Gabimaru and Co. fight a tree guardian named Hoko and capture a small girl named Mei. After being bribed with the promise of a bath, food and island information in return for the girl, the group heads to the tree guardian’s house. There they learn that the Elixer of Life is real and referred to as “Tan” here on the island.
Hoko reveals that there are three concentric rings to the island and that the Elixer of Life exists in the center of the innermost ring. The catch of course is that it is guarded by Tensen (god-like beings that have consumed the Elixer and are therefore immortal), and it is made of dead humans who have decayed into flowers.
While Gabimaru’s group gets a bath and story time, Choubei and his brother Touma have the misfortune of waltzing in on two Tensen initiating sex, and proceed to get their asses handed to them.
Long ago I watched a show for Genericon called Shattered Angels. It was so excruciatingly bad that in a desperate bid to find some element I could hold onto for the duration of the show, I made a grid chart to check off characters and plotlines. I was searching for a character or story element I could vaguely get behind so I could ride out the ghastly storm, and prevent my entire brain from melting out of my ears. Click here for video evidence of my misery.
Hell’s Paradise isn’t nearly as awful as Shattered Angels but between the thinly veiled nod to tentacle porn in Episode 5, the gory violence, and the newly introduced sex gods, this show is clearly not for me.
On the bright side I have found my element to carry me through this show (as long as she survives of course). It’s Yuzuriha.
This lady gives no f&*ks about her predicament on the island. It’s like she’s read the plot in advance and either knows where she’s gonna die and doesn’t care, or knows she’s gonna make it through this so she’s gonna be fabulous AF. She has some sort of weird sexy jutsu, her outfit is stupidly impractical, she’s flirty, confident, and capable, and I am just here for it. I love the way she kinda wants the Elixer but also is totally in for creature comforts when they arise. I mean seriously…if you are gonna be stuck on an island full of killer monsters, that doesn’t mean you can’t be FRESH.
In contrast to my dislike for the overall flavor of this show, I do think this episode was well designed from a storytelling perspective. Overlaying the blonde haired Tensen fighting Choubei and Touma, while telling the story of said gods and that of the Elixer made for a lot of information at once. We now know the location of the Elixer AND we know that the Tensen are a serious threat. The battle with the brothers + Tensen isn’t great. There’s the anticipation of action followed by a cut to Hoko talking, followed by another cut back to the boys getting wrecked. If you were hoping for some epic fight scenes, this ain’t it. Also goodbye Choubei and Touma. I hardly knew ye and had to remind myself of your names on MyAnimeList for this writeup. All the characters feel like throwaways (except you Yuzuriha. You can just be magnificent over there) even as we round the corner on the midpoint of this season.
While I did find Sagiri being “best mom” to Mei very cute, there is something that is bugging me immensely….
It’s her sudden aversion to seeing Gabimaru naked and anything to do with sexuality.
Does anyone remember this shot from Episode 1?
Okay well, I do. And now, the mention of a lack of reproductive organs in the monsters and Gabimaru wanting to walk into the bath while Mei is there suddenly cause Sagiri’s “maidenly sensibilities” to go off. Oh no! We can’t have this child see man butt!! Hell, it’s Gabimaru of all people who has to talk some sense into her. I did like that it caused a little bonding moment for him and Mei due to both their bodies being scarred but…what happened to the Sagiri from Episode 1?!
Yes..I know what the answer is. Hey Sushma, it’s a shounen show. Keep your mouth shut and just watch pretty best boy Gabimaru punch stuff. Can’t blame me for trying…
The second item I’m not gelling with (and is just…surprising) is how seemingly straight forward this show is. When it started out, I was convinced the island would be full of mysteries like (1) Why do people turn into flowers and look happy in death? (2) Is the Elixer even real? (3) How do we obtain it? (4) Why is the island full of a perversion of South East/Pacific Asian religious relics, etc? The show has rapidly answered my curiosity with (1) “human faced moths with poison/it’s hallucinogen or whatever”, (2) “Yes”, (3) “the center of
Wall Sheena the island”, (4a) “because the author or writers are trying to look clever, like the island exists in a place outta time or some bullshit” and (4b) “because a perversion of heaven is…hell. Get it?! So clever!” (okay I am making an assumption with 4a and 4b and I’m still open to a real answer, but I absolutely do not expect to ever get one).
I feel kinda…bored honestly. The fights aren’t interesting enough and the story is a paint by numbers journey with dull people. The show is trying to pull a Game of Thrones or Attack on Titan schtick of “anyone could die anytime!” but I am not buying it given the odd tone it’s setting and the fact that I care about nobody (except my beautiful best girl).
We learn about the Elixer of Life and the Tensen while watching said sex gods wreck the Bandit Brothers. Yuzuriha is best girl and I will hear no arguments. Now that we are all fresh and well fed (unless your name is Choubei or Touma), I guess it’s off to the center of the island to collect our macguffin.
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