Hell’s Paradise – Season 1 Episode 1 Recap & Review

The Death Row Convict and the Executioner

Episode 1 of Hell’s Paradise begins with an executioner failing to behead a white-haired man. The white-haired gentleman says he can’t die and has murdered countless people, and as we soon find out, he’s named Gabimaru.

Gabimaru has studied assassin techniques since he was a child and had become a shinobi for Iwagakure village. The woman assumes Gabimaru developed a superhuman body during his training days since most people perish during it. Gabimaru confirms the executioner was weak, so he didn’t have to rely on using ninjutsu. The woman asks him to show her some of his ninjutsu but Gabimaru refuses.

Afterward, some men try to burn Gabimaru at the stake, determined to kill him. Back in his cell, Gabimaru tells the woman he’s not trying to resist death and wishes they could kill him. He asks the woman for clothes, but she refuses to give them to him and confirms she must record information from Gabimaru.

Gabimaru reveals his village’s chief killed his parents, and Gabimaru kills without purpose. He argues the village chief coerced his comrades to betray him when he tried to leave the village, leading to his capture. The men try executing Gabimaru using bulls, but that doesn’t work.

The woman walks up to Gabimaru and asks him why he wanted to flee the village. Gabimaru tells her he received his chief’s blessing and married his daughter. He says the chief’s daughter turned his life upside down due to her benevolent nature. He wanted a way out, so he spoke with the chief and tasked him with one final mission.

Unknowingly, Gabimaru gets caught in a trap, leading to his capture. The woman walks with a fellow villager at night who informs her of Gabimaru’s title, “Gabimaru the Hollow,” who murdered many men when he got arrested. The man informs her of a rumor that Iwagakura shinobi consume an Elixir of Life, a medicine of immortality.

She wonders why a man who wants to die would use his superhuman feats to resist death. Gabimaru ponders this in his cell and plans to let the people execute him in the morning. Like their other attempts, Gabimaru manages to live through another one – shocking the executioners and himself.

The executioners take Gabimaru to the woman’s quarters and reveal she’s a sword-tester from Edo and a proficient executioner named Yamada Asaemon Sagiri. The narrator confirms Sagiri is from the well-established Yamada Clan, known for beheading criminals with a single blow.

Gabimaru’s bewildered and breaks his wooden cuffs out of fear. Sagiri attempts to behead Gabimaru, but he dodges. She confirms she’s witnessed many different reactions from people before their demises. Sagiri knows that Gabimaru has an attachment to life despite him saying he doesn’t. She believes he harbors strong feelings for his wife.

Gabimaru grabs a sword and clashes blades with Sagiri. As he does, we end up with a flashback depicting Gabimaru’s wife telling him he isn’t a Hollow, but Gabimaru argues he is because he’s grown accustomed to witnessing cruelty. His wife says he’s a kind person inside and argues that she wishes they could live ordinary lives.

She wanted to pursue this goal, but her father was so against her wishes that he burned her face to make her give up. She kisses him on the lips and he blushes, proving her point that he’s not an emotionless human being. Gabimaru engages in a sword bout with Sagiri in the present. He argues he’s a heartless scoundrel who could never be human.

It’s revealed that Gabimaru wanted to leave his killing position behind, so he and his wife could live a quiet life. This is what he spoke with the chief about, and this is what led to everything mentioned above. Before Gabimaru strikes at Sagiri she whips out a scroll in front of him.

It’s a pardon that will wipe away Gabimaru’s charges and grant him the shogun’s protection. However, Gabimaru must travel to the Underworld. There is a land called Shinsenkyo, a place brimming with joy and said to hold the immortality-granting Elixir of Life.

The shogunate sent people to retrieve the elixir, but no one returned alive. Due to people returning in flower-like forms, the shogunate assigned people to hunt down death-row convicts from over the country and send them to this island the retrieve the elixir. Whoever retrieves it will be pardoned. Sagiri confirms that was her mission and that Gabimaru’s wife is still alive in Iwagakure. If Gabimaru ever wants to reunite with his wife, he must travel to Shinsenkyo to compete against other convicts for the elixir.

After hearing her tale, the men on her side turn against Sagiri since they feel there are other men she can pick out. Gabimaru thinks it over and demonstrates his ninjutsu capabilities on the men surrounding them. Gabimaru uses his Ninpo: Ascetic Blaze technique to wipe out his enemies and accepts Sagiri’s offer. Sagiri says they’ll head to Edo first for unspecified reasons.

Although Gabimaru questions her decision, he plans to play along. The episode concludes with Gabimaru saying he’ll do whatever it takes to see his wife again.

The Episode Review

It appears Studio Mappa’s back with another dark title after Chainsaw Man. After delivering a comforting anime with Campfire Cooking, it’s nice to see another grittier work from the studio. This episode had some impressive visuals and engaging characters. The episode’s pacing was a bit slow and had some unneeded narration segments, though.

Nonetheless, Gabimaru and Sagiri offer enough intrigue to warrant fans’ attention. It was splendid seeing Sagiri motivate Gabimaru to break free from his Hollow facade and fight for something that holds merit to him. From the brief flashbacks we receive of him and his wife, I could tell that he held a strong attachment to her.

It’ll be interesting to see the anime delve deeper into Gabimaru’s past life later in the series. That way, viewers can compare his former self to the person he’ll become down the line. The fight sequences had nice choreography and it was splendid to get a taste of Gabimaru’s ninjutsu abilities. Unfortunately, Mappa cuts away from the action so we don’t get to see his powers in a fleshed-out scene.

Regardless, I can’t wait to see what other people Gabimaru will have to compete against in this world. Based on what he’s shown in this episode, I can expect the others to have incredible personalities and abilities that are on par if not greater than his. We’ll have to see where the second episode takes us but so far, things are looking great for Hell’s Paradise and I can’t wait to see what happens next.

Next Episode

You can read our full season 1 review of Hell’s Paradise here


  • Episode Rating -

Leave a comment