Sorry for the delay! Here it is for Hell’s Paradise episode 2 post!
After the introduction of Gabimaru in the first episode, the second episode highlights more about Sagiri. And wow, despite the calm demeanour she showed in the previous episode, our heroine actually has it rough the whole time. Of course, Sagiri was not the only focus of this episode, but I found her too interesting to talk about the other things first. And so, I’ll let out all about Sagiri before proceeding to the rest.
Since she was young, Sagiri has difficulty in committing herself into her training to become a full-fledged executioner due to her fear and hesitation in taking the lives of the criminals being executed. On top of having to receive criticism for her inability to kill her heart, she also must face discrimination due to being the only woman among her family to become an executioner. And that’s not yet the end of it, even outside her family, Sagiri also must face ostracization from other people just for being a daughter of the Yamada Family, who for generation has been executioners.
I have to give props for Hell’s Paradise because it delved into the topic of executioner. I don’t know how is it now, but during Edo period, executioners were frowned upon and considered tainted because their line of work involved death. It doesn’t matter if the Yamada Family was only following orders from the government to carry out their duties. It doesn’t change the fact that they’re making a living by ending other people’s lives. In the eyes of the citizens, executioners are no different from cold-blooded murderers.
Based on what I learned during my college days, death has long been a taboo topic in Japan even to this day. Those who are “close to death” are considered dirty no matter how important the job is and they were looked down. I have to say that I’m not fond of this view. Sure, it’s normal to fear death, but in the end death is something inevitable for all living beings and that’s something that must be accepted. Most importantly, executioners are also humans. It’s not like they kill people because they like it, unless they are psychopath. It’s unfair to treat them differently when they must’ve felt pain from ending the lives of another human being.
For a child like Sagiri, it must be painful having to live inside her house eat while looking at dead bodies being carried everyday, testing her swords on corpses, and learned how to swiftly cut off people’s neck. When she’s outside, she’s treated as a murderer even when she has yet to kill people. Sagiri wasn’t raised and grew in a normal environment. Even if she was being told to leave the life of executioner, for Sagiri, it wasn’t possible. The moment she first lay her hand on a sword and looked at it, she knew she was being haunted by the people who were killed by her family. Knowing this, rather than trying to turn blind eye or endure the treatment against her, she decided to face it. That’s why she decided to be an executioner following her family’s tradition despite her own doubt in killing people.
However, Sagiri’s underlying problem was actually not from her fear of killing, but accepting the burden of responsibility for the lives she takes. When you killed someone, the horrible sensation from the act would haunt the killer and it’s something that you’ll have to shoulder for the rest of your lives. Though Sagiri knows the importance of her family’s duty, that very duty was against her own personal morality. For an executioner of Yamada Asaemon clan, Sagiri’s hesitation was a big flaw and could be considered a disgrace given their principles to execute the condemned painlessly by ridding themselves of this emotion.
The one who allowed Sagiri to take the first step of realization to her answer was Gabimaru. Being raised as shinobi who had taken many lives even when he didn’t want to, Gabimaru fully understands how heinous killing is and whatever the reason, killing is never a good thing to do, so there’s no reason to feel great about it. For every life he has taken, never Gabimaru took pride in it, he’d always remember how heavy the weighs in his mind burdened him until the day he dies. Gabimaru was fully aware the burden that comes from his decision and won’t make excuses for it. What made him different from Sagiri was that Gabimaru was prepared to take that burden, while Sagiri wasn’t.
Watching and listening to Gabimaru, Sagiri finally learned that there’s no need for her to overcome her fear to kill, but accepting it as part of her. By acknowledging her fear, Sagiri came to terms with her doubt to take responsibility for the lives she has taken without having to get rid of her emotion. Sagiri could continue become an executioner while still retaining her humanity, which prevent her from becoming a cold-blooded murderer others made her be.
Huff, I talked about Sagiri more than I thought. I couldn’t help myself when I found her to be the most interesting character in this episode. Sure, there are introduction to the other prisoners who’ll become part of the main cast, but I’ll have to reserve them for later episodes when they are the focus.