ADVANCED REVIEW: ‘Hell’s Paradise: Jigokuraku’ Volume 13

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Hells Paradise: Jigokuraku Volume 13

Hell’s Paradise: Jigokuraku Volume 13 marks the end of a fantastic series created, illustrated, and written by mangaka 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’s web browser (excluded from the app for mature content). This volume also features translation by Caleb Cook and touch-up art and lettering from Mark McMurray.

For 13 volumes, Hell’s Paradise has managed to bring a blend of body horror, action, an exploration of Bushido code, religion, and even concepts of morality. Stranded on an island and paired up, convicts and their executioners stepped foot on the island in an attempt to take the elixir of life back to the mainland for the honor of the Shogunate. Over time, the characters have died, survived, and grown in their fighting skills and emotional stances as the island’s inhabitants, the Tensen, aim to murder them at every corner. But while we’ve seen a plethora of strong and moving characters and ends, Hell’s Paradise Volume 13 seals the story by refocusing on Gabimaru the Hollow and Sagiri, his executioner.

Gabimaru fights hard against his body’s aborificiation, knowing that his wife is alive and well, which he discovered in the last volume. With a newfound determination, he pushes himself past his limits in the way we expect him to for an action story. To aid him, Sagiri is finally in the position to take hold of her strength, surpassing everyone’s expectations. The two hold on tight to their emotions, needs, rage, and loneliness to throw them into the fight, survive the burning boat, and put an end to Rein’s master plan that would bring the deadly elements of the island to the mainland.

As an ending to the series, Hell’s Paradise Volume 13 isn’t the most emotional of the volumes in the series. The finale lacks in the bite it carried in its early volumes forged by Kaku’s ability to kill off any character and show you an emotional backstory to add to it. In fact, there isn’t too much death in this volume despite the dire situation the remaining survivors find themselves in. That said, in this final volume, Kaku gives readers a look at the critical part Sagiri has to play in the final battle and why only she can push past the expectations held by the Tensen to stop Rein’s plan.

Sagiri’s revelation is one that has been constructed in the background for the past volumes. I struggled to understand how one of the series’ main characters had taken a backseat and was displayed as one of the weakest ones in the group. That said, Kaku’s decision to hide her strength in the series, giving her small moments that culminate in this final volume, was an intelligent choice. Out of everyone, Sagiri isn’t supposed to change. Her growth is in accepting she’s different from the other executioners in her clan and those around her. Instead of pushing her emotions deep down and becoming an empty vessel for the Shogunate, Sagiri uses them to feed her tao and strengthen herself. Her rage is her strength, not her weakness.

Additionally, Hell’s Paradise Volume 13 shows Gabimaru in a different light. Sure, Gabimaru is the most powerful character of the series. But in this finale, it’s Kaku’s ability to show Gabimaru’s vulnerability and softness as critical to making him who he is. He isn’t hollow; he’s filled with love, and it’s that love that makes him hesitate when he should cut down the final obstacle keeping him and the survivors from escaping and ending Rein’s plan.

As a duo, Sagiri and Gabimaru are strong in a way that sets Hell’s Paradise Volume 13 apart from other action series. Hell’s Paradise’s beauty and staying power are in its horror and violence, but in Volume 13, its crescendo is its softness. Kaku shows how well he illustrates terrifying monsters and writes evil characters. But he also shows how he can explore beauty, kindness, and vulnerability in the same series even in the darkest of his characters, like Chobe.

This balance makes the rather cliche epilogue, which neatly wraps up the surviving character’s futures, work well. There is a sweetness to the ending and a love that has run through the entire series if the reader can see beyond the violence. Bonds between brothers, paternal love from a mentor, and of course, the feeling of rest that some of the characters have longed to achieve. Hell’s Paradise Volume 13 is a fitting end for an exciting series.

Hell’s Paradise: Jigokuraku Volume 13 is available wherever books are sold on March 15, 2022. 


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TL;DR

This balance makes the rather cliche epilogue, which neatly wraps up the surviving character’s futures, work well. There is a sweetness to the ending and a love that has run through the entire series if the reader can see beyond the violence. Bonds between brothers, paternal love from a mentor, and of course, the feeling of rest that some of the characters have longed to achieve. Hell’s Paradise Volume 13 is a fitting end for an exciting series.