I’ve been singing the praises of Hell’s Paradise every episode, but with Episode 8, “Master and Student,” MAPPA and Twin Engine hits a new storytelling height. Mostly detached from the rest of the story, audiences are reunited with Nurugai and Tenza as they encounter a brutal and beautiful Tensen who immediately leaves them unnerved. Saved by Tenza’s sensei Shion, the trio try to stay alive, and we learn more about who Tenza and Shion are through flashbacks.
If anything is clear in Hell’s Paradise Episode 8, it’s that the Tensen is filled with a power that can and will kill a human with a flick of their finger. This episode builds on the last interactions and shows the crushing power that our characters are facing, more specifically, how badly underpowered they are in comparison to the gods and monsters on the island. While this also continues the push for audiences not to get too close to characters since their survival is anything buy guaranteed, it also shows how MAPPA has been able to adapt the manga to build emotional weight for the death of characters we’re only just getting to know.
Character backgrounds that add impact to their deaths. We don’t spend a long time with them, but we do get to understand them. As a narrative choice, MAPPA is able to build depth for each choice and make Hell’s Paradise more than an Edo-period Suicide Squad series. It’s a feat that Yuji Kaku, the mangaka behind the source material, pulled off and one that pays off even more in animated form. In one episode, we see Tenza’s entire life laid out before us and a master-student relationship that has layers of respect and understanding that some series take a whole arc to build up.
MAPPA turns up the emotional volume to connect you to a character you have known nothing about, only to rip him away from you. It’s storytelling at its finest, accomplishing so much with so little time. That loss is felt because of the build-up and because of how unrelenting our Asaemon is, fighting through his death to defeat Tensen, who just won’t die.
To give a character we have spent maybe a whole three minutes with prior to this episode a hero’s death with grit and determination that makes you feel something? That’s unheard of, and it’s just the start. While I questioned the ability of the series to make impactful death like Kaku did with his black and white illustrations, watching the brutality against a vibrant landscape somehow pushes turns the knife even more. As an audience, all we know about Tenza is this episode, and how empathetic he was to Nugurai, and yet, when the credits roll with the ending theme playing over more flashbacks of his life, we feel his impact on the series.
Hell’s Paradise Episode 8 is strong because it flourishes without the main characters we’ve been following in the past episodes. This part of the story isn’t about Sagiri or Gabimaru, but rather a bond that can form between Asaemon student and teacher, as well as establishing the danger even further that even the most skilled have their heads lowered, waiting for a blade to take them.
This episode is what I was waiting for, and MAPPA managed to knock it out of the park. All this means is that it’s time to board the emotional damage train and get ready to be seated for the remainder of the season. Hell’s Paradise continues to build on itself to make every character’s story greater than the last, and Episode 8 is no exception.
Hell’s Paradise Episode 8 is streaming now on Crunchyroll, with new episodes every Saturday.
Hell's Paradise Episode 8
Hell’s Paradise continues to build on itself to make every character’s story greater than the last, and Episode 8 is no exception.
Kate Sánchez is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of But Why Tho? A Geek Community. There, she coordinates film, television, anime, and manga coverage. Kate is also a freelance journalist writing features on video games, anime, and film. Her focus as a critic is championing animation and international films and television series for inclusion in awards cycles.