Hell’s Paradise: Jigokuraku is the flagship gritty, frightful battle style manga by Yuji Kaku which serialized in Shonen Jump+ for over 2 years. It is co-written by the same person who wrote Chainsaw Man and Fire Punch, Tatsuki Fujimoto. The world-building is inspired by Chinese Taoist philosophies. The philosophy of balancing yin and yang is reflected in the general setting and the battle system.
The story starts off with the protagonist called Gabimaru, now he is given a nickname: ‘Hollow’ as he seems to be an emotionless, ruthless, and the most renowned shinobi (killer) of the Iwagakude village. The overall premise is this person, Hollow is seen as a criminal, and in order for him to get back with his wife, he needs to go to a certain island and find the elixir of life that grants immortality. There are other criminals also who are being let loose on this island by the shogunate and each of these criminals has a shinobi from the Yamada Asaemon clan that watches over them.
The one who finds the elixir will be pardoned and may continue with the rest of their life free from their crimes. What they don’t know is that once they are put on this island which is shrouded in mystery, it might appear as a paradise but it is a living hell. Through this Paradise Island, we see strange and unique bonds being forged between enemies who can either grow to love each other or just be fighting together out of the obligation to survive.
Hell’s Paradise: Jigokuraku manga is eccentric and disturbing with some of its characters but the author has used this eccentricity to demonstrate how messed up this island is. As an antagonistic force, they really do an amazing job in pushing the conflict within the story but the main shining factor here is the cast. With this story dynamic, we get a group of characters who are all super different from each other. None of them came to this island with the same goal in mind, with the same back story but they all try and leave with the same purpose: Survival. That is one of the key themes of Hell’s Paradise: The question of the meaning of life.
This manga has the strongest characters in a wide stretch of the shonen game. No one is useless or stagnant, they all contribute something to the story and each of them has a back story or subplot that contributes as to why there are here. They all come to a realization about themselves and their purpose for being here and what they want to do with their lives. This what makes the story and characters addictive.
Feel free to read the manga and you can do it all in one go. An anime adaptation was announced for Hell’s Paradise: Jigokuraku after it ended in the last week of January this year. The creator has commented, “An anime adaptation!… it makes me so happy but, it hasn’t really sunk in yet, and it feels like a dream. To all the anime staff, I leave the characters of Hell’s Paradise: Jigokuraku in your capable hands, Lord Reality, if this is a dream, please do not wake me up.”