Mangaka Yuji Kaku’s Hell’s Paradise: Jigokuraku is a series that is beautiful, disturbing, and action-packed. Published for English-speaking audiences by VIZ Media and serialized in Shonen Jump, Hell’s Paradise: Jigokuraku is an 18+ title that is filled with action, bloodshed, monsters, body horror, religious symbolism, and characters you immediately latch on to. In the series, we follow Gabimaru, a ninja on death row with one chance to see his wife again. To do so, he must find the elixir of immortality on a supernatural island and deliver it to the shogun. But he’ll have to fight through fellow convicts and the fearsome creatures that roam the island to find the elixir.
In the last volume, the dangers of the island became even more apparent to Gabimaru and his executioner, Sagiri. Hit with attacks from the environment and convicts alike, the two explored the island and learned that the god-like creatures are more hellish than heavenly. Now, in Hell’s Paradise: Jigokuraku Volume 3, which covers chapters 17 through 26, Gabimaru and his group find the first real clue to securing the elixir and learn about the island’s gods, rules, and lore from one of its sentient inhabitants. But, while Gabimaru, Sagiri, Senta, and Yuzurha learn more about the island called Kotaku, the remaining convicts and executioners face off against the Hermits of the island, god-like beings with no gender and no limit to their power, with varying success.
Like each prior volume, the art in Hell’s Paradise: Jigokuraku Volume 3 is violent and blends the harshness of the grotesque with a soft beauty. This is no easy feat but Kaku’s linework excellently adds layers to each illustration of monster, human, and act. The creatures on the island would fit in any Del Torian hellscape or characters. The violent exchanges between the humans and the Hermits are some of the most shocking and well-balanced illustrations of the volume.
As body parts are hit, they begin to bloom, regenerating like plants from stumps of flesh and bone. It’s these moments where Kaku’s eye for the macabre and the beautiful hit an apex, especially in the final fight of the volume when Gabimaru finds himself at the mercy of one of the Tensen, the god-like beings of the island with nearly unlimited regeneration and stamina.
Hell’s Paradise: Jigokuraku Volume 3is also a wonderful example of world-building. Not only do we get to understand Gabimaru’s past and his complex emotions and longing for his wife, but we also get more information on the backgrounds and hopes of other convicts on the island, specifically Tenza whose newly found devotion to protecting the child convict Nurugai provides some of the most emotional moments in the series so far.
Overall, Hell’s Paradise: Jigokuraku Volume 3 is breathtakingly brutal and beautiful. This series remains one of the best blends of body horror and action available to pick up to date. Kaku’s storytelling is masterful and his art fit to be plastered across every horror fan’s wall.
Hell’s Paradise: Jigokuraku Volume 3 is available from booksellers on July 21, 2020.
Hell’s Paradise: Jigokuraku Volume 3
Hell’s Paradise: Jigokuraku Volume 3is breathtakingly brutal and beautiful. This series remains one of the best blends of body horror and action available to pick up to date. Kaku’s storytelling is masterful and his art fit to be plastered across every horror fan’s wall.
Kate is co-founder, EIC, and CCO of BWT. She’s also a Certified Rotten Tomatoes Critic, host, and creator of our flagship podcast, But Why Tho? and Did You Have To?. She also manages all PR relationships for comics, manga, film, TV, and anime. She has an MA in Cultural Anthropology and Religious Studies focusing on how pop culture impacts society.