It might be a long stretch to call this same as Berserk, one of the best Dark Fantasy stories ever told. But I think the core theme matches in some way or another. They both try to showcase the value of life and how important it is to live. Also, they both have a fair share of insanity & profanity. Both stories’ protagonists are monsters on the inside, both fighting for a woman respectively and they both make valuable friends along the way. What makes Jigokuraku stand out as its own is its story. It’s vastly different and unique from any other stories to have come out in recent years.
Jigokuraku or Hell’s Paradise is written by Yuji Kaku (who’s rumored to be the assistant of Tatsuki Fujimoto, the author of Chainsaw Man… probably). The anime is being adapted by Studio MAPPA, which needs no introductions at this point (if you don’t know then click MAPPA). 3 episodes have come out so far and they are each 24 minutes long, the average duration of anime episodes. It’s airing every Saturday. The opening theme is “W●RK” by millennium parade and Sheena Ringo, and the ending theme is “Kamihitoe” by Uru. They really showcased well enough what anime is gonna be like. Based on the trailer & OP, I’m guessing this season’s main antagonists will be the gay couple who seem to have flower-based abilities and mentally abuse someone by their insecurities.
The first few episodes may seem ok but beware that this is not for the faint of hearts. It takes a toll on psychology to see such a level of darkness on the screen.
The art style is pretty typical which shouldn’t be the decisive factor in whether you should watch it or not. Most modern shows almost look the same but when you uncover the surface, you see what sets them apart. The animation and visuals are awesome as per MAPPA delivered. The manga art and paneling are great too. You might see things similar to Chainsaw Man. The voice acting is well done by talented artists. The music felt a bit odd but when the right time came, it picked up right away. All in all, it’s top-level production.
Now, here’s the best part. The main character, Gabimaru is a shinobi from a certain village. His whole life has been murdering whoever he is ordered to. His emotionless dedication to carrying out orders earned him the nickname, The Hollow. He was recognized by the chief and married his daughter to him. Later on, he was set up by the chief and put on death row for trying to leave the village. He was hanged, burned, and dipped in boiling oil, but nothing killed him. Gabimaru seemed to show no emotion or resistance. His superhuman body protected him no matter how severe the method of execution was. He claims that he has no attachments to life and he’s gonna give up soon. But time and time again, he showed resistance when he thought this was it. He was taken underground, inside a small room from where he couldn’t escape. He was confronted by the decapitator Sagiri who is skilled enough to finish him off. There she said to Gabimaru:
Some put up a brave act until just before their death. Some desperately beg for mercy. And some lie to themselves and claim to have accepted death. Gabimaru the Hollow, There’s certainly a great emptiness inside you. But you lied about one thing. You do have an attachment to life. You love your wife. To you, is she not your reason to live?
The Appeal of Jigokuraku/Hell’s Paradise
This is the appeal of Jigokuraku/Hell’s Paradise. The dialogues are the truly bright and shining diamond of this story. Every line that is said has a purpose. Some are even tear-jerking. Things may seem cliché but once you open up to it, it hits you with this barrage of impactful dialogues. It’s poetic to say the least. Just after one exchange of dialogue, it showed so many layers of Gabimaru’s characters. And also, Sagiri as the primary supporting character. I won’t write much here—go explore the rest on your own. Go in bind, it’s that much worth it.
As the story goes on, we see more characters and they get roles as much important as the main ones. The plot and character development hit really home with their execution. Everything makes sense and gives off a satisfactory feeling after you go through each chapter. Even some of the minor things are used to the full extent to make things interesting. It is one of the rare stories that aren’t just carried by the premise or animations, everything about it is great. Is it too much to say it’s 21 centuries’ Berserk? I think not!