ADVANCED REVIEW: ‘Hell’s Paradise: Jigokuraku’ Volume 9

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Hells Paradise: Jigokuraku Volume 9

I’ve been singing Hell’s Paradise: Jigokuraku’s praises for some time now. A blend of horror, action, and fantasy all wrapped up with gorgeous and grotesque art, this series has been delivering story punches volume after volume. With the group of survivors finally in the Tensen fortress, a pressing force from the sea moving in, and nothing going to plan, Hell’s Paradise Jigokuraku Volume 9 is continuing a tension-filled story with expertise.

Created, written, and illustrated by Yuji Kaku, Hell’s Paradise: Jigokuraku is localized and published in English by VIZ Media through its Signature imprint and is available as individual chapters online via the Shonen Jump web browser (excluded from the app for mature content). This volume also features translation by Caleb Cook and features touch-up art and lettering from Mark McMurray.

In Hell’s Paradise: Jigokuraku Volume 9, the battle against Lord Tensen has forced everyone to push their bodies to the limit, accessing new abilities and taking desperate measures to secure their escape. While our rag-tag group of survivors (read: convicts and their executioners) expected to be pushed beyond their limits, in truth, they weren’t prepared to confront the Tensen that put them at a disadvantage.  This is where the heart of this series lies—in the tragedy and in Kaku’s ability to make you care for side characters. Kaku does this through the moments before their deaths, explaining how they became who they were.

In this volume, the bandit turned demi-god Aza Chobe, his brother Toma, and the Asaemon pair, Gantetsusai and Fuchi, take on the two-in-one Tensen made of Ju Fa and Tao Fa. In a spectacular series of panels, we see Kaku’s strength as an artist as they highlight each character’s power and technique against the beautiful winged Tensen. But that’s not the best part. The best part of this fight is how he uses it to humanize Chobe, showing his connection to his brother and how it surpasses the bond that Ju Fa and Tao Fa use to fight as one.

Additionally, we get the chance to see Shion and Nurugai fight, but while we get to see the strength of the former, Kaku uses violence to tell an intimate story. If you call back to when they first met, Shion and Nurugai survived their first encounter with Tensen by running away. An escape facilitated by the act of self-sacrifice from Tenza, Shion’s friend and fellow Asaemon. Racked by survivor’s guilt, Shion is focused on revenge, and while that makes for a dynamic battle, it’s how he connects to the young Nurugai that proves why Hell’s Paradise: Jigokuraku is one of the best series out from VIZ Media right now.

That said, Hell’s Paradise Jigokuraku Volume 9 has one flaw: Sagiri. While she emerged as a lead early on and has had moments to be powerful, her Tensen confrontation involves a conversation. That’s it. She literally just talks to one of the vicious Tensen. Sure, the conversation reveals exposition about the villains’ grander plans, but that could have also been revealed during a fight sequence. To take your last female character who isn’t a wife or a child and not give her the same respect as her male counterparts when it comes to fighting is disappointing. Especially when she’s shown that she can hold her ground against Gabimaru and more.

Overall though, Hell’s Paradise Jigokuraku Volume 9 remains a series that balances violence, beauty, and horror. While I want more for Sagiri, it will be hard to find a better balance of action and character growth than what Kaku crafts for Shion and Chobe, and that alone continues this series’ greatness.

Hell’s Paradise: Jigokuraku Volume 9 is available wherever books are sold on July 20, 2021.

Hell's Paradise Jigokuraku Volume 9 
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TL;DR

Hell’s Paradise Jigokuraku Volume 9 remains a series that balances violence, beauty, and horror. While I want more for Sagiri, it will be hard to find a better balance of action and character growth than what Kaku crafts for Shion and Chobe, and that alone continues this series’ greatness.