This week’s episode once again didn’t disappoint in visually showing the sinister beauty of the titular Hell’s Paradise. Upon arrival at the island where the so-called Elixir of Life is located, at first glance, you couldn’t help but find yourself mesmerized and stunned by the beautiful flora surrounding our characters as they walk deeper into the forest, something that Sagiri admitted. On the contrary, Gabimaru found himself creeped out. Looking closely, the type of plants growing and blooming in the island were all plants from different seasons. The ones that weren’t supposed to bloom in the season yet bloomed normally in this island side by side hinted there’s something abnormal happening around. Remembering the many people who returned with flowers blooming in their bodies, it hits you that this island is a wolf in sheep’s clothing, there’s a danger lurking that will emerge who knows when for anybody who step foot inside.
Considering the absurdity of the island, the existence of Elixir of Life seems very likely. The one who believed this to be possible was Gabimaru, because he had witnessed the chief of Iwagakure survived a series of fatal injuries that should’ve killed normal people. This brought a question, however, if this was true, then the chief had once visited the island and managed to escape from it without being turned into the grotesque form the others had. Or did he somehow manage to attain the elixir from other sources?
However, the main charm from this episode once again lies in our two leads, Gabimaru and Sagiri. After the introduction of Gabimaru and Sagiri as their own character in the previous two episodes, this third episode served as the true beginning of their partnership and relationship as people. Here, we could see that Gabimaru and Sagiri were in fact more similar than they appeared to be. By nature, both Gabimaru and Sagiri dislike killing people. They don’t want to kill, but their occupations required them to dirty their hands and took many lives, something that has burdened the two of them since they were children.
The only difference was the people they grew up with. For Sagiri, while it was rough for her, she still has people who guided and cared for her, preventing her from becoming a heartless murderer, which also contributed to her hesitation and fear whenever she has to kill until she accepted this fear as part of her in the previous episode. Gabimaru, on the other hand, lived as an obedient shinobi who unquestioningly followed orders given to him, thus, earned him the nickname Gabimaru the Hollow. It was only recently that he started to rekindle his humanity after meeting and falling in love with his wife. Thanks to their respective realization, both Gabimaru and Sagiri found themselves hesitating when they were fighting against each other. Their clash brought them to a moment of epiphany where they understood that Gabimaru was no longer the same man he used to be and accepting their emotions is not a weakness but another form of strength. I couldn’t express more into words just how excellent MAPPA animated the moment between Gabimaru and Sagiri where they finally agreed to work together.
It was still the beginning, but things quickly turned ugly so fast for both the executioners and criminals. Because only one criminal is allowed to be pardoned, the moment they arrived on the island, the criminals entered another round of battle royale. They either tried to take out other prisoners until one survive, seduce their executioner to let them do as they please, or killed their executioners to be free. What used to be quite a number of criminals and executioners soon diminished into only a few left standing. Each of them already have their hands full with having to fight other criminals, then another danger was added to their plates in the form of the islands’ creatures that can kill them or turn them into a plant-like being.
As much as I love to watch the dynamic between Gabimaru and Sagiri, I hope they’ll focus on the other characters soon. The other executioners and criminals duo are as appealing as the two protagonists when I last read the manga, so I’m looking forward to see them in the anime.