REVIEW: ‘Hell’s Paradise: Jigokuraku,’ Volume 5

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Hells Paradise: Jigokuraku Volume 5

Hell’s Paradise: Jigokuraku has been my favorite horror-inspired ongoing manga since I read the first volume. It’s both beautiful and grotesque in how it used body horror, nature, and how it imagines religion. The series is written by Yuji Kaku and is published in English by VIZ Media’s Signature imprint – although you can read individual chapters via the Shonen Jump app. Last volume we saw Gabimaru put out of commission during his fight with one of the Tensen, but also got the proof that the Tensen can be defeated, but at great cost.  Now, Hell’s Paradise: Jigokuraku Volume 5 switches focus to Sagiri and her group who have their own Tensen, Mu Dan, to face.

In this volume, Gabimaru is not the center of the story. While we see the effects that his fight in volume 4 has taken on his memory, this volume is focused on a battle between Tensen, Sigiri, Yuzuriha, and Senta. While the series has shown Sagiri’s strength, we haven’t seen her compare to Gabimaru, and for Yuzuriha, the sexy member of the group, we haven’t seen the full extent of her strength. Encompassing chapters 37 through 46,  Hell’s Paradise: Jigokuraku Volume 5 is both beautiful and brutal, like the two women that are at its center.

A Kunoichi, female shinobi ninja, Yuzuriha has been the typical femme fatale with a nonchalant attitude. Her outfit exposes most of her skin and she’s paired with Senta, a Yamada Aseamon who visually embodies the typical lecher trope in manga and anime. That said, Kaku avoids all the normal trappings in this volume and instead showcases Yuzuriha’s skill, all be it reliant on fluid put on her body. While she isn’t able to defeat Mu Dan entirely, she is able to expose the truth about the island and the Tensen.

Are they powerful? Yes. Are they nearly immortal? Also yes. But are they gods with unique powers that no human can tap into?  No.

When Yuzuriha needs help, Sagiri steps in and cuts Mu Dan down, surprising the Tensen and Senta. But the most important thing that comes out of this fight, in addition to the women finally getting the spotlight, is a whole mountain of world-building lore. With explanations of Tao, the reveals of religion as science and experiments, the amount of explanation we see in this volume changes the course of the series greatly.

Spoken both by Mu Dan during the fight and experienced as the group attempts to fight him, we get the chance to understand who the Tensen are and clearly what they are not. Additionally, we get a larger understanding of Tao and how the island’s visitors, the criminals, and Aseamon alike, can cut these “gods” down for good. The sections of this volume that work as expository dialogue could easily be confusing especially for Western readers who don’t have a background understanding of the base of what this “religion” is built on. But instead, Kaku uses diagrams that work naturally with the action art to explain what is happening while not breaking immersion.

Overall, Hell’s Paradise: Jigokuraku Volume 5 is phenomenal yet again with a twisted beauty woven in each panel where bodies bloom and black blood splatters. Kaku’s illustrations are beautiful and terrifying and everything you need, especially when coupled with extravagant action sequences. Additionally, Kaku is superb at creating an emotional connection between the reader and characters that we don’t truly get time to understand. When they die, Kaku provides memories and dreams, crafting the characters in such a way that despite the limited information we have to understand, offering emotion when their number is up. For all these reasons and more, Hell’s Paradise: Jigokuraku Volume 5 is necessary to pick up for horror and action fans alike.

Hell’s Paradise: Jigokuraku Volume 5 is available now, where books are sold.


Hells Paradise: Jigokuraku Volume 5
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TL;DR

Hell’s Paradise: Jigokuraku Volume 5 is phenomenal yet again with a twisted beauty woven in each panel where bodies bloom and black blood splatters. Kaku’s illustrations are beautiful and terrifying and everything you need, especially when coupled with extravagant action sequences. Additionally, Kaku is superb at creating an emotional connection between the reader and characters that we don’t truly get time to understand. When they die, Kaku provides memories and dreams, crafting the characters in such a way that despite the limited information we have to understand, offers emotion when their number is up.