the super deadly setting completely harmless to him.

At least that means there are stakes for everyone else besides the main character, right? Yes, but who gives a shit? They are not the main character and the show doesn’t bother to make you care about any of them. They are mooks who exist to be killed without any characterization or reason for you to feel sorry for them. They also die so they can show how deadly the setting is, but since the MC can’t die, it’s all just shallow excuses for gore.

By the way, this is a show that tries to stuff as much gore and death as it can in a single episode without bothering to have a shred of characterization for the victims, in an attempt to come off as ‘mature’. And it works if you are immature. You are going to walk around yelling ‘look at this mature show I am watching!’. There’s even people who mutate into plants for some flower symbolism. The pretentious overthinkers will have a party while writing long essays about it. Look at all that body horror, it’s so deep and symbolic. This show is so mature, man.

This is also a show with idiotic ninjas that hand over the secret of (near) immortality to be destroyed instead of using it to become an unstoppable clan. What kind of a stupid ninja clan would do that? They should be doing their best to make use of that skill, or at least to destroy it in secrecy so that none of their enemies will get hold of it. So basically, they would have attempted to kill the MC, they wouldn’t betray him and hand him over to their enemies, hoping they will be able to kill him. And by the way, they aren’t able to kill him.

This is also a show where when you betray someone you have to gloat and laugh as he is arrested and is looking at you. When he didn’t even do something to you. They just make it seem like they did it for fun and not out of necessity for the clan. Thus the audience wants nothing but revengeporn and the whole deal becomes another Shield Hero. There are no villains with reasonable motives, they are just one-dimensional assholes you want to see getting ridiculed and killed.

These villains are so one-dimensional they do their best to be hated. They also do some pretty stupid mistakes, such as never imagining the one you betray is going to tell everyone where your hidden village is so they will come to mess you up as revenge for everything you did to him.

Not that the shogun is any smarter, since he assumes he will find immortality on some island based on a rumor, and he sends an immortal to chase after said rumor, instead of experimenting on the immortal and getting what he wants without sending anyone anywhere. This is also a show where you send the vilest criminals to find the elixir, you never imagine that they will use it on themselves, it never crosses your mind they will come back to mess you up, and there is nothing you will be able to do about it when they return, because they will be immortal.

This is also a show where the MC agrees to find the elixir so he can be pardoned and return to his wife, when he can just… return to his wife. There is nothing anyone can do to kill him. ‘Oh, he is not actually immortal’ people will point out. Yes, no method of execution can kill him, no convict can kill him, he can best any samurai (even those who guard the convicts) with his hands tied and without a single scratch on him, while never being afraid of anyone (actually, he’s bored and about to fall asleep). He is totally not immortal although he defeats everyone just because he is immortal and they are not. So why isn’t he just showing them the middle finger and return to his wife?

And if that is too evil for a protagonist to do, this is a show where nobody suspects the ninja clan already having the elixir of immortality since at least one of them is immortal, and nobody is asking the immortal to take them to the ninja village so they can search for the elixir there, so he can be with his wife again. By the way it’s the only thing he wants and he hated the ninjas for betraying him, so he would gladly take them there. They instead try to murder the immortal who can give them what they want, and when that doesn’t work, they send him to look for the elixir at a place that has no evidence of having the elixir, because it’s all a rumor.

Then they waste half the episode in explaining all over again the nonsense you were already told just one episode ago, about finding the elixir of life based on a rumor instead of just going to the ninja village and becoming immortals. ‘But he’s not immortal’ they keep on saying when we have a character who can’t be killed and is not afraid of a dozen samurai who claim they can kill him. Just experiment on the guy and find out what makes him immortal. You don’t have to chase a rumor, what you seek is right in front of you.

I’ve been told again and again that this wouldn’t make any sense since nobody is actually immortal in this show, so going to the ninja village won’t achieve anything. And yet the ninja leader is clearly immortal. Everybody says it, everybody knows it, nobody tries to experiment on him. Then I am told again and again that nobody can examine the MC or the village elder and find out how immortality works because Japan does not have advanced knowledge of biology. They are better off chasing a rumor. And yet there clearly are samurai with advanced knowledge of biology, so they can totally do the very thing everyone keeps telling me they can’t do.

Instead of that we get a useless infodump which is given to convicts they don’t even plan to send to the island. The shogun is so rich he can only afford a small boat, you see. He is otherwise wasteful enough to spend who knows how much time and effort in bringing them in the same place from which it is very easy to escape (it’s just paper walls), just so he can see them killing each other. Akame ga Kill viceroy vibes right here; the characterization is indeed deep and mature. The shogun spent a fortune in bringing people in one place just to see them die, but can’t afford a big boat.

And before some of you say ‘the shogun wanted to choose the best ones’ how will he decide that when their hands are tied and they don’t have any weapons? Ninjas won’t be able to use stealth, samurais won’t be able to use swords, archers won’t be able to use bows, gunmen won’t be able to use guns, wizards won’t be able to use magic, so what the heck, you just wanted brutes who punch very hard? Then why did you waste your time bringing people of all classes instead of just gathering brutes? The rest didn’t stand a chance… Oh, right, the shogun has the depth and maturity of Akame ga Kill’s viceroy. Just wants to see people die for kicks. But can’t afford a big boat.

So these convicts are ordered to kill each other just so the most powerful get to be the only ones standing… not. Half of them are still complete fodder; they just didn’t get killed by the time there were 10 left. So yes, there will still be plenty of room on that tiny boat the shogun will give them. One of the surviving 10 is the MC, who casually murders half of the convicts even after he tried not to be violent. It was that easy, zero tension. ‘But he is not immortal!’ Yes, he just murdered half the convicts without a scratch using only his tied hands. I was as bored as he was the whole time. But that didn’t matter, since he would be among the 10 even if he hadn’t fought at all. He’s immortal, if he can survive every possible method of execution, what chance did a few unarmed convicts have? None, that’s the answer, he would be chosen to go to the island regardless of what he had done because nobody would be able to do a thing. So yeah, he murdered a dozen people for no reason… Oh wait, there was a reason, the shogun is the hidden brother of Akame ga Kill’s viceroy. Just wants to see people die for kicks. But can’t afford a big boat.

By the way, this was supposed to be a mini battle royale and it was supposed to be exciting because everyone gets brutally murdered, but there was zero investment. None of those fighting mattered; they were just mooks waiting to die. Once again the show made no attempt to make you care about any of them. As for the MC, the only person we know a few things about and should normally care for, he can’t be killed no matter what they do to him. ‘But he is not immortal!’ So what? We are wasting our time watching this guy being in no danger in a setting that is supposed to be super deadly and we only get deaths of people who don’t matter.

The remaining convicts are sent to find an elixir that probably doesn’t exist, and which for some reason they are not going to use on themselves and come back to cause irreparable damage because nobody will be able to kill them. ‘Well, what about the swordsmen who accompany them?’ you will say. They will make sure the elixir is brought back and they will kill any convict who tries to do something nasty. Yeah, that is a whole different can of worms you are opening there. If they are so much stronger than the convicts and far more loyal than a bunch of criminals, then why aren’t they the ones looking for the elixir? ‘Because they are not expendable’ you will say. And yet they are sent to an island from where everyone comes back as a plant while constantly keeping an eye on convicts who will definitely betray them at the first chance they get. How does that not make them expendable?

By the way, they are not even that good at keeping an eye on the convicts. Many of the criminals overpower the samurai right away and others get killed by the monsters on the island. Why did they even bother to send them as escorts when they are so weak?... Oh, right, Akame ga Kill viceroy. The one who can’t afford a boat.

Also, what an amazing expedition this was. Unlike the previous failed expeditions, this one is far more planned out. Sending dangerous criminals, accompanied by useless samurai, who spend more time killing each other instead of looking for the elixir. Yes, this time the expedition will succeed. What brilliant mastermind planned this out and thought it would work? Why, if it isn’t the brother of Akame ga Kill’s viceroy. The one who can’t afford a boat.

At least we are left with the 10 convicts who survived the battle royale and which are definitely going to receive a lot more characterization. They wouldn’t survive if the author wasn’t planning to flesh them out. And that is why most of them killed each other in a single episode, proving that the author doesn’t give a shit about characterization. He cares so little, he murders the few characters who have a minor role as soon as their task is over. You see that with the useless samurai who are ‘supposed’ to accompany the convicts. They are plot devices 101 who die for power scaling issues, or as soon as the infodump they had to exposition as their only contribution to the plot is over. Brilliant writing.

And let’s not forget the very deep and thought-provoking female characters who are either constantly told they belong in the kitchen, or their sole reason to exist is to make the men horny. They are all as objectified as it gets, because the people making this trashy show know their target audience is not mature girls who seek a respectable representation of their gender. Here you go ladies, enjoy your seductive kunoichis and your low-esteemed samurai chicks who imagine themselves being naked and groped by the bloodied hands of the dead. And don’t ignore all the men in the show constantly calling them useless for anything other than BEEP holes.

By the way, those of you who think they can at least enjoy it as a samurai action flick, you can forget about it since there is close to none. The fights either end in a few seconds or they are off-screen and you only see the result. This is not a good action show; it’s mostly gore and junior high level of theme exploration. If you are no longer (mentally) 14, you are not going to enjoy it for the edgy trash it is. But hey, we are still supposed to give it a big applause because it’s animated by a famous studio, has flower symbolism therefore it’s deep, and call it mature because it has a lot of edgy deaths. Now sit back and enjoy it as you enjoyed Akame ga Kill and then proceeded to call it deep and mature because it has deaths in it.

2/10 story
8/10 animation
7/10 sound
2/10 characters
3.5/10 overall
HKBattosai's avatar
Jun 26, 2023

Story & Characters

Is Hell's Paradise: Jigokuraku ("HPJ") one of the more entertaining shows of the Spring 2023 season? Yes, it sure can be quite entertaining, as long as you do not take its idiocy and complete absurdity into consideration. No joking. I am quite entertained when viewing each episode, as long as I do not think about the realities of what is going on because if I do, then I realize that so many things just do not make sense.

The most basic overarching story is clearly defined—send criminals on a dangerous mission to retrieve a rumored elixir of immortality. After that, the plot is just a jumbled downhill mess of confusion with heavy doses of stupidity. Conceptually, there is potential for something deep, alluring, or intriging, but inevitably it ends up being a failure on almost all accounts, and here is why (not in any particular order):

  • The Shogunate

The Shogunate are dumb, as in undeniably dumb. Who sends the most dangerous group of criminals to the mysterious Shinsenkyou island, to retrieve an Elixir of Life (immortality), and then completely expect them to bring it back like good little boys and girls so that they can be pardoned for their crimes? Moreover, who in the Shogunate is even going to catch some of these criminals? Some are so overpowered ("OP") that it is inconceivable to think that they would be captured so easily or without the Shogunate sustaining severe loses.

Lastly, Nariyoshi Tokugawa is the pompous, foolish dumbass leading the Shogunate. Clearly, he is the wrong person for the job and has no real-world experience in anything other than sitting on his ballooned ass barking orders. The look on his face after he sees Gabimaru in action is the perfect indicator of just how clueless he really is.

  • The Shinobi Clans

Both the Iwagakure and the Kai shinobi clans should be the ruling orders of the land. Why? Well, they are both extremely dangerous in terms of espionage, skills and abilities, and raw talent and power, especially the Iwagakure. Instead they would rather concede power to the Shogunate and betray their best shinobi in both Gabimaru (Iwagakure) and Yuzuriha (Kai), who are ridiculously skilled and OP'd.

  • Immortality

The search for immortality should be null and void. Just use the eye test to confirm its existence already. Gabimaru is not immortal but yet nothing can kill him. The Iwagakure chief gets impaled in such a way that almost any other superhuman character would suffer death, yet he still lives (unless he is the feudal Japanese version of Harry Houdini, of course). Either way, immortality clearly does not exist outside of Shinsenkyou island, if it even exists at all since the Elixir of Life is just rumored to be a real thing. (Saracasm)

  • Ideology and Symbolism

Gender politics, gender fluidity, copulation, and the individual roles they each play in the ideology and symbolism of HPJ are very important, or at least that is the message the creative minds behind this want to convey. However, so much of it does not make any sense or is so inconsistent in the writing that any "potential" thought-provoking concept is lost in translation, except for Sagiri's unnecessary paradoxical dilemma—her proper place as a woman in human society during the time period, which should be in the home with children and husband, and not wielding a lethal katana as an Asaemon samurai executioner, at least according to her executing colleague, Genji. Apparently, he does not care about her deciding what is best for her, nor has he actually paid attention to her sword skills, which are incredibly precise and deadly. I like her as a samurai, so just leave her be.

Oh wait, I almost forgot another important piece of important context regarding some important stuff—ultimate power and inevitable immortality is only achievable if you can physically transform from male to female or vice versa, or have the doushi penially douching the failed Tensen, whose name I will not mention for spoiler purposes. If you make it that far in the anime, then you will understand what the creators are trying to convey [apparently].

  • Flowers

Flower power is supposed to be very important and symbolic in HPJ. OK. Cool. Still, the only flower power I have seen that has ever meant anything truly siginificant is in the Super Mario Bros. video game franchise, at least in comparison to what is displayed in HPJ.

Really quickly, I suggest not getting too involved with most of the characters in HPJ since their development, while usually detailed, is too convoluted and like the symbolism, gets lost in translation. That does not mean there are not interesting characters, or characters with interesting moments or backstories, minimally speaking. It just is not worth investing your emotional time and brain power into such overly complicated and unnecessarily melodramatic details due to the adaptation mishaps.

The only characters who are complete sh*tbags are the doshi—they can all die, followed by the Tensen. A couple of the latter do have a miniscule amount of tolerability (See Tao Fa and Zhu Jin). Although, they can get obliterated along with the rest of the lot and I would not care.

Animation & Sound

The production values that MAPPA brings are mostly superb in both the animation and art. There is little to no repeat animation slides, nor is there any real noticeable still scenes. The animation flows nicely and most, but not all, aspects of the characters and backgrounds are colorful and detail oriented.

The same level of quality is represented in the audio, both in the music and sound effects. The environmental sounds of the island are excellent, while the OP has a nice edgy sound to it that I enjoy, personally. The ED is amicable at best.

Overall, both the animation and sound set the atmospheric setting and tone much better than the creative writing does.

Final Thought

Lastly, I have not read the original source material, but I have read throughout various open online forums that it is considerably better than its adapation thus far (with a second season coming).

Keeping the above in mind, overthinking while attempting to be mature and "cutting-edge" idealistically and symbolically, and often failing at it, is the biggest detriment that plagues a potentially top-notch anime. With that being said, I would find myself quite entertained throughout as long as I turned my brain off from the falacies of the anime. I do not know if I would watch it a second time, or at least watch it again any time in the near future due to its confused writing, poor execution, some distasteful concepts, and its unfortunate shortcomings; it is potential at its finest that gets wasted at its finest.

I might end up reading the manga rather than continuing on with the sequel/continuation.

Entertainment Score:  9/10

Achievement Score:  -1 to OVERALL

My expectations were High, and it delivered Slightly Below those expectations.

Age Rating:  TV-A (explicitly violent, nudity, physically underaged copulation, and gender "stuff")

Additional Information:

  • Video Format:  Streaming FHD (1080p)
  • Audio Format:  Japanese with English subtitles
  • Publisher:  Crunchyroll
  • Equipment Used:  Acer AN515-53-55G9 Nitro 5 Laptop
3/10 story
9/10 animation
9/10 sound
6/10 characters
6.2/10 overall
ishtarmy's avatar
May 17, 2023

I love the plots and the characters so far. Animation is top notch! It's from MAPPA! I also like the opening & ending songs. MC is so short lmao. Well the short ones are badasses. I mean, look at Levi😄 It'sa historical anime, so, their world view is very outdated. Sexism is very strong here. But despite that, I totally recommend this!

9/10 story
10/10 animation
10/10 sound
9/10 characters
9.5/10 overall
Kusabimaru's avatar
Jul 1, 2023

Great Work by Mappa

Excellent Animation with a great storyline filled with epic fight scenes...

Don't know why but this anime made me remember SEKIRO.....

Really liked Gabimaru and others...

Really excited for next seasons

9.5/10 story
10/10 animation
9.5/10 sound
10/10 characters
9.8/10 overall
trashcan007's avatar
Oct 26, 2023

This was just barely above an average anime. Very cool action scenes and a sufficient amount of character development for such a short anime. The characters are unique and fierce. My main gripe is the amount of concepts introduced in this anime- which made it confusing.

It felt like the author was trying to halfway-introduce some naruto concepts (ninjutsu and taijutsu), chi, a variety of throwaway kingdom hearts heartless monsters,  a halfway-explained power-type system, a semi-immortality concept, and a load of overlapping powers that could impact one another. I found it a little overwhelming for the small number of episodes. Also, the need to add sexism, gender-fluidity, and sexual depravity into the equation seemed very forced. 

It is not too trippy to follow, but I wish it was anchored by thorough explanations. Some incremental discovery is ok, but, at this point, we need something solid to hold onto. 

There were a lot of cliffhangers left by the end. I look forward to following up with this anime’s next season. Hopefully they will clear up the mud.

The great action makes up for some, but not all of the gripes that I had. 6/10 overall.

4/10 story
6/10 animation
6/10 sound
8/10 characters
6/10 overall