ADVANCED REVIEW: ‘Hell’s Paradise: Jigokuraku,’ Volume 4 

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Hell’s Paradise: Jigokuraku Volume 4

Mangaka Yuji Kaku’s Hell’s Paradise: Jigokuraku is a series is easily one of VIZ Media’s best 18+ title. With chapters published via Shonen Jump, the series is filled with action, bloodshed, monsters, body horror, theological themes, and characters designed so well that they’re both intriguing and exciting. 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. The last volume, we saw Gabimaru take on Tensen, and barely survive his encounter. Now, in Hell’s Paradise: Jigokuraku Volume 4, we learn more about the gods of the island and see more alliances between the Yamada Asaemon and the convicts.

The beings collectively known as Lord Tensen are beyond comprehension and as the group of survivors begins to learn more about there power – they seem all the more insurmountable, in the beginning at least. These seven rulers of the mysterious island are deathless, ferocious, and nearly invincible. While Gabimaru was saved by a now aged up Mei the last volume, he comes across a new executioner and convict pair.

Additionally, we get to see the rest of his party including Sigiri as they head towards the Horai to reunite with Gabimaru and learn more about the island and its former inhabitants from their arborized guide. While this section of Hell’s Paradise: Jigokuraku Volume 4 serves to investigate the theological themes of the island and draw doubt towards the godly status of the monsters that live there, it isn’t the largest nor best part. That honor goes to the third perspective we jump into – that of the “Bandit King” Aza Chobe and his brother Toma.

Having survived a pit made to turn them into food for the Tensen, they come face to face with a new obstacle, one that Gabimaru is also facing: the Doshi. While there is a hefty amount of dialogue that is used to clearly lay out the world of the island and the rules by which the monsters that inhabit it play by, it never feels dry. Instead, Kaku uses the three perspectives to wold-build, jumping between expository characters and showcasing different elements important to each group.

While Gabimaru’s group learns the importance of accepting weakness and the balance between the yin and yang energies of tao, the energy that the Tensen uses to maintain their god-like powers, Chobe and Toma showcase evolution of the human body. While Gabimaru taps into his humanity, Chobe rejects it entirely and we’re given two possible paths to defeating the Tensen, a balanced story of violence.

But, like all the previous reviews for this title, it’s Kaku’s art that knocks the wind out of you. While the story remains consistent, each subsequent page and monstrous creation one-ups the last. While we have seen the floral horror that consumes the bodies of the dead on the island, this volume shows us the bugs and in disturbingly great detail creates news creature concepts that will haunt your dreams. Additionally, the ways in which Kaku is able to paint the pages with solid inked blood and yet never make them feel muddied is phenomenal. There is no low point to Hell’s Paradise: Jigokuraku and with horrifically gorgeous and dark art that brings to life a dark fantasy, this remains a stand-out series.

Ultimate Hell’s Paradise: Jigokuraku Volume 4 does exactly what it needs to do. It continues to world-build and answers questions while also presenting its audience with new possibilities and storylines, allowing for enough mystery to allow the reader to speculate. With the final chapter in this volume opening a new story door with new characters, it’ll be interesting to see what happens next – and if you can’t wait, you can read individual chapters on the Shonen Jump app.

Hell’s Paradise: Jigokuraku Volume 4 is available from booksellers on September 15, 2020.

Hell’s Paradise: Jigokuraku Volume 4
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TL;DR

Hell’s Paradise: Jigokuraku Volume 4 does exactly what it needs to do. It continues to world-build and answer questions while also presenting its audience with new possibilities and storylines, allowing for enough mystery to allow the reader to speculate. With the final chapter in this volume opening a new story door with new characters, it’ll be interesting to see what happens next – and if you can’t wait, you can read individual chapters on the Shonen Jump app.