Four threads emerge in paths that thematically converge in Hell’s Paradise Episode 10, “Yin and Yang.” Delivering what ultimately is the thesis of the series, the episode is the densest in terms of sheer lore, as we’re given greater context for the island they’re wondering about, in search of the elixir of life, and those who inhabit it. From the exploration of the meaning of Tao and how it proves a linking source of tremendous power, to the Tensen and their position as monsters wearing a deity guise, and the apparent levels of power that act as an ecosystem, there’s no shortage of exposition thrown at viewers this week. While it fails to capture the breakneck speed that was delivered in Episode 9 which was driven by brutal action sequences, it’s an integral piece of storytelling for the series and an episode that will fuel the rest of the story.
Gabimaru remains bloodied and battered, his meeting with Gantetsusai quickly turning into one of analytical probing as the Asaemon Fuchi realizes that any combat between the two convicts would result in the death of both. Between that, Mei’s awakening having seemingly aged, and Gabimaru’s divulging of the information he’s gathered about the Tensen, the group decides to work together in finding out more about them and the Horai. Gantetsusai acts as a strong character to work opposite Gabimaru, both in terms of their sheer size discrepancy but also because, for both of them, the pardon isn’t the end all, be all of their quests. Yes, Gabimaru seeks it, but it’s for the sake of being reunited with his wife, rather than some goal of innocence. Meanwhile, Gantetsusai would rather be remembered, seeking not redemption but immortality borne from legend.
While Hell’s Paradise Episode 10 would’ve benefitted from better splitting the time between all four groups, the brief moments we got with Sagiri’s crew are significant, especially due to Senta’s observations which once again turn assumptions on their head. As Hoko recounts what he knows about the Tensen and Horai, Senta objects and suggests that, from a logical point of view, everything going on indicates that someone has caused what’s going on and that by finding that person or creature they’ll be able to escape Shinsenkyo. Senta’s belief posits the notion that Shinsenkyo is less fantasy and much more likely man-made.
The other two storylines offer the same level of exposition while delivering brief action sequences which help marry the themes of the story while showcasing what MAPPA does best. Shion and Nurugai benefit best, as their story is able to visualize what Mei and Hoko had both been trying to explain about Tao. The power that flows through all living things, it’s the “yin and yang” of the title and the core of the series, a derivative of “the middle way,” a Buddhist idealogy, with Tao encompassing “stillness and motion,” “rage and calm.” The convicts and Asaemon both deal with death, and Gabimaru is both known as being “hollow” while we’ve seen him quick to tears when thinking about his overpowering love for his wife. Shinsenkyo and the mysterious Horai may be putting a finer point on the idea, but the whole series — and many science fiction and/or fantasy series in general — pulsate with the beliefs that power it.
In Shion’s case, we get to see how it can manifest itself in great power, as he refuses to be Nurugai’s master while still maintaining his demeanor which means he won’t let her fend for herself, instead allowing her to learn while they defend themselves again the monsters surrounding them. The vast, overpowering nature of these beasts — Soshin — is animated with such vigorous, mindless violence, that we can’t help but worry about any character who faces up against them.
It’s why it’s hard not to believe that Chobei and Toma are both goners, considering they’ve already cheated death. They’ve done what Tensen believe is impossible and have climbed out of the pit in which they toss nearly dead humans to create Tan, the liquid substance that grants them immortality. The visuals contort themselves as we watch the brothers ascend the human wall, where limbs stretch and grasp for them in order to keep them trapped with them. Their small moment of triumph is interrupted by someone who identifies himself as Doshi, a follower of Lord Tensen, who has been deployed to check on the pit while others of his kind are monitoring the other humans occupying the island. The Soshin are mindless, summoned by the Doshi but never allowed to enter Horai, while the Doshi is more powerful.
With the horrors of the island continuing to accelerate, as our main characters grow increasingly worn and weary by the ongoing chaos surrounding them, the show manages to create even greater tension. The series has proved multiple times now that it’s willing to kill off characters who we believe to be integral to the plot. Hell’s Paradise Episode 10 might not be the more action-packed or breathtaking installment of the show, but it’s a strong reminder of the extreme stakes the characters are facing all the while offering greater context to fill in the colors of this world.
Hell’s Paradise Episode 10
Hell’s Paradise Episode 10 might not be the more action-packed or breathtaking installment of the show, but it’s a strong reminder of the extreme stakes the characters are facing all the while offering greater context to fill in the colors of this world.